Re: The world will end in 2060, according to Sir Isaac NewtonJun 27th, 2007
Note to forum....i do not sound like a valley girl in real life ..although i would love to start dressing up as one in here...D'Avril is so yesterday's forum.
Let's all try to understand some of the shades of meaning of the word theory, and try to be polite to each other, shall we?
Theory has two broad senses in common use, which I think of as the weak sense and the strong sense. In the weak sense, it's used to mean a belief, conjecture, or speculation. In the strong sense it means a coherent, consistent body of data, ideas, information, and analyses that describe and explain a range of phenomena. Evolution, for instance, is a theory in the strong sense, and people who dismiss it as only a theory are confusing that meaning, sometimes deliberately I think, with the weak sense and committing a common logical error called the fallacy of equivocation.
There are two further divisions in the strong sense: there are scientific theories and non-scientific theories, and the distinction is based on empiricism, which in this context means based on observation and experiment: scientific theories are empirical, non-scientific theories are not. Picture it this way:
1. Weak Sense
a belief, conjecture, or speculation
2. Strong Sense
a coherent, consistent body of data, ideas, information, and analyses that describe and explain a range of phenomena.(a) Non-ScientificMight be a bit of a stretch to call string theory empirical, there are no observations or experiments that directly suggest it, there are only negatives, like the observed inconsistencies between quantum theory and relativity that indicate some deeper explanation is necessary. The essential point remains, however: string theory is not yet a scientific theory.(i) Empirical, but not falsifiable, predictive, or testable, like psychoanalysis and, so far, string theory.(b) Scientific: empirical, falsifiable, predictive, and testable
(ii) Non-Empirical, also not falsifiable, predictive, or testable, like religious dogma
To suggest that the word theory not be used at all is simply silly.
No, I don't think so. Pangloss made a legitimate observation, and I made the same point when I wrote, " Strictly speaking, Pangloss has it right. It's not really correct to call anything 'string theory,' though everybody does." String theory fits only the second definition on the list gc's search provided a few pages back, but that's quite plainly a definition of the word "hypothesis," not "theory," and not a very good one either, because it uses the word "theory" in the definition where it really doesn't belong. And speaking of gc's list, #6 is not a true statement.
What I find silly is the way you kept hammering at Pangloss, with a bit of attitude that really wasn't helpful or necessary, trying to force him to admit he's wrong when he's not. You didn't contribute much substance to the conversation.