Many of us know theories as an explanation. And explanation remains the sine qua non of science. Modern science heavily relies on theories for its progress. However, because they are explanations, they are not new to us. All of us always carry theories about many things around us – it is human nature to find a reason for events happening around us.
Then, how are the scientific theories different from our everyday common sense theories? When our day-to-day explanations are based on common sense and practical experience, the scientist forms his explanation or conceptual schema based on systematic deductions. So, systematic deduction makes the scientific enterprise different from our day-to-day naïve theories.
Once scientists test these conceptual schemas or explanations, they become theories. For example, a scientist may have deduced from the properties of a particular metal the conduction properties of the metal in vacuum. Now, he has to test his explanation for this plausible theory. Once he tests his conceptual schema about the property of the metal, he will be able to find conclusive evidence for his theory.
But these conceptual theories are not tested directly. The scientist derives the theoretical consequences/ implications of the theory, that is, if the theory is true, what consequences or implications can you observe? In our particular example of the property of the metal, a theoretical consequence could be that the metal could be a better conductor of electricity than aluminum in vacuum. Now, he will subject this practical consequence to testing. In the above example, you would have noticed that the scientist does not directly subject his explanation/ conceptual schema to testing; however, he tests the theoretical consequence/implication. This indirect testing of theory via theoretical consequence is true in all scientific enterprises, whether natural sciences or social sciences.