I’ve spent a significant percentage of my life, firm in the understanding that: a supposition is a guess, perhaps an educated one which one thinks might be true; an hypothesis roughly equals a proposal, idea or a guess which you don’t yet believe to be true and a theory is an established, proven principle or body of principles that explain some natural phenomenon. I’ve been under the impression that testing a hypothesis – several times – and proving it to be correct, results in a theory. Which is to say, a supposition is something without evidence that one might believe anyway, a hypothesis is an idea which isn’t believed that is to be tested and a theory is empirically tested truth; facts.
Now, I have to tell you, I seriously hope I’m not wrong about this and haven’t been wrong about this for what essentially amounts to my entire life. I have never considered those three words to mean the same thing or even similar things. They are explicitly not the same thing.
And if that is true, then will somebody please explain to me what the actual fuck is going on here:
sup·po·si·tion: noun: “an uncertain belief.” | Synonyms: …theory, hypothesis…
hy·poth·e·sis: noun: “a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.” | Synonyms: …theory, supposition…
the·o·ry: noun: “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, esp. one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained.” | Synonyms: …hypothesis, supposition…
syn·o·nym: noun: “a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language, for example shut is a synonym of close.”
I’ve used Google’s Search with a “define” many thousands of times to get the definition of words. And now I wonder…
Surely, supposition, hypothesis and theory are not synonyms. Surely they are not “exactly” nor “nearly” the same thing. Surely they are not interchangeable? Surely?
How do you explain to your average religionut that a theory is empirically supported fact, not a guess nor a supposition nor an idea without evidence when that same religionut can go and do a Google search and prove to you that a theory, hypothesis and supposition are, in fact, synonyms. Interchangeable. Nearly or exactly the same.
It’s either a disgrace or I am sadly mistaken. I hope I’m not sadly mistaken.