I wasn't feeling up to tackling this all in one go, so here's the first half, I'll try and finish the rest tomorrow.
You know I talk a lot about pseudoscience, and why many pseudo-scientific belief systems are clearly bullshit. But to quote so many people I've talked to "How do you know?" I mean, "How can you be sure you're correct?," I mean after all, "Isn't Science just another belief system?"
Now to be clear, I don't like the word belief. Fuck belief I don't believe in a god damn thing. I'm not joking about this. I accept somethings as fact because enough evidence points in that direction, at any time new evidence could override my position. Not lying, show me evidence and I'll instantly re-evaluate and modify ANY position. Provided i'm actually given evidence to look at (I intend to include what IS evidence and what IS bullshit posing as evidence and why we accept one and laugh at the other). If I haven't modified my position after hearing someone's claim, it's because the person providing "evidence" is just passing along garbage. More importantly I can explain WHY its garbage. My problem with belief is that it implies I'm more attached to a thought or idea than I should be.(*) The only idea I'm reasonably well attached to is proven, demonstrable methodologies for uncovering factual evidence about the universe.... SCIENCE. I only accept it because it can be proven. The moment it stops being reliable I'll abandon it, Not before.
So what is science exactly?
It can be defined as, "the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment." Source
Dig a little deeper you find the most important fundamental principle behind how we conduct science, why it works and how we know it is reliable can be found in one place. Methodology. This is often at the foundation of pseudo-scientific flaws. As we attempted to discover the nature of the universe, as we have taken measurements scientists also needed to find ways to ensure that what they learn is factual, reflective of reality and reliable. Why did they do this? Well imagine what life would be like if the underlying physics we use to build airplane's was not accurate or reliable. We know things are true because we test them and apply them. It's not just shit we think up or imagine. This is one of the most fundamental failing of those who advocate, Flat Earth, Electronic Universe, and Young Earth Creation, to only name a few. They think we are arrogant because they can't understand how it works, so they falsely postulate that we must just be pulling this shit out of our asses. Not so, but as a result of their false assumptions they end up pulling their shit out of their asses and think it needs to be placed on the same level. Why? well its all the same right? No, not really, its just not the same at all.
So we apply science to understand, measure, and define the universe. However what is science? Well at its core it's nothing more than the best practices and methodologies we use which we have demonstrated to be the most accurate ways to understand the universe. It's all about the methodology. That's it. It's fucking that easy folks.
(*) Editited thanks to a brilliant, and thoughtful suggestion from Bertold Brautigan