Celebrating 17 Years on the Web
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as helpless.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index C > Category: Criticism

Criticism Quotes (47 quotes)

'Normal' science, in Kuhn's sense, exists. It is the activity of the non-revolutionary, or more precisely, the not-too-critical professional: of the science student who accepts the ruling dogma of the day... in my view the 'normal' scientist, as Kuhn describes him, is a person one ought to be sorry for... He has been taught in a dogmatic spirit: he is a victim of indoctrination... I can only say that I see a very great danger in it and in the possibility of its becoming normal... a danger to science and, indeed, to our civilization. And this shows why I regard Kuhn's emphasis on the existence of this kind of science as so important.
'Normal Science and its Dangers', in I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge (1970), 52-3.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (68)  |  Civilization (136)  |  Danger (51)  |  Description (62)  |  Dogmatism (8)  |  Emphasis (12)  |  Existence (207)  |  Importance (165)  |  Kind (53)  |  Thomas S. Kuhn (21)  |  Normal (16)  |  Person (87)  |  Possibility (86)  |  Precisely (5)  |  Professional (18)  |  Revolutionary (12)  |  Sense (160)  |  Sorry (11)  |  Spirit (87)  |  Victim (5)

Hab’s aans g’sehn?
Have you ever seen one?
As called out from the audience at one of Ludwig Boltzmann’s lectures on atoms, and his frequent retort upon any mention of the atom having electron orbits. He was a fierce critic and held that science should stick to only phenomena directly observable by the senses. This quote is seen widely, without citation. For example, in Daniel Greenberger, ‎Klaus Hentschel and ‎Friedel Weinert, Compendium of Quantum Physics: Concepts, Experiments, History and Philosophy (2009), 615.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (220)  |  Model (55)  |  See (96)

La critique est la vie de la science.
Criticism is the life of science.
In Victor Cousin’s Introduction to Peter Abelard, Ouvrages Inédits d'Abélard pour Servir à l'Histoire de la Philosophie Scolastique en France (1836), cxxix.
Science quotes on:  |  Life (710)  |  Science (1323)

La théorie est l’hypothèse vérifiée, après qu’elle a été soumise au contrôle du raisonnement et de la critique expérimentale. La meilleure théorie est celle qui a été vérifiée par le plus grand nombre de faits. Mais une théorie, pour rester bonne, doit toujours se modifier avec les progrès de la science et demeurer constamment soumise à la vérification et à la critique des faits nouveaux qui apparaissent.
A theory is a verified hypothesis, after it has been submitted to the control of reason and experimental criticism. The soundest theory is one that has been verified by the greatest number of facts. But to remain valid, a theory must be continually altered to keep pace with the progress of science and must be constantly resubmitted to verification and criticism as new facts appear.
Original work in French, Introduction à l'Étude de la Médecine Expérimentale (1865), 385. English translation by Henry Copley Green in An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1927, 1957), 220.
Science quotes on:  |  Continually (6)  |  Fact (507)  |  Greatest (47)  |  Hypothesis (206)  |  New (241)  |  Number (138)  |  Progress (285)  |  Theory (504)  |  Validity (18)  |  Verification (20)

A common fallacy in much of the adverse criticism to which science is subjected today is that it claims certainty, infallibility and complete emotional objectivity. It would be more nearly true to say that it is based upon wonder, adventure and hope.
Quoted in E. J. Bowen's obituary of Hinshelwood, Chemistry in Britain (1967), Vol. 3, 536.
Science quotes on:  |  Certainty (87)  |  Emotion (42)  |  Hope (90)  |  Wonder (106)

All experimentation is criticism. If an experiment does not hold out the possibility of causing one to revise one’s views, it is hard to see why it should be done at all.
In Advice to a Young Scientist (1979), 94.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (490)  |  Possibility (86)  |  Revision (4)  |  Viewpoint (6)

