Periodicals>Magazine Article:  Sagan , Carl (1995), Wonder and Skepticism, Skeptical Enquirer , (Jan-Feb 1995), 19, No. 1. , Retrieved on 2012-06-21

Memes

21 JUN 2012

 Criticism is Doing You a Favor

[N]o scientist likes to be criticized. ... But you don't reply to critics: "Wait a minute, wait a minute; this is a really good idea. I'm very fond of it. It's done you no harm. Please don't attack it." That's not the way it goes. The hard but just rule is that if the ideas don't work, you must throw them away. Don't waste any neurons on what doesn't work. Devote those neurons to new ideas that better explain the data. Valid criticism is doing you a favor.
Folksonomies: peer review criticism
Folksonomies: peer review criticism
  1  notes

Valid criticism frees you of the chains of a bad idea.

21 JUN 2012

 Science Rewards Those Who Disprove

There is a reward structure in science that is very interesting: Our highest honors go to those who disprove the findings of the most revered among us. So Einstein is revered not just because he made so many fundamental contributions to science, but because he found an imperfection in the fundamental contribution of Isaac Newton.
Folksonomies: science criticism
Folksonomies: science criticism
  1  notes

Einstein is famous for finding a flaw in Newton's contributions.

21 JUN 2012

 Experiments are Key to Finding Truth

The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true. We have a method, and that method helps us to reach not absolute truth, only asymptotic approaches to the truth—never there, just closer and closer, always finding vast new oceans of undiscovered possibilities. Cleverly designed experiments ar...
  1  notes

Otherwise we are left with only feelings that tell us nothing.

21 JUN 2012

 Physics VS Metaphysics

In the 1920s, there was a dinner at which the physicist Robert W. Wood was asked to respond to a toast ... "To physics and metaphysics." Now by metaphysics was meant something like philosophy—truths that you could get to just by thinking about them. Wood took a second, glanced about him, and answered along these lines: The physicist has an idea, he said. The more he thinks it through, the more sense it makes to him. He goes to the scientific literature, and the more he reads, the more promi...
  1  notes

The key difference is experimentation.

21 JUN 2012

 If You Really Want to Know, You Go to Science

[I]magine you want to know the sex of your unborn child. There are several approaches. You could, for example, do what the late film star ... Cary Grant did before he was an actor: In a carnival or fair or consulting room, you suspend a watch or a plumb bob above the abdomen of the expectant mother; if it swings left-right it's a boy, and if it swings forward-back it's a girl. The method works one time in two. Of course he was out of there before the baby was born, so he never heard from cust...
Folksonomies: science magic
Folksonomies: science magic
  1  notes

Sagan uses the example of a watch swinging over an expectant mother's belly to determine the sex of a fetus.