Advice To A Young Scientist (Alfred P. Sloan Foundation by P. B. Medawar

By P. B. Medawar

To these attracted to a existence in technological know-how, Sir Peter Medawar, Nobel laureate, deflates the myths of invincibility, superiority, and genius; as a substitute, he demonstrates it's common experience and an inquiring brain which are necessary to the scientist’s calling. He deflates the myths surrounding scientists—invincibility, superiority, and genius; in its place, he argues that it's normal feel and an inquiring brain which are necessary to the make-up of a scientist. He can provide many wry observations on the way to pick out a study subject, the way to get alongside wih collaborators and older scientists and directors, how (and how now not) to give a systematic paper, and the way to deal with culturally ”superior” experts within the arts and arts.

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It is a lucky scientist who never has such bad moments. This is oversimplified, of course; it assumes-as all scientists tend to assume-that there is a clear and easily recognizable distinction between fact and theory, between the information delivered by the senses and the construction that is put upon it. "' Mistakes. If in spite of the most anxious precautions a scientist makes a mistake about a matter of fact-if the results were due to an impurity in a supposedly pure enzyme preparation or because hybrid mice were used in error for mice of an inbred strain-then the mistake must be admitted with the least possible delay.

It is not really an adequate defense of modern "food science" to say that the reason why the stuff is made is that people want to buy it; such a defense disregards the well-known economic principle that supply creates demand, particularly if the supply is accompanied by meretricious advertisements creating the impression that a presliced bread substitute is in reality more natural and more deeply suffused by the sunshine of a cornfield than that which we used to buy at the little corner bakery before it was pulled down to make way for the supermarket.

A scientist who habitually deceives himself is well on the way toward deceiving others. Polonius foresaw it clearly ("This above all ... "). Life-style Although I firmly believe that creativity in the domain of scientific ideas is cognate with creativity as it occurs in poets, artists, and the like, the kinds of conventional wisdom or romantic nonsense that have grown up about circumstances condu- 40 I ADVICE TO A YOUNG SCIENTIST cive to one or other form of creativity differ in a number of ways.

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