Almost everyone... seems to be quite sure that the differences between the methodologies of history and of the natural sciences are vast. For, we are assured, it is well known that in the natural sciences we start from observation and proceed by induction to theory. And is it not obvious that in history we proceed very differently? Yes, I agree that we proceed very differently. But we do so in the natural sciences as well.
In both we start from myths—from traditional prejudices, beset with error—and from these we proceed by criticism: by the critical elimination of errors. In both the role of evidence is, in the main, to correct our mistakes, our prejudices, our tentative theories—that is, to play a part in the critical discussion, in the elimination of error. By correcting our mistakes, we raise new problems. And in order to solve these problems, we invent conjectures, that is, tentative theories, which we submit to critical discussion, directed towards the elimination of error.
The Myth of the Framework: In Defence of Science and Rationality (1993), 140.
Science quotes on:  |  Conjecture (18)  |  Correction (25)  |  Difference (183)  |  Discussion (31)  |  Elimination (15)  |  Error (199)  |  Everyone (10)  |  Evidence (133)  |  History (243)  |  Induction (42)  |  Methodology (6)  |  Mistake (75)  |  Myth (31)  |  Natural Science (52)  |  Observation (381)  |  Prejudice (40)  |  Problem (278)  |  Theory (504)  |  Tradition (25)

Animals are such agreeable friends; they ask no questions, pass no criticisms.
(Mary Ann Evans, English Novelist)
Science quotes on:  |  Agreeable (5)  |  Animal (253)  |  Ask (59)  |  Friend (48)  |  Pass (36)  |  Question (245)

As for your doctrines I am prepared to go to the Stake if requisite ... I trust you will not allow yourself to be in any way disgusted or annoyed by the considerable abuse & misrepresentation which unless I greatly mistake is in store for you... And as to the curs which will bark and yelp - you must recollect that some of your friends at any rate are endowed with an amount of combativeness which (though you have often & justly rebuked it) may stand you in good stead - I am sharpening up my claws and beak in readiness.
Letter (23 Nov 1859) to Charles Darwin a few days after the publication of Origin of Species. In Charles Darwin, Frederick Burkhardt, Sydney Smith, The Correspondence of Charles Darwin: 1858-1859 (1992), Vol. 19, 390-391.
Science quotes on:  |  Doctrine (46)  |  Friend (48)  |  Origin Of Species (37)  |  Publication (81)

At this point, however, I have no intention whatever of criticizing the false teachings of Galen, who is easily first among the professors of dissection, for I certainly do not wish to start off by gaining a reputation for impiety toward him, the author of all good things, or by seeming insubordinate to his authority. For I am well aware how upset the practitioners (unlike the followers of Aristotle) invariably become nowadays, when they discover in the course of a single dissection that Galen has departed on two hundred or more occasions from the true description of the harmony, function, and action of the human parts, and how grimly they examine the dissected portions as they strive with all the zeal at their command to defend him. Yet even they, drawn by their love of truth, are gradually calming down and placing more faith in their own not ineffective eyes and reason than in Galen’s writings.
From De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem: (1543), Book I, iv, as translated by William Frank Richardson, in On The Fabric of the Human Body: Book I: The Bones and Cartilages (1998), Preface, liv.
Science quotes on:  |  Aristotle (130)  |  Author (33)  |  Authority (40)  |  Description (62)  |  Discovery (531)  |  Dissection (24)  |  Examine (17)  |  Eye (127)  |  Faith (101)  |  False (56)  |  Follower (5)  |  Galen (15)  |  Harmony (42)  |  Human (297)  |  Ineffective (4)  |  Practitioner (10)  |  Professor (36)  |  Reason (245)  |  Reputation (13)  |  Teaching (99)  |  Truth (645)  |  Writing (71)  |  Zeal (5)

Criticism is as often a trade as a science, requiring, as it does, more health than wit, more labour than capacity, more practice than genius.
In John Timbs (ed.), Laconics; or, The Best Words of the Best Authors (1929), 156.
Science quotes on:  |  Capacity (31)  |  Genius (153)  |  Health (121)  |  Labour (34)  |  Practice (46)  |  Require (15)  |  Science (1323)  |  Trade (18)  |  Wit (23)

Criticism, though dignified from the earliest ages by the labours of men eminent for knowledge and sagacity, has not yet attained the certainty and stability of science.
In Samuel Austin Allibone, Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay (1880), 151.
Science quotes on:  |  Certainty (87)  |  Knowledge (1000)  |  Sagacity (4)  |  Stability (10)

Doctors have been exposed—you always will be exposed—to the attacks of those persons who consider their own undisciplined emotions more important than the world's most bitter agonies—the people who would limit and cripple and hamper research because they fear research may be accompanied by a little pain and suffering.
Doctors (1908), 28-9.
Science quotes on:  |  Pain (71)  |  Physician (210)  |  Research (442)

