Useful Notes: Theorum
"Theorum" is a word invented by Richard Dawkins in his 2010 book The Greatest Show On Earth as a synonym for "scientific theory," to differentiate "theory" from its usage as a synonym for "hypothesis." note A theorum is a scientific theory, but not just any scientific theory. While any real scientific theory has to be supported by at least some research, a theorum is a core knowledge that is supported by massive evidence and supports our basic understanding of how the universe works. Four classic theorums are Gravity, Evolution, Heliocentrism (in the sense that the Earth revolves around the Sun rather than vice versa, not in the sense that the Sun is the center of the universe) and Round Earth (in the sense that the Earth is not flat, not in the Terry Pratchett sense that the world is flat but indeed round rather than square). The word theorum was coined in 2009, for the purpose of distinguishing between different kinds of theories. The thing is that the word "theory" can be used in three very different ways.
- We have the layman term "theory", which can be quite synonymous with "wild guess" or with the scientific term "hypothesis".
- We have the scientific term "theory", which requires actual research and a good argument for why the theory is valid. However, these theories come and go and regularly replace each other as new-and-improved theories turn out to be better than the old ones.
- Finally, we have the theorums, which get expanded over time rather than replaced. A lot has happened since the days of Newton, and many different theories regarding gravity have come and gone. But this doesn't mean that gravity itself is outdated: No, on the contrary, it gets stronger with each new calibration.
Tropes where a theorum can be messed with by a character, The Verse itself, or both:
- Cloud Cuckoolander (An unique perspective on any theorum goes a long way to show that this character lives in his own little world.)
- Earth Is Young (astronomy, evolution, geology, and so on.)
- Flat Earth Atheist (for comical effect, such a character is likely to believe in ideas that are theorums in Real Life but is very obviously untrue in The Verse.)
- Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress (gravity)
- Gravity Is Only a Theory (primarily gravity, secondarily any theorum other than evolution - some of the examples are indirectly about evolution, however.)
- Hollywood Science (any theorum)
- I Reject Your Reality (theorum shmeorum)
- Science Is Bad (the theorum is not only wrong, it is fundamentally evil)
- Science Is Wrong (any theorum)
- Straw Loser (What better way to give a character a total lack of credibility than to let him believe that the earth is flat or whatever?)
- Windmill Political (any theorum)