Scientific theory more than hunch

September 3, 2010 Commentary Print Print
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To the Editor:

“It’s just a theory” is being heard all too [often] these days.

Numerous school boards have attempted to place such a disclaimer in science textbooks, and in his Aug. 27 opinion letter (to the editor), James Storey states, “the theory of evolution has never been scientifically proven, and therefore remains just that, a theory.”

 

This is a complete misuse of the scientific definition of “theory,” and probably makes every science professor on campus cringe to see it used as such.

Unfortunately, these school boards and Mr. Storey are either trying to deceive with their words, or are just plain ignorant of scientific terminology when they make statements that portray scientific theories as little more than unproven hunches.

Within science, a theory is to be championed as the most up-to-date explanation available.

A theory is as close to proven as anything in science can be. It is built up logically from testable observations and hypotheses of natural phenomena.

No matter how vast the scientific facts grow on a particular topic, the explanation as to how and why it occurs will forever remain a theory.

We are doing a very poor job of teaching this very fundamental scientific concept.

When Mr. Storey and school boards across the country state that something is “just a theory, that has not been proven,” as an opposing argument, they are not adding to the debate, but making science even more confusing than it need be.

From Newton to Einstein to the future, we have updated and will continue to update gravitational theory.

No matter how advanced our knowledge becomes, our explanation of gravity will always be “just a theory.”

Should we question the effects of gravity just because the theory is “unproven?”

It would be wise not to, because regardless of what the theory states, the facts remain the same: the apple will always fall from the tree.

Just a theory? Considering what constitutes a scientific theory, how about (instead), triumphantly a theory.

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