Category: scientific theories

How To Spot A Bad Scientific Theory

How To Spot A Bad Scientific Theory

“But adding more and more modifications to your theory — making your model objectively more complicated — will of course have the power to offer you a better fit to the data. In general, the number of new free parameters your idea introduces should be far smaller than the number of new things it purports to explain. The great power of science is in its ability to predict and explain what we see in the Universe. The key is to do it as simply as possible, but not to oversimplify it any further than that.

Bad scientific theories abound, rife with unnecessary complications, extra sets of parameters, and unconstrained, ill-motivated speculations. Unless there’s a reality check coming, in the form of experimental or observational data, it isn’t worth wasting your time on.”

When you look at any phenomenon in the Universe, one of the major goals of scientific investigation is to understand its cause. If we see something occur, we want to know what made it happen. Quantitatively, we want to understand what processes were at play, and how they caused the effect of the exact magnitude that we observed. And finally, we want to know what to expect for systems we have not yet observed, and to make predictions about what behavior we’re likely to see in novel situations we may encounter in the future. You can find dime-a-dozen ideas, from professional physicists to philosophers to amateur enthusiasts, but most of them make lousy scientific theories. 

The reason? Because they simply assume too much and predict too little. This is the science of how theorizing works.