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Hypothesis, Theory And Law


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Can someone more versed in the scientific method please answer a question for me?


I know about the three stages an explaination goes through, hypothesis, theory and law. Exactly what are the criteria that an explaination has to meet before it goes from one stage to another?


My understanding is that a hypothesis is an educated guess, a theory is a tested, peer reviewed and accepted explaination and a law is proven beyond any doubt.


To be specific, why is the theory of evolution not the law of evolution?

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First, forget what you learned in school. It was wrong.

A hypothesis is what you test. If I am not mistaken, there are actually two mutually exclusive hypotheses in any given experiment, the second being the null hypothesis.

A theory is a scientific explanation that connects and organizes existing observations and suggests fruitful paths for future research (source is my ol' lady's social psych text book. Yeah, not necessarily the most scientific of sources, but it's the best definition I've come across)

A law is an observable fact. For example, Newton and his famous apple.

So, evolution is a theory because it explains many different observations. It isn't really observable in the sense that I can watch an apple fall because of the amount of time involved.

Stephen Jay Gould has an excellent piece Evolution as Fact and Theory that is a good read (my thanks to Rev for archiving the article).

I hope that answered your question, and I hope I didn't fuck up too much.

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