It is a grave mistake to theorize before one has data

“It is a grave mistake to theorize before one has data”, an adage which appears frequently in the stories of Sherlock Holmes, a fictitious character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The realm of this adage is not just limited to stories and novels of the aforementioned character, it is very well applicable to the real world problems as well. Theories tend to fail if they do not have sufficient facts and data that can bolster their aptness. Furthermore, most of the theories that we study today were once hypothesises, a figment of imagination of somebody’s mind, which turned into theories only when sufficient mathematical proofs, factual accounts and derivations were appended to them.

Great theories in the past and in the present as well, hold true because they possess enough data to suffice their postulates. If a theory lacks data then facts are modified to fit into theories, rather than theories being modified to fit into facts. In addition to this, if someone commits a mistake of theorizing before garnering enough data, difficulties have to be faced in the long run. Citing an example to buttress the above stated facts, Hughes theory on the Universe stated that space between heavenly bodies was filled with an imaginary matter called “Ether”, which had infinite volume and zero mass. This theory was initially supported by many people, and was considered as a milestone in the field of Universe exploration. However, as time passed, this theory received a whole lot of catcalls and disparaging comments. It was later found that, there was no substance that possessed zero mass in spite of having infinite volume, thus Hughes theory was questioned for the proof of existence of the substance called “Ether”. As an outcome of this questioning, facts were altered rather than altering the theory and therefore, one can ascertain that, lack of data and sufficient proofs undermined the existence of Hughes theory, and hence the imaginary matter called “Ether”.

Additionally, theorizing before having sufficient amount of data may lead someone to reach at false conclusions. These false conclusions may perpetuate for quite a long time until some other theory refutes these conclusions. An instance that can substantiate the above stated statement is that, when Einstein started working on his theory of Universe, he found that Newtonian mechanics was only applicable to heavy bodies, and was not applicable to sub microscopic particles such as electrons and protons. He found that, when particles started moving with the speed of light, they stopped obeying Newton’s laws. As an outcome of this, Einstein had to devise his own new set of rules and postulates, which we today study as the Einsteinian Mechanics or more appropriately the Theory of Relativity. However, if Einstein had not gathered sufficient mathematical proofs and data before challenging Newton’s laws, his theory would have been disregarded, and Newton’s theory would have continued producing false results at sub-microscopic levels. Thus, one can clearly infer that data and facts are the most imperative and factors which consolidate the theories’ applicability.

Hence, in summary; theorizing before gathering enough data is clearly a grave mistake, because facts and data are the only factors that can bolster the aptness of a theory. Therefore, one must not try to alter the facts and data that can fit into theories, rather the efforts should be made to alter the theory by the dint of data and facts.

TOEFL listening lectures: A university lecture on Animal Behavior by a professor of Biology

Thank you sir…!!!

That was way too good. o.O

Thank you so much Emma… :slight_smile: