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Everyday science

Everyday science

Well or ill defined?

04 Mar 2009 Michael Banks

By Michael Banks

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

That is the definition of ‘science’ according to Britain’s Science Council, an organisation representing over 30 learned and professional bodies in the UK ranging from the Royal Astronomical Society to the Association of Clinical Biochemistry.

Apparently the council has spent a whole year deciding on this new meaning to provide a distinction between genuine science and psuedoscience.

So let us look at the alternatives. According to my Chambers dictionary, ‘science’ means the “knowledge ascertained by observation and experiment, critically tested, systematised and brought under general principles, esp in relation to the physical world.”

One notices in the council’s definition that science is the ‘pursuit’ of knowledge rather than that ‘ascertained’, as well as the inclusion of the ‘social’ world.

So Physics World readers, what do you think of the definition? Can you do any better? But please don’t take one year to decide!

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