The Theory
as a tool

by Lin Stone

This is MY theory: A theory is only a theory.
We must be very careful not to turn our conclusions into facts.

We can test our theory long enough to know it works for us fairly well under some specific set of circumstances.  We can use it fearlessly right up until the minute it quits working for us, but we don't have to bow down to it or worship it because it is not a fact; it is just a theory.

Even when a theory is so solid it sounds like new wine when it drips off the tongue, we must always remember it is still just a theory, for the simple reason it has not been proven yet. And every time a new fact is discovered or established in that scientific discipline EVERY theory in that discipline should be examined again because the chance exists that some part of that theory may have been established on the conclusions of some other theory. For instance, it was once established that dinosaurs were wiped out millions of years ago BECAUSE coal and oil come from dinosaurs and it takes millions of years for oil to form. You can't change facts like that therefore, dinosaurs were wiped out millions of years ago!  

Well, lately scientists have questioned that declaration and now they can create fossils in a matter of days. By using boiling water EXXON scientists can create OIL in a matter of days. Therefore the certified ages of all those dinosaurs are now standing on the sloshing sand of a rapidly deteriorating theory that might not hold water any longer.

I'm far from the only one challenging pet theories: "Notice the unsubstantiated dogma that petrification takes millions of years.  Who proved it takes millions of years?  There is no absolute proof of that in the literature You will find that the scientific literature will say that such and such fossil was found in the so and so formation which is 100 million years old.    Can they even prove that the fossil sat there undisturbed for 100 million years?    Of course they can not.    They assume that though and it may be a logical assumption given other circumstances and assumptions.   No one was around to time the mineralization process. No one untill now has duplicated the process.  No one has ever watched a piece of wood turn to stone over a million year time span.   No one has scientifically observed anything petrifying until recently.    After all if you believe it took millions of years to accomplish, who would ever try to observe the phenomenon in a lab? This is one of the problems in science as a discipline i.e.  Assumptions are made which can be totally wrong and are never tested. This leads to wrong theories and wrong dogmas that persist for hundreds of years sometimes. As recently as 1972 the old dogma that wood took millions of years to petrify could be found in all kinds of geological books.

Notice how everyone assumes always that petrified wood took millions of years to form.    Now we know how to make petrified wood and it only takes days   I submit to you that nature only takes days or weeks to make petrified wood and that it can only be formed in a short time under proper circumstances. 

The full text is found on http://www.dinosaurc14ages.com/hughpet.htm .

Scientists are only human and some of them cannot express their theories clearly or accurately to start with. Consequently, some theories become ridiculous simply because they are stated in such an unscientific manner they can never be proven -- or unproven.  For example, the snowflake theory can never be proven. What?

You should recall the snow flake theory, it is the one that claims no two snowflakes are identical. 

SeaStone Books has published 37 books by Lin Stone including:  Tales From the Light Side and Over eight hundred articles by Lin Stone are published on this site alone, some of which are exclusive.

It is my theory that the scientist
that uttered this authoritative
squabble of nonsense had
his mind fused on the next
terribly important ball game!

Petty science teachers seized on this FACT and kicked it into orbit over the classroom. But, they can rage until doomsday that this theory is pure truth and established fact -- but until every snowflake that has ever fallen, or ever shall fall, is matched against every other snowflake that has already fallen or ever shall try to fall -- the identical snowflake postulation remains just a theory.

The snow flake theory cannot be proven because an enormous number of those snow flakes have already dissolved and thus they cannot be examined. In fact, some snow flakes are only half baked and they melt partially or completely before they ever hit the ground.

The snow flake theory cannot be proven because we can't possibly examine every snowflake that will yet fall until eternity comes to an end and the very last one comes fluttering into existence for its inspection. There is always the chance it will be identical with the first snow flake that fell on that first day of eternity.

We must also consider that since some snow flakes melt long before they reach our examination table, accommodations must be made to examine each one of them before they melt lest we miss a melting snow flake that was identical with one that made it to the ground in one or more pieces.

The snowflake theory is a nice theory and it even has a certain ring of truth to it, but it is still just a theory and we do not have to bow down to it or worship it as if it were a proven fact. We can even laugh at people that pretend it is a fact so they can pretend they are smarter than the rest of us who wouldn't even care if it was a fact.  Perhaps a grant can be given so that scientists in woolen underwear can go zipping through the clouds picking out the snow flakes on the verge of melting before they have been examined.

By the same kind of fallacious thinking American citizens have delighted their ticklish fancy with this absurd theory that scientists must be FREE to make great discoveries; “and the proof of this is that American scientists make more great discoveries than scientists of any other persuasions.”
This old theory sounded good when it first sailed past the American ear, but today we are seeing far too many exceptions to the rule to bow down to that theory any longer.
Japan makes better transmissions
Korea makes better tires
India makes better doctors
Australia makes better beaches
England makes better politicians
And ---- Communist scientists of China, are outstripping US on many production fronts. Sadly enough it must also be admitted that the communists understand the basic theories of economics far better than our highly-paid American politicians. How else can we explain our Congress being so intent on dragging us through bankruptcy while the Chinese are getting richer by the minute?

