it's hard to think of a field of science that isn't regularly revolutionized

I think that for the general public, science is seen through the lens filter of journalism. To gain any public awareness, science must be spectacular, revolutionary, make everyone live to age 100 and rewrite the textbooks; otherwise it is drowned out by the usual humdrum of wars, bank robberies, shootings, car accidents, presidential elections and the birth of a baby tiger at the zoo.

Strong competition for research grants also leads researchers to describe their proposed project (and their results in the

*last* project) in the most glowing terms. It also helps if you managed to get it on national TV (beating out the cute furry animal story).

The reality is that most science is incremental, filling in a little bit of the puzzle here, helping locate another piece of the puzzle a bit more precisely there, clarifying a piece that did not have sufficient context down here.

That is why the Nobel committee take on average 20 years to award a Nobel Prize. It takes that long to see which discoveries have made a fundamental change in the sciences, opening up productive new areas of research and application - and which were just journalism. (They can't take

*much* longer than that, because the recipient must still be alive to receive the prize...)

isn't the upshot of this that, in fact, almost all science is almost certainly wrong?

All science is an approximation in some form.

- In fact the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle proves that all life

*must* be an approximation - there is no such thing as "perfect knowledge".

- And Gödel's theorem proves mathematically that you cannot prove everything mathematically

- So scientists must come to an understanding of their limitations

So there are areas where we can make measurements that come out extremely accurately, as far as the experimental techniques allow.

- In nuclear physics, they don't officially announce something until it reaches "5 sigma": This is not absolute certainty, but is extremely confident

There are other areas where results are not so solid:

- In psychology, findings are published in they are 95% confident (ie there is a 1 in 20 chance that their results could be down to chance)

- There has been a recent focus on reproducibility in psychology - they found that, even with the cooperation of the original authors, about half of the results

could not be reproducedSo uncertainty, external influences and measurement error are an inherent part of science, and we try to deal with that by measuring and reporting on the uncertainty.

- There are better mathematical ways of measuring these uncertainties which should be taught and applied more widely.

- But politicians have no success measures applied by a reputable agency (I am excluding other politicians, here). And yet they spend far more than a typical science research project, and they are always on TV, claiming how revolutionary their latest policy will be (or has been).