I am starting a new blog segment called “What’s the Tea Tuesday?” On Tuesdays I will drink tea, tell you about the tea and tell you the T. T being short for Truth so I will use this as a way to talk about topics that I think we need to discuss the truth about. Mostly I am just using this as an excuse to drink more tea… It’s gonna be fun. I want to preface this by saying I am going to try and cover a range of topics from anthropology to politics to social to food. I don’t intend this to be super heavy but more of something interesting you can read while drinking tea.
What’s the Tea? Today I am drinking Pink Pepper Chai from Savoy (if you click the name of the tea it will take you to where you can buy some). Ok so this Chai is not like your normal chai because it has pink peppercorns in it. They add just a little extra kick and I need that this Tuesday morning. This black tea also has cinnamon, ginger, cardamon and clove. Also, since it is a chai, it goes well with milk and sugar.It’s just really interesting and the perfect tea for a chilly November.
What’s the T? Something that has been bothering me lately is people’s misunderstanding of scientific theories. By that I do not mean a misunderstanding of the concept of cell theory but rather a misunderstanding of the meaning of the word “theory” in a scientific context. The National Center for Science Education defines theory as “…a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.” It should also be noted that scientific theories explain something that can’t be proven. This does not make them any less valid, it just means they describe phenomena for which there is no quantitative means of proving. This is different from the colloquial way we use theory, where it is just a possible explanation for a situation. These are very distinct because a scientific theory is supported by large amounts of data whereas a colloquial theory is supported by minimal observations and opinions.
Here’s a situation: You live in a house with two roommates. You leave cookies on the counter. When you come home all your cookies are gone. In this situation it would make sense to say “I have a theory that Susan ate the cookies because she loves cookies,” and this would be a solid theory in the colloquial sense of the word. However, it would not be considered a good scientific theory because it is not supported by massive amounts of data and it can be proven true or false. Additionally, if your other roommate Joe heard you say this and he said, “I don’t believe your theory,” that would makes sense in this situation because Joe knows he ate the cookies.
The problem arises when you try to extend the theory principle from the cookie situation to a scientific situation. A scientific theory has significant amounts of evidence so “not believing” is denying facts. The principle that describe gravity is Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Even though it is based on a theory, most people wouldn’t say they don’t believe in gravity. This translates to lots of other theories, Theory of Evolution, Heliocentric Theory, …and so on.
Go order some Pink Pepper Chai and hopefully you either 1) learned something or 2) you were already an expert on theories.