Science would need philosophers to start with because natural <i>philosophy.</i>
Philosophy deals with the logical structures that precede and underpin natural science. Science itself is simply “knowledge.” Facts in themselves are just facts, and have no meaning unless interpreted.
Now, granted, ever since Hume we have been subjected to several hundred years of philosophical squid ink. Modern philosophy never gets started, as each philosopher spends his time trashing his predecessors before trying to build a new philosophy from scratch on its ruins.
The post-modern irrationalists, like Popper, have actually declared following Hume that there is no connection whatsoever between empirical observations and scientific theories. In particular, there has been no “scientific progress,” only differing paradigms. Kuhn went so far as to say the Copernican model was no more true than the Ptolemaic one had been.
IOW, bad philosophy is just as possible as is bad science, but is often harder to recognize for people who disdain philosophy. As Mary Midgley wrote, “People who refuse to have anything to do with philosophy have become enslaved to outdated forms of it.”