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Let's imagine that some biologists claim that once upon a time there was a thing called an ivory-billed woodpecker. Is that a "scientific fact"? Well, they say they have evidence: lots of folks who said they saw lots of them in the old days; paintings, etc., of them; and some dried-up old husks that are claimed to have been them. Upon surveying the literature, we have difficulty coming up with any controlled-variable laboratory testing of the alleged woodpeckers but some alleged audio-recordings are said to exist. But no one seems particularly emotional about their alleged existence and so the statement that they used to exist is stated as a comfortable, scientific fact: it is Science. Now, it's also stated that they are now extinct. Is that a scientific fact? Hmm. It's stated with the same comfortable assurance and almost the same sentence structure, right alongside. But is it "Science"? It claims, and seems, to have to do with biology, that's clear enough, but . . . ? No physical lab-top experiment has been done to "prove" that there are no more ivory-bills and one could never cover the globe to do so, so what's the theoretical status of that biological "fact"? And what if some folks down South claim that they have seen one? And what if they say that they've got a (poor) picture and an audio-recording? Does their witnessing bear upon the "scientific" nature of this biological claim? Does their photography? Does their audiotape? Are their reports, photography, and audiotapes the first elements of a "scientific investigation" or are they nothing to do with science at all? And what if someone takes the photograph and applies technology to do an image analysis and comparison to known images of ivory-bills from the past? Is any of that "doing Science"? And what if someone does a sound analysis and compares it to all currently known birds (and finds no matches except a class similarity to certain other woodpecker types)? Was that person doing science? Even if he or she didn't have a biology degree? And, if a witness brought in a sample of bird poop that he said dropped from an ivory-bill and a biochemist did lab tests on it, was there Science involved?
Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.
1. the systematic observation of natural events and conditions in order to discover facts about them and to formulate laws and principles based on these facts. 2. the organized body of knowledge that is derived from such observations and that can be verified or tested by further investigation. 3. any specific branch of this general body of knowledge, such as biology, physics, geology, or astronomy.
Science alone of all the subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the infallibility of the greatest teachers in the preceeding generation . . .As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.