The importance of stupidity in scientific research

5 thoughts on “The importance of stupidity in scientific research”

  1. Thanks for sharing this Ove. One comment that I found particularly insightful was, “I don’t think students are made to understand how hard it is to do research. And how very, very hard it is to do important research.” I’ll save this for my PhD students and myself.

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  2. Very insightful. I’ve copied some lines from it and will try to reread them whenever fear of feeling stupid stops me from doing important things.

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  3. On the cartoon: Something similar that I have heard three times is that Y2K was a beat-up over nothing. I have heard this used as a precedent for hysterical warnings about large scale disaster that ultimately amounted to nothing. One denialist asserted that a similar thing was happening with warnings about AGW.

    The premise is faulty though. In fact, when I worked in IT in the lead up to Y2K, we did see instances of software that were failing because of date related issues. These often happened in the months before Dec 31.

    But people didn’t see nuclear reactors runaway, or planes fall from the sky, so some people I guess drew the conclusion that it was a beat-up.

    The lesson I took from Y2K instead was that by early proactive interventions, we were able to fix problems before they arose. Prevention is better than cure right? We shouldn’t wait for foreseeable problems to manifest themselves before taking steps to avert them. I use my brakes before hitting the car in front, rather than hitting it and then going to the panel-beater. These days anyway.

    Please use these thoughts when debating someone who likens climate to change to Y2K.

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