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To prove a theory correct?

  1. Oct 15, 2003 #1
    Hi guys, just seeking opinions and discussion,

    As I am new to the realms of conventional physics I just thought I'd ask a question to help me understand the processes.

    To prove a theory correct means that you have to prove every one elses theories wrong. Is this a true statement?

    If so then most of the theoretical work you have to do is pulling other theories apart and disproving them.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 15, 2003 #2


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    Staff: Mentor


    The vast majority of new theoretical work builds on existing theories. If only at the most basic level, a new theory MUST start with some existing theory.
  4. Oct 17, 2003 #3
    A good describtion of a theory is here:

    http://www.wilstar.net/theories.htm [Broken]

    Also: http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=hypothesis

    So, theories can be wrong but then a lot of former proof needs to be falsified or explained in a logical different way. Most of the time theories are just refined. Some theories can be questioned but are usually well protected by skeptics.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  5. Oct 17, 2003 #4
    Just to put in some aspect that you're theory should have: it should comply with and explain some observed behaviour. In other words it has to agree with experiments. Setting up a theory that shows that superconductors can't exist is obviously a dumb theory since I can show you a superconductor in my lab.
  6. Oct 17, 2003 #5
    and if you didn't have a superconductor in your lab? You wouldn't know whether it was dumb or not.
  7. Oct 18, 2003 #6
    So theories have to comply with and explain some observed behaviour and would have to agree with experiments.

    Now what if a theory is not agreeing with experiments, would it be falsified?
  8. Oct 19, 2003 #7


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    No. A theory cannot be proved correct. It can only be proved false.
  9. Oct 19, 2003 #8


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    Staff: Mentor

    If you didn't have a superconductor in your lab, you'd still be well advised to consider what others who DO have superconductors have to say on the matter before attempting to prove they can't exist.

    So again - you may want to try to learn some of conventional physics before attempting to create your own.
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