In the media, Internet, and even in science these two terms are used as if they can be interchanged. Why is it that they should not be interchanged in everyday conversations. What can we teach the reader about how properly to use these two terms?
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it seems like a read somewhere or maybe heard it some place... that in science there is nothing sadder than a theory ruined by a single awkward fact...
With the exception of a related mathematical proof, there is no such thing as "proven scientifically." A hypothesis is based on theory, not used to form one.
No. The question comes first. The hypothesis is the proposed answer to the question. The experiment seeks to validate the hypothesis. The theory is formed from repeated results.
Is scientific theory the same as a scientific fact... or does that cross a line into what is considered a law... i.e the law of gravity?
A theory is a fact wannabe - nearly a fact but not quite. A scientific fact is proven beyond any doubt while for a theory, some uncertainty still exists.
Theory still has 'holes' in it. Like the theory of dark matter or physics at the level of quarks.
Theory never becomes fact. It explains fact (i.e. natural law). Gravity is a fact. The theory is that the attraction is related to mass and all objects possess gravitational force.
@ Courtney Burke: awesome answer... Sadly, I have hear these terms interchanged in a science setting... It is usally a clear sign that whomever is talking may not be the expert that they claim to be. I also hear theory used extensively in politics.