A theory is a model for understanding how things work.

  • In science a scientific theory is a well tested model with many facts pointing at it.
  • In common language a “theory” can range from a guess to a philosophical concept.
    TIP: Philosophy is a proper field of academia and there is a big difference between Plato’s theories and some haphazard guess. Still, in the sciences specifically, the term theory takes on a very ridged meaning.

Typically theories are easier to disprove than prove, if a theory works it’s used until a better one comes along.

Well worn theories are rarely “completely wrong”, rather they are typically missing a few nuances (good examples being: Alchemy -> Mendeleev’s periodic table -> Current period table; or Newtonian gravity as a force -> Einstein’s gravity as a byproduct of spacetime curvature; or Thompson’s model of an atom -> Rutherford’s -> Bohr’s -> Schrödinger’s). None of the aforementioned theories were completely off base. We didn’t go back and prove the old one wrong, we just replaced it with the new one. A theory can ultimately be true without our ability to prove it true, or false even if it seems to work over and over (for proof see Gödel’s incompleteness theory).

Below is a collection facts and myths related to theories of all types.


Factoids tagged with "Theories"

Politics Can be a Science Fact

Politics can be treated as a science (political science), but it must always seek data that can be confirmed by our senses (empirical evidence).

Game Theory is the Study of Games Myth

Game theory involves games, but it isn’t the study of games. It is the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation regarding decision making.

At Its Core, Chemistry is Physics Fact

On a fundamental level, chemistry can be explained by physics. The atoms that make up the periodic table elements are themselves made of quantum particles.

Nature Abhors a Vacuum Fact

Aristotle once postulated “horror vacui” (Nature Abhors a Vacuum). It turns out nature really can’t stand a perfect vacuum.

Some People are Born Gay Fact

Science suggests people are born in a range of places in the gay and transgender spectrum, with both nature and nurture playing a role in sexuality.

Human Behavior can be Random Fact

Human behavior can be random to some extent, but most behavior is based on prior input, and thus is “deterministic” (meaning not totally random).

432 Hz is Better than 440 Hz Myth

It’s theorized that using a starting pitch of A=432 Hz and a “just intonation” tuning method (scientific tuning) is more natural and mathematically symmetric than using A=440 Hz and “equal temperament” tuning (concert tuning).

Physics is Different than Metaphysics Fact

Physics is a branch of physical science rooted in math that asks “how does it work?” Metaphysics is a broad branch of philosophy that asks, “What is its true nature?”

People Can be Truly Unbiased Myth

People can’t be truly unbiased; we are hardwired with bias and create bias constantly as part of the natural neurological process of learning.

Blog Posts tagged with "Theories"

The Importance of Principles

Principles are, in a broad sense, simply rule-sets which we follow. Below we will discuss the importance of different types of principles.

The Virtues of Political Correctness

The concept of political correctness can be understood as an excess or deficiency of a few key virtues. Here is a model of “the virtues of political correctness” based on Aristotle’s virtue theory of means.

What is Reason?

Reason is the application of “pure logic”, empirical evidence, experiment, and skepticism to find truths, facts, and theories (AKA “critical thinking”).

Separation of Powers Metaphor

The four “elements” (or “powers”) that form the foundation of government can roughly be expressed as: citizens, executive, legislative, and judicial.

Where Does the State of Nature Argument Come From?

We often attribute the origin of the state of nature argument to Hobbes, but it can be traced to thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, and the Sophists in the 300’s BC, and is then mused on by other early philosophers.

The 2007 – 2009 Financial Crisis Explained

We explain the Financial Crisis / Great Recession of 2007 – 2009 that began with the 2006 housing bubble, led to a recession in the U.S. by December 2007, and became a global crisis by 2009.

What is the State of Nature?

The state of nature is the state humans lived in before forming the first societies. By examining the state of nature we can better understand the implicit and explicit social contracts which govern societies.

The Paradox Principle

In practice, human action often has paradoxical or unintended effects. Sometimes effects or side effects even have the exact opposite effect as intended.

The Historical Effects of Wealth Inequality

We examine social, political, and economic inequality in terms of their effects on society, such as the social unrest that led to historic revolutions and populist uprisings.

Hume’s Fork Explained

“Hume’s fork” describes how we refer to Kant’s critique of Hume, who separated knowledge into two types: facts based on ideas and facts based on experience.

A List of Dualities

Here is a list of the fundamental dualities relating to human nature and the physical and conceptual universe.

The Basic Types of Political Parties

On this page, we look at political parties from a historical perspective to better understand the underlying left-right politics all political parties are based on.

Wealth and Income Inequality

We explain economic inequality from a historical perspective, and then consider the effects of wealth inequality and income inequality in America today.

Conspiracy Theories Explained

We explain the concept of conspiracy theories, including why people formulate them, using examples of famous conspiracy theories from history.