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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index C > James B. Conant Quotes

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James B. Conant
(26 Mar 1893 - 11 Feb 1978)

American chemist and educator who became a central figure in organizing American science for WW II, including the development of the atomic bomb


Science Quotes by James B. Conant (11 quotes)

A conceptual scheme is never discarded merely because of a few stubborn facts with which it cannot be reconciled; a conceptual scheme is either modified or replaced by a better one, never abandoned with nothing left to take its place.
— James B. Conant
Science and Common Sense (1951), 173.
Science quotes on:  |  Theory (582)

Being well-informed about science is not the same thing as understanding science.
— James B. Conant
In Science and Common Sense (1951), 4. As quoted and cited in NGSS Lead States, Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States (2013), Vol. 1, 97.
Science quotes on:  |  Science (1699)  |  Understanding (317)  |  Well-Informed (2)

Common sense … may be thought of as a series of concepts and conceptual schemes which have proved highly satisfactory for the practical uses of mankind. Some of those concepts and conceptual schemes were carried over into science with only a little pruning and whittling and for a long time proved useful. As the recent revolutions in physics indicate, however, many errors can be made by failure to examine carefully just how common sense ideas should be defined in terms of what the experimenter plans to do.
— James B. Conant
In Science and Common Sense (1951), 32-33.
Science quotes on:  |  Careful (12)  |  Common Sense (69)  |  Concept (102)  |  Define (29)  |  Error (230)  |  Examine (24)  |  Experimenter (18)  |  Failure (118)  |  Idea (440)  |  Mankind (196)  |  Physics (301)  |  Plan (69)  |  Practical (93)  |  Prune (5)  |  Revolution (56)  |  Satisfactory (9)  |  Science (1699)

Even the development of the steam engine owed but little to the advancement of science.
— James B. Conant
Science and Common Sense (1951), 299-300.
Science quotes on:  |  Steam Engine (41)

Experimental science can be thought of as an … extension of common sense.
— James B. Conant
In Science and Common Sense (1951), 32.
Science quotes on:  |  Common Sense (69)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Extension (20)

For most scientists, I think the justification of their work is to be found in the pure joy of its creativeness; the spirit which moves them is closely akin to the imaginative vision which inspires an artist.
— James B. Conant
In Modern Science and Modern Man (1951), 58.
Science quotes on:  |  Artist (46)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Inspire (35)  |  Joy (61)  |  Justification (33)  |  Science And Art (157)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Spirit (113)  |  Vision (55)  |  Work (457)

In every section of the entire area where the word science may properly be applied, the limiting factor is a human one. We shall have rapid or slow advance in this direction or in that depending on the number of really first-class men who are engaged in the work in question. ... So in the last analysis, the future of science in this country will be determined by our basic educational policy.
— James B. Conant
Quoted in Vannevar Bush, Science, the Endless Frontier: A Report to the President, July 1945. In Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science: Volumes 48-49, 246.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (123)  |  Application (117)  |  Depending (2)  |  Direction (56)  |  Education (280)  |  Human (445)  |  Policy (23)  |  Rapid (17)  |  Science (1699)  |  Section (5)  |  Slow (36)  |  Word (221)

My definition of science is … somewhat as follows: Science is an interconnected series of concepts and conceptual schemes that have developed as a result of experimentation and observation and are fruitful of further experimentation and observations. In this definition the emphasis is on the word “fruitful.”
— James B. Conant
In Science and Common Sense (1951), 25.
Science quotes on:  |  Concept (102)  |  Definition (152)  |  Emphasis (14)  |  Experimentation (6)  |  Fruitful (31)  |  Observation (418)  |  Result (250)  |  Science (1699)

Science emerges from the other progressive activities of man to the extent that new concepts arise from experiments and observations, and that the new concepts in turn lead to further experiments and observations.
— James B. Conant
From On Understanding Science (1947), 24 as quoted and cited in Naomi Oreskes and John Krige (eds.), Science and Technology in the Global Cold War (2014), 380 & footnote 30 on 391.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (543)  |  Observation (418)  |  Research (517)  |  Science (1699)

Science is a dynamic undertaking directed to lowering the degree of the empiricism involved in solving problems; or, if you prefer, science is a process of fabricating a web of interconnected concepts and conceptual schemes arising from experiments and ob
— James B. Conant
Modern Science and Modern Man, p. 62, New York (1952).
Science quotes on:  |  Arise (32)  |  Concept (102)  |  Conceptual (8)  |  Degree (48)  |  Direct (44)  |  Dynamic (11)  |  Empiricism (16)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Fabricate (3)  |  Involve (27)  |  Lowering (4)  |  Prefer (18)  |  Problem (362)  |  Process (201)  |  Scheme (20)  |  Science (1699)  |  Solve (41)  |  Undertake (14)  |  Web (11)

Science is a speculative enterprise. The validity of a new idea and the significance of a new experimental finding are to be measured by the consequences—consequences in terms of other ideas and other experiments. Thus conceived, science is not a quest for certainty; it is rather a quest which is successful only to the degree that it is continuous.
— James B. Conant
In Science and Common Sense (1951), 25-26.
Science quotes on:  |  Certainty (97)  |  Consequence (76)  |  Continuous (24)  |  Discovery (591)  |  Experiment (543)  |  Idea (440)  |  Measure (70)  |  New (340)  |  Quest (24)  |  Science (1699)  |  Significance (60)  |  Speculation (77)  |  Success (202)  |  Validity (22)


See also:
  • 26 Mar - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Conant's birth.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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