[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]
Re: Theory or Law : Semantics??
2010/1/8 evelyn sobielski <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
>> Or we could try to campaign to make
>> the term "hypothesis" more popular in places where the
>> commonites mistakenly use the term "theory".
> Always a good idea.
I'm not so sure -- I think this is a battle we can't win. To 99% of
the population (and indeed to us 90% of the time), the word "theory"
means hypothesis. It just does. As in the phrase conspiracy theory,
or the classic line from the film _The Neanderthal Man_: "Do I
understand you correctly, Professor Groves? Surely you're not
advancing the astonishing theory that the mentality of Neanderthal man
compares favourably with that organ which ten million years of
evolution has developed in his modern counterpart?"
We have no chance whatsoever of engineering the meaning of that word
back to what we want it to mean: we may own "dinosaur" and
"evolution", but everyone owns "theory" and will use it as they
Our choices are: either make up a new word for theory in the
scientific sense; or accept that the same word has two different
meanings, just as psychologists mean something different by
"depressed" from what moody thirteen-year-olds mean.