Creationists reject Darwin's theory of evolution on the grounds that it is just a theory. This is a valid criticism: evolution is indeed merely a theory, albeit one with ten billion times more credence than the theory of creationism - although, to be fair, the theory of creationism is more than just a theory. It's also a fairy story. And children love fairy stories, which is presumably why so many creationists are keen to have their whimsical gibberish taught in schools.
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And, partly, I had found that theory-structure was a superpower in helping one get what one wanted. As I had early discovered in school wherein I had excelled without labor, guided by theory, while many others, without mastery of theory failed despite monstrous effort. Better theory I thought had always worked for me and, if now available could make me acquire capital and independence faster and better assist everything I loved.
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The core of the doctrine consists in the proposition that the supply of money and the demand for it both affect its value. This proposition is probably a sufficiently good hypothesis to explain big changes in prices; but it is far from containing a complete theory of the value of money. It describes one cause of changes in prices; it is nevertheless inadequate for dealing with the problem exhaustively. By itself it does not comprise a theory of the value of money; it needs the basis of a general value theory. One after another, the doctrine of supply and demand, the cost-of-production theory, and the subjective theory of value have had to provide the foundations for the Quantity Theory.
Ludwig von Mises
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It is easy to obtain confirmations, or verifications, for nearly every theory-if we look for confirmations. Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions... A theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific. Irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory (as people often think) but a vice. Every genuine test of a theory is an attempt to falsify it, or refute it.
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Catastrophe Theory is-quite likely-the first coherent attempt (since Aristotelian logic) to give a theory on analogy. When narrow-minded scientists object to Catastrophe Theory that it gives no more than analogies, or metaphors, they do not realise that they are stating the proper aim of Catastrophe Theory, which is to classify all possible types of analogous situations.
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Such is professional jealousy; a scientist will never show any kindness for a theory which he did not start himself. There is no feeling of brotherhood among these people. Indeed, they always resent it when I call them brother. To show how far their ungenerosity can carry them, I will state that I offered to let Prof. H--y publish my great theory as his own discovery; I even begged him to do it; I even proposed to print it myself as his theory. Instead of thanking me, he said that if I tried to fasten that theory on him he would sue me for slander.
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The theory of free speech, that truth is so much larger and stranger and more many-sided than we know of, that it is very much better at all costs to hear everyone's account of it, is a theory which has been justified on the whole by experiment, but which remains a very daring and even a very surprising theory. It is really one of the great discoveries of the modern time.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
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I have always been slightly suspicious of the theory of evolution because of its ability to account for any property of living beings (the long neck of the giraffe, for example). I have therefore tried to see whether biological discoveries over the last thirty years or so fit in with Darwin's theory. I do not think that they do. To my mind, the theory does not stand up at all.
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It is not enough for theory to describe and analyze, it must itself be an event in the universe it describes. In order to do this theory must partake of and become the acceleration of this logic. It must tear itself from all referents and take pride only in the future. Theory must operate on time at the cost of a deliberate distortion of present reality.
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As my colleague, the physical chemist Peter Atkins, puts it, we must be equally agnostic about the theory that there is a teapot in orbrit around the planet Pluto. We can't disprove it. But that doesn't mean the theory that there is a teapot is on level terms with the theory that there isn't.
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When you look at the calculation, it's amazing that every time you try to prove or disprove time travel, you've pushed Einstein's theory to the very limits where quantum effects must dominate. That's telling us that you really need a theory of everything to resolve this question. And the only candidate is string theory.
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Men follow their sentiments and their self-interest, but it pleases them to imagine that they follow reason. And so they look for, and always find, some theory which, a posteriori, makes their actions appear to be logical. If that theory could be demolished scientifically, the only result would be that another theory would be substituted for the first one, and for the same purpose.
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The theory of natural selection is the centerpiece of The Origin of Species and of evolutionary theory. It is this theory that accounts for the adaptations of organisms, those innumerable features that so wonderfully equip them for survival and reproduction; it is this theory that accounts for the divergence of species from common ancestors and thus for the endless diversity of life. Natural selection is a simple concept, but it is perhaps the most important idea in biology.
Douglas J. Futuyma
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In these researches I followed the principles of the experimental method that we have established, i.e., that, in presence of a well-noted, new fact which contradicts a theory, instead of keeping the theory and abandoning the fact, I should keep and study the fact, and I hastened to give up the theory.
