Topic V. Scientific Optimism: The Gas Pedal of Scientific Progress
Context for this filter:
- B. CONCEPT ACQUISITION
- Scientific Optimism: An attitude of optimism that persistence and iteration on a difficult scientific problem will eventually pay off with interesting insights into your problem.
- Exemplary Quotes
- “I think we’re getting frustrated too quickly, and giving up too easily on each possible approach. Imagine that we had just heard that the other team had gotten this to work—we would be wracking our brains for weeks trying to figure out how they did it, not just the hour-and-a-half we just tried. This is a really hard problem, and we have to expect that it’s going to take a while to get some approaches to solving it.”
- “I know she seems a little overly optimistic, but when I talked to her over lunch I realized that she is just trying to develop a “can-do” spirit so that we will all have the chance to try to solve the problem.”
- “We’re capable, we know all the people we need to figure this out, and we’ve solved comparably difficult problems before... so one way or the other we’re going to find out how to make this work.”
- Cautionary Quotes: Mistakes, Misconceptions, & Misunderstandings
- “Many people have tried to solve this problem of increasing illiteracy and failed, so we shouldn’t throw more good money after bad — some problems are just intractable.”
- "Scientists have been trying to figure out what dark matter is for decades, and we still basically have no idea. We'll probably never know, so it's not worth working on."
- A. ATTITUDES
- Appreciate that iterative work on a problem is the norm in science and the most productive approach (and in some cases the only way of being productive), even when it looks like it’s not getting anywhere.
- Persist on difficult problems (scientific and non-scientific) due to optimism that iterative work will eventually pay off with interesting insights into the problem.
- Recognise that an optimistic view of the tractability of a problem and/or one’s ability to solve it eventually can in itself affect one’s capacity to solve the problem.
- C. CONCEPT APPLICATION
- Critique impatience with the gradual nature of scientific progress by appealing to science’s iterative nature.
- Critique cases of policy failures due to lack of an appropriately iterative/persistent approach to the problem.
- Generate examples of iterative processes for solving non-scientific problems.