What Best Describes a Scientific Theory?


Martha Robinson

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is based on empirical evidence. It is a comprehensive and coherent framework that explains various phenomena, and it helps scientists make predictions about future events. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of a scientific theory in detail.

Empirical Evidence

Empirical evidence is the cornerstone of a scientific theory. It refers to evidence that can be observed or measured through experiments, observations, or other forms of data collection. A scientific theory must be based on empirical evidence rather than personal opinions or beliefs.


A scientific theory must be testable through experiments and observations. This means that it can be subjected to scrutiny and validation through repeatable experiments and observations. If a theory cannot be tested, it cannot be considered scientific.


Falsifiability is the ability of a scientific theory to be proven wrong or false by evidence. This means that if new evidence emerges that contradicts the theory, it must be revised or discarded altogether.

Predictive Power

A scientific theory should have predictive power—it should be able to make accurate predictions about future events based on its framework. This means that scientists can use the theory to make predictions about events they have not yet observed.

Consistency with Existing Knowledge

A scientific theory must be consistent with existing knowledge in the field. It cannot contradict established facts or principles without substantial evidence to support its claims.


In summary, a scientific theory is an explanation of natural phenomena based on empirical evidence that is testable, falsifiable, has predictive power and consistency with existing knowledge in the field. These characteristics are essential for any idea to qualify as a scientific theory rather than just a hypothesis or speculation. As such, scientific theories are the building blocks of scientific knowledge and advancement.