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Some claim evolution is just a theory. As if it were merely an opinion. The theory of evolution, like the theory of gravity, is a scientific fact. Evolution really happened. Accepting our kinship with all life on Earth is not only solid science. In my view, it's also a soaring spiritual experience.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
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My opinion about Miller's experiments is the following. ... Should the positive result be confirmed, then the special theory of relativity and with it the general theory of relativity, in its current form, would be invalid. Experimentum summus judex. Only the equivalence of inertia and gravitation would remain, however, they would have to lead to a significantly different theory.
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Well, it [evolution] is a theory, it is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science and is not yet believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was believed. But if it was going to be taught in the schools, then I think that also the biblical theory of creation, which is not a theory but the biblical story of creation, should also be taught.
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The Theory of Relativity confers an absolute meaning on a magnitude which in classical theory has only a relative significance: the velocity of light. The velocity of light is to the Theory of Relativity as the elementary quantum of action is to the Quantum Theory: it is its absolute core.
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The first theory is that if we make the rich richer, somehow they will let a part of their prosperity trickle down to the rest of us. The second theory was the theory that if we make the average of mankind comfortable and secure, their prosperity will rise upward through the ranks.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
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I am using the word theory as a scientist means it: a set of ideas so well established by observations and physical models that it is essentially indistinguishable from fact. That is different from the colloquial use that means "guess." To a scientist, you can bet your life on a theory. Remember, gravity is "just a theory" too.
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Indeed ethnography and theory resemble nothing so much as the two arcs of a hyperbola, which cast their beams in opposite directions, lighting up the surfaces, respectively, of mind and world. They are back to back, and darkness reigns between them. But what if each arc were to reverse its orientation, so as to embrace the other in an encompassing, brightly illuminated ellipse? We would then have neither ethnography nor theory, nor even a compound of both. What we would have is an undivided, interstitial field of anthropology. If ethnographic theory is the hyperbola, anthropology is the ellipse. For ethnography, when it turns, is no longer ethnography but the educational correspondences of real life. And theory, when it turns, is no longer theory, but an imagination nourished by its observational engagements with the world. The rupture between reality and imagination-the one annexed to fact, the other to theory-has been the source of much havoc in the history of consciousness. It needs to be repaired. It is surely the task of anthropology, before all else, to repair it. In calling a halt to the proliferation of ethnography, I am not asking for more theory. My plea is for a return to anthropology.
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Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can-if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong-to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.
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If criticism has made such discoveries as to necessitate the abandonment of the doctrine of plenary inspiration, it is not enough to say that we are compelled to abandon only a "particular theory of inspiration..." We must go on to say that that "particular theory of inspiration" is the theory of the apostles and of the Lord, and that in abandoning it we are abandoning them.
B. B. Warfield
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If what we regard as real depends on our theory, how can we make reality the basis of our philosophy? ...But we cannot distinguish what is real about the universe without a theory...it makes no sense to ask if it corresponds to reality, because we do not know what reality is independent of a theory.
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There was a sense that the one true theory had been discovered. Nothing else was important or worth thinking about. Seminars devoted to string theory sprang up at many of the major universities and research institutes. At Harvard, the string theory seminar was called the Postmodern Physics seminar. This appellation was not meant ironically.
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It is a remarkable fact that the second law of thermodynamics has played in the history of science a fundamental role far beyond its original scope. Suffice it to mention Boltzmann's work on kinetic theory, Planck's discovery of quantum theory or Einstein's theory of spontaneous emission, which were all based on the second law of thermodynamics.
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People sometimes try to score debating points by saying, Evolution is only a theory. That is correct, but it's important to understand what that means. It is also only a theory that the world goes round the Sun - it's just a theory for which there is an immense amount of evidence. There are many scientific theories that are in doubt. Even within evolution, there is some room for controversy. But that we are cousins of apes and jackals and starfish, let's say, that is a fact in the ordinary sense of the word.
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Today, almost half a century after the publication of the Encyclical [of Pius IX], new knowledge has led to the recognition in the theory of evolution of more than a hypothesis. It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory.
Pope John Paul II
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The theory I propose may therefore be called a theory of the Electromagnetic Field because it has to do with the space in the neighbourhood of the electric or magnetic bodies, and it may be called a Dynamical Theory, because it assumes that in the space there is matter in motion, by which the observed electromagnetic phenomena are produced.
