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Scientific-method

Where "theory" fits in the scientific method. Image obtained from www.tomatosphere.org

People who oppose the teaching of evolution in schools often refer to the fact that evolution is technically a theory. It is important to understand the definition of "theory". In science, the word "theory" has a completely different meaning that in other contexts.

Scientific Theory: A Definition[]

"A well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses" (NCSE, 2008).


In science, a theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses. In order to reach "theory" status, these hypotheses must be tested and re-tested using the scientific method. Once a concept or idea is considered a theory in the scientific method, it is accepted as a valid explanation for the phenomenon in question (Zimmerman, 2012).


The work of science is never really complete, so different aspects of theories continue to be tested and tweaked. "Theory" is a step in the scientific method, but a concept only reaches this stage after testing and re-testing of several hypotheses, with the results supporting it.

References[]

National Center for Science Education (NCSE). (2008). Definitions of fact theory, and law in scientific work. Retrieved on November 26, 2013 from: http://ncse.com/evolution/education/definitions-fact-theory-law


Zimmerman, K. A. (2012). What is a scientific theory? Live Science. Retrieved November 29, 2013 from: http://www.livescience.com/21491-what-is-a-scientific-theory-definition-of-theory.html

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