APS News

APS Council Approves Revised "What Is Science?" Statement

The APS Council approved a revised statement defining science and describing the rules of scientific exchange that contribute to the field's success at its November meeting. Submitted by the APS Panel on Public Affairs (POPA), the statement was amended in light of additional input sought from other scientific societies, as well as the APS membership (see APS News, June 1999, and October 1999). Concerned about the growing influence of pseudoscientific claims, POPA prepared a succinct draft statement in November 1998, adapted from E.O. Wilson's book Consilience, which was shared with the APS membership via APS News, and also with other scientific societies, in hopes that it would initiate a dialogue within the scientific community about the best way of dealing with the problem. The text of the statement follows.

"Science extends and enriches our lives, expands our imagination and liberates us from the bonds of ignorance and superstition. The American Physical Society affirms the precepts of modern science that are responsible for its success.

"Science is the systematic enterprise of gathering knowledge about the universe and organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories.

"The success and credibility of science are anchored in the willingness of scientists to:

  1. Expose their ideas and results to independent testing and replication by other scientists. This requires the complete and open exchange of data, procedures and materials.
  2. Abandon or modify accepted conclusions when confronted with more complete or reliable or observational evidence.
Adherence to these principles provides a mechanism for self-correction that is the foundation of the credibility of science."

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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette