Are Any Scientific Hypotheses Also Scientific Theories?
I have the unpopular opinion that caused someone to insult me. That opinion is that “scientific theory” is not mutually exclusive with “scientific hypothesis.” Not all hypotheses are theories, but all scientific theories are hypotheses. A theory is a good kind of hypothesis.
The person gave me this link: http://evidence-based-science.blogspot.ca/2008/02/what-is-scientific-law-theory.html
The link gave the following definition for hypothesis:
Hypothesis: This is an educated guess based upon observation. It is a rational explanation of a single event or phenomenon based upon what is observed, but which has not been proved. Most hypotheses can be supported or refuted by experimentation or continued observation.
This is what it says about theory:
Theory: A theory is more like a scientific law than a hypothesis. A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. One scientist cannot create a theory; he can only create a hypothesis.
Those are not mutually exclusive. I agree with those definitions.
Some people want to define hypothesis to be mutually exclusive of scientific theory as “an educated guess based upon observation. It is a rational explanation of a single event or phenomenon based upon what is observed, but which has not been proved. Most hypotheses can be supported or refuted by experimentation or continued observation. AND it’s not a theory — it has not been verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers.”
I merely don’t want to add the extra bit at the end. I realize that scientists often refer to a hypothesis in that way. They often mean “non-theory hypothesis.” However, that’s not what it has to mean in every case. It’s like saying human beings aren’t apes because many scientists talk about “apes” and mean “non-human apes.”
The motivation to make them mutually exclusive seems to be that people want to tell skeptics, “Scientific theories aren’t just made up! You have to believe it!” I actually have no problem with saying that. My view is compatible with saying that. However, some people also want to say, “This isn’t a hypothesis! It’s a theory, so you have to agree with it!” I don’t think we need to phrase things that way. However, we could still say, “This isn’t just a hypothesis! It’s a theory, so you have to agree with it!”