Every discovery in science is a tacit criticism of things as they are. That is why the wise man is invariably called a fool.
Martin H. Fischer, Howard Fabing (ed.) and Ray Marr (ed.), Fischerisms (1944).
Science quotes on:  |  Called (7)  |  Discovery (531)  |  Fool (55)  |  Invariably (7)  |  Science (1323)  |  Wisdom (126)  |  Wise Man (10)

Florey was not an easy personality. His drive and ambition were manifest from the day he arrived ... He could be ruthless and selfish; on the other hand, he could show kindliness, a warm humanity and, at times, sentiment and a sense of humour. He displayed utter integrity and he was scathing of humbug and pretence. His attitude was always—&ldqo;You must take me as you find me” But to cope with him at times, you had to do battle, raise your voice as high as his and never let him shout you down. You had to raise your pitch to his but if you insisted on your right he was always, in the end, very fair. I must say that at times, he went out of his way to cut people down to size with some very destructive criticism. But I must also say in the years I knew him he did not once utter a word of praise about himself.
Personal communication (1970) to Florey's Australian biographer, Lennard Bickel. By letter, Drury described his experience as a peer, being a research collaborator while Florey held a Studentship at Cambridge in the 1920s. This quote appears without naming Drury, in Eric Lax, The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat: The Story of the Penicillin Miracle (2004), 40. Dury is cited in Lennard Bickel, Rise Up to Life: A Biography of Howard Walter Florey Who Gave Penicillin to the World (1972), 24. Also in Eric Lax
Science quotes on:  |  Ambition (21)  |  Attitude (29)  |  Battle (20)  |  Coping (3)  |  Destruction (72)  |  Display (17)  |  Drive (22)  |  Fairness (2)  |  Sir Howard Walter Florey (2)  |  Himself (10)  |  Humanity (79)  |  Humbug (5)  |  Insistence (7)  |  Integrity (8)  |  Manifestation (27)  |  Personality (29)  |  Praise (12)  |  Right (94)  |  Ruthlessness (3)  |  Selfishness (5)  |  Sentiment (8)  |  Shout (6)  |  Voice (29)  |  Word (180)

I have just received copies of “To-day” containing criticisms of my letter. I am in no way surprised to find that these criticisms are not only unfair and misleading in the extreme. They are misleading in so far that anyone reading them would be led to believe the exact opposite of the truth. It is quite possible that I, an old and trained engineer and chronic experimenter, should put an undue value upon truth; but it is common to all scientific men. As nothing but the truth is of any value to them, they naturally dislike things that are not true. ... While my training has, perhaps, warped my mind so that I put an undue value upon truth, their training has been such as to cause them to abhor exact truth and logic.
[Replying to criticism by Colonel Acklom and other religious parties attacking Maxim's earlier contribution to the controversy about the modern position of Christianity.]
In G.K. Chesterton, 'The Maxims of Maxim', Daily News (25 Feb 1905). Collected in G. K. Chesterton and Dale Ahlquist (ed.), In Defense of Sanity: The Best Essays of G.K. Chesterton (2011), 86.
Science quotes on:  |  Abhorrence (7)  |  Belief (279)  |  Cause (184)  |  Chronic (4)  |  Content (29)  |  Copy (10)  |  Dislike (9)  |  Engineer (58)  |  Exactness (18)  |  Experimenter (14)  |  Leading (14)  |  Letter (30)  |  Logic (169)  |  Mind (426)  |  Misleading (8)  |  Naturally (5)  |  Old (61)  |  Opposite (29)  |  Reading (48)  |  Receive (25)  |  Surprise (33)  |  Today (52)  |  Training (34)  |  Truth (645)  |  Undue (3)  |  Unfair (5)  |  Value (119)

I noticed affixed to a laboratory door the following words: “Les théories passent. Le Grenouille reste. [The theories pass. The frog remains.] &mdashJean Rostand, Carnets d’un biologiste.” There is a risk that in the less severe discipline of criticism the result may turn out to be different; the theories will remain but the frog may disappear.
In An Appetite for Poetry (1989), 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Difference (183)  |  Disappearance (20)  |  Discipline (27)  |  Frog (29)  |  Laboratory (109)  |  Notice (16)  |  Passing (5)  |  Remaining (13)  |  Result (198)  |  Jean Rostand (18)  |  Theory (504)  |  Words (2)

