What is Science?

I’ve been making an attempt to collect as many definitions of ‘science’ as I can find. Here are a bunch of them:

Richard Feynman:

[Science is] a method of finding things out. This method is based on the principle that observation is the judge of whether something is so or not. All other aspects and characteristics of science can be understood directly when we understand that observation is the ultimate and final judge of the truth of an idea.

Carl Sagan:

Every time we exercise self-criticism, every time we test our ideas against the outside world, we are practicing science.

More Sagan:

Science is an attempt, largely successful, to understand the world, to get a grip on things, to get hold of ourselves, to steer a safe course.

Adam Bly:

Science is a methodology and philosophy rooted in evidence and kept in check by persistent inquiry, and bounded by the constraints of a self-critical and rigorous method.

Henri Poincare:

The aim of science is not things themselves, as the dogmatists in their simplicity imagine, but the relations between things; outside these relations there is no reality knowable.

William Lowrance:

Rather than being hidden answers “out there” waiting to be found, facts are concepts invented, shaped, and fitted together into conjectural models and maps. Science is eternally provisional, and is a matter of consensus: the scientifically true is what scientists endorse as being true. Scientific knowledge is judged by two overall criteria: analytic and predictive power, and fruitfulness in leading to new conjectures and realizations. Science is accumulative and intellectually progressive, preserving orthodox knowledge and carefully building upon it, all the while striving to supersede it with more powerful knowledge.

There is plenty more out there than just this. Post in the comments if you have some good ones.


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