This is how professor Richard Feynman, BSc., Ph.D. described the process of validating a scientific proposition – which he liked to call “A guess”.
“It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is – if it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.” [source]
Others have referred to this idea as The Correspondence Theory of Truth, i.e. when the ‘guess’ ‘corresponds’ to real-world observations. In other words :
“… a proposition is true if and only if the world is as the proposition says it is.”
Some may view the theory’s proposal as self-evident in the realm of say, particle physics – but how might it be applied to less concrete scientific fields such as, for example, psychology? A new paper on this subject is published in the journal Theory & Psychology, June 2012, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 272-289.
‘Truth, science, and psychology’ is authored by professor Brian D. Haig, DipTchg, M.A. ,Ph.D. F.N.Z.Ps.S., F.A.P.S. (University of Canterbury) and professor Denny Borsboom M.A., Ph.D. (University of Amsterdam) who adopt the Correspondence Theory as a plausible theory of truth, and relate it to science. After outlining the theory, they go on to describe its implications in simple terms, thus :
“We [then] present the correspondence theory in a form that enables us to show that the theory uniquely fulfills a crucial function in psychological research, because the interpretation of truth claims as suppositions that concern states of affairs in the world clearly explicates what it means for a theory to be true, and what it means for a theory to be false.”
[tip: read ‘claims’ as a noun rather than a verb.]
And, to sum up, even more simply :
“It is concluded that correspondence truth plays an important part in our understanding of science, including psychology.”