Three of this week's words from science highlight the critical decline in both the knowledge of and respect for facts in general, and science in particular. They are being misused and twisted by a population that is ignorant and deliberately misinformed.

epicenter:As noted this does not describe the center of an earthquake, but rather a point on the surface above it. This misuse is somewhat innocuous in that it is designed to make the speaker seem more educated than he or she is. {"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth and prove it." - Disputed provenance.)

quantum: As noted, this word was introduced to physics by Max Planck to describe the graininess of energy. So a "quantum leap" is the smallest change possible, not a large one.

theory: This is the most pernicious misuse. In science, a theory starts out as a guess (hypothesis), but does become a theory until it is a) verified by observable measurements, and b) can be used successfully to predict outcomes. Today's use reduces theories to mere hypotheses and degrades the importance of observable data. In the minds of the ignorant, the Creationist Theory is a viable alternative to the well-documented Theory of Natural Selection. (Darwin did not develop a theory of evolution, he developed a theory to explain it.)