Foolproof Quotes (5 quotes)
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
Every hypothesis in physical science has to go through a period of difficult gestation and parturition before it can be brought out into the light of day and handed to others, ready-made in scientific form so that it will be, as it were, fool-proof in the hands of outsiders who wish to apply it.
Many inventions are not suitable for the people at large because of their carelessness. Before a thing can be marketed to the masses, it must be made practically fool-proof. Its operation must be made extremely simple. That is one reason, I think, why the phonograph has been so universally adopted. Even a child can operate it. … Another reason is that people are far more willing to pay for being amused than for anything else.
The methods of science aren’t foolproof, but they are indefinitely perfectible. Just as important: there is a tradition of criticism that enforces improvement whenever and wherever flaws are discovered. The methods of science, like everything else under the sun, are themselves objects of scientific scrutiny, as method becomes methodology, the analysis of methods. Methodology in turn falls under the gaze of epistemology, the investigation of investigation itself—nothing is off limits to scientific questioning. The irony is that these fruits of scientific reflection, showing us the ineliminable smudges of imperfection, are sometimes used by those who are suspicious of science as their grounds for denying it a privileged status in the truth-seeking department—as if the institutions and practices they see competing with it were no worse off in these regards. But where are the examples of religious orthodoxy being simply abandoned in the face of irresistible evidence? Again and again in science, