What makes someone a scientist? What is the definition of being a scientist? Is it arrogant to self-describe as a scientist?

Here's a quote from physicist Richard Feynmann,

"Because of the success of science there is a kind of a...I think a kind of pseudoscience, social science is an example of a science which is not a science. They don't do scientific...they follow the forms...you gather data, you do so and so and so forth but they don't get any laws, they haven't found anything, they haven't got anywhere yet, maybe someday they will but it's not very well developed, but what happens is...even on a more mundane level we get experts on everything. They sound like a sort of scientific experts. They are not scientists. They sit at the typewriter and make up something like, ‘food grown with fertilizer that's organic is better for you than food that's grown with fertilizer that's inorganic.'  Maybe true but it hasn't been demonstrated one way or the other but they sit there on the typewriter and make up all that stuff as if its science and then become experts on food, organic foods and so on. There is all kind of myths and pseudoscience all over the place. Now, I might be quite wrong, maybe they do know all these things but I don't think I'm wrong. You see, I have the advantage of having found out how hard it is to know something, how careful you have to be about checking the experiments, how easy it is to make mistakes and fool yourself. I know what it means to know something and therefore I can't...I see how they get their information and I can't believe that they know it. They haven't done the work necessary, haven't done the checks necessary, haven't done the care necessary. I have a great suspicion that they don't know that this stuff is...and they are intimidating people by it. I think so. I don't know the world very well...that's what I think."


One essential part is the part about how easy it is to fool yourself.  Applying the scientific method is actually incredibly hard.  It requires years of mistakes (where you think you found a solution and then discover it was sub-optimal, or plain wrong), and years of thinking deeply about various issues.  Finding the limits of your theory, the experiments that falsify your theory, and seeking to disprove your theory by all means possible is an arduous task.

You may want to read more of Feynman's ideas of practicing science (Cargo Cult Science).  In contrast to that, History, Management, Sociology and Psychology rarely come up with universal laws that can be disproven.  There is often a group of explanations or narratives that co-exist but which cannot be shown to be true, even with carefully designed experiments.  Even if they call it "social science", these branches of knowledge often only apply the scientific method superficially.

I don't think calling yourself a scientist is arrogant if you practice science.
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