Anecdotes, The Antidote To Complacent Thinking

Isaac Newton observed an apple drop from a tree and wondered if the action and trajectory of the apple was related to the movement of the moon in the sky. To create a (mathematical) model explaining the two he invented calculus.

Below a different kind of model demonstrating gravity and levity, mass and buoyancy.

To Presuppose and Put it to the Test:

Galileo may have dropped two objects of different weight from the Tower of Pisa to determine that they hit the ground at the same time, so disproving Aristotle. (There is disagreement that he ever did this.) If he did actually perform the legendary experiment, it was done to confirm a hypothesis he arrived at via an experiment in his mind with two objects of different weights attached by a cord; you could call that “thought experiment” an example of imaginary anecdotal evidence or an anecdote based on fantasy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo’s_Leaning_Tower_of_Pisa_experiment

If the two objects he used had been greatly different in density he would have found they did not hit the ground simultaneously. (Air drag/resistance could measurably affect the result.)

Every Move You Make, Every Step You Take, I’ll Be Watching You

All observations have scientific value to the extent that conditions and possible limitations are identified, disclosed, or documented-and understood. The validity of a “scientific” conclusion is subject to the same limits. Results of experiments are only as useful as your understanding: of the circumstances under which the research was conducted and of the application to which you want to put them.

There are few studies where the outcome does not depend on factors that were improperly “controlled” despite the investigators thinking their influence unlikely or did not recognize them at all. The history of science is primarily that of discoveries made when someone considered the effects of factors earlier investigators had ignored. Progress comes on the broken back or destruction of conventional wisdom.

“You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows”

Bob Dylan hit the bullseye either way you look at it. You can be your own weather man or Weatherman. Don’t let the experts put you down. Any time you feed your dogs you are the expert, the scientist, the principal investigator. Every time you train sled dogs or water your garden or buy food to eat, when you go to bed and wake in the morning, each is an experiment with the opportunity to learn something new.

“…Strength to accept what you cannot change, courage to change what you can, wisdom to know the difference.”

“If the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you’ve made a discovery”- Enrico Fermi. When asked what characteristics Nobel prize winning physicists had in common, Fermi replied, “I cannot think of a single one, not even intelligence.”

Denis Diderot  ‘Our observation of nature must be diligent, our reflection profound, and our experiments exact. We rarely see these three means combined; and for this reason, creative geniuses are not common.’

More about the encyclopedist Diderot in the future. Let VP candidate Paul Ryan listen to audiobook lectures on Voltaire and presume to be an intellectual, a student of the Enlightenment; he is not sufficiently enlightened or he would know that Diderot is The Man.

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