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    Allen Farber's Avatar
    Allen Farber Posts: 191, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Dec 27, 2016, 12:19 PM
    Can someone paraphrase this for me?
    Can someone please explain to me what is meant by the following:

    "Put in simple terms, a theory is a simplified picture of reality. As such, theories tell, or explain to us how the world works in certain domains. Because the world around us is complex and difficult to understand, we make sense of it through theories. For this sense making to happen, we need to decide which factors are more important. Therefore, when studying something we leave those factors that are less important out and zoom in, so to speak, on those factors that are more important. In doing so, the world becomes more comprehensible as it gets broken down into abstract and easily comprehensible factors that describe reality."
    talaniman's Avatar
    talaniman Posts: 54,328, Reputation: 10855
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    #2

    Dec 27, 2016, 12:23 PM
    "Keep it simple AND specific!"
    Allen Farber's Avatar
    Allen Farber Posts: 191, Reputation: 1
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    #3

    Dec 27, 2016, 01:19 PM
    Keep what simple and specific? And I kind of meant dissect each sentence when I said paraphrase, although I appreciate the answer.
    joypulv's Avatar
    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #4

    Dec 27, 2016, 04:15 PM
    I can't dissect each sentence. I'm not sure I like how it's written. I don't subscribe to 'a theory is a simplified picture of reality' at all. A theory can be extremely simple or extremely complex.
    As I read each sentence, I don't care of any one of them.

    To me, a theory is a STATEMENT of the reasons for certain events that consists of as much evidence of it's PROOF as possible.
    Proof is very elusive. Theories get disputed all the time. There are theories about how financial markets are going to work, and weather patterns, and how the universe works, and there are always people waiting to bust them.
    Some, such as gravity, are both simple and complex. We still don't really know what it is.

    I'm curious to know who wrote this?
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,302, Reputation: 7692
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    #5

    Dec 27, 2016, 05:27 PM
    First of course in philosophy, there is a concept that no one can prove that Reality really exists.

    But to your paragraph.
    Reality is too difficult and complex to understand, All we can do is take parts of it, and use what understanding we have to accept that part of it.

    Concept: we never truly see all of reality only that small part we are able to understand with our limited resourses.
    Allen Farber's Avatar
    Allen Farber Posts: 191, Reputation: 1
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    #6

    Dec 27, 2016, 06:35 PM
    Thanks, I appreciate the answer. I now understand the first few parts but don't really understand the last few: "Therefore, when studying something we leave those factors that are less important out and zoom in, so to speak, on those factors that are more important. In doing so, the world becomes more comprehensible as it gets broken down into abstract and easily comprehensible factors that describe reality." If you could at least go into more detail about this part, I would really appreciate it. And to answer your question, it was written by Richard Meissner

    Thanks, I now understand the first few sentences.
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 38,804, Reputation: 5431
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    #7

    Dec 27, 2016, 06:56 PM
    "Therefore, when studying something we leave those factors that are less important out and zoom in, so to speak, on those factors that are more important. In doing so, the world becomes more comprehensible as it gets broken down into abstract and easily comprehensible factors that describe reality."
    Therefore, when we study a certain subject, we skip over the parts that are abstract and instead zero in on the parts that are more understandable. In other words, the subject becomes more manageable because it has been broken down into either abstract parts (that we can plow through at another time) and easily comprehensible parts (that are digestible now)."
    ma0641's Avatar
    ma0641 Posts: 15,681, Reputation: 1012
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    #8

    Dec 27, 2016, 09:28 PM
    This isn't a particular theory but let's say you are studying how to determine area of a cylinder. The cylinder is described as being made of white translucent dimpled glass, 4" diameter, 1/4" thick,filled with a brown liquid having a density of .94, is 4" high, 20 degrees Centigrade, 760 mm of mercury. What parts of the description are relevant to determining the area? What play no or insignificant parts? Look up the area of a cylinder and you will find the answer.
    Allen Farber's Avatar
    Allen Farber Posts: 191, Reputation: 1
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    #9

    Dec 28, 2016, 04:05 AM
    Thanks for the answer. One more thing, I'm assuming when you say plow through, you mean try to understand, right?
    joypulv's Avatar
    joypulv Posts: 21,593, Reputation: 2941
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    #10

    Dec 28, 2016, 05:18 AM
    yes, understand.

    There are several Richard Meissners - can you say more about him?
    Wondergirl's Avatar
    Wondergirl Posts: 38,804, Reputation: 5431
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    #11

    Dec 28, 2016, 09:16 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Farber View Post
    Thanks for the answer. One more thing, I'm assuming when you say plow through, you mean try to understand, right?
    Yes. Struggle to understand.
    Allen Farber's Avatar
    Allen Farber Posts: 191, Reputation: 1
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    #12

    Dec 28, 2016, 05:07 PM
    Sorry for responding so late. Anyway, after doing some research, apparently he's a member of the council for scientific and industrial research in south africa. He's also an author and writes books on theories and hypothesises (pretty sure I messed up the plural of hypothesis)

    Thanks for explaining. Sorry if these questions get kind of annoying. But I recently found out I suffer from dyslexia and (at its minimum level) autism, which is I why I have a hard time with comprehension
    paraclete's Avatar
    paraclete Posts: 2,706, Reputation: 173
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    #13

    Dec 29, 2016, 06:11 AM
    A theory is an unproven hypothesis, once proven and repeatable it is called a law. As an example Climate Change is a theory, although many outcomes have been modeled reality doesn't behave as predicted, this may be because all the variables are not known
    Allen Farber's Avatar
    Allen Farber Posts: 191, Reputation: 1
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    #14

    Dec 29, 2016, 05:20 PM
    I understand that first part, but don't really understand your example, saying that many outcomes have been modeled and reality doesn't behave as predicted and all that. Still, thanks for the answer.
    ebaines's Avatar
    ebaines Posts: 12,132, Reputation: 1307
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    #15

    Jan 3, 2017, 03:16 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by paraclete
    A theory is an unproven hypothesis, once proven and repeatable it is called a law. As an example Climate Change is a theory, although many outcomes have been modeled reality doesn't behave as predicted, this may be because all the variables are not known
    This is wrong. A hypothesis or conjecture is an idea about how nature may work but does not have the support of well-confirmed observations and experiments using the scientific method. For example there are plenty of hypotheses in the area of cosmology. especially involving the existence of other dimensions. On the other hand a theory rises to the level of a well-confirmed statement of how nature works (often involving mathematical "laws" that can predict the behavior of systems), conforming to the scientific method of observation and experimentation. Sometimes laws precede a theory of why the laws work the way they do - for example Kepler put forth three laws of planetary motion that correctly predict the orbits of the planets, but he had no theory as to "why" the planets behave this way. Later Newton put forth his theory of gravity from which Kepler's Laws can be derived. Theories such as the theory of gravity, the theory of special relativity, theories of atomic structure, and the theory of evolution can be tested and confirmed (or rejected). This does not mean that theories are inviolate - they can be amended as new data is uncovered. Such is what happened with Newton's theory of gravity as it was augmented by Einstein's theory of General Relativity.

    All this applies to the term "theory" as used in science. However, in common non-scientific usage the term "theory" is often misused as synonymous with "hypothesis." Hence when someone uses the term "theory" we need to be careful to understand whether it's intended in the scientific sense as a well-accepted understanding of nature or in the looser sense as merely an idea or hypothesis.

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