How Does A Scientific Theory Differ From A Guess Or An Opinion?


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Oscar De La Huerte Profile
A theory is a model that is based on observation, experiment and reasoning. A guess or opinion is more of a cursory observation that hasn't been formed through any particularly in-depth investigation.

What Is A Scientific Theory?

A scientific theory is based on rational examination. To form a scientific theory, you would take an opinion or guess, and then collect facts and data to support it.
Only through evidence that has been verified can an original 'opinion' or 'hypothesis' become a fully-formed theory.

What Is An Opinion?

An opinion is an observation that you may have formed without looking into a matter in any particular detail.

For example, I have opinions about what type of pizza topping is the best, but to come up with a scientific theory for the best pizza topping I might want to look into statistics of pizza sales around the world.

I could study the ingredients used in various pizza toppings and analyse why they affect our taste buds the way they do. I may even look into the way people perceive taste, and how this has an effect on what we eat.

Basically, the scientific process involved would be a lot more in-depth than simply ordering a New Yorker and a Hawaiian and seeing which I like best (although that does sound like a test I'd be willing to sign up to). In fact, scientists often refer to the 'scientific method' when they talk about how they approach the proving (or disproving) of a hypothesis (an unsubstantiated opinion).

What Is Scientific Method?

Scientific method is an idea that has been banging about since the 17th century. Basically, it states that any scientific conclusions that are to be made must be based on verifiable and measurable evidence. The scientific method also places importance on examining a hypothesis according to 'specific principles of reasoning'.

In most science textbooks, you'll find the scientific method divided into the following stages:
  • Formulate a question
  • Present a hypothesis
  • Make a prediction
  • Test the prediction
  • Analyse the results of the test

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