Theory in science
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Theory in science


The purpose of this video is to contend that theory has an essential role in scientific knowledge. Theories are not mere guesses. They are not substitutes for data, such that theories can be dispensed with as soon as the data come in. Theories must always be there in science. Let’s begin by stating exactly
what a scientific theory is. It’s not a random
guess. It’s not the absence of data. It
is an abstract concept that is necessary in order for us to
work with the data and make that data a form of scientific
knowledge. Here’s the equation in order to get
scientific knowledge we must have both facts and the ideas that make sense out of those
facts. The facts are the data and those ideas (the abstract concepts) are the theory. Data plus Theory equals scientific knowledge. It’s true that theory without data would be idle
speculation, but data without theory would be meaningless trivia. Only data plus theory equals scientific knowledge. All inferences that we make about causation are in the realm of theory, as David Hume
once pointed out almost 250 years ago: we never
observe a cause producing an effect. We observe separate invents and we in infer with our theoretical speculation an underlying cause and effect relationship. For example we know that some theories help us understand causally the relationship
between two variables. Other theories allow to observe a cause, then we predict its forthcoming effect, or we observe an effect and then identify which cause must have produced it. Theories also allow us to control our environment through technology. In
other words we develop a causal theory that allows us to change the environment. We treat the causes as means to produce the end as an effect. In this are of prediction we can talk about hypotheses.(plural) A hypothesis (singular) in science is simply a prediction what
we expect to happen when we perform a certain observation or experiment. Where do these hypotheses
come from? They come from theories. As long as these theories generate hypotheses that can be tested by our observations, the theories can be scientific. The kinds of hypotheses that are not
scientific are known as ad hoc hypotheses. These are hypotheses that are so
flexible regardless whatever kind of data we
observe, the theory cannot be really tested. So, ad hoc hypotheses are not scientific. Scientific theories have an essential role in science and that role is to help us understand, predict, and control

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