This archived article was written by: Nathaniel Woodward
Setting the Record Straight: wordsI love words, I love the way you combine them and come to a conclusion, to prove a point or explain something in detail. I love how with the right combination of words, you provide something completely new to the world, whether it be a work of fiction, an interesting blog post, a well-worded letter of even the 10,000 words I wrote in my thesis. But words can also be used incorrectly, in a way that you may think you are making a good point, but in reality…not so much.
In the scientific community, there are a handful of words that arise in normal day-to-day speech that when we hear used incorrectly, can really get on the nerves.
The first word and possibly the most misused of them all is the term “theory.” For example, the term theory is used to describe someone’s idea or thought. Most people use it to demonstrate a piece of science they disagree with as not being valid.
“Oh, evolution isn’t true. IT’S JUST A THEORY!” is the common argument made by many an American including VP Mike Pence, but what they are missing is a theory is much, much more than someone’s abstract-subjective idea.
The best way I’ve heard the term “theory” defined is as a “system of testable ideas that are potentially refutable either by the evidence at hand or an experiment that someone could perform.”
That being said, if you wish to disprove a theory such as evolution, the burden of proof is upon you, you must provide proof that you are correct. And remember, if you don’t have an axe to grind with the theory of evolution through naturally selection, you must apply the same logic to the theory of gravity and the germ theory of disease. Just don’t go jumping off any cliffs just yet.
Finally, the term that grinds my gears when used incorrectly is the word “natural.” Few things get the hairs on my neck to bristle, but this is one of them. It is the hot-topic word for health-food stores and supplement/oil producers that their lemming minions are eager to regurgitate, yet the term is derived from a completely contrary (to their views) source.
The term natural has been hijacked to mean a product derived from nature in its “natural” form, meaning without adding any evil, Monsanto-concocted-evil-super serum bent on world domination, or something like that.
However, their argument begins to fall apart after that because the whole notion of organic crumbles when you realize a few basic facts.
First, everything you eat is genetically modified at some point for a whole bunch of years, that’s right, absolutely everything you eat is a GMO. Boom.
Second, the outrage against certain pesticides like Round Up because of the chemical glyphosphate lacks any evidence or proof. Despite the fact that glyphosphate is 25-times-less toxic than caffeine, the pseudoscientific community is aghast.
If your only argument against the use of genetic manipulation and harmless (to human) compounds to produce food is “how much is Monsanto paying you?” it’s time you stop counting chemicals and start taking chemistry, Dr. John Weber at USU Eastern is top rate.