Is there a name for a theory that is not supported by any evidence?

Let’s say creationism or the hollow earth. I heard people state that they are theories, so should be taught alongside other theories.

Do we have say that the word theory might mean something different in science than in everyday usage, i.e. evolution is a scientific theory and creationism is a crackpot theory or is there a name for a crackpot theories?

‘Speculation’ is the usual term.

The fallacy of equivocation is when someone uses a word with more than one meaning in an argument and doesn’t always use the same meaning of the word. So if you say “evolution and creationism are both theories and so should be taught alongside each other” you are equivocating because the word “theory” can either be:

[li]a scientific theory[/li][li]a guess about how things might work[/li][/ul]
Both are perfectly valid uses but evolution is one of these things and creationism is the other.

To get back to your question, “hypothesis” might work.

Thanks for the answers and apologies for the spelling errors in the original post. My speculative hypothesis is that my keyboard hates me.

Hypothesis implies to me something that is falsifiable if enough evidence gathered. Creationism doesn’t qualify under that guideline.

Conjecture should cover it, unless youi want to go ahead and label it nonsense.

Not all theories are created equal.

But I’d call creationism a “faith based concept” rather than a theory though. Because it’s faith-based it’s thus not falsifiable by definition. No matter how much evidence you have, people who like the concept will “choose to believe” it. Evidence, facts, reality - that’s all irrelevant.

How about “bullshit”?

If the theory cannot be supported by evidence, then it’s called religion.

If there is no evidence at all, a guess (or conjecture.)
If there is some support, but not adequate to be a theory, then a hypothesis.
But creationism and the hollow earth are both falsified hypotheses. That creationist refuse to face the facts doesn’t change anything

And if your hypothesis is the equivalent to last Thusdayism, we can call it not even wrong.

“Is there a name for a theory that is not supported by any evidence?”

I don’t know if there’s a single word that means “complete nonsense believed by gullible simpletons”, but some might think “religion” fits the bill. Personally I think “religion” has much too broad a definition for that to work.

But honestly, when it comes to something like creationism, “hypothesis” isn’t the right word because it carries a scientific connotation (a plausible idea that might be the precursor to a theory). Even “speculation” implies a degree of plausibility which creationism totally lacks.

There are some fine distinctions, and probably a range of useful words.

Creationism tends to come in two forms.

  1. “wow, the whole thing is so complex and beautiful, there must be a higher being”
  2. “This large floppy book holds the entire perfect truth and it says God created everything.”

1 isn’t just the theory, it contains the premise and the conclusion and the deduction. I would call that the “logic” of the argument.
2 isn’t by any any useful definition of the word a theory. The usual word is “dogma”.

The creationist theory is simply that “a higher being created the universe.”

The “wow so complex” argument is, to a point, falsifiable - in that it predicts that there will be complex aspects to the universe that cannot come about by any unguided process. This can be refuted by showing how it is both possible, and how there is clear evidence, for unguided processes to have given rise to these complex entities (the Blind Watchmaker argument.) It is an ongoing process as adherents can keep coming up with new examples of complexity. Given that these examples continue to be refuted means the argument in favour of the theory is very weak.

Religious dogma isn’t a theory. It isn’t falsifiable, and makes no predictions. Nor is it in any way questionable or modifiable. Another phrase for it is “revealed truth”. Given that most creationists are really pedalling their version of Christian theology, they remain on very shaky ground in that they also need to explain where their particular large floppy book is right, and those of other cultures are not. This is partly why “dogma” is so apt.

I’d suggest that a theory that is unable to be supported by any facts is conjecture or an opinion.

On the presumption ( :wink: ) that conjecture is a good jumping off place for the precise word you’re looking for, you may find this thesaurus listinghelpful.

Please note the antonyms!

Although creationism isn’t a theory that can be falsified, intelligent design can be just by pointing out all the instances of unintelligence in our design. Our appendix, the way the sperm canal creates a weakness in the abdominal wall, our weak and unreplaceable teeth, etc., etc.

Personally, I can’t fathom how anyone could believe in intelligent design after spending a single night with a snorer.

In casual usage, yes, but in philosophy it is called ‘speculation’.

I propose a new word


From Ken Ham+Calamity


Conjecture carries the presumption that it is able to be proved or falsified through experimentation. Creationism isn’t even a proper hypothesis, how do you test it, what experiment can be done to show it to be possible? It’s religion, based on dogma.

Re. the OP