70 years ago the soundest thinkers of Japan had this theory that Japan could never lose a war because it never had lost one. Even if they made a few tactical errors they expected this theory to brew up a divine wind to blow the situation back to normal. Now that Japan has lost a war those thinkers can proudly point out that "financially" it was the best thing that could have happened to Japan.  But, you know what? that's still just a theory.

Long, long ago mathematicians postulated this theory that the earth was round. They even went so far as to measure just how big around the earth was. Their theory sounded good when it sailed past the ear but in reality it served no useful purpose to know the circumference of the earth since the only people who ever left their village behind were the ones carted off as slaves.

Back in those ancient days it was in fact much more convenient to believe this theory that the earth was flat since it could be measured much easier that way and absolute accuracy wasn't as important when man was still using spears and bone-handled knives to stick hogs with. Thus it was that corrupt politicians and men of common sense laid aside the round earth theory until most people were so rabidly content with the flat-earth theory they believed it was a fact.

Columbus resurrected the earth is round theory when he wanted financial backing to cash in on plundering the sweet smelling spices of India. However, since he only half believed this theory he also believed the earth was only half as big around as real mathematicians had claimed it was for centuries.
Columbus had this half-baked theory that all you had to do was just sail west for a few weeks or months and he'd get to the other side of the earth and hone in on India from the east, THAT was his theory.
Since no thinking man would sail with a fool consumed by such a half-baked theory, so (kicking and screaming in protest) most of his crew came straight out of prison.

After The Theory
The earth was round theory remained unproven until one ship made the complete circumnavigation of the earth in an uninterrupted voyage.
Nowadays hundreds of times a week the jetliners and space shuttles of today reconfirm the earth is round in fact. Now that we know the earth is round it does not matter if the old theory sounded good when it sailed past the ear. The important thing to remember is this: the earth stayed round in shape no matter what half-baked theory we came up with or used for the moment.
The earth stayed almost a sphere all that time because that was a fact. Ignoring that fact in favor of the earth-is-some-other-shape theory could lead you to conclusions sinfully useless, like the German scientists of Hitler's time being forced to believe that the earth was concave instead of convex. No matter how hard they tried to make their telescopes pierce the stratosphere to see what was happening in New York all they got for their troubles was static.

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Astronomers have this theory that the universe is just so big and no bigger.  It also sounds good when it sails past the ear but it is still just a man-made theory with no measurable facts to back it up. Maybe the famous red shift does prove something, and maybe it doesn't, but the truth of the matter is, we don't know what the truth is because our weapons of investigation were horribly crude until just a few short years ago and every one of the measurements that have been recorded are distinctly unreliable, meaning -- we can't prove a thing by quoting faulty and unreliable instrument readings. 

Even if our ancient instruments were 100% accurate and we had, 2,000 years of accurate measurements, those calibrated instruments could not have registered enough divergence to prove a thing; in fact, the minute shift noted in original coordinates over a period of 10,072 years might just as easily be caused by the variant movements of our own sphere after one or more earthquakes.  Our own shaky orbit around the sun, the movement of our own sun within the galaxy, the shift of our own galaxy;  any of these could have thrown our instruments out of kilter without us even realizing it.

Consequently, there would be no reliable way of knowing if some distant galaxy is scooting out of sight or if our planet is buckling up for a different wobble.  When Hawaii was the north pole, most of us couldn't even count the number of galaxies visible out there in space, much less the number of stars or how fast they were speeding this way, or that. Therefore the theory of a finite universe is still, just a theory.

We have telescopes that reach out forever into space and the only thing we know for sure at this point is that the universe seems to keep right on going, long past what we could see so far. Petty science teachers can rage until doomsday that this theory is a truth but until someone bangs up against the end of the universe or winds up back where they started from while still plunging straight ahead, then it is still just a theory.

It is perfectly okay to take the theory of a finite universe and use it as a tool to implement our current ratiocinations but we must always be ready to lay it back in the tool box when that theory has served its purpose.

Scientists have this neat little way of breeding respect by disguising theories as facts.  Just as an example, we are told that tree rings tell us about times of drought or plentiful rainfall during that tree's lifetime.  The way it is told to us makes us believe we are hearing a FACT.  But no, it's just a theory. The fact is, those variations in tree rings are more likely to represent how much sunlight that tree is receiving for those time segments.

/

In conclusion, theories are nice little gadgets and we need them desperately if we are going to forge ahead in the scientific fields of knowledge. But we must always remember to tell our children (and ourselves) that even the most politically correct theories of the day are only tools and may not fit the facts we will be dealing with tomorrow.  

Tomorrow's pet theory may be,
not only a horse of a different color,


but a zebra
of a different stripe.

About the author: Independently less than wealthy, Lin Stone has this theory that writing how to articles will help the writing trade. Lin's latest theories are posted on http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001K8SDAA

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