I posted this on Ask E.T.
Browsing my copy of Feynmans lectures on Physics Vol 1 (admittedly to look at the page design). Page 1-1 has the following;
"The principle of science, the definition, almost, is the following: The test of all knowledge is experiment."
This still looks good to me after all these years.
Edward Tuftes response is;
The Principle of Science
It seems to me that The Deep Principle of Science is this: every empirical observation is a manifestation of the operations of Nature's universal laws. Thus the physical sciences are distinguished from the social sciences by the marvelous guarantee that whatever is observed in physical science is a product of universal laws. And the core principle in scientific verification is this: theories are confirmed or disconfirmed by empirical observation. In Feynman's statement, if "experiment" means what is usually means--the systematic manipulation of causes (to see their effects) in otherwise tightly controlled situations--then that would place astronomy, weather, and cosmology outside of Feynman's principle of science. In those fields, manipulations typical of experiments are generally impossible.
January 13, 2010