What is a Theory?

Essay by aznXsa2587 June 2006

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"A theory is a framework within which observations are explained and predictions are made." A theory is an idea on how or why something happens or has happened. Scientists do extensive research to come up with a new theory and test it many many times to determine if their assumptions are reasonable and if there is any other way that this could have occurred. Ideas included in a scientific theory are consistent and logically falsifiable and contain evidence and results that can be reproduced.

A theory is more than an educated guess, or hypothesis, that people can make in a matter of a few moments. It is a tested and confirmed idea that is backed by reproducible data. A guess is something people can make without knowing anything or very little about a subject. A theory is not simply a hypothesis, it is an explanation made at the end of experimentation that will attempt to explain the reasons why things happened the way they did.

A theory is only elementary until multiple experiments testing it reproduce the same results, still pointing in the direction of the theory. A theory is not a guess; a guess simply leads to the development of a theory.

Once made, the creator, as well as others, judge a theory. Guidelines are used to determine if a proposed theory can actually be considered plausible. Theories are judged by logical criteria, which consider if the theory is logically consistent and logically reproducible. Logical criteria also questions whether all the data involved in a theory are necessary in order for the theory to be correct or falsified. Theories are also judged by empirical criterion, which determines if the theory can be empirically tested or if it can lead to testable retrodictions. Empirical judgments also provide...