The Joy of Being Wrong

It does happen. I have previously told the story of a respected elder statesman of the Zoology Department at Oxford when I was an undergraduate. For years he had passionately believed, and taught, that the Golgi Apparatus (a microscopic feature of the interior of cells) was not real: an artefact, an illusion. Every Monday afternoon it was the custom for the whole department to listen to a research talk by a visiting lecturer. One Monday, the visitor was an American cell biologist who presented completely convincing evidence that the Golgi Apparatus was real. At the end of the lecture, the old man strode to the front of the hall, shook the American by the hand and said - with passion - 'My dear fellow, I wish to thank you. I have been wrong these fifteen years.' We clapped our hands red. No fundamentalist would ever say that. In practice, not all scientists would. But all scientists pay lip service to it as an ideal - unlike, say, politicians who would probably condemn it as flip-flopping. The memory of the incident I have described still brings a lump to my throat.


Dawkins describes a professor being convinced that he was wrong about something for many years and being thankful for convincing to the truth.

Folksonomies: science veracity

/law, govt and politics/law enforcement/fire department (0.644816)
/art and entertainment/dance (0.500023)
/law, govt and politics/espionage and intelligence/terrorism (0.499233)

Golgi Apparatus (0.941227 (positive:0.204877)), American cell biologist (0.791884 (neutral:0.000000)), Wrong Dawkins (0.682050 (positive:0.711007)), convincing evidence (0.563518 (positive:0.204877)), Monday afternoon (0.535514 (negative:-0.252182)), elder statesman (0.521104 (neutral:0.000000)), Zoology Department (0.505132 (neutral:0.000000)), microscopic feature (0.501788 (neutral:0.000000)), dear fellow (0.489967 (neutral:0.000000)), research talk (0.479551 (positive:0.677744)), lip service (0.473933 (neutral:0.000000)), old man (0.463446 (neutral:0.000000)), artefact (0.219262 (neutral:0.000000)), scientists (0.209908 (negative:-0.336810)), lump (0.208314 (negative:-0.379155))

Golgi Apparatus:Company (0.907272 (positive:0.204877)), Dawkins:Person (0.503364 (positive:0.711007)), visiting lecturer:JobTitle (0.405012 (positive:0.677744)), Oxford:City (0.378879 (neutral:0.000000)), professor:JobTitle (0.349803 (positive:0.711007)), fifteen years:Quantity (0.349803 (neutral:0.000000))

Cell (0.979129): dbpedia | freebase
Golgi apparatus (0.941879): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Organelle (0.846691): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Lysosome (0.628961): dbpedia | freebase
Secretion (0.628296): dbpedia | freebase
Debut albums (0.624362): dbpedia
2002 albums (0.605123): dbpedia
Endoplasmic reticulum (0.598371): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago

 The God Delusion
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Dawkins, Richard (2006-10-18), The God Delusion, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Retrieved on 2012-03-16
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: religion


    01 JAN 2010

     Scientific Virtues

    Memes that define the virtues of science and behaviors that we should emulate.