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[Phys-L] Re: Bad Theory?

Hi all-
IMO the discussion of the usage of the words theory, law,
hypothesis, is a pointless exercise in semantical pedantry - or, perhaps,
pedantic semantics. A better description of what we do, and that might be
more universally acceptable, would be to speak in terms of "models".
Evolution, then, is the standard model that describes the evidence
uncovered by paleontologists, and others of their ilk. ID is not
incorporated in the standard model because scientific models, by
definition, explore the posibility of explaining all natural phenomena
without recourse to divine activities by Old Man Coyote (Kootenai) and
other high-spirited intervenors.
There is, by the way, a much better case for ID than the one being
resorted to by the religious fanatics. It is laid out by Royal Astronomer
Rees, in his book <Five Numbers> in which he discusses the notion of the
anthropic universe. The resolution he gives there, multiverses, is not
very satisfactory because it is no more falsifiable than ID.

On Sat, 3 Dec 2005, John Clement wrote:

The thing that got me a little angry was one of the statements made on the
radio. It stated something along the lines that the teaching of "X-
Actually theories can not be even compared to laws because laws are
relationships between variables that have been found by experiments. They
used to say that theories started as hypotheses and ended up as laws, all of
which is complete nonsense.

Laws can be universal, but also can be limited to specific circumstances.
As evidence see Boyle's Law, Charles' Law, Newton's Laws. Now this usage is
not always obeyed, but in general it stands up.

Theories then provide a framework for understanding the laws, but also
provide a method for hypothesizing new laws. Laws also do not have to have
an explanation, but can just be the relationship. Usually however, they
need to be applicable to a wide variety of circumstances such as the laws
that apply to ideal gasses.

The general public and most commentators have not been educated in the fine
distinctions between beliefs, facts, laws, theories, hypotheses... So it is
no wonder they get it wrong. In addition the science texts still promote
some of the inconsistent definitions.

John M. Clement
Houston, TX

is wrong because it is a BAD theory.

My argument is that there really is no such thing as a "bad theory". To
the two words together, "bad" and "theory" bad! :-) What makes a
theory good or bad? Isn't a theory, just a theory...nothing good or bad
about it? The way they were using the word "theory", it was as if they
equated it to "law".

"Trust me. I have a lot of experience at this."
General Custer's unremembered message to his men,
just before leading them into the Little Big Horn Valley
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