Scientific knowledge


Scientific knowledge, in the absolute sense, is always tentative. Science is founded on the proposition that everything we think we know about the natural world can, in principle, be rejected if it does not meet the test of observation and experiment. The very practice of science, at its core, is a constant exercise of extending what we do know about the world, and then correcting what we thought we knew for sure.

— Kenneth Miller

Scientists are Romanticists


I just found this quote in an unlikely place. Thought I’d put it here.

A lot of people think that scientists are realists, stacking calculation on calculation to come up with a single truth. But actually, we’re just the opposite. Our job is to look for answers that break down the ideas everyone takes for granted.

It’s a loose way of thinking, one that questions common sense. If anything, it has to be the romanticists that become scientists. A lot of people will tell you, if you like books, you should study humanities.

But if you like to dream, another option is to study science.

— Hayashi Fumino, Angelic Days

I do think that scientists look for things that break down what we take for granted. By trying to find out how our universe works, we’ve found many things that are counter-intuitive, such as: heliocentrism, quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle, evolution, and much more.

And once you’ve gotten your head wrapped around the new paradigm, you can understand things better. Frequently the new paradigm makes more sense, once you start thinking in its terms.

Sometimes scientists will do an experiment that sounds stupid to do, because we already expected the outcome. But sometimes the result is different from what we’re used to. As Isaac Asimov said:

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’