This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The word theory is much abused. Properly speaking, when we know that there is an undoubted fact, and we want to understand how the fact came to be, we construct a possible explanation of the fact, and this is the theory of the thing.
But it is common for people who only guess that something may be, to call the guess a theory. It is well to understand that a theory is a system founded on facts; when a system is founded on mere guess work, it is simply an hypothesis. For instance, a boy thinks he would like to go out on a sail on a pond, and takes his mother's washtub. He sees that the handles might make good thole pins for the oar, and believes there is nothing to prevent his having a royal sail. This is not a theory; it is an hypothesis. He pushes out from the shore in the washtub, but is immediately pitched out into the water. He thinks there must be a "water-witch " somewhere about and tries it again, and perhaps again, but only to be bounced out every time. After finding out that sailing on a lake in a washing tub cannot be done, he reasons on his experience and finds that even in a boat there must be a centre of gravity, and he sees the necessity for a keel to the washtub before he extemporizes a washtub as a boat again.
The original picture in his mind is the hypothesis; the latter is the theory.
We commend this illustration to those who sometimes tell their readers that no matter what other magazines may do, their pages at least shall be "ree from theories," and that they will give only " such facts to the reader as may be sustained by the weight of evidence".