A fact is any phenomenon or action that is verified. In other words, what you can verify or prove is called a fact. Newton observed the action of an apple falling from the tree. You and I observe a ball that is thrown up in the air returns to you. These are facts, the observable actions or happenings, thus can be verified. It is very important to know that facts remain facts even after several centuries. There is universal truth behind a fact.
Sunrise is a fact since it is an observable, never changing occurrence.
What is a Theory?
A theory is offering an explanation of what has been observed or verified. It so happens in Science that certain verified actions or happenings need explanations to make the world understand these universal happenings. These explanations are what are called theories. Many great scientists and thinkers forwarded theories to explain their observations. Some of these scientists and thinkers include Isaac Newton, Archimedes, Noire, Albert Einstein and others.
Theories can be disproved because of their ambiguity since they are mere explanations based on facts. We wonder what makes a theory a challengeable one and a law an undisputed one. A theory cannot be disproved because of the reason that it is the result arrived at by an explanation of a fact that is universal.
As a matter of fact, theories are subjected to challenges time and again. These challenges are made by the so called experts in a bid to disprove them. It is quite natural that these challenges are sometimes met with great difficulty by the scientists and thinkers that have proposed them. The theories are thus construed to have undergone several tests before final acceptance or approval.
In the colloquial usage, the word theory is used to indicate some idea that cannot be said the sole one in causing a certain happening. For example, let us imagine that a Tsunami struck a particular piece of land quite severely. It caused death say to about 200 people. The confirmation of the number of casualties due to Tsunami is the fact known for certain and for sure. On the other hand, the number of casualties could have been cut short had certain protective measures been undertaken. Some of the assumptions regarding these protective measures come under theories. Hence, a fact is characterized by certainty whereas a theory is characterized by uncertainty. These are the main differences between a fact and a theory. Now let us summarize the difference as follows.
Robert K. Merton’s Social Strain Theory
- Fact: A fact is any phenomenon or action that is verified; it is characterized by certainty and does not change.
- Theory: A theory is offering an explanation of what has been observed or verified; it is characterized by uncertainty and can be challenged or disproved.
- Both facts and theories are essential components of scientific understanding, with facts providing the foundation for theories and theories providing explanations for observed phenomena.