On being wrong in science
“Is it really any wonder that the price of significant scientific advance is a commitment that runs the risk of being wrong?”
- Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (p. 101, 2nd ed.)
Lost in the woods: Thoreau’s metaphor for science
Well, maybe not science specifically, but I think it’s appropriate:
It is a surprising and memorable, as well as valuable experience, to be lost in the woods any time. Often in a snow-storm, even by day, one will come out upon a well-known road and yet find it impossible to tell which way leads to the village. Though he knows that he has travelled it a thousand times, he cannot recognize a feature in it, but it is as strange to him as if it were a road in Siberia. By night, of course, the perplexity is infinitely greater. In our most trivial walks, we are constantly, though unconsciously, steering like pilots by certain well-known beacons and headlands, and if we go beyond our usual course we still carry in our minds the bearing of some neighboring cape; and not till we are completely lost, or turned round—for a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost—do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of nature. Every man has to learn the points of compass again as often as he awakes, whether from sleep or any abstraction. Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.
- Walden (p. 171, Princeton University Press, 2004)
Love art? Love science? Read The Age of Insight…
… Eric Kandel’s new book on the brain, creativity, Freud, and the pathbreaking artists working in Vienna in the first twenty years of the 20th century.
More at The Finch and Pea.
In Kandel’s own words:
There are two reasons for thinking that the cognitive unconscious may contribute to creativity. First, the cognitive unconscious can manage a greater number of operations than the conscious processes that occur at the same time. Second, as Kris argued, the cognitive unconscious may have particularly easy access to what Freud called the dynamics unconscious - our conflicts, sexual striving, and repressed thoughts and actions - and can therefore make creative use of those processes.
This should be obvious: Statement of Principles for Scientific Merit Review (PDF)
1) Expert assessement
6) Integrity and ethical considerations