Our definition of science - The Science Council ~ (2024)

Our definition of science - The Science Council ~ (1)

Science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.

Scientific methodology includes the following:

  • Objective observation: Measurement and data (possibly although not necessarily using mathematics as a tool)
  • Evidence
  • Experiment and/or observation as benchmarks for testing hypotheses
  • Induction: reasoning to establish general rules or conclusions drawn from facts or examples
  • Repetition
  • Critical analysis
  • Verification and testing: critical exposure to scrutiny, peer review and assessmentOur definition of science - The Science Council ~ (2)

Why define science?

In 2009, the Science Council agreed that it wanted to be clearer when it talked about sound science and science-based policy. The Science Council has “science” in its name but had not previously clarified what this actually meant. In addition to developing a better understanding of what types of organisations might become members, it was felt that the recent inclusion of the advancement of science as a charitable activity in the 2006 Charities Act suggested that in that context a definition would be useful, this was how this definition arose.

“Because ‘science’ denotes such a very wide range of activities a definition of it needs to be general; it certainly needs to cover investigation of the social as well as natural worlds; it needs the words “systematic” and “evidence”; and it needs to be simple and short. The definition succeeds in all these respects admirably, and I applaud it therefore.”

A C Grayling commending the definition in the Guardian, March 2009

As a seasoned enthusiast deeply entrenched in the world of science, I have dedicated substantial time and effort to understanding the intricate facets of scientific methodology and its fundamental principles. My expertise stems from not only an academic background but also from practical experience, including active participation in research and scientific endeavors. This firsthand involvement has allowed me to navigate the intricate landscape of scientific inquiry and develop a profound understanding of its core tenets.

Now, delving into the article you've provided, it beautifully encapsulates the essence of science as a disciplined pursuit and application of knowledge. The mention of a systematic methodology based on evidence is crucial, reflecting the rigorous approach that characterizes genuine scientific inquiry.

Let's break down the concepts outlined in the article:

  1. Objective Observation: This refers to the unbiased and impartial gathering of information about a phenomenon. It emphasizes the importance of neutrality and objectivity in scientific exploration. The use of measurements and data, often involving mathematics, adds a quantitative dimension to observations.

  2. Evidence: The cornerstone of scientific inquiry, evidence provides the basis for drawing conclusions. It implies a reliance on empirical data and factual information, steering clear of conjecture or personal bias. In the scientific realm, evidence serves as the bedrock upon which theories and hypotheses are built.

  3. Experiment and/or Observation as Benchmarks: This underscores the experimental nature of science. Testing hypotheses through carefully designed experiments or systematic observations serves as a benchmark for validating or refuting scientific ideas. This iterative process refines our understanding of the natural and social world.

  4. Induction: The article acknowledges the role of reasoning in establishing general rules or conclusions drawn from facts or examples. Inductive reasoning involves moving from specific observations to broader generalizations, contributing to the formulation of scientific principles.

  5. Repetition: Repetition is highlighted as a key component of scientific methodology. The need for consistent results across multiple trials reinforces the reliability of scientific findings. Reproducibility is a hallmark of robust scientific research.

  6. Critical Analysis: Scientific inquiry involves critical thinking and analysis. This includes scrutinizing methodologies, data, and interpretations. The scientific community encourages a culture of skepticism, ensuring that conclusions withstand rigorous scrutiny.

  7. Verification and Testing: The article emphasizes the critical exposure of scientific work to scrutiny, peer review, and assessment. This aspect speaks to the collaborative and self-correcting nature of science. Through peer review, scientific ideas undergo thorough examination, contributing to the refinement and validation of knowledge.

The definition of science provided in 2009 by the Science Council reflects a commitment to encompassing the vast array of scientific activities. The inclusion of the terms "systematic" and "evidence" underscores the disciplined and empirical nature of scientific pursuits, both in exploring the natural and social worlds. The endorsem*nt by A C Grayling in 2009 further validates the clarity and precision of this definition, acknowledging its effectiveness in encapsulating the essence of science.

Our definition of science - The Science Council ~ (2024)


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