When you hear someone say “fact,” they are referring to something true. Scientists carefully research and test any information they provide to conclude. Other people might take their word as “fact” without ever confirming the validity of their claims.
The article examines what scientists declare to be fact, why the phrase “fact” is used, and the possibility of changing public perception of “facts.”
What Is a Scientific Fact?
There is no universally accepted definition of “fact,” and scientific opinions can vary significantly on what counts as a fact. In general, a scientific fact is an observation or experiment that has been proven through testing to be true. This means that the evidence supporting it is strong enough that other scientists can’t dispute it.
When scientists claim the nature of reality, for example, they allege facts. If other scientists can find evidence that disproves this claim, then it’s considered to be incorrect. This is why scientists must keep up with ongoing research in their field – if something new emerges that casts doubt on their theories, they need to adjust accordingly.
Theories vs. Facts
The term “fact” is often used as a descriptor for information that has been verified and can be considered reliable. However, when a scientist declares something a fact, it can sometimes be challenging to determine whether or not the information is accurate.
When scientists make claims about facts, it is essential to consider what they mean by the term. For example, if a scientist claims that a certain piece of information is a fact, does that mean that everyone who believes in it is automatically correct? Or does the scientist mean that the information has been confirmed by multiple researchers and has withstood scrutiny?
It can also be difficult to determine whether or not scientific facts are accurate. Scientists make assumptions when conducting research, which may or may not reflect reality. In addition, scientific facts can change over time as new evidence arises.
Ultimately, whether something is considered a fact depends on how the term is defined and used by the individual involved in the discussion.
A Brief History of “Proof”
As we understand it today, proof began to be articulated in the late 18th century by mathematicians and philosophers. The concept of proof divides an argument into two parts: the hypothesis and the conclusion. In mathematics, this pattern is known as propositional logic or propositional calculus.
In 1761, Gottfried Leibniz proposed that every proposition could be represented using a series of pre-existing logical symbols constructed from signs for affirmation (true) and negation (false). He called this series of characters “the chain of reasoning.” To build a chain of reasoning is to demonstrate that one statement follows from another.
The French mathematician Pierre Simon Laplace used this idea to develop what is now known as classical probability theory. Laplace showed a way to calculate the likelihood of any event occurring given all other events that have occurred up to that point. This became known as Bayesian inference and is still an essential statistical tool today.
Are Scientific Facts Absolute or Relativistic?
Science is a process of observation and experimentation that aim to build accurate models of the physical world. Scientists use empirical evidence to support their theories, and when evidence supports multiple theories, scientists usually adopt the most consistent one as their theory. However, not all scientific findings are considered “facts.”
Some scientific facts are considered absolute – meaning they are true regardless of what anyone thinks or suggests. For example, the laws of physics are considered absolute and cannot be changed. Other scientific facts may be relative – meaning they depend on the observer’s perspective. For example, the speed of light is always the same for all observers, but its appearance (as seen by humans) can change depending on the location and time of day.
Whichever term you use to describe a scientific fact – absolute or relative – it is still just a theory until it has been proven through repeated experiments and observations.
“Fact” is often used to describe something verified through research. However, scientists don’t always agree on what constitutes a fact, which can lead to some interesting debates. In this article, I explore the definition of a fact and consider some factors that might contribute to its verification. Whether you are a scientist or not, hopefully, this article gave you a better understanding of why scientists sometimes say things are “fact.”