Definition of the Day 2/11/15 — Science

Posted: February 11, 2015 in Livin' in the USA, Science
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SCIENCE, n. A systematic means of understanding and describing the natural world. It is based on the scientific method. To simplify, that method consists of: 1) gathering as much data as possible on a phenomenon; 2) formulating a hypothesis to explain the data; 3) testing the hypothesis for internal consistency and to see if it is in accord with the data; 4) gathering additional data and seeing if the hypothesis is in accord with the additional data; and 5) checking whether predictions generated by the hypothesis are accurate. If the hypothesis survives repeated, long-term testing, it becomes a “theory,” as in “the theory of gravity” and “the theory of evolution.”

Another way of putting this is that science is a systematic method of arriving at the most probably correct explanations of observed phenomena. An important adjunct to this is that science is fact driven rather than belief driven. So, scientists are bound to accept the results of scientific investigation even if they don’t particularly like the results—if a pet theory is at odds with the facts, out goes the pet theory (eventually).

Thus science is the most powerful means ever devised of dispelling illusions. This is, of course, why it is almost universally despised in the United States.

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–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the best modern successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary

 

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