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As a graduate student at Columbia University, I remember the a priori derision of my distinguished stratigraphy professor toward a visiting Australian drifter ... Today my own students would dismiss with even more derision anyone who denied the evident truth of continental drifta prophetic madman is at least amusing; a superannuated fuddy-duddy is merely pitiful.
Biological disciplines tend to guide research into certain channels. One consequence is that disciplines are apt to become parochial, or at least to develop blind spots, for example, to treat some questions as interesting and to dismiss others as uninteresting. As a consequence, readily accessible but unworked areas of genuine biological interest often lie in plain sight but untouched within one discipline while being heavily worked in another. For example, historically insect physiologists have paid relatively little attention to the behavioral and physiological control of body temperature and its energetic and ecological consequences, whereas many students of the comparative physiology of terrestrial vertebrates have been virtually fixated on that topic. For the past 10 years, several of my students and I have exploited this situation by taking the standard questions and techniques from comparative vertebrate physiology and applying them to insects. It is surprising that this pattern of innovation is not more deliberately employed.
Every consideration that did not relate to what is best for the patient was dismissed. This was Sir William [Gull]s professional axiom. But the carrying of it out not unfrequently involved him in difficulty, and led occasionally to his being misunderstood. He would frequently refuse to repeat a visit or consultation on the ground that he wished the sufferer to feel that it was unnecessary.
I respect Kirkpatrick both for his sponges and for his numinous nummulosphere. It is easy to dismiss a crazy theory with laughter that debars any attempt to understand a mans motivationand the nummulosphere is a crazy theory. I find that few men of imagination are not worth my attention. Their ideas may be wrong, even foolish, but their methods often repay a close study ... The different drummer often beats a fruitful tempo.
Ive tried to make the men around me feel as I do, that we are embarked as pioneers upon a new science and industry in which our problems are so new and unusual that it behooves no one to dismiss any novel idea with the statement, It cant be done.
People are entirely too disbelieving of coincidence. They are far too ready to dismiss it and to build arcane structures of extremely rickety substance in order to avoid it. I, on the other hand, see coincidence everywhere as an inevitable consequence of the laws of probability, according to which having no unusual coincidence is far more unusual than any coincidence could possibly be.
Psychology tells us that we rarely work through reasons and evidence in a systematic way; weighing information carefully and suspending the impulse to draw conclusions. Instead, much of the time we use mental shortcuts or rules of thumb that save us mental effort. These habits often work reasonably well, but they also can lead us to conclusions we might dismiss if we applied more thought.