Joined: April 2005
This thread seems to be ascribing a heirarchy of ways to describe scientific thoughts and conventions. The fact is that there is no concrete heirarchy and there should be none.
Hypotheses are specific testable statements and generally predate theories but are not inferior to them necessarily. Examples include: The Riemann Hypothesis (mathematics) has been tested to 1.5 million prime numbers but is still called a hypothesis; Avogadro's Hypothesis (chemistry) led eventually to Avogadro's Number but it is still called a hypothesis; The One Gene-One Enzyme (or Polypeptide) Hypothesis has been postulated and holds for those genes we have studied since 1941.
Theories are explanations of the general principles of phenomena with considerable evidence to support it. Examples include: The Theory of Evolution (biology), Gravity Theory (physics), Theory of Special Relativity (physics); Probability Theory (mathematics), Game Theory (economics).
Laws are mathematical definitions or mathematically definable phenomena. Examples include: The Laws of Thermodynamics (1st, 2nd, 3rd); Newton's Three Laws of Motion; The Ideal Gas Law. Evolution doesn't fit because it isn't primarily describable as an equation and is not tested mathematically.
Furthermore, there are PRINCIPLES. I don't know what the difference between a principle and a theory is but there are numerous examples: The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (particle physics); Bernoulli's Principle (fluid behavior); The Superposition Principle (wave physics); LeChatelier's Principle of Equilibrium (solution chemistry).
I am very dubious about ascribing a heirarchy to the various ways of describing explanations for observable phenomena. To me, they're all equal and deserve equal respect.