We have in fact determined that this is Science.
But seriously, I was thinking about this the other day over lunch.
Science is ultimately the Scientific Method. And the Method itself is itself a kind of process that scientists have generally mutually agreed upon to mediate the inherent flaws of inductive reasoning.
That’s a mouthful, so let me explain a little deeper.
Generally, the only things that are absolutely true are those which exist within closed, deductive systems, and even then, that is only if (a) the assumptions are true and (b) the deductive reasoning is logically (mathematically) valid.
For example: “If A, then B.” If A is true, then B must be true, and there are no exceptions.
The flaw in scientific knowledge is that we’re limited to what we can observe. We’re making generalizations about what we’ve seen. For example, up until recently, we believed the Coelacanth to be extinct. Why did we believe this? Because the only Coelacanths anyone had ever seen were million-year-old fossils. Then, one day, someone saw a living Coelacanth.
The problem with the Scientific Method is not that scientific truth is fallible. The problem is that people don’t act scientifically, any more than they behave according to strict logic. When standard scientific practice believes one thing and the evidence demonstrates another, the scientific community – whose careers have been based on the old beliefs – generally react with scorn. The story of Barry Marshall is the archetype for this sort of thing.
So it’s important to know that scientific consensus is essentially meaningless; in Science, the facts are not decided by a democratic vote. However, this statement does not translate into a license by which one can just believe whatever the hell one wants without evidence, reason and counter-arguments that address the almost certain flaws with your evidence/reasoning brought up by the community. That is what the Method is for.