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Fact vs Theory

What is the difference between fact and theory? In everyday language we think of a theory as inferior to facts. However, the words fact and theory have very specific meanings in the world of science.

A fact is an observation that has been confirmed so many times that scientists consider it to be true. A hypothesis is a tentative explanation about an observation that can be tested. It's just a starting point for further investigation. A scientific law describes the “how” and is usually back by a mathematical formula. A theory describes the “why”. It includes an explanation of some aspect of the natural world that's well-substantiated by facts, tested hypotheses, and laws. It is the granddaddy of all scientific statements.

So, the next time someone says “well its just a theory” feel free to let them know a theory is more than a fact and a hypothesis—it is actually a collection of all the knowledge the best scientists on earth have put together.

One last point… most of us know the scientific method (question > research > hypothesis > experiment > analysis > conclusion). This is the basis for how all science is conducted. This tee is different and shows the process to develop a theory. Just wanted to let you know that in case someone tells you “you have the wrong sequence for the scientific process”. This is your opportunity to tell them they are right and share the difference between facts and theories :)

Want to spread the science love? Check out our Fact vs Theory T-shirt here:

Fact vs Theory T-Shirt