I will simply express my strong belief, that that point of self-education which consists in teaching the mind to resist its desires and inclinations, until they are proved to be right, is the most important of all, not only in things of natural philosophy, but in every department of dally life.
'Observations On Mental Education', a lecture before the Prince Consort and the Royal Institution, 6 May 1854. Experimental researches in chemistry and physics (1859), 477.
Science quotes on:  |  Theory (504)

If this “critical openminded attitude” … is wanted, the question at once arises, Is it science that should be studied in order to achieve it? Why not study law? A judge has to do everything that a scientist is exhorted to do in the way of withholding judgment until all the facts are in, and then judging impartially on the merits of the case as well as he can. … Why not a course in Sherlock Holmes? The detectives, or at least the detective-story writers, join with the scientists in excoriating “dogmatic prejudice, lying, falsification of facts, and data, and willful fallacious reasoning.”
In Science is a Sacred Cow (1950), 191.
Science quotes on:  |  Case (39)  |  Course (42)  |  Data (84)  |  Detective (4)  |  Dogmatism (8)  |  Fact (507)  |  Falsification (7)  |  Impartiality (3)  |  Judge (28)  |  Judgment (58)  |  Law (366)  |  Lie (37)  |  Merit (20)  |  Prejudice (40)  |  Reasoning (77)  |  Study (283)  |  Willful (3)  |  Writer (25)

It is a temptation for philosophers that they should weave a fairy tale of the adjustment of factors; and then as an appendix introduce the notion of frustration, as a secondary aspect. I suggest to you that this is the criticism to be made on the monistic idealisms of the nineteenth century, and even of the great Spinoza. It is quite incredible that the Absolute, as conceived in monistic philosophy, should evolve confusion about its own details.
In Modes of Thought (1938), 69-70.
Science quotes on:  |  19th Century (21)  |  Absolute (50)  |  Adjustment (9)  |  Confusion (27)  |  Detail (53)  |  Fairy Tale (6)  |  Frustration (5)  |  Idealism (3)  |  Incredible (14)  |  Philosopher (110)  |  Baruch Spinoza (5)  |  Temptation (6)

It is impossible for us, who live in the latter ages of the world, to make observations in criticism, morality, or in any art or science, which have not been touched upon by others. We have little else left us but to represent the common sense of mankind in more strong, more beautiful, or more uncommon lights.
Spectator, No. 253. In Samuel Austin Allibone, Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay (1880), 60.
Science quotes on:  |  Author (33)  |  Common Sense (56)  |  Mankind (161)  |  Other (25)  |  Science And Art (149)  |  Uncommon (5)

Many climate sceptics seem to review scientific data and studies not as scientists but as attorneys, magnifying doubts and treating incomplete explanations as falsehoods rather than signs of progress towards the truth.
Editorial, Nature (28 Jul 2011), 475, 423-424.
Science quotes on:  |  Climate Change (50)  |  Data (84)  |  Doubt (87)  |  Explanation (147)  |  Falsehood (17)  |  Global Warming (26)  |  Incomplete (13)  |  Progress (285)  |  Review (5)  |  Scientist (359)  |  Sign (31)  |  Skeptic (6)  |  Study (283)  |  Treating (2)  |  Truth (645)

My thesis is that what we call 'science' is differentiated from the older myths not by being something distinct from a myth, but by being accompanied by a second-order tradition—that of critically discussing the myth. … In a certain sense, science is myth-making just as religion is.
Conjectures and Refutations: the Growth of Scientific Knowledge (2002), 170-171.
Science quotes on:  |  Differentiation (15)  |  Myth (31)  |  Science And Religion (241)  |  Thesis (9)

Nothing enrages me more than when people criticize my criticism of school by telling me that schools are not just places to learn math and spelling, they are places where children learn a vaguely defined thing called socialization. I know. I think schools generally do an effective and terribly damaging job of teaching children to be infantile, dependent, intellectually dishonest, passive and disrespectful to their own developmental capacities. (1981)
Quoted in K.P. Yaday and Malti Sundram, Encyclopaedia Of Child And Primary Education Development, Vol. 2, 99.
Science quotes on:  |  Child (155)  |  Dishonesty (6)  |  Education (249)  |  Mathematics (526)  |  Passive (4)  |  School (67)  |  Spelling (2)

