Fact and theory

The differences between fact and theory and between theory and practice are a common concern of scientists, engineers, and philosophers.

  • "[F]acts 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. Facts do not go away while scientists debate rival theories for explaining them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air pending the outcome." ~ Stephen Jay Gould, 1981
  • "Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!" - Homer Simpson

Also cited in Applying Use Case Driven Object Modeling With UML, Doug Rosenberg and Kendall Scott p.1 [1]

  • "Facts were never pleasing to him. He acquired them with reluctance and got rid of them with relief. He was never on terms with them until he had stood them on their heads." ~ J.M. Barrie, The Greenwood Hat (1937)
  • "But facts are chiels that winna ding, and downa be disputed." ~ Robert Burns, A Dream (1786)
  • "'I should have more faith,' he said; 'I ought to know by this time that when a fact appears opposed to a long train of deductions it invariably proves to be capable of bearing some other interpretation.'" ~ Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet (1887)
  • "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." ~ Aldous Huxley, Proper Studies (1927)
  • "The fatal futility of Fact." ~ Henry James, Prefaces (1897)
  • "Talk to him of Jacob's ladder, and he would ask him the number of steps." ~ Douglas William Jerrold, Wit and Opinion of Douglas Jerrold (1895)
  • "A myth is, of course, not a fairy story. It is the presentation of facts belonging to one category in the idioms appropriate to another. To explode a myth is accordingly not to deny the facts but to re-allocate them." ~ Gilbert Ryle, The Concept of Mind (1949)
  • "Matters of fact, which as Mr Budgell somewhere observes, are very stubborn things." ~ Matthew Tindal, The Will of Matthew Tindal (1733)
Last modified on 13 November 2007, at 04:04