Thursday, December 10, 2009

That's funny

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...' - Isaac Asimov

Deafening Silence has up an excellent post on ClimateGate, examining the parallels - and divergences - between climate science now and the study of physics at the turn of the last century. And, like me, she’s wondering about ghosts.

Go, read.


Lynne said...

How eerie that we should both be thinking of ghosts.
Perhaps they really do walk among us.
What do you imagine Asimov would have made of ClimateGate? Perhaps he's discussing it with Crichton as we speak.

Lynne said...

Holy crap! My Google identity worked! Now I *know* there's a ghost in the machine....

Elise said...

Perhaps he's discussing it with Crichton as we speak.

Perhaps so. When I was doing my post on seahorses and heresy, I found this quote from Asimov in the Wikipedia entry on heresy of all places:

Isaac Asimov distinguished between two types of scientific heretic: "Endoheretics are appropriately credentialed scientists. If the person is outside the scientific community or at least outside of his specialty, he is an exoheretic. If a person is an endoheretic, he will be considered as eccentric and incompetent, whereas if the person is an exoheretic, he will be regarded as a crackpot, charlatan, or fraud."

Of course I immediately thought of global warming.

Lynne said...

That's extremely interesting. Maybe you ought to just post that quote and point it toward the climategate discussion.

It's like the Bohr quotes: you can bluff the public, but working scientists know the true score, and that doesn't change with passing fads.

You are either oriented toward the scientific method, or you aren't.

Anonymous said...

Richard Feynman on “Cargo Cult Science”:

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.

"I would like to add something that’s not essential to the science, but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the layman when you’re talking as a scientist. I am not trying to tell you what to do about cheating on your wife, or fooling your girlfriend, or something like that, when you’re not trying to be a scientist, but just trying to be an ordinary human being. We’ll leave those problems up to you and your rabbi. I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you are maybe wrong, that you ought to have when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as
 scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.”

-- Texan99