“Theory” Is Not a Success Term

Time to start my series on common errors committed by the skeptical/reality-based community:

My response to Ed Brayton’s claim:

Theory is the highest level of certainty assigned to explanations in science.

No, there are good theories and bad theories, successful theories and failed theories. Caloric theory didn’t become a non-theory when it was disproven.

A theory (as the term is actually used in science) is a coherent structure of explanation (e.g., laws, causal processes, etc.). It is NOT a success term. Nothing passes from being a non-theory to being a theory once it becomes confirmed by experiment.


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