Scientists don’t want to be right [quotes]

15 Mar

Scientists always want to be wrong in their theories. They always want to be surprised.

It’s a bittersweet victory when your theory turns out to be right, because it means, on the one hand, you’re right, that’s nice, but on the other hand, you haven’t learned anything new that’s surprising.

Said Dr. Sean Carroll, physicist at the California Institute of Technology who isn’t involved in the project, commenting on that new results from CERN indicate that the particle discovered in July is a Higgs bosonComplete story by Associate Press.

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As a colleague remarked to me recently: ‘It is when experiments go wrong that we find things out.’

From Chapter 2: Experimentation in The Art of Scientific Investigation (1957) by W. I. B. Beveridge.

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2 Responses to “Scientists don’t want to be right [quotes]”

  1. Tian March 15, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    That’s an awesome share there. Thank you for the reminder that being wrong can be the best thing that happens to us!

  2. Artem Kaznatcheev March 15, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    I totally agree with that sentiment, that is why the Higgs discovery was such a disappointment. It fit so well into the jigsaw puzzle that it taught us nothing new, just confirmed what we already knew. However, there are spin-offs from simply building the experiment that are useful, and maybe other things will be found at CERN. Heck, we got the World Wide Web as a spin-off from CERN physicists wanting to share results, who knows what comes next?

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