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.

The Virtues of Political Correctness

Is America Capitalist?

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”).