Now Freud may be right or he may be wrong in the place he gives to biology in human fate, but I think we must stop to consider whether this emphasis on biology, whether correct or incorrect, is not so far from being a reactionary idea that it is actually a liberating idea. It proposes to us that culture is not all-powerful. It suggests that there is a residue of human quality beyond the reach of cultural control, and that this residue of human quality, elemental as it may be, serves to bring culture itself under criticism and keeps it from being absolute.
In Freud and the Crisis of our Culture (1955), 48.
Science quotes on:  |  Biology (122)  |  Culture (63)  |  Fate (29)  |  Sigmund Freud (61)  |  Human (297)  |  Idea (374)  |  Incorrect (6)  |  Propose (5)  |  Quality (50)  |  Reactionary (3)  |  Residue (6)  |  Right (94)  |  Wrong (84)

Occurrences that other men would have noted only with the most casual interest became for Whitney exciting opportunities to experiment. Once he became disturbed by a scientist's seemingly endless pursuit of irrelevant details in the course of an experiment, and criticized this as being as pointless as grabbing beans out of a pot, recording the numbers, and then analyzing the results. Later that day, after he had gone home, his simile began to intrigue him, and he asked himself whether it would really be pointless to count beans gathered in such a random manner. Another man might well have dismissed this as an idle fancy, but to Whitney an opportunity to conduct an experiment was not to be overlooked. Accordingly, he set a pot of beans beside his bed, and for several days each night before retiring he would take as many beans as he could grasp in one hand and make a note of how many were in the handful. After several days had passed he was intrigued to find that the results were not as unrewarding as he had expected. He found that each handful contained more beans than the one before, indicating that with practice he was learning to grasp more and more beans. “This might be called research in morphology, the science of animal structure,” he mused. “My hand was becoming webbed … so I said to myself: never label a real experiment useless, it may reveal something unthought of but worth knowing.”
'Willis Rodney Whitney', National Academy of Sciences, Biographical Memoirs (1960), 358-359.
Science quotes on:  |  Bean (3)  |  Count (27)  |  Detail (53)  |  Dismissal (2)  |  Experiment (490)  |  Fancy (15)  |  Hand (66)  |  Idleness (7)  |  Irrelevance (3)  |  Knowledge (1000)  |  Label (7)  |  Morphology (15)  |  Pot (2)  |  Practice (46)  |  Revelation (27)  |  Simile (4)  |  Uselessness (21)

Propose theories which can be criticized. Think about possible decisive falsifying experiments—crucial experiments. But do not give up your theories too easily—not, at any rate, before you have critically examined your criticism.
'The Problem of Demarcation' (1974). Collected in David Miller (ed.) Popper Selections (1985), 126-127.
Science quotes on:  |  Decisive (6)  |  Ease (25)  |  Examination (56)  |  Experiment (490)  |  Falsification (7)  |  Proposition (43)  |  Theory (504)  |  Thinking (220)

Science can be the basis of an objective criticism of political power because it claims no power itself. Politics can afford the independence of science because science does not attempt to dictate its purposes.
In The Scientific Estate (1965), 191.
Science quotes on:  |  Afford (5)  |  Attempt (67)  |  Basis (42)  |  Claim (38)  |  Dictate (6)  |  Independence (26)  |  Objective (32)  |  Politics (72)  |  Power (208)  |  Purpose (111)  |  Science (1323)

Science now finds itself in paradoxical strife with society: admired but mistrusted; offering hope for the future but creating ambiguous choice; richly supported yet unable to fulfill all its promise; boasting remarkable advances but criticized for not serving more directly the goals of society.
How to Win the Nobel Prize: An Unexpected Life in Science (2004), xi.
Science quotes on:  |  Admiration (30)  |  Advance (93)  |  Ambiguous (3)  |  Boast (10)  |  Choice (52)  |  Future (175)  |  Goal (59)  |  Hope (90)  |  Mistrust (3)  |  Paradox (29)  |  Promise (17)  |  Remarkable (30)  |  Science And Society (17)  |  Service (38)  |  Strife (9)  |  Support (45)

