|Topic: Evaluating Theories
A theory is a comprehensive
explanation of natural
phenomena. Anyone can come up with a theory. (Just listen
a groups of sports fans after their team lost a big game and you will
a variety of theories.) But a good theory, particularly a
scientific theory, has to have certain criteria to it. They
| A theory cannot
contain elements that
are not a part of our reality. This is the separation between
and science fiction.
theory must make specific
predictions that can be tested empirically (empirical means that it is
based on observed data) and allow for the possibility of contradictory
evidence. If I make the claim that "if a baby's first dream is in
black and white, the baby will likely grow up to be maladjusted", I do
not have a good theory. It is impossible to know what a baby is
It cannot be tested; therefore, it is not a good theory.
This criteria simply
means we do not want to re-invent the wheel. A good scientist
a theory by carefully studying existing empirical evidence and using
to form new ideas. Science needs to be innovative; new ideas
explaining theories in the simplest terms. If there are two
that both explain a phenemena, the simpler and more straightforward
is preferred. Likewise, one theory that explains a set of
is preferred over several theories that also explain the set of
Simple is better.
Good theories are the hallmark of any science.