Originally Posted by lookingglass
. The common use of the word theory and the scientific use of the word theory are completely different.
Entirely true. That crossed my mind, too, but I didn't think I could explain it. It's been too long since college. Thanks for posting the link.
And here's from Merriam-Webster online dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theory
definitions 1, 3, & 5 are closest to the use of the word in science; the closest paraphrase that covers all three would be something like: theory: an explanation of a set of facts.
As an example:
hypothesis: climate is changing more rapidly than can be accounted for by natural forces
facts: average temperature is increasing, sea and continental ice is melting, greenhouse gases are increasing, species are becoming extinct, weather is more extreme, etc etc
theory: greenhouse gases are associated with the known set of facts; mankind is emitting huge quantities of greenhouse gases; therefore mankind is causing (or at least a major contributor to) rapid climate change
I'm not sure I quite got the example correct; please correct me if I went wrong somewhere; it's still too hazy even after reading the explanations.