What is a Theory?

Scientific theories explain facts and laws, have predictive power, and so can be tested. Most people would rate facts and laws as more important than theories, thinking of theories as "guesses" or "hypotheses." But for scientists, theories are the highest level of understanding. They are not just stepping-stones to more knowledge, but the goal of science. Examples of theories that justify great confidence because they work so well to explain nature include gravity, plate tectonics, atomic theory, and evolution.
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