Obsolete scientific theory

From Academic Kids

An obsolete scientific theory is a scientific theory that was once commonly accepted but (for whatever reason) is no longer considered the most complete description of reality by mainstream science; or a falsifiable theory which has been shown to be false. This label does not cover theories that are yet to gain wide support in the scientific community (protoscience or fringe science). This also does not cover theories that were never widely accepted, or theories which were only supported in specific countries because of the imposition of dictatorial regimes (such as Lysenkoism).

In some cases, the theory has been completely discarded. In other cases, the theory is still useful because it provides a description that is "good enough" for a particular situation, and is more easily used than the complete theory (often because the complete theory is too mathematically complex to be usable). Karl Popper suggested that all scientific theories should be falsifiable otherwise they could not be tested by experiment. Anything which cannot be shown by experiment to be false would therefore be an axiom and have an absolute status, beyond any refutation.


Contents

Obsolete biology theories

Obsolete chemistry theories

Obsolete physics theories

Obsolete astronomical and cosmological theories

Obsolete geographical and climatological theories

Obsolete medical theories

Obsolete branches of enquiry

Approximate theories

Here are theories that are no longer considered the most complete representation of reality, but are still useful in particular domains. For many theories a more complete model is known, but in practical use the coarser approximation provides good results with much less calculation.

Theories whose significance was overstated

  • Land bridges - Though temporary connections between land masses sometimes allowed migrations (as when sea levels were lowered during ice ages), the actual splitting of continents by plate tectonics has been more important.

See also

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