# Why can a scientific theory only be disproved instead of proven?

It’s the way science works.In short: Do not look for evidence for your theory but look for proof. As long as you don’t have that proof, you can assume that the theory is correct.

As an example the White-Swan theory.Suppose, my theory is: all swans are white.

Now there is little point in looking for white swans, because there are still some of them.It’s smarter to ignore all the white swans and go looking for a non-white swan. Maybe I can’t find it, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Maybe I haven’t searched well enough. Even if you and yours go to search, we cannot find any non-white swans. Is The theory now proven? No, still not. Maybe the non-white swan is hiding very well. But when is my theory actually proven? That is difficult. As long as we don’t find any non-white swans We accept the theory ‘ all swans are white ‘. But you cannot say that it has been proven conclusively.

Even if we know for sure that we have seen all the Swans (but we can’t know for sure) we’re not there yet.Because perhaps there has been a non-white swan in the past, or a non-white swan will exist in the future.

In fact, science becomes deassuring boring.For thorough research, we have to define what we mean by ‘ white ‘. Because believe me, you can still argue about it: “Hey, I see a yellow Swan”-“no Joh, that’s just white”-and there we go. The same goes for ‘ Swan ‘: “Hey, I see a yellow Swan”-“no Joh, that’s a goose”-and there we go again.

Quite flat said: Science is not about certainties, science is about probabilities.For certainties, you need to go to the reverend; Probabilities run in gradations: some things (‘ water freezes, at constant pressure, at zero degrees Celsius ‘) are very likely. Until it is disproved.

Because there is always a chance that -for example, in a repetition of the experiment that led to the theory -an observation (observation, measurement) is done that is not in accordance with the theory.

In addition, when a theory is formulated so that doing new observations or experiments is not possible, the theory is by definition not a ‘ scientific theory ‘.

The normative philosophy of science has passed through a number of steps in the first half of the 20th century.

First there was the verification principle, which suggested that only empirically identifiable matters could be scientifically established.This is a very restrictive criterion that is not actually sustainable.

The confirmation principle is something more free.It allows more general theories for which confirmation can be sought. However, you will never get 100% certainty, because you can never start testing every potential body. If you make the claim that all swans are ‘ white ‘, you can see 99 swans that are white, but maybe the 100th black.

Then you come to falsification, where you are not looking for confirmation, but just to counter examples.You will actively look for the Black Swan. A theory becomes stronger as it has endured more falsification attempts.

One counterexample is enough to knock out the theory “all swans are white”, but you can never be sure that they are right, unless you have seen all the Swans in the world (which is practically impossible).

That a scientific theory cannot be proven, but only disproved, applies only to theories that give explanations for empirical positions of things.They are disproved by empirical observations that the theory cannot explain.

However, there are also scientific theories that give explanations on matters that are not VSN empirical in nature.These are mathematical theories, theories concerning our abilities (epistemology) or theories about being (metaphysics or ontology, sometimes supplemented also with rational psychology and cosmology) and theories about the liberty (ethics and politics). These theories cannot be disproved empirically, rather they prove themselves from their premisses. For example, an undisprove premise is because it is for everything that is true.

Ever heard of Popper’s falsification principle?Every scientist has ever heard about it and deepening it in this matter can be important to know how things work in science. Just look for it, then it becomes very much clear how things work there!