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Science is a process. It is a way of thinking, a manner of approaching
and of possibly resolving problems, a route by which one can produce order and
sense out of disorganized and chaotic observations. Through it we achieve useful
conclusions and results that are compelling and upon which there is a tendency
Isaac Asimov, 'X' Stands for Unknown, "Introduction"
Science is uniquely distinguished from other human practices: it is the only
activity in which the constraints of reality have brought to the quest for deep
answers an effective consensus across all the variations that in other respects
divide the human species.
Henry H. Bauer, Scientific Literacy and the
Myth of the Scientific Method (1992)
A modern poet has characterised the personality of art and the impersonality
of science as follows: art is I; science is we.
Claude Bernard, An Introduction to the Study
of Experimental Medicine (1865)
Science is not formal logic — it needs the free play of the mind in as
great a degree as any other creative art. It is true that this is a gift which
can hardly be taught, but its growth can be encouraged in those who already
Science is intelligence in action with no holds barred.
P. W. Bridgman; quoted in Theodore Schick, Jr. & Lewis
Vaughn, How To Think About Weird Things (1995)
Science, after all, is only an expression for our ignorance of our own
Samuel Butler, Note-Books (1912)
I venture to define science as a series of interconnected concepts and
conceptual schemes arising from experiment and observation and fruitful of
further experiments and observations. The test of a scientific theory is, I
suggest, its fruitfulness.
James Bryant Conant
Science is the heretical belief that the truth about the real nature of
things is to be found by studying the things themselves.
Alan Cromer, Uncommon Sense: The
Heretical Nature of Science (1993)
Science is the search for a consensus of rational opinion among all competent
Alan Cromer, Uncommon Sense: The
Heretical Nature of Science (1993)
The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.
Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years (1950)
Far too many students accept the easy belief that they need not bother learning much science, since a revolution will soon disprove all that is currently accepted anyway. In such a climate it may be worth affirming that
science really is progressive and cumulative, and that well-established
theories, though they may turn out to be subsets of larger and farther-reaching
ones — as happened when Newtonian mechanics was incorporated by Einstein into
general relativity — are seldom proved wrong. ... Science is not perfect, but
neither is it just one more sounding board for human folly.
Timothy Ferris, The Whole Shebang:
A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report (1997)
Science is a long history of learning how not to fool ourselves.
Richard Feynman, quoted in K. C. Cole, The Universe and
the Teacup: The Mathematics of Truth and Beauty (1998)
Science is a way to teach how something gets to be known, what is not known,
to what extent things are known (for nothing is known absolutely), how to
handle doubt and uncertainty, what the rules of evidence are, how to think about
things so that judgments can be made, how to distinguish truth from fraud, and
from show ... in learning science you learn to handle by trial and error, to
develop a spirit of invention and of free inquiry which is of tremendous value
far beyond science. One learns to ask oneself: "Is there a better way to do
Richard Feynman, quoted in James Gleick, Genius:
The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (1992)
We must, incidentally, make it clear from the beginning that if a thing is
not a science, it is not necessarily bad. For example, love is not a science.
So, if something is said not to be a science, it does not mean that there is
something wrong with it; it just means that it is not a science.
Richard Feynman, Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics
Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher (1995)
"The Relation of Physics to Other Sciences"
Science is not "organized common sense"; at its most exciting, it
reformulates our view of the world by imposing powerful theories against the
ancient, anthropocentric prejudices that we call intuition.
Stephen Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin (1977)
"Organic Wisdom, or Why Should a Fly
Eat Its Mother from Inside"
Science is a procedure for testing and rejecting hypotheses, not a compendium
of certain knowledge. Claims that can be proved incorrect lie within its domain
(as false statements to be sure, but as proposals that meet the primary
methodological criterion of testability). But theories that cannot be tested in
principle are not part of science.
Stephen Jay Gould, The Flamingo's Smile (1985)
All science is intelligent inference; excessive literalism is a delusion, not
a humble bowing to evidence.
Stephen Jay Gould, Dinosaur in a Haystack (1995)
"Dinosaur in a Haystack"
The origin of all science is the desire to know causes; and the origin
of all false science and imposture is in the desire to accept false causes
rather than none; or, which is the same thing, in the unwillingness to
acknowledge our own ignorance.
Science is the knowledge of consequences, and dependence of one fact upon
The main object of all science is the freedom and happiness of man.
Science is, I verily believe, like virtue, its own exceeding great reward.
Science is based on limits: It proceeds by progressively finding out
what is not possible, through experiment and theory, in order to determine how
the universe might really function. It is worth recalling Sherlock Holmes's
adage that when you have eliminated all other possibilities, whatever remains,
no matter how improbable, is the truth. Because of this, the universe is a
pretty remarkable place even without all the extras. The greatest gift
science has bestowed upon humanity, in my opinion, is the knowledge that whether
we like it or not, the universe is the way it is.
