//What is science?

What is science?

As a physicist, I routinely receive (and try to answer) questions from friends, acquaintances, students, and other members of the general public that are indicative of a pandemic of confusion about science: Questions such as “why should we wear masks?”; questions pertaining to reading and interpreting COVID data, and of course questions pertaining to hydroxychlorquine’s effectiveness.
These questions (and many more) provoke deeper questions:
What does science stand for;

what does it try to accomplish, and what are its limits?  

Endless poorly-designed Youtube videos also regularly sent to me which purport to “scientifically” “prove” or “disprove” something (e.g. lower oxygen levels when wearing mask and other nonsensical points) force me ask: “who taught this person physics?” or “have they ever taken a science course?” Such questions are merely symptomatic of widespread scientific illiteracy among the general public despite the fact that we live in a world dominated by science. And sadly, many people who don’t know better take these claims seriously and try to heed them (e.g. inhaling Lysol or using hair dryers to kill the virus in vivo) with dangerous, life-threatening consequences.