Lesson 4: SCIENTIFIC THEORY
A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method, and repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation. As with most (if not all) forms of scientific knowledge, scientific theories are inductive in nature and aim for predictive power and explanatory force. The strength of a scientific theory is related to the diversity of phenomena it can explain, and to its elegance and simplicity (Occam’s razor). As additional scientific evidence is gathered, a scientific theory may be rejected or modified if it does not fit the new empirical findings- in such circumstances, a more accurate theory is then desired. In certain cases, the less-accurate unmodified scientific theory can still be treated as a theory if it is useful (due to its sheer simplicity) as an approximation under specific conditions (e.g. Newton’s laws of motion as an approximation to special relativity at velocities which are small relative to the speed of light).