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DNP 815 W8 Discussion Question One
DNP 815 W8 Discussion Question One
Which science-based theories do you think are the most useful to advanced practice nurses, and why?
A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world and universe that has been repeatedly tested and verified in accordance with the scientific method, using accepted protocols of observation, measurement, and evaluation of results. Where possible, theories are tested under controlled conditions in an experiment. In circumstances not amenable to experimental
testing, theories are evaluated through principles of abductive reasoning. Established scientific theories have withstood rigorous scrutiny and embody scientific knowledge.
A scientific theory differs from a scientific fact or scientific law in that a theory explains “why” or “how”: a fact is a simple, basic observation, whereas a law is a statement (often a mathematical equation) about a relationship between facts. For example, Newton’s Law of Gravity is a mathematical equation that can be used to predict the attraction between bodies, but it is not a theory to explain how gravity works. Stephen Jay Gould wrote that “…facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world’s data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts.
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The meaning of the term scientific theory (often contracted to theory for brevity) as used in the disciplines of science is significantly different from the common vernacular usage of theory.[note 1] In everyday speech, theory can imply an explanation that represents an unsubstantiated and speculative guess, whereas in science it describes an explanation that has been tested and is widely accepted as valid.
The strength of a scientific theory is related to the diversity of phenomena it can explain and its simplicity. As additional scientific evidence is gathered, a scientific theory may be modified and ultimately rejected if it cannot be made to fit the new findings; in such circumstances, a more accurate theory is then required. Some theories are so well-established that they are unlikely ever to be fundamentally changed (for example, scientific theories such as evolution, heliocentric theory, cell theory, theory of plate tectonics, germ theory of disease, etc.). In certain cases, a scientific theory or scientific law that fails to fit all data can still be useful (due to its simplicity) as an approximation under specific conditions. An example is Newton’s laws of motion, which are a highly accurate approximation to special relativity at velocities that are small relative to the speed of light.
Scientific theories are testable and make falsifiable predictions. They describe the causes of a particular natural phenomenon and are used to explain and predict aspects of the physical universe or specific areas of inquiry (for example, electricity, chemistry, and astronomy). As with other forms of scientific knowledge, scientific theories are both deductive and inductive, aiming for predictive and explanatory power. Scientists use theories to further scientific knowledge, as well as to facilitate advances in technology or medicine.
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