Just A Theory

A theory is an idea. It stops being a theory once it has been proven or disproven. Developing a theory is not all that hard, any idiot can come up with a theory, my neighbour does it all the time. I dread the day when some scientist describes some medical discovery as a ‘disinfectant for the body’, my neighbour will be screaming “See! I told you it would work!!” There are many different kinds of theories. Scientific theories, mathematical theories, medical theories, political theories, even historical theories. If it can’t be proved or disproved, then it is a theory.

The thing with theories is that they are ever changing. As more information about the theory is discovered, it evolves. “We do not believe that the virus is airborne but is transmitted through contact. Please stop hugging.” “We now believe the virus is also airborne, as well as through contact. Please stop hugging and talking.” The transmission theory took about three weeks to become factual, and stopped really being a theory. We still call it a theory, because they haven’t disproved every idea out there, but science has proved just how the virus has moved within the population. No insects, no animals, no infected food, no rainclouds, just human to human. We now have something substantial that we can hang on to when it comes to COVID-19, we know how it moves and we are able to guard against it. This proven theory is saving many lives.

A theory is always based on some sort of foundation. Something previously known and proved, something you’ve seen for yourself, or something you have been told by others. You can see how crafting a theory on some foundations, can be better than others. Building a theory on known facts makes it harder to disprove, which to the theory-maker, is the point.

A theory answers a question that, to that point in time, had not been answered. A theory is meant to be questioned to prove its validity. “’Cuz I said so,” is not enough. You must prove or disprove a theory to make it anything more than a stupid idea.

Science answers the questions being asked of its theories with testing. They use mathematics to prove or disprove a theory. “We combined horse tranquilizer, with a solution of saline and bicarbonate of soda. Nine out of ten of the mice we injected had their asses blown off. We deem the test to be conclusive. There is NO truth to the theory that injecting Alka-Seltzer will kill the coronavirus.” Science tests its theories before it endorses it as being truth.

The Conspiracy Theory though, is a completely different animal. By its name, the Conspiracy Theory is based on the premise, that someone did something to someone else, with malice of forethought. There was a plan! Who did it, what was the plan, where it came from, when it was done, why it was done and how it was done? These are all questions that the well-crafted Conspiracy Theory must resolve. A good Conspiracy Theory needs to hold water. “So, you’re telling me that a Communist scientist in Communist China had a vision from God; that lead him to a bat in the jungle; that he took to a lab and created a virus that he put on a plane and sent to the Bronx? And as a smoke-screen he let it out in Wuhan but not before he bought shares in a ventilator company?” A Conspiracy Theory, just like its scientific sibling is best based in something solid.

For the most part, Conspiracy Theories are just another idea. A view from slightly off-centre. A way for any moron to say, “Yeah but what if…?” My neighbour refers to this as the ‘alternative truth’. I don’t know what that means, but it might involve aliens.

A Conspiracy Theory always has a bad guy or a group of evil-doers. They do what they do in secret with the soul intent to… what? Take over the world? Make loads of cash? Explain why your life sucks?? All of the above??? The bad guy is the reason people buy into conspiracy; it makes total sense that a group of ugly people are out to get you because they think you’re too good-looking… The People’s United Ugly Front (PUUF), started the whole social-distancing idea to keep beautiful people from copulating and that’s why you can’t get a date! Makes perfect sense to me! It must be hard being that paranoid.

The Conspiracy Theory also comes with motive and it is always done in secret. That’s understandable. After all, if the conspiracy were public, then it would be proven, and therefore would not be a theory, but simply a conspiracy. It’s clear as mud. The motive in a Conspiracy Theory is almost always evil, and if you are buying into the theory, always personal. They, the bad guys, are out to get you, the hero. Maybe not you personally, but at least something personal to you. My neighbour thinks the Neighbourhood Association, who he is certain has been over-charging him with fees for years, are conspiring with his children so they can take over control of his house. He thinks they are trying to give him malaria. He tells me it is not a problem, that he has a medicine cabinet full of drugs and has a doctor on-call that will get any prescription he wants. ‘He’s a good guy… takes care of me… gives me what I ask for… I pay him a lot of money… it comes out of the household expenses… Doesn’t cost me a dime…’ Where did he find this guy? A back alley? For a Conspiracy Theory to exist, it only takes one idiot to believe it.

A theory is an idea and nothing more, it is not a fact until proven as such. The trick is deciding if it is a good idea or a stupid idea. I suggest that you look at the source of the theory to guide you in your decision. Trust the doctor wearing personal protective equipment or my neighbour with his tin-foil hat on, you decide.

Say safe.


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  1. // Reply

    I like this piece a lot. However, there is one kind of theory that is not based on something “previously known and proved.” These are theories–or better, propositions or truths–that are self-evident. They are usually very simple. They are intrinsically true and they can never be false.

    There aren’t many of them.

    Self-evident theories, propositions or truths (as I like to refer to them) establish their own validity. For example, “This statement contains five words” is self-evidently true. This means it was always true in the past and will always be true forever into the future.

    Like I say, there aren’t many of these self-evident truths around and they are extremely hard to find. Truth or falsehood is not the problem, of course. Self-evidence is the problem.

    I have often thought that a lot of people may rush to accept theories because they are desperately seeking something to believe in that is simple and self-evidently true.

    Anyway, I really like this piece.

    1. // Reply

      Isn’t a self-evident theory the same as a ‘public conspiracy’? If the answer is self-evident it’s not much of a theory… I’m just saying:)

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