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What Is a Theory?

Ask Science, Dr. Lee Falin, helps us understand the difference between the general meaning of theory and the scientific meaning of theory.

By
Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read

What Is a Theory?

A listener named Jonathon McIntosh had this comment about my use of the word theory:

In your last podcast, you said you had "just a theory." A theory is tantamount to fact. What you were doing is speculating. Please don't spread this misuse of the word theory. It is an important distinction. 
 
Saying "just a theory" devalues the excruciating hard work of many scientists. Gravity, for example, is "just a theory". 

As a former scientist, I know exactly what he means!

Watch the video to hear Ask Science, Dr. Lee Falin and me discuss words such as theory, significant, organic, and positive feedback that mean something different from what you may expect when you talk to a scientist.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.