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A Rant: You Say Theory. You Mean Hypothesis. Stop. It.

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Ok, people. Let’s clear something up.Teacher

Ready?

I’m gonna kindergarten it down for you.

Hypothesis: When you have an idea which can be tested.

Theory: A hypothesis you’ve tested and your peers have tested and your findings (and their’s) have been replicated by you and your peers. Lots of times. Everything comes out groovy at the end.

Law: When you, your peers and the assholes who hate you, have all replicated the findings of your theory (A LOT.) and everyone, basically, comes up with the same answer AND the findings pan out over and over and over again. Over a long-span of time. Laws ain’t no joke, yo.

What is NOT a theory?

Some bullshit idea you just pulled out of your ass and decided to spout off to anyone who listens.

THAT would be a HYPOTHESIS…assuming it can be tested.

So, in keeping with my kindergartened down definitions, “I have this theory there are ape octopus beings inhabiting Mars,” WOULD NOT, in fact, be a theory.

Take your crazy ape-octopus-Martian HYPOTHESIS to Mars and test that shit.

If and if you can PROVE your HYPOTHESIS with scientific evidence, as can your friends and enemies (I’m talking a butt ton!), once they’ve ventured to the Red Planet, THEN AND ONLY THEN can your crazy idea be considered a THEORY (I’m talking pictures and tissue samples and video and genetic profiles–obviously assuming they would have genes which could be profiled).

PSA? Stop misusing THEORY! You mean HYPOTHESIS and you don’t even mean that correctly.

This After School Special brought to you by the letters: F and U.

Mic drop gif

Little note. heh Get it? Little? And it’s funny since the text is little? Right? Funny? Never mind.

I originally posted this on Facebook at like 2AM this morning. I had been reading a book and this one character JUST KEPT DOING THIS. There’s only so much a woman can take, people. Just. So. Much.

Some thought the above was the most epic rant in all rant epicosity while my friend Justin took exception to my rant since, and I quote:

It matters because they are technically using it correctly, whether it annoys you or not. “I have this theory there are ape octopus beings inhabiting Mars,” would, in fact, be a theory, because it is an “unproven assumption”, “conjecture”, and/or “speculation”. It isn’t a SCIENTIFIC theory, but it is a theory.

Haters to the left.

Then my friend David had to come on and be all smart and crap.

Laws generally are very simple and describe a certain phenomenon under a set of conditions. Theories describe how the nature of something works at a more general level. They aren’t really different levels of certainty for the same idea.

The law of Gravity or Thermodynamics are very specific about a singular relationship between a few attributes of the universe – all things being equal (you’ll see that phrase a lot when describing laws).

The theory of Evolution is a large collection of rules under varying circumstances – many of which are difficult to directly observe. It describes the mechanisms of change in complex actors and, while there are mountains of proof and supporting evidence, is ultimately too complex and general to succinctly define a single rule. It will likely never be a law, nor does it need to be. It would hold no more credibility as a law nor stand to gain anything from being one. In fact, to call it a law would actually be understating its breadth of influence on science since I’m pretty sure human knowledge isn’t able to sum it up in its entirety down to a single non-generalizing statement yet.

Justin is right that the terms mean different things depending on context. But I do share your frustration in people using them incorrectly for -any- circumstance. There should be a law against that.

Tell me about it, stud.

But in the end, I still enjoy my late night/early morning Dark Hunter inspired rant. So there.

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