Class Warfare Blog

August 19, 2019

I Have A Theory . . . No, You Don’t

Filed under: Culture — Steve Ruis @ 11:36 am
Tags: , ,

It has become commonplace for people to use the phrase “I have a theory . . .” in casual discussions over drinks or blog posts on topics from child rearing to politics.

In almost every case, they do not. What they have is an opinion . . . not an hypothesis, not a theory, not a conjecture, an opinion.

Unfortunately, English language reference books are based upon frequency of usage and soon the word theory will be synonymous with “wild ass guess.” Currently definitions of “theory” start at something like “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained” but often as not have included things like “an idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action” which includes, I believe, wild-ass guesses.

Maybe we need a new phrase like “I have a totally unsupported idea that I would like were it to prove true.” Or “I have a non-evidenced reason that ideologically suits me to use.” But really, the word opinion (“a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge”) suits quite, quite well.


  1. These really help clarify things actually. Like faith, a thought conviction of unsupported imagination, being able to imagine very strongly what someone else can imagine is a super honorable position to live in. Got it!


    Comment by jim- — August 19, 2019 @ 1:14 pm | Reply

    • And, saying that someone is a man of strong faith is a way to say “That goober will believe anything!”

      On Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 1:14 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 4 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 19, 2019 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

      • Or stubborn pride—Defiance in the face of facts that counter his imagination

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by jim- — August 19, 2019 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

        • We are all enamored of certain ideas. That these people have peddled their wares into that tendency is quite offensive.

          On Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 1:23 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


          Liked by 2 people

          Comment by Steve Ruis — August 19, 2019 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

          • I think people are generally lazy and/or forced to contemplate and decide a belief without taking some leisure to investigate their own processes to connect a few dots. Turn key enlightenment with no effort sounds pretty good.


            Comment by jim- — August 19, 2019 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  2. When I was in basic electronics classes during my early days at the University of Science, Music, and Culture (USMC), we had a test every Friday. Most of us in this school did not want to be training to repair radios. We came up with various ways to answer the tests. They were usually multiple choice and four answers were given. We started off by answering A, B, C, D, C, D, B, A. A simulated sign wave. Most of the time we just used the SWAG method, swag being scientific wild ass guess. As dumb as that may have been I still think it beats religious faith my multiple light years.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — August 19, 2019 @ 2:11 pm | Reply

  3. “theory” is one of those words – “literally” is another – where the colloquial usage of the word is literally opposite the actual meaning.


    Comment by List of X — August 20, 2019 @ 7:36 pm | Reply

    • I do distinguish between scientific theories and “ordinary” ones, but it is not the right word in most circumstances it is being used in now. Shortly, however, it will be correct usage because that is defined by what people do.

      On Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 7:37 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 21, 2019 @ 10:40 am | Reply

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