Thom Quinn (swo@execpc.com)
Tue, 05 Aug 1997 12:33:12 -0500

I would love some feedback--the following is being published in this
months Evolutionary Theory. Sorry for cross-postings.

Thom Quinn

Hyperthesis: a new classification for qualitative scientific concepts
that are supported by overwhelming evidence

Scientific concepts are arranged within a flexible hierarchy and
rigidly evaluated via the scientific method. The three main classes for
scientific explanations are hypotheses, theories, and laws. Although all
scientific concepts are accepted on a provisional basis, the theory of
natural selection via differential reproduction is the highest regarded
concept in the life sciences because so many lines of modern evidence
support it. In fact, the revised, neodarwinian theory of natural
selection provides the intellectual backdrop for current biological
thought and research. Unlike physics, scientific laws are rare in
biology because the complexities of living systems are not easily
reduced into simple rules or elegant formulas; therefore, qualitative
concepts like natural selection will never be replaced by any general,
mathematical Law of Evolution. Unfortunately, the term "theory" in
colloquial English also refers to an unproved idea that is likely wild
speculation, false conjecture, or pure fantasy. As a result, many
non-scientists, laypeople, and creationists misuse the word "theory" to
suggest that natural selection and other valid concepts might be
scientifically unsound. Since the theory of natural selection is the
keystone principle of biology, there should be no discrepancy between
the general public and the scientific community on how important and
useful the concept of natural selection actually is. Therefore, I
propose the hyperthesis (Gr. hyper, above + tithenai, to put), a new
classification for scientific concepts which would currently be ranked
as well supported, qualitative theories. Although natural selection via
differential reproduction is both the ideal model and best example to
illustrate the hyperthesis concept, many other theories in the
biological and social sciences easily fit into this schema. Some critics
might argue that this new term only adds another layer of complexity to
the over-stretched vocabulary of scientists; however, the hyperthesis
concept eliminates more confusion for non-scientists than it causes to
the established jargon. Also, it should be noted that the term
hyperthesis is a logical extension of the hierarchy of scientific
concepts ( i.e. hypothesis, theory, hyperthesis) currently used by
scientists worldwide.