What is the difference between a hypothesis and a theory?

A hypothesis is an attempt to explain phenomena.  It is a proposal--a guess used to explain something.  A theory is the result of testing a hypothesis and developing an explanation that is taken to be true about a phenomena.  A theory replaces the hypothesis.

So, a person might make an observation and immediately form a hypothesis about why something happens the way it does.  He or she then tests the hypothesis and eventually develops a theory.  A hypothesis can be right or wrong, but a theory is supposed to be true based upon the scientific method.  So, when a hypothesis has been verified to be true, it becomes a theory.





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