What Is The Difference Between A Scientific Theory And A Hypothesis

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trophyhunter1 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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A hypothesis is an educated guess about the answer to a problem or question. A hypothesis is testable using the scientific method of problem solving. Usually, a controlled experiment is performed and data is gathered. After data analysis, the hypothesis is either proven or a new hypothesis may be investigated. Scientists share their findings and more experimentation is done to see if the hypothesis is indeed valid. A theory however, is a collection of hypotheses that are linked together in a coherent way that explains something in nature or in reality in general. A theory has received a great deal of scientific support and is generally accepted as true. However, even theories may be modified over time as science and technology progress.

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elekzy | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Hypothesis are intellligent guesses made by scientist, while scientific theories are hypothesis that have been observed,tested and proven to be true or generally proven.

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loraaa | Student | (Level 2) Valedictorian

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A hypothesis attempts to answer questions by putting forth a plausible explanation that has yet to be rigorously tested. A theory, on the other hand, has already undergone extensive testing by various scientists and is generally accepted as being an accurate explanation of an observation. This doesn’t mean the theory is correct; only that current testing has not yet been able to disprove it, and the evidence as it is understood, appears to support it.

A theory will often start out as a hypothesis -- an educated guess to explain observable phenomenon. The scientist will attempt to poke holes in his or her hypothesis. If it survives the applied methodologies of science, it begins to take on the significance of a theory to the scientist. The next step is to present the findings to the scientific community for further, independent testing. The more a hypothesis is tested and holds up, the better accepted it becomes as a theory.