Superseded theories in science

obsolete scientific theorysupersededsuperseded scientific theoryobsolete theorylong-discreditedlong-superseded notionnow-discredited theoryobsoleteobsolete medical theoryObsolete physical theories
In science, a theory is superseded or becomes obsolete when a scientific consensus once widely accepted it, but current science considers it an inadequate, incomplete, or simply false description of reality.wikipedia
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Phlogiston theory

phlogistondephlogisticateddephlogisticated air
For example, the phlogiston theory was entirely replaced by the quite different concept of energy and related laws.
The phlogiston theory is a superseded scientific theory that postulated that a fire-like element called phlogiston is contained within combustible bodies and released during combustion.

Maternal impression

imprint characteristics on the child.witnessed while pregnant
* Maternal impression – the theory that the mother's thoughts created birth defects.
Maternal impression, according to a long-discredited medical theory, was a phenomenon that explained the existence of birth defects and congenital disorders.

Theory

theoreticaltheoriestheorist
In science, a theory is superseded or becomes obsolete when a scientific consensus once widely accepted it, but current science considers it an inadequate, incomplete, or simply false description of reality.
When a new theory uses new terms that do not reduce to terms of an older theory, but rather replace them because they misrepresent reality, it is called an intertheoretic elimination. For instance, the obsolete scientific theory that put forward an understanding of heat transfer in terms of the movement of caloric fluid was eliminated when a theory of heat as energy replaced it. Also, the theory that phlogiston is a substance released from burning and rusting material was eliminated with the new understanding of the reactivity of oxygen.

Vitalism

vitalistvital forcevitalistic
Vitalism – the theory that living things are alive because of some "vital force" independent of matter, as opposed to because of some appropriate assembly of matter. It was gradually discredited by the rise of organic chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology, fields that failed to discover any "vital force". Friedrich Wöhler's synthesis of urea from ammonium cyanate was only one step in a long road, not a great refutation.
Biologists now consider vitalism in this sense to have been refuted by empirical evidence, and hence regard it as a superseded scientific theory.

Azoic hypothesis

Azoic hypothesis – that marine life cannot exist below 300 fathoms. Disproven in 1850 with the discovery of Conocrinus lofotensis.
The Azoic hypothesis (sometimes referred to as the Abyssus theory) is a superseded scientific theory proposed by Edward Forbes in 1843, stating that the abundance and variety of marine life decreased with increasing depth and, by extrapolation of his own measurements, Forbes calculated that marine life would cease to exist below 300 fathom.

Caloric theory

caloriccaloric fluidcaloric,
Caloric theory – the theory that a self-repelling fluid called "caloric" was the substance of heat. Rendered obsolete by the mechanical theory of heat.
The caloric theory is an obsolete scientific theory that heat consists of a self-repellent fluid called caloric that flows from hotter bodies to colder bodies.

Contact electrification

contact tensioncontact potentialcontact electricity
Contact tension – a theory on the source of electricity
It has since been superseded by more modern notions.

Geocentric model

geocentricPtolemaicgeocentrism
Ptolemaic system – replaced by Nicolaus Copernicus' heliocentric model.
In astronomy, the geocentric model (also known as geocentrism, or the Ptolemaic system) is a superseded description of the Universe with Earth at the center.

Bohr model

model of the atomBohr model of the atomquantum model of the atom
Bohr model with quantized orbits
As a theory, it can be derived as a first-order approximation of the hydrogen atom using the broader and much more accurate quantum mechanics and thus may be considered to be an obsolete scientific theory.

Rain follows the plow

attempt to increase rainfallrain follows the ploughtilling of the soil to "attract" moisture
Rain follows the plow – the theory that human settlement increases rainfall in arid regions (only true to the extent that crop fields evapotranspirate more than barren wilderness)
Rain follows the plow is the conventional name for a now-discredited theory of climatology that was popular throughout the American West and Australia during the late 19th century.

Fringe science

fringealternative sciencefringe" science
Such labels do not cover protoscientific or fringe science theories that have never had broad support within the scientific community.
Superseded scientific theories

Protoscience

protoscientificproto-scientificproto-science
Such labels do not cover protoscientific or fringe science theories that have never had broad support within the scientific community.
Obsolete scientific theories

Neptunism

Neptunistsneptunistdeposits from shrinking seas
Neptunism replaced by plutonism and volcanism
Neptunism is a superseded scientific theory of geology proposed by Abraham Gottlob Werner (1749–1817) in the late 18th century, proposing that rocks formed from the crystallisation of minerals in the early Earth's oceans.

Falsifiability

falsifiableunfalsifiablefalsification
Scientific theories are testable and make falsifiable predictions.
Superseded scientific theories

Miasma theory

miasmamiasma theory of diseasemiasmas
Miasma theory of disease – the theory that diseases are caused by "bad air". No experimental support, and rendered obsolete by the germ theory of disease.
The miasma theory (also called the miasmatic theory) is an obsolete medical theory that held that diseases—such as cholera, chlamydia, or the Black Death—were caused by a miasma (μίασμα, ancient Greek: "pollution"), a noxious form of "bad air", also known as night air. The theory held that the origin of epidemics was due to a miasma, emanating from rotting organic matter.

List of discredited substances

List of discredited substances
1) It was widely believed to exist at one time but no longer is. Such substances are often part of an obsolete scientific theory.

Luminiferous aether

aetherluminiferous etherether
Luminiferous aether – failed to be detected by the sufficiently sensitive Michelson-Morley experiment, made obsolete by Einstein's work.
Superseded scientific theories

List of topics characterized as pseudoscience

a number of claimsalternativeList of topics characterised as pseudoscience
List of topics characterized as pseudoscience
Modern geocentrism – In astronomy, the geocentric model (also known as geocentrism, or the Ptolemaic system) is a superseded description of the universe with the Earth at the center. Under the geocentric model, the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets all circled Earth. The geocentric model served as the predominant description of the cosmos in many ancient civilizations, such as those of Aristotle and Ptolemy.

Open Polar Sea

ocean surrounding the North Pole was ice-freeopen water route
The Open Polar Sea, an ice-free sea once supposed to surround the North Pole
Superseded scientific theories

Alchemy

alchemistalchemicalalchemists
Alchemy, which led to the development of chemistry
Superseded scientific theories

Science

scientificsciencesscientific knowledge
In science, a theory is superseded or becomes obsolete when a scientific consensus once widely accepted it, but current science considers it an inadequate, incomplete, or simply false description of reality.

Scientific consensus

consensusscholarly consensusacademic consensus
In science, a theory is superseded or becomes obsolete when a scientific consensus once widely accepted it, but current science considers it an inadequate, incomplete, or simply false description of reality.

Reality

real worldrealreality-based
In science, a theory is superseded or becomes obsolete when a scientific consensus once widely accepted it, but current science considers it an inadequate, incomplete, or simply false description of reality.

Consensus decision-making

consensusconsensus processagreement
Such labels do not cover protoscientific or fringe science theories that have never had broad support within the scientific community.