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Facts count. Conspiracy theories, usually the refuge of the bitter or disempowered, range from factually challenged to wildly hallucinogenic. Conspiracy theories are not harmless entertainment, or a laudable facet of the freedom of speech. Conspiracy theories do both overt and tacit harm. Dangerous when they deal with public health issues, at a minimum, almost all are insults to the integrity of thousands of hard-working and honest people. In the extreme, conspiracy theories slander entire races, nations, or cultures.
K. Lee Lerner
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Scientific theories need reconstruction every now and then. If they didn't need reconstruction they would be facts, not theories. The more facts we know, the less radical become the changes in our theories. Hence they are becoming more and more constant. But take the theory of gravitation; it has not been changed in four hundred years.
Charles Proteus Steinmetz
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Superstring theories provide a framework in which the force of gravity may be united with the other three forces in nature: the weak, electromagnetic and strong forces. Recent progress has shown that the most promising superstring theories follow from a single theory. For the last generation, physicists have studied five string theories and one close cousin. Recently it has become clear that these five or six theories are different limiting cases of one theory which, though still scarcely understood, is the candidate for superunification of the forces of nature.
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Because those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a crippled epistemology, in accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories, the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups. Various policy dilemmas, such as the question whether it is better for government to rebut conspiracy theories or to ignore them, are explored in this light.
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One of the most difficult features of direct experince is that it is unfiltered by any theories or expectations. It's hard to observe without imposing a theory to explain what we're seeing, but the trouble with theories, as Einstein said, is that they explain not only what is observed, but what can be observed. We start to build expectations based on our theories.
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Were I disposed to consider the comparative merit of each of them [facts or theories in medical practice], I should derive most of the evils of medicine from supposed facts, and ascribe all the remedies which have been uniformly and extensively useful, to such theories as are true. Facts are combined and rendered useful only by means of theories, and the more disposed men are to reason, the more minute and extensive they become in their observations
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Facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away while scientists debate rival theories for explaining them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air pending the outcome.
Stephen Jay Gould
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Even mistaken hypotheses and theories are of use in leading to discoveries. This remark is true in all the sciences. The alchemists founded chemistry by pursuing chimerical problems and theories which are false. In physical science, which is more advanced than biology, we might still cite men of science who make great discoveries by relying on false theories. It seems, indeed, a necessary weakness of our mind to be able to reach truth only across a multitude of errors and obstacles.
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Anyone who has examined into the history of the theories of earth evolution must have been astounded to observe the manner in which the unique and the difficultly explainable has been made to take the place of the common and the natural in deriving the framework of these theories.
William Herbert Hobbs
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There are many examples of old, incorrect theories that stubbornly persisted, sustained only by the prestige of foolish but well-connected scientists. . . . Many of these theories have been killed off only when some decisive experiment exposed their incorrectness. .. Thus the yeoman work in any science, and especially physics, is done by the experimentalist, who must keep the theoreticians honest.
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Perhaps generations of students of human evolution, including myself, have been flailing about in the dark; that our data base is too sparse, too slippery, for it to be able to mold our theories. Rather the theories are more statements about us and ideology than about the past. Paleontology reveals more about how humans view themselves than it does about how humans came about, but that is heresy.
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Clarissa had a theory in those days - they had heaps of theories, always theories, as young people have. It was to explain the feeling they had of dissatisfaction; not knowing people; not being known. For how could they know each other? You met every day; then not for six months, or years. It was unsatisfactory, they agreed, how little one knew people.
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Christian theological history is filled with stories of groups who have developed theories of the election of themselves to salvation and the damnation of others; theories that demonstrate that their particular group has been exclusively endowed with divine truth, so that they possess a unique mission to the world and have a unique authority within it.
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One of the greatest sources of problems in our society arises from people having loads of wrong theories in their heads - often theories that are critical of others - that they won't test by speaking to the relevant people about them. Instead, they talk behind people's backs, which leads to pervasive misinformation.
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The method of science depends on our attempts to describe the world with simple theories: theories that are complex may become untestable, even if they happen to be true. Science may be described as the art of systematic over-simplification-the art of discerning what we may with advantage omit.
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Let's develop theories patiently and honestly thinking them out, in order to promptly act against them - acting and justifying our actions with new theories that condemn them. Let's cut a path in life then go immediately against that path. Let's adopt all the poses and gestures of something we aren't and don't even wish to be, and don't even wish to taken for being.
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When you're operating on uninvestigated theories of what's going on and you aren't even aware of it, you're in what I call "the dream." Often the dream becomes troubling; sometimes it even turns into a nightmare. At times like these, you may want to test the truth of your theories by doing The Work on them. The Work always leaves you with less of your uncomfortable story. Who would you be without it? How much of your world is made up of unexamined stories? You'll never know until you inquire.
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It is ... a sign of the times-though our brothers of physics and chemistry may smile to hear me say so-that biology is now a science in which theories can be devised: theories which lead to predictions and predictions which sometimes turn out to be correct. These facts confirm me in a belief I hold most passionately-that biology is the heir of all the sciences.
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History has got a lot to do with unique circumstances under certain particular cases and grand theories will always find counter cases. I don't think that people whose expertise lies in one thing should try to make grand theories about something (a) where it's very hard to get the evidence to prove that you're right and (b) where it's much too easy to make up stories that seem right.
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Generally speaking, geologists seem to have been much more intent on making little worlds of their own, than in examining the crust of that which they inhabit. It would be much more desirable that facts should be placed in the foreground and theories in the distance, than that theories should be brought forward at the expense of facts. So that, in after times, when the speculations of the present day shall have passed away, from a greater accumulation of information, the facts may be readily seized and converted to account.
