"Pseudoscience differs from erroneous science. Science thrives on errors, cutting them away one by one. False conclusions are drawn all the time, but they are drawn tentatively. Hypotheses are framed so they are capable of being disproved. A succession of alternative hypotheses is confronted by experiment and observation. Science gropes and staggers toward improved understanding. Proprietary feelings are of course offended when a scientific hypothesis is disproved, but such disproofs are recognized as central to the scientific enterprise. Pseudoscience is just the opposite. Hypotheses are often framed precisely so they are invulnerable to any experiment that offers a prospect of disproof, so even in principle they cannot be invalidated."
-Carl Sagan (The Demon-Haunted World, p 25)
"Whereas non-scientific (and potentially dangerous) thinking starts with a premise and then looks for things that support it, scientific thinking constantly tries to disprove itself. That alone makes all the difference in the world."
—Derren Brown, Tricks of the Mind, p. 266
"Perhaps the sharpest distinction between science and pseudoscience is that science has a far keener appreciation of human imperfection and fallibility than does pseudoscience (or inerrant revelation)."
-Carl Sagan (The Demon-Haunted World)
We've arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces."
-Carl Sagan (The Demon-Haunted World)
"The method of science is tried and true. It is not perfect, it's just the best we have. And to abandon it with its skeptical protocols is the pathway to a dark age."
President Obama on the importance of science:
Rep. Lincoln Davis on the importance of math and science:
"As a scientific skeptic I am careful to emphasize that my current position on any scientific question is tentatively based on available evidence. If new data comes in that warrants a change in my position, I will happily change it. Not only is this position scientific, it has the advantage of not tying you to a position that might be wrong. I try to become as emotionally dispassionate about specific conclusions as possible - it is only the validity of the process that I value."
-Steve Novella, Neurologica (http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=485)
Excerpt from that blog:
If you want to play the science game, here’s what you do:
1. Submit your hypothesis to proper testing. Testimonials, intuitions, personal experience, and “other ways of knowing” don’t count.
2. See if you can falsify the hypothesis.
3. Try to rule out alternative explanations and confounding factors.
4. Report your findings in journal articles submitted to peer review.
5. Allow the scientific community to critique the published evidence and engage in dialog and debate.
6. Withhold judgment until your results can be replicated elsewhere.
7. Respect the consensus of the majority of the scientific community as to whether your hypothesis is probably true or false (always allowing for revision based on further evidence).
8. Be willing to follow the evidence and admit you are wrong if that’s what the evidence says.
If you want to play the science game, here are some of the things you don’t do:
1. Accuse the entire scientific community of being wrong (unless you have compelling evidence, in which case you should argue for it in the scientific journals and at professional meetings, not in the media).
2. Design poor-quality experiments that are almost guaranteed to show your hypothesis is true, whether it really is or not. Use science to show THAT your treatment works, not to ask IF it works.
3. Keep using arguments that have already been thoroughly discredited. (The intelligent design folks are still claiming the eye could not have evolved because it is irreducibly complex; homeopaths are still claiming homeopathy cured more patients than conventional medicine in the 19th century epidemics).
4. Write books for the general public to promote your thesis – as if public opinion could influence science!
5. Form an activist organization to promote your beliefs.
6. Step outside the scientific paradigm and appeal to intuition and belief.
7. Mention the persecution of Galileo and compare yourself to him.
8. Invent a conspiracy theory (Big Pharma is suppressing the truth!).
9. Claim to be a lone genius who knows more than all the other scientists put together.
10. Offer a treatment to the public after only the most preliminary studies.
11. Set up a website to sell products that are not backed by good evidence.
12. Refuse to admit it when your hypothesis is proven wrong