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Explaining 'explanations'

 

Explanations > Explaining 'explanations'

 

Theories and academic work are often wildly misunderstood. Lay people tend to perceive them as disconnected and unreal imaginings of people in ivory towers. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. If you publish an academic paper, it gets fiercely scrutinized by all of your peers for any glimmer of assumptions made that are not backed up with copious research.

This section is called 'explanations' because that is what theories are. Academics do not dream up theories and then try to prove them. The way it works is that first a phenomenon is observed and then a theory is developed as an explanation for it. The theory is then tested ad infinitum from every angle and context.

For example, when Newton identified his laws of motion to explain how bodies move, it was successfully tested on everything from apples to planets. However, it failed to explain the movement of subatomic particles, which led to quantum mechanics as a system for describing the baffling properties of these tiny particles.

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