The history of science, like the history of all human ideas, is a history of irresponsible dreams, of obstinacy, and of error. But science is one of the very few human activities—perhaps the only one—in which errors are systematically criticized and fairly often, in time, corrected. This is why we can say that, in science, we often learn from our mistakes, and why we can speak clearly and sensibly about making progress there. In most other fields of human endeavour there is change, but rarely progress ... And in most fields we do not even know how to evaluate change.
From Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963), 216. Reproduced in Karl Popper, Truth, Rationality and the Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1979), 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (68)  |  Clarity (28)  |  Correction (25)  |  Dream (64)  |  Error (199)  |  History (243)  |  History Of Science (45)  |  Human (297)  |  Idea (374)  |  Irresponsibility (4)  |  Learning (173)  |  Mistake (75)  |  Obstinacy (3)  |  Progress (285)  |  Sense (160)  |  Speaking (38)  |  Systematically (4)

The members of the department became like the Athenians who, according to the Apostle Paul, “spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.” Anyone who thought he had a bright idea rushed out to try it out on a colleague. Groups of two or more could be seen every day in offices, before blackboards or even in corridors, arguing vehemently about these 'brain storms.' It is doubtful whether any paper ever emerged for publication that had not run the gauntlet of such criticism. The whole department thus became far greater than the sum of its individual members.
Obituary of Gilbert Newton Lewis, Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Science (1958), 31, 212.
Science quotes on:  |  Blackboard (6)  |  Brainstorm (2)  |  Colleague (17)  |  Department (25)  |  Idea (374)  |  Individual (110)  |  Gilbert Newton Lewis (9)  |  Obituary (9)  |  Publication (81)

The only objections that have occurred to me are, 1st that you have loaded yourself with an unnecessary difficulty in adopting Natura non facit saltum so unreservedly. . . . And 2nd, it is not clear to me why, if continual physical conditions are of so little moment as you suppose, variation should occur at all. However, I must read the book two or three times more before I presume to begin picking holes.
Comments after reading Darwin's book, Origin of Species.]
Letter to Charles Darwin (23 Nov 1859). In Charles Darwin and Francis Darwin (ed.), Charles Darwin: His Life Told in an Autobiographical Chapter, and in a Selected Series of His Published Letters (1892), 214.
Science quotes on:  |  Adopt (4)  |  Book (147)  |  Condition (102)  |  Difficult (32)  |  Natura Non Facit Saltum (2)  |  Objection (12)  |  Occur (15)  |  Read (52)  |  Unnecessary (8)  |  Unreserved (2)  |  Variation (42)

The scientific method is a potentiation of common sense, exercised with a specially firm determination not to persist in error if any exertion of hand or mind can deliver us from it. Like other exploratory processes, it can be resolved into a dialogue between fact and fancy, the actual and the possible; between what could be true and what is in fact the case. The purpose of scientific enquiry is not to compile an inventory of factual information, nor to build up a totalitarian world picture of Natural Laws in which every event that is not compulsory is forbidden. We should think of it rather as a logically articulated structure of justifiable beliefs about nature. It begins as a story about a Possible World—a story which we invent and criticise and modify as we go along, so that it ends by being, as nearly as we can make it, a story about real life.
Induction and Intuition in Scientific Thought (1969), 59.
Science quotes on:  |  Actual (21)  |  Belief (279)  |  Common Sense (56)  |  Compulsory (5)  |  Determination (51)  |  Dialogue (5)  |  Enquiry (74)  |  Error (199)  |  Event (74)  |  Exertion (8)  |  Exploration (86)  |  Fact (507)  |  Fancy (15)  |  Forbidden (8)  |  Information (84)  |  Inventory (4)  |  Justification (30)  |  Logic (169)  |  Mind (426)  |  Modify (7)  |  Natural Law (22)  |  Nature (835)  |  Persist (6)  |  Possible (43)  |  Process (162)  |  Real Life (2)  |  Resolve (9)  |  Scientific Method (143)  |  Story (39)  |  Structure (155)  |  Truth (645)

