Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Quotes: Remorse. Renaissance. Research.

A collection of quotes on various topics. The sentence in bold face is a plain statement of the quote that follows.

Remorse means you did it and now, reflecting on what you did, you are sorry you did it. Your reflection does not alter that you did it.
Remorse 181 Spinoza: So is remorse a defect rather than a virtue: "He who repents is twice unhappy and doubly weak." Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Spinoza.

A man can do anything if he wills it—the slogan for the early Renaissance.
Renaissance 104 Alberti: ...describes how he conquered every weakness, for ‘A man can do all things if he will’...could be the motto of the early Renaissance. Clark, Civilization.

The Renaissance was the time of the “heroic will.”
Renaissance 137 The golden moment [the Renaissance] is almost over...while it lasted [twenty years] man achieved a stature that he has hardly ever achieved before or since[;] to the humanist virtues of intelligence was added the quality of heroic will[;] for a few years it seemed that there was nothing which the human mind could not master and harmonize. Clark, Civilization.

The Renaissance meant the discovery of the individual and belief in human genius.
Renaissance 139 …the footholds won by the Renaissance--the discovery of the individual, the belief in human genius, the sense of harmony between man and his surroundings…. Clark, Civilization.

In this book about the discovery of DNA, the reader is able to join in the researchers’ struggles, doubts and final triumph.
Research vii …instance where one is able to share so intimately in the researcher’s struggle and doubts and final triumph. Foreword. Sir Lawrence Bragg. Watson, The Double Helix.

Styles of research are as varied as human personalities.
Research xii …styles of scientific research vary almost as much as human personalities. Watson, The Double Helix.

He could find evidence supporting his ideas, but he could not understand other people’s conflicting points of view.
Research 358 He [Spencer] could sweep the entire universe for proofs of his hypotheses, but he could not see with any insight another’s point of view. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Herbert Spencer.

Spencer was a scientist in observing and making hypotheses, but unlike the scientist, he accumulated only favorable data.
Research 394 Spencer began, like a scientist, with observation; he proceeded, like a scientist, to make hypotheses; but then, unlike a scientist, he resorted not to experiment, nor to impartial observation, but to the selective accumulation of favorable data…no nose at all for “negative instances.” Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy, Herbert Spencer.

The massive numbers of materials studied to produce this book.
Research ix I estimate that my research encompassed documents, papers, and books totaling some fifty million words. Conot, Justice at Nuremberg.

The wording of his question assured that he would not find the right answer.
Research 144 In that way Lydgate put the question—not quite the way required by the awaiting answer; but such missing of the right word befalls many seekers. George Eliot, Middlemarch.

We need to note the amounts of useless research undertaken in the U.S.
Research 23 There has long been felt in American physics the need for an efficient governing body to organize the vast quantity of useless research that is being pursued day by day and hour by hour in the many institutions of higher learning in these great United States…
The American Institute of Useless Research (AIUR). A Random Walk in Science.

Phony proofs used by researchers.
Research 31 Proof by assertion; proof by admission of ignorance; proof by non-existent reference; proof by assignment (we leave as a trivial exercise by the reader….); proof by circular cross reference; proof by aesthetics; proof by oral tradition (see unpublished lecture notes of the late Professor Green). Paul V Dunmore. A Random Walk in Science.

Basic Research” means I do not know what I am doing.
Research 41 Basic research is what I am doing when I don’t know what I am doing. Werner von Braun. A Random Walk in Science.

Basic science is not the same thing as applied science; the gap is huge.
Research 115 There is a highly visible difference between the pace of basic science and the application of new knowledge to human problems. L. Thomas, Lives of a Cell.

Researchers must have the mind set of possibly being wrong. [Unlike the many researchers in education who interpret the process of research as finding only evidence that they are right.]
Research 120 Somehow, the atmosphere has to be set so that a disquieting sense of being wrong is the normal attitude of the investigators. L. Thomas, Lives of a Cell.

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