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MFD - Hypothesis?

Theory or hypothesis?
  [vote for,

One of the grounds for deletion is "theory" - "the post explains why the world is the way it is." However, this is not a theory in the scientific sense but a hypothesis. Having said that, it is a theory in a broader sense of the word. The question is, is it a theory in a loose sense or merely a broad one?

From someone with a non-scientific background such as myself and presumably some other 'bakers, the word "theory" has a different meaning than "scientific theory", but not a loose one as such. For instance, i would use it in a context such as political theory, critical theory, and so forth. But i'm not going to be able to test a political theory by setting up an isolated society from scratch with a bunch of babies and impose a system on them, then record the results quantitatively. Nevertheless, a political theory is not just some meaningless casual waffle.

So what am i saying? Well, i suppose the idea here is that we define what the word "theory" means in this context, then if it turns out we really do mean "scientific theory", what we're really saying is that it's "MFD - Hypothesis". But in fact, there are maybe three different things here rather than one: "Scientific theory" (probably never happens here); "Theory" in a broader sense of the word (may happen, i'm not sure) and "Hypothesis" (which i think would turn out to be the real meaning of those grounds for deletion).

So the idea? This:

Change "MFD - Theory" to "MFD - Hypothesis".

Since many of us are pedants, i think this would appeal.

nineteenthly, May 31 2011


       //Nevertheless, a political theory is not just some meaningless casual waffle.// Hmm, really - or at the very least; Not necessarily.   

       But aside from that, how about sticking with the vernacular, and substituting "speculation" - it should mean the same to everyone, Scientist and Non-Scientist alike, and maintains the same level of specificity without resorting to technical scientific/academic definitions.
zen_tom, May 31 2011

       Speculation seems too general to me. It may or may not have an indefinite article before it. It's a mass noun rather than a count noun, as opposed to the word "hypothesis", which can be contrasted with "hypothesising".   

       Concerning political theory, i would concur with not necessarily but won't go further than that. For example, the idea of political obligation - is it right to obey the law and if so what makes it right? - has theory behind it. We're used to hearing the word "theory" used in a scientific context but that wasn't its original use. There are plenty of theories in theology, for example.
nineteenthly, May 31 2011

       But does that indefinite article matter in this case? My idea may be speculation in general, or in particular - but it's the lack of "meat" in the delivered product that's under consideration, not whether the result is a direct, or an indirect consequence of my state of mind. In exactly the same way that an hypothesis would be just as deletable as the indirect result of somebody's hypothesising.   

       I'm certainly not qualified to comment on whether any particular political theory is based on evidence or conjecture - but, since we're talking about choosing a language convention for a plurality of voices - who may or may not be educated in the ways of science, maybe it's from that unqualified demographic we should use as a starting point.   

       Does a theological theory "count" as a theory? It's arguable that it might. St Thomas of Aquinas came up with some very logical, very modern stuff, that seems to have stood the test of time (i.e. much of it doesn't seem silly to vast swathes of the population, despite what their religious convictions may be) Does that count as having been rigorously proven? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't - but I'm not sure which way points to it being an argument for or against keeping "theory" as an mfd-able thing or not, so I'll leave that point hanging there.
zen_tom, May 31 2011

       I think it counts as a theory, in fact that's my point. There are scientific theories, i.e. ones where there is a logical possibility of falsification by observation and so forth, and there are others where the word "theory" has been used and exists before science as we know it was practiced, which i think gives them priority as to the meaning.   

       I think the mfd reason is fine, it's just that to me it seems to refer to a hypothesis successfully and whereas it does refer to "theory", that means different things to different people.
nineteenthly, May 31 2011

       This proposed clarification is well founded. A Hypothesis is a testable idea, which if not falsified may serve as the basis for a future Scientific Theory, which is a body of thought or knowledge that is widely accepted as being verified (or at least useful and not falsified). For example Maxwell's Equations form a Scientific Theory, but "I think the reason some people are tall is so they can reach high fruit on trees" is not (yet).   

       On the other hand, if Maxwell had announced his Equations for the first time by posting on the HB, would we really want to MFD? In a sense they are an invention - an invention of the mind - a model (like a fantastically accurate astrolabe or something). In fact, he conceived of them in terms of imaginary cogs and wheels (not squeaky I hope).
sqeaketh the wheel, May 31 2011

       // In a sense they are an invention - an invention of the mind //   

       Don't get me started on that. OK, do.   

       Yes, i maintain that all inventions are inventions of the mind, and in a sense are discoveries. The abstract object is out there, floating in the Platonic void, instantiates itself in our minds, and we post it on here. Therefore an invention is often a contraption but can also be a fiction.
nineteenthly, May 31 2011

       Both theoretical rhetorical inventions and hypothetical practical inventions would seem to be grounds for MFD. An invention must be extant without the existence of merely postulated material. In this way many ideas that are elegant and appealing in a postulated universe are rejected due to their lack of substantial connection with this universe. In practice the MFD:theory or otherwise is a mark that the invention is simply insubstantial. Does it matter what name is applied to delete an idea. Many times MFD:no invention would suffice, no?
WcW, May 31 2011

       //On the other hand, if Maxwell had announced his Equations for the first time by posting on the HB, would we really want to MFD?// Well, we might have demanded, in order that the idea not be pure theory, that the idea include a proposed experiment to test the correctness of the equations.   

       [19thly] so, to a ... what's the opposite of platonist? ... there's no difference between a theory and an invention. Making the "Theory" m f d category vacuous. That reminds me of those movies where someone (pardigmaticly, it's Captian Kirk) uses the Cretan Liar paradox to get the giant computer to self- destruct. Only [jutta]'s more likely do a Samuel Johnson on you ("I refute him thus!")
mouseposture, Jun 01 2011

       No. I can't really see [jutta] kicking [nineteenthly].   

       //what's the opposite of platonist?// <growls>I am!</growls>
pertinax, Jun 01 2011

       Many of the things that "theory" hopes to avoid are not testable (would that they were hypotheses! Those would actually be useful!), and I think the general broad concept of theory as opposed to practice is widely understood. So, I think I'm actually aiming for the broader theory, and sweetening the deal by allowing the poster to misunderstand their rambling blather as the slightly more scientific version.   

       Much of the discussion on this page is way over my head. But in general, I think I'm probably more likely to do a Samuel L. Jackson on you than a Samuel Johnson.
jutta, Jun 01 2011

       I think i've been a bit peculiar on here recently and need to take a break though, [Jutta].   

       I suppose the theory objection on here is like an inanimate cosmic version of "let's all".   

       The opposite of a Platonist? Possibly a nominalist - someone who believes everything is just a nameless splodge which we arbitrarily map by hammering it into categories. Maybe an Aristotelian in another sense, but not in the sense of a world of forms. Hmm...
nineteenthly, Jun 02 2011


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