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What is (so special about) science?

Reproducible research is all about science, so what is science all about? There is a whole discipline, Philosophy of Science, concerned with answering this question, and most probably, there is neither consensus nor a simple let alone universal answer. A very personal account by one of the greatest scientists may nevertheless help achieve a useful working definition.

If I have seen further, it is by standing on ye shoulders of giants.Sir Isaak Newton1)

Properly defining the term “science” is notoriously difficult. Nevertheless, some aspects are most probably common sense — and can be deduced from Newton’s statement quoted above:

  • Science is based on results previously achieved by others.
  • Results should be independent of the scientist.
  • Science aims at gaining knowledge about the world surrounding us.
  • Results should be independently reproducible.

This immediately reveals scientific research to be a responsible undertaking.

Further reading

Note: This section is clearly opinionated. There are many more resources available. However, these are the author’s recommendations based on own experience.

Chalmers, Alan F.: What is this thing called Science?
Open University Press, Berkshire, UK, 1999

Letter to Robert Hooke, February 5, 1676
relevance/science/index.txt · Last modified: 2020/09/27 12:19 by till