Henry De la Beche
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The first step toward the management of disease was replacement of demon theories and humours theories by the germ theory. That very step, the beginning of hope, in itself dashed all hopes of magical solutions. It told workers that progress would be made stepwise, at great effort, and that a persistent, unremitting care would have to be paid to a discipline of cleanliness. So it is with software engineering today.
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Here you have learned the theories of life, " continued the Headmaster, resuming the thread of his discourse, "but after all, life is not a matter of theories. Life is a matter of facts. It calls on the young and the old alike to face these facts, even though they are hard and sometimes unpleasant. Your problem, for example, is to slay dragons.
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Biochemists and biologists who adhere blindly to Darwinian theory search for results that will be in agreement with their theories and consequently orient their research in a given direction, whether it be in the field of ecology, ethology, sociology, demography (dynamics of populations), genetics, or paleontology. This intrusion of theories has unfortunate results: it deprives observations and experiments of their objectivity, makes them biased, and, moreover, creates false problems.
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The sensible man, ' Crow had said (to Sherlock Holmes), 'don't look to confirm what he already knows - he looks to deny it. Finding evidence that backs up your theories ain't useful, but finding evidence that your theories are wrong is priceless. Never try to prove yourself right - always try to prove yourself wrong instead.
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I now want to tell three stories about advances in twentieth-century physics. A curious fact emerges in these tales: time and again physicists have been guided by their sense of beauty not only in developing new theories but even in judging the validity of physical theories once they are developed. Simplicity is part of what I mean by beauty, but it is a simplicity of ideas, not simplicity of a mechanical sort that can be measured by counting equations or symbols.
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Theories of history used to be supernatural: the divine ruled time; the hand of God, a special providence, lay behind the fall of each sparrow. If the present differed from the past, it was usually worse: supernatural theories of history tend to involve decline, a fall from grace, the loss of God's favor, corruption.
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Newton's theory is not 'not right', it just does not cover all distances. Contrary to popular belief, theories in science are not proven wrong, they are just replaced by more complete and convenient theories. To sound provocative, even the geocentric theory was never "proven" wrong, it is just not as convenient as the heliocentric theory, since it requires endless epicycles.
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The Church demonstrated the falsity and folly of Darwin's theories by showing that they contradicted the Mosaic account of creation, and now that the theories of Darwin having been fairly established, the Church says that the Mosaic account is true because it is in harmony with Darwin. Now, if it should turn out that Darwin was mistaken, what then?
Robert Green Ingersoll
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Many theories of the ancient world seem terribly childish today, a hodge-podge of fables and false comparisons.But our theories will seem childish five-hundred years from now.Every theory is based on some analogy, and sooner or later the theory fails because the analogy turns out to be false. A theory in its day helps to solve the problems of the day.
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This quarrel over the messianic status of Jesus within first-century Judaism had profound effects on Christianity and prompted it towards a fateful turning point that switched the emphasis from following the way of Jesus to believing things about Jesus. Gradually a Christian came to be thought of not as one who lives and acts in a certain way, but as one who holds certain convictions or theories. The trouble with religious convictions or beliefs is that, since we can rarely prove or disprove them, we get anxious about them and start quarrelling with people whose convictions or theories differ from our own.
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What never fails inside the mind of an intellectual never works outside the confines of his head. The world's stubborn refusal to vindicate the intellectual's theories serves as proof of humanity's irrationality, not his own. Thus, the true believer retrenches rather than rethinks; he launches a war on the world, denying reality because it fails to conform to his theories. If intellectuals are not prepared to reconcile theory and practice, then why do they bother to venture outside the ivory tower or the coffeehouse? Why not stay in the world of abstractions and fantasy?
Daniel J. Flynn
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Evolution is a theory in a special philosophical sense of science, but in terms of ordinary laymen's use of language, it's a fact, .. Evolution is a fact in the same sense that it's a fact that the Earth is round and not flat, [that] the Earth goes round the Sun. Both those are also theories, but they're theories that have never been disproved and never will be disproved.
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The 1970s and 1980s: feminism, androgyny, modernism, aesthetics In the 1970s and 1980s, Woolf studies expanded in a number of directions, most notably in relation to feminism. Critical interest in Woolf developed at the same time as feminism developed in related academic disciplines. In this period her writings became central to the theoretical framing of feminism, in particular to debates on Marxist and materialist feminism and to the emergent theories of androgyny. Both these areas of debate takeWoolf 's A Room of One's Own as a major point of reference... At the same time as feminist approaches to Woolf were developing and expanding, so, too, was the critical interest in her modernist theories and her formal aesthetics. Again, Woolf 's writing became central to critical and theoretical formulations on modernism... This period also saw considerable critical interest in the influence of the visual arts on Woolf 's writing, and particularly in the influence of the formalist theories of her Bloomsbury colleagues Roger Fry and Clive Bell.
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Technos and clerics have much in common. Both take a world that can't be fully understood and try to explain its fundamental properties. Clerics postulate beliefs that can never be proven; they demand you accept these postulates as your Faith, which will guide your actions and thoughts. It's a top down way of thinking; start with the big picture and derive rules for living. Fundamental knowledge is static. Even the derived rules rarely change. Technos work from the bottom up. They build a baseline of observations and formulate theories to explain these phenomena. Nothing is sacred; with new observations, theories are discarded or modified to fit the facts. Technos and clerics; how could they not be in conflict? Dan Ronco's Diary, 2016
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