What Is Science?

Illustration for article titled What Is Science?

Carl Sagan famously defined science by saying, "Science, more than a body of knowledge, is a way of thinking." How do you define science?

Whether your definition is borrowed from someone else or one you crafted on your own, whether it's a quote, an illustration, a joke, an experiment, or just a way of defining it that makes sense to you, whether it's pithy or long-winded, tell us in the comments: What is science?

Image: Artist's concept of Voyager in flight / NASA-JPL.

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There's already a variety of science contrarian up in here, so I feel a need to comment in order to shove that comment down into the gutter.

Science is a method of learning about our reality that assumes natural objects and natural processes are the only objects and processes that humans can fully understand. This learning leads to creating models and explanations, and these models and explanations are tested against reality to determine their utility.

In science, utility is a proxy for "truth". There's no way of determining whether a hypothesis, theory, or scientific fact is really, totally true. But there are ways of determining whether they are useful explanations of the reality we live in.