James Clerk Maxwell
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Dawkins mentioned two mechanisms: the theory of the 'primeval soup' and the Cairns-Smith theory. He discussed the latter in some detail. Since no one has computed, for either theory, the chances of the events occurring, Dawkins could not tell us what those chances are. The mechanisms of both theories, however, have every appearance of being very improbably - even to the point of being impossible.
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We have already examined one of the objections that have been brought against the Quantity Theory; the objection that it only holds good ceteris paribus. No more tenable as an objection against the determinateness of our conclusions is reference to the possibility that an additional quantity of money may be hoarded. This argument has played a prominent role in the history of monetary theory; it was one of the sharpest weapons in the armoury of the opponents of the Quantity Theory. Among the arguments of the opponents of the Currency Theory it immediately follows the proposition relating to the elasticity of cash-economizing methods of payment, to which it also bears a close relation as far as its content is concerned.
Ludwig von Mises
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We shall see that the mathematical treatment of the subject [of electricity] has been greatly developed by writers who express themselves in terms of the 'Two Fluids' theory. Their results, however, have been deduced entirely from data which can be proved by experiment, and which must therefore be true, whether we adopt the theory of two fluids or not. The experimental verification of the mathematical results therefore is no evidence for or against the peculiar doctrines of this theory.
James Clerk Maxwell
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Those who promote the politically correct theory are favored with billions from government grants and neo-Marxist environmentalist largesse, and official recognition and award. Faked and tampered data and evidence has arisen in favor of the politically correct theory. Is not man-caused, catastrophic global warming now the only theory allowed to be taught in the West?
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It must be conceded that a theory has an important advantage if its basic concepts and fundamental hypotheses are 'close to experience,' and greater confidence in such a theory is certainly justified. There is less danger of going completely astray, particularly since it takes so much less time and effort to disprove such theories by experience. Yet more and more, as the depth of our knowledge increases, we must give up this advantage in our quest for logical simplicity in the foundations of physical theory...
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If white American feminist theory need not deal with the differences between us, and the resulting difference in our oppressions, then how do you deal with the fact that the women who clean your houses and tend your children while you attend conferences on feminist theory are, for the most part, poor women and women of Color? What is the theory behind racist feminism?
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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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Astrologers were greatly impressed, and misled, by what they believed to be confirming evidence-so much so that they were quite unimpressed by any unfavorable evidence. Moreover, by making their interpretations and prophecies sufficiently vague they were able to explain away anything that might have been a refutation of the theory had the theory and the prophecies been more precise. In order to escape falsification they destroyed the testability of their theory. It is a typical soothsayer's trick to predict things so vaguely that the predictions can hardly fail: that they become irrefutable.
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What is especially striking and remarkable is that in fundamental physics, a beautiful or elegant theory is more likely to be right than a theory that is inelegant. A theory appears to be beautiful or elegant (or simple, if you prefer) when it can be expressed concisely in terms of mathematics we already have. Symmetry exhibits the simplicity. The Foundamental Law is such that the different skins of the onion resemble one another and therefore the math for one skin allows you to express beautifully and simply the phenomenon of the next skin.
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Natural Selection is not Evolution. Yet, ever since the two words have been in common use, the theory of Natural Selection has been employed as a convenient abbreviation for the theory of Evolution by means of Natural Selection, put forward by Darwin and Wallace. This has had the unfortunate consequence that the theory of Natural Selection itself has scarcely ever, if ever, received separate consideration.
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By the 'mud-sill' theory it is assumed that labor and education are incompatible; and any practical combination of them impossible. According to that theory, a blind horse upon a tread-mill, is a perfect illustration of what a laborer should be -- all the better for being blind, that he could not tread out of place, or kick understandingly. According to that theory, the education of laborers, is not only useless, but pernicious, and dangerous. In fact, it is, in some sort, deemed a misfortune that laborers should have heads at all.
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When we blew the first atomic bomb at White Sands near the end of the war, nobody knew what was going to happen. There was a theory that the chain reaction would continue forever. And we would have created a little tiny sun out there in the desert that would burn until the end of the universe. It wasn't a widely held theory, but it was a theory that nobody had a way of disproving. There were people who thought it wouldn't go off at all, that it would simply sit out there and melt and produce a great big dirty cloud of radioactivity. Nobody knew.
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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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