I'm thinking of something where somebody (with no malicious intention) offers a very plausible and scientific-sounding explanation (not a theory but something presented as a series of facts) such that nobody would even question it because it makes total sense. It is accepted as truth. However, if one actually did an experiment to test the explanation it is easily falsified, showing the explanation to be incorrect and that other factors must be responsible for the observed phenomenon.

Is there a word to describe such an explanation?

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    Are you talking about a theory that turns out to be proven wrong—or are you talking about a well-crafted deception (like a spy's cover story)? – Jason Bassford May 9 '20 at 20:35
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    Specious: Superficially plausible, but actually wrong. – Decapitated Soul May 9 '20 at 21:00
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    Plausible but incorrect is distorted by illusional and by most of the other answers in this link, as there is no implication here of an attempt to deceive or be tricky, just an explanation that seems reasonable but is, or can be shown to be, incorrect. I don’t know a one-word synonym for this. – Xanne May 9 '20 at 21:01


  1. a subtle, tricky, superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning.
  2. a false argument; sophism.


  • This answer is already present in the duplicate. – Decapitated Soul May 11 '20 at 5:49
  • Please explain what that means – General Joy May 11 '20 at 13:59
  • The duplicate I've posted in comments already has the word 'sophistry'. – Decapitated Soul May 11 '20 at 14:01
  • ah ok i see it now. Thanks – General Joy May 11 '20 at 14:44