I agree wholeheartedly with Tom Norton’s May 19 editorial on the absence of civility in arguing matters of science today (Prove it!). But, as a scientist, I note that his definition of theory at the end of the article is incorrectly used. While the lay definition he gives is correct, the scientific definition is completely different. As explained by the Wikipedia website: “In science, a theory is a proposed description, explanation, or model of the manner of interaction of a set of natural phenomena, capable of predicting future occurrences or observations of the same kind, and capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise falsified through empirical observation. It follows from this that for scientists ‘theory’ and ‘fact’ do not necessarily stand in opposition.”
In science, a theory is far more than speculation, the latter is generally defined in science by “hypothesis.” The gulf between the lay and scientific definitions of “theory” has been seized upon by politicos to push non-scientific agendas. And due to the huge growth in government-funded science since World War II, conversely, many scientists promote their hypotheses as facts, which is what Norton actually should rightly be tired of. In the end it’s all about keeping their gravy train rolling, greased by our tax dollars.