This quote from Carl Sagan’s book “The Demon Haunted World” struck me as an accurate description of the scientific process:
The scientific way of thinking is at once imaginative and disciplined. This is central to its success. Science invites us to let the facts in, even when they don’t conform to our preconceptions. It counsels us to carry alternative hypotheses in our heads and see which best fit the facts. It urges on us a delicate balance between no-holds-barred openness to new ideas, however heretical, and the most rigorous sceptical scrutinity of everything – new ideas and established wisdom. This kind of thinking is also an essential tool for a democracy in an age of change.