Lawrence M. Krauss, Beyond Star Trek: Physics from
Alien Invasions to the End of Time (1997)
Science is the systematic classification of experience.
George Henry Lewes
Truth in science can be defined as the working hypothesis best suited to open
the way to the next better one.
Science is no more a classified inventory of factual information than history
a chronology of dates. The equation of science with facts and of the
humane arts with ideas is one of the shabby genteelisms that bolster up
the humanist's self-esteem.
Peter Medawar, "Two Conceptions of Science" (Encounter
143, August 1965); reprinted in The Strange Case of the
Spotted Mice and Other Classic Essays on Science (1996)
Science is built upon facts, as a house is built of stones; but an
accumulation of facts is no more a science that a heap of stones is a house.
Jules Henri Poincaré, La Science et l'hyphothèse (1902)
Science may be described as the art of systematic over-simplification.
Sir Karl Raimund Popper, quoted in Observer (London, 1 Aug 1982)
Science is a great game. It is inspiring and refreshing. The playing field is
the universe itself.
Isidor Isaac Rabi
I believe that science is best defined as a careful, disciplined, logical
search for knowledge about any and all aspects of the universe, obtained by
examination of the best available evidence and always subject to correction and
improvement upon the discovery of better evidence. What's left is magic, and it
James Randi, The Mask of Nostradamus
Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge. Its
goal is to find out how the world works, to seek what regularities there may be,
to penetrate to the connections of things — from subnuclear particles, which
may be the constituents of all matter, to living organisms, the human social
community, and thence to the cosmos as a whole. Our intuition is by no means an
infallible guide. Our perceptions may be distorted by training and prejudice or
merely because of the limitations of our sense organs, which, of course,
perceive directly but a small fraction of the phenomena of the world. Even so
straightforward a question as whether in the absence of friction a pound of lead
falls faster than a gram of fluff was answered incorrectly by Aristotle and
almost everyone else before the time of Galileo. Science is based on experiment,
on a willingness to challenge old dogma, on an openness to see the universe as
it really is. Accordingly, science sometimes requires courage at the very least
the courage to question the conventional wisdom.
Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science (1979)
"Can We Know The Universe? Reflections On A Grain Of Salt"
Science is nothing but developed perception, interpreted intent, common sense
rounded out and minutely articulated.
Science is not a given set of answers but a system for obtaining answers. The
method by which the search is conducted is more important than the nature of the
solution. Questions need not be answered at all, or answers may be provided and
then changed. It does not matter how often or how profoundly our view of the
universe alters, as long as these changes take place in a way appropriate to
science. For the practice of science, like the game of baseball, is covered by
Robert Shapiro, Origins: A Skeptic's Guide
to the Creation of Life on Earth (1986)
Science is always simple and always profound. It is only the half-truths that
George Bernard Shaw, The Doctor's Dilemma (1913)
Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776)
Science is organized knowledge.
Herbert Spencer, Education
Today's quarks and leptons can be viewed as metaphors of the underlying
reality of nature, though metaphors that are objectively and rationally defined
and are components of theories that have great predictive power. And that's the
difference between the metaphors of science and those of myth: scientific
metaphors work. ... In the pragmatic view of truth of William James, science is
true because it works. Science may not be the only path to the truth, but it is
the best one we have yet been able to discover.
Victor J. Stenger, Physics and Psychics: The Search
for a World Beyond the Senses (1990)
As a scientist, it is very important to me that the sciences be seen a an
integral part of our culture, on an equal footing with the humanities. Even so,
I have come to the conclusion that the sciences are different from other
disciplines. At the risk of sounding terribly authoritarian and unfashionable to
some, and of seeming to belabor the obvious to others, I would propose the
following statement as a succinct summary of what I see that difference to
be: In science, there are right answers.
James Trefil, Reading the Mind of God: In Search
of the Principle of Universality (1989)
'Science' means simply the aggregate of the recipes that are always
successful. All the rest is literature.
In essence, science is a perpetual search for an intelligent and integrated
comprehension of the world we live in.
C. B. Van Neil
The task of science is to stake out the limits of the knowable, and to center
consciousness within them.
Science is neither a philosophy nor a belief system. It is a combination of
mental operations that has become increasingly the habit of educated peoples, a
culture of illuminations hit upon by a fortunate turn of history that yielded
the most effective way of learning about the real world ever conceived.
Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (1998)
The scientific enterprise is corporate. . . . It is never one individual that
goes through all the steps in the logico-deductive chain; it is a group of
individuals, dividing their labour but continuously and jealously checking each
other's contributions. The cliché of scientific prose betrays itself
"Hence we arrive at the conclusion that. . ." The audience to which
the scientific publications are addressed is not passive; by its cheering or
booing, its bouquets and brickbats, it actively controls the substance of the
communications that it receives. In other words, scientific research is a social
John Ziman, Public Knowledge (1968)