Theoretical assessment plan: An overview of a new method for probing theories
Science is a complex entity. It is made up of theories which are themselves complex entities. Scientists and philosophers have tried to explore them and have come up with pretty, fanciful descriptions. Nevertheless, theories do not exist in a vacuum but are linked to each other in a vast net of other theories forming a view of the world. As theories are made up of core hypothesis, which are “central” and most important, they are surrounded by less important peripheral assumptions which can be changed over time to adapt to the experimental data without affecting key parts of the theory. Theories has been shown to transverse history by modifying their peripheral assumptions but not their basic ones (core), unless there is a major paradigm shift in the community of scientists utilizing this theory. At this point the theory is ejected by a community and substituted by a more up-to-date one which better matches (explains) the experimental data. So, it seems that a scientific community can change the hypotheses at the core (T1 with C1) to obtain new theories (T2 with C2), and at the periphery (C1V1) to obtain better versions of the same basic theory (C1V2, etc.). And even more so when different theories (T1, T2, etc) coexist at the same time in different communities. But how to probe two or more theories, if opposing, to identify the better (more truthful) ones? A plan is needed (theoretical assessment plan, or TAP) to review the hypotheses of each and identify which has more provable/proven assumptions, all other things being equal (i.e., data prediction). Hence, the theory with less unproven hypotheses will be the better one and the scientific community should accept this one and discard the latter. Whether this can occur in history is another question, altogether. The methodology of TAP is proposed and a few historical examples are detailed.