Message for Scientists

Core Messages from Win Wenger, Ph.D.

A model is a simplified version of reality. It is not reality itself but only a potential guide to reality, the way a map can be a potential guide.

No model or map is a perfect representation of the reality it is set to portray. At best it is only a partial truth.

Our duty as scientists, no less than much of our sanity as human beings, lies in reworking our necessarily erroneous maps, statements and theories into better and better approximations of what they are maps of.

To call a particular method “scientific” is a map. Generally, that is a useful map in referring to a fairly powerful and sophisticated method for running tests of propositions — a method in widespread use among many or most of those whom we call “scientists.” It is hardly, however, exclusively the reality of that discipline and attitude of “let the chips fall where they may” inquiry which many of us used to refer to when we said the word “science” or the words “practice of science.”

In particular, it’s what gets admitted to testing that has departed seriously from that more demanding standard. You know all this, and you know “science” has been badly corrupted.

Of many unfortunate factors, the main one is that the practice of science has been so very heavily capitalized that one simply cannot practice as a recognized scientist without a large and sustained flow of monetary support.

To ensure continuing that flow once you’ve won your way into some corner of it, you simply cannot be seen thinking what other “scientists” and their money controllers perceive to be “wrong thoughts,” or even be seen talking to the “wrong people.”

It appears that this is a situation which can be met head-on. Galileo’s following may be very broad in numbers, but rather attenuated in Galilean characteristics. But in the short run, at least, that situation need not be met head on. You can follow Kekule’s lead and pursue your topics of scientific inquiry by means additional to that one formal “scientific method,” and then use the method to rigorously test your results and retrofit your explanations to the matter accordingly. “Scientific Method” is a much better tester of hypotheses than it is a generator of them.

Of course, at first you have to make sure your announced findings are in line with the expectations of your funding sources. But the methods offered by Project Renaissance are so powerfully productive that you can pick and choose accordingly from among your own breakthrough discoveries. You can carefully build yourself a secure base from which to present your more significant discoveries.

There are many productive short-cuts to finding the best hypothesis to test. “To test” is still the operative word. The corrupted ad hominem of science is as much a fallacy there as it is in logic.

In a more sensible world you should be free to pursue your ideas and leads to where they can be rigorously tested and the test results candidly presented. Ideas and propositions in science should advance on their own merits, not by who approves them.

Even this far short of the ideal, though, science is arguably the best thing we have going on this planet — even though its pursuit is a social phenomenon, with in-group/out-group and other such non-germane behaviors a long first and the disciplined inquiry it is supposed to be a very long second.

Relevant References

  • Some of our most productive shortcuts are in Win Wenger’s book, Discovering the Obvious.
  • Many additional productive, practical and useful shortcuts have been incorporated into a creative productivity kit for scientists. Despite its unfunded cost to us, we’ve given a few copies of this kit away to several fellow-scientists in different fields. We are presently integrating and rewriting this kit into convenient book form, whose publication will be announced on this website.
  • For an example of a productive non-standard way to pursue scientific issues, see Idea Generator for Quantum Physicists and String Theorists.
  • Also important to scientists, see the Message for Problem-Solvers.

Win published Core Messages for specific audiences. Click the links below to view them.