This is an article for reference, no need to read it or rec it, on the subject of Science:
Contemporary science is typically subdivided into the natural sciences which study the material world, the social sciences which study people and societies, and the formal sciences like mathematics. The formal sciences are often excluded as they do not depend on empirical observations. Disciplines which use science like engineering and medicine may also be considered to be applied sciences.
The scientific method illustrated: You pick up a landline but the familiar dial tone is absent and wonder why. Several possibilities come to mind. The speaker is broken, the power is out to that phone, phone service is out over a wider area, etc. If you want to find out, you’ll immediately think of ways to test those and other explanations. Bad phone? Replace it with you know is good. Power out? Put the silent phone into an outlet you know is powered up. Phone service out? Check with neighbors, “Hey John, are your landlines working?”
Some tests don’t pan out, but maybe one does and bingo, you have solved it. Note what you did: you detected a phenomenon, proposed a tentative explanation — called a hypothesis or a model -- thought up a way to confirm or reject that explanation, rinsed and repeated, until you landed on the explanation that best fit the observed facts, i.e., data. But because there are a lot of possible explanations and most of them are not mutually exclusive, and because two or more could have been in play at the same time, your conclusion, no matter how logical and well demonstrated, has to remain tentative. You might gain more confidence in it though, if it was repeated over and over by others following your exact methodology.
Scientists call that last part peer review and it is an essential part of the modern process of scientific discovery today. Once you have a tentative explanation for empirical data finalized, a theory, you publish it in a professional journal along with all the steps you followed and all the equipment you used. And your best buddies in the field tear into it over and over hoping to find a dumb mistake and prove you wrong! If it survives sustained peer review it slowly becomes part of the body of accepted science, called the scientific consensus, until some time as a new explanation comes along that is better, or that encompasses your explanation as one precise subset of a family of broader explanations.
Of course this is common sense and most of the easy stuff had long been figured out using common sense before this more formalized, organized, peer review process had been developed beginning around 500 years ago. We had long since figured out that plants come from seeds or that lightning usually means rain. So these days, trying to find a way to craft tests and explanations for big remaining mysteries tends to be pretty intricate and specialized and tedious. Some of the most fascinating models around today have to remain models until a way to test them can be figured out. String theory, multiverses, and quantum gravity ideas are good examples.
But here’s the important thing: if an explanation is at least in theory testable, it is said to be a scientific proposition, regardless if it turns out to be right or wrong. The proposition that mercury compounds in vaccines triggered early childhood autism is testable. It is therefore a scientific proposition. But so far all tests performed either eliminate that idea or the methodology has been shown conclusively to be flawed.
Last Tuesdayism: If it is not testable, even in theory, it might be science-y or science-y sounding, but it is not science per se. I can propose the entire universe was created right down to the half-used tube of toothpaste in your bathroom just last Tuesday, and created so perfectly with the appearance of age that it looks like its ancient! But if last Tuesday’s universe is 100% indistinguishable from a universe billions of years old, my proposition could still be true in some sense, but it is not truly scientific because it is not testable.
Another distinguishing feature of science is it works regardless of belief or understanding. You don’t have to accept germ theory for antibiotics to work. You don’t have to know what resonating circuits are to enjoy songs on the radio. This is important, it means you don’t have to give up much of anything, or change your lifestyle or beliefs or opinions, to benefit from science. But if you are deeply invested emotionally or financially or any other way in a belief, or a set of interconnected beliefs such as an ideology or a religion, that claims either untested or untestable explanations as verified and true, you have reason to be worried about the scientific process we have briefly reviewed.
And what of phenomena outside of nature? In science, there are no such phenomena! There is no ‘outside the natural world,’ that we know of in terms of science (And arguably could know of) because in science, the natural world is assumed to be all there is and all there can ever be. It is the entire cosmos and everything in it.
Let that sink in, because if it’s true, the consequences are about as deep as it gets.