The scientific tradition is distinguished from the pre-scientific tradition by having two layers. Like the latter, it passes on its theories; but it also passes on a critical attitude towards them.
Conjectures and Refutations: the Growth of Scientific Knowledge (2002), 66.
Science quotes on:  |  Attitude (29)  |  Distinguish (23)  |  Layer (13)  |  Pre-Scientific (2)  |  Science (1323)  |  Tradition (25)

The world little knows how many of the thoughts and theories which have passed through the mind of a scientific investigator, have been crushed in silence and secrecy by his own severe criticism and adverse examination!
'Observations On Mental Education', a lecture before the Prince Consort and the Royal Institution, 6 May 1854. Experimental researches in chemistry and physics (1859), 486.
Science quotes on:  |  Theory (504)

There prevails among men of letters, an opinion, that all appearance of science is particularly hateful to Women; and that therefore whoever desires to be well received in female assemblies, 'must qualify himself by a total rejection of all that is serious, rational, or important; must consider argument or criticism as perpetually interdicted; and devote all his attention to trifles, and all his eloquence to compliment.
The Rambler, Number 173, 12 Nov 1751. In W. J. Bate and Albrecht B. Strauss (eds.), The Rambler (1969), Vol. 3, 152-3.
Science quotes on:  |  Argument (43)  |  Science (1323)  |  Trifle (7)  |  Woman (65)

This speaker reminds me of my childhood in Budapest. There were gypsy magicians who came to town to entertain us children. But as I recollect, there was one important difference: the gypsy only seemed to violate the laws of nature, he never really violated them!
As quoted by William R. Sears in 'Some Recollections of Theodore von Kármán', Address to the Symposium in Memory of Theodore von Kármán, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, National Meeting (13-14 May 1964), Washington, D.C. Printed in Journal of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (Mar 1965), 13>, No. 1, 178. These are likely not verbatim words of Karman, but as recollected by Sears giving an example of von Kármán’s biting anecdotes at public meetings when criticizing a paper he thought really misleading “pseudoscience.”
Science quotes on:  |  Child (155)  |  Childhood (17)  |  Difference (183)  |  Entertainment (8)  |  Gypsy (2)  |  Important (72)  |  Law Of Nature (48)  |  Magician (10)  |  Reality (98)  |  Recollection (6)  |  Reminder (11)  |  Speaker (3)  |  Town (15)  |  Violation (6)

Thus science must begin with myths, and with the criticism of myths; neither with the collection of observations, nor with the invention of experiments, but with the critical discussion of myths, and of magical techniques and practices.
In Conjectures and Refutations: the Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963, 2002), 66.
Science quotes on:  |  Myth (31)  |  Science (1323)

To turn Karl [Popper]'s view on its head, it is precisely the abandonment of critical discourse that marks the transition of science. Once a field has made the transition, critical discourse recurs only at moments of crisis when the bases of the field are again in jeopardy. Only when they must choose between competing theories do scientists behave like philosophers.
'Logic of Discovery or Psychology of Research', in I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge (1970), 6-7.
Science quotes on:  |  Abandon (27)  |  Choose (12)  |  Competition (23)  |  Crisis (8)  |  Discourse (10)  |  Philosopher (110)  |  Karl Raimund Popper (42)  |  Scientist (359)  |  Theory (504)  |  Transition (11)

We [may] answer the question: “Why is snow white?” by saying, “For the same reason that soap-suds or whipped eggs are white”—in other words, instead of giving the reason for a fact, we give another example of the same fact. This offering a similar instance, instead of a reason, has often been criticised as one of the forms of logical depravity in men. But manifestly it is not a perverse act of thought, but only an incomplete one. Furnishing parallel cases is the necessary first step towards abstracting the reason imbedded in them all.
In The Principles of Psychology (1918), Vol. 2, 363-364.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstract (33)  |  Answer (147)  |  Case (39)  |  Depravity (2)  |  Egg (37)  |  Example (40)  |  Fact (507)  |  Furnish (16)  |  Incomplete (13)  |  Logic (169)  |  Manifestly (3)  |  Parallel (15)  |  Perverse (4)  |  Question (245)  |  Reason (245)  |  Similarity (17)  |  Snow (10)  |  Soap (10)  |  Thought (281)  |  White (29)

What are they doing, examining last month's costs with a microscope when they should be surveying the horizon with a telescope?
[Acerbic comment about directors of Brunner Mond, where he worked.]
As quoted by Peter Allen in obituary, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society (Nov 1976), 22, 116.
Science quotes on:  |  Cost (24)  |  Microscope (59)  |  Money (107)  |  Outlook (10)  |  Research (442)  |  Telescope (68)

Why should the leaders of chemical businesses be held responsible for polluting the marine environment with a few grams of effluent, which is sublethal to marine species, while celebrity chefs are turning out endangered fish at several dozen tables a night without enduring a syllable of criticism?
In The End of the Line: How Overfishing is Changing the World and what We Eat (2004), 189.
Science quotes on:  |  Celebrity (7)  |  Chef (2)  |  Chemical (59)  |  Effluent (2)  |  Endangered Species (2)  |  Environment (116)  |  Fish (69)  |  Industry (77)  |  Marine (4)  |  Overfishing (25)  |  Pollution (29)  |  Syllable (3)  |  Table (19)

Widespread intellectual and moral docility may be convenient for leaders in the short term, but it is suicidal for nations in the long term. One of the criteria for national leadership should therefore be a talent for understanding, encouraging, and making constructive use of vigorous criticism.
Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millenium (1998), 189.
Science quotes on:  |  Criteria (5)  |  Encouragement (17)  |  Intellect (149)  |  Leader (14)  |  Morality (24)  |  Nation (85)  |  Understanding (309)

Worship the spirit of criticism. If reduced to itself it is not an awakener of ideas or a stimulant to great things, but, without it, everything is fallible; it always has the last word.
Address at the Inauguration of the Pasteur Institute. In René Vallery-Radot, The Life of Pasteur, translated by Mrs. R. L. Devonshire (1919), 443.
Science quotes on:  |  Always (7)  |  Greatness (33)  |  Idea (374)  |  Itself (7)  |  Last Word (8)  |  Reducing (2)  |  Spirit (87)  |  Stimulant (2)  |  Without (13)  |  Worship (15)

[Alfred Russell] Wallace's sales agent, back in London, heard mutterings from some naturalists that young Mr. Wallace ought to quit theorizing and stick to gathering facts. Besides expressing their condescension toward him in particular, that criticism also reflected a common attitude that fact-gathering, not theory, was the proper business of all naturalists.
In The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions (1996), 41.
Science quotes on:  |  Agent (19)  |  Attitude (29)  |  Business (52)  |  Fact (507)  |  Gather (24)  |  Naturalist (47)  |  Proper (21)  |  Theory (504)  |  Alfred Russel Wallace (28)

[I have a great] distaste for controversy…. I have often seen it do great harm, and yet remember few cases in natural knowledge where it has helped much either to pull down error or advance truth. Criticism, on the other hand, is of much value.
In letter (6 May 1841) to Robert Hare, an American Chemist, collected in Experimental Researches in Electricity (1844), Vol. 2, 275, as a footnote added to a reprint of 'On Dr. Hare’s Second Letter, and on the Chemical and Contact Theories of the Voltaic Battery', London and Edinburgh Philosophical Magazine (1843), 23.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (93)  |  Controversy (16)  |  Dispute (12)  |  Distaste (2)  |  Error (199)  |  Great (158)  |  Harm (28)  |  Help (44)  |  Knowledge (1000)  |  Natural (94)  |  On The Other Hand (7)  |  Reduce (22)  |  Truth (645)  |  Value (119)

[N]o scientist likes to be criticized. … But you don’t reply to critics: “Wait a minute, wait a minute; this is a really good idea. I’m very fond of it. It’s done you no harm. Please don’t attack it.” That's not the way it goes. The hard but just rule is that if the ideas don't work, you must throw them away. Don't waste any neurons on what doesn’t work. Devote those neurons to new ideas that better explain the data. Valid criticism is doing you a favor.
In 'Wonder and Skepticism', Skeptical Enquirer (Jan-Feb 1995), 19, No. 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Attack (25)  |  Better (84)  |  Critic (12)  |  Explanation (147)  |  Favor (18)  |  Fondness (7)  |  Good (150)  |  Harm (28)  |  Idea (374)  |  Neuron (8)  |  Reply (14)  |  Rule (104)  |  Scientist (359)  |  Validity (18)  |  Wait (28)  |  Waste (47)

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
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Custom Quotations Search - custom search within only our quotations pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

who invites your feedback

- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton

Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.