I am looking at the following usage in particular: "I want to confirm this theory."
closed as general reference by RegDwigнt♦ May 3 '12 at 13:31
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I prefer to use the word refute in such a circumstance.
- to prove wrong by argument or evidence : show to be false or erroneous
- to deny the truth or accuracy of
The empirical data obtained in a test—or, as we shall prefer to say, the observation sentences describing those data—may then either confirm or disconfirm the given hypothesis, or they may be neutral with respect to it.
By careful observation, I have disproved that the earth orbits the sun.
You might want something like disprove, invalidate, or deny, no?
How about this...?
To deny the truth of something, especially by presenting arguments that disprove it.
To discredit, or expose to ridicule the falsehood or the exaggerated claims of something
Denounce might be an option, but that usually refers to a commonly held belief being disproved. It also suggests its subject is non-scientific.
The other users suggested disprove and refute (which I like), which apply well in scientific experiments. More specifically, refute suggests you disproving a previously held belief, while disprove suggests your results turning out against a certain hypothesis or outcome.
In your example: "By careful observation, I have __ that the Earth orbits the sun.", I would probably go with disprove myself.
- disprove — to prove that something is false
- refute — to prove a statement or theory is wrong; disprove
- denounce — publicly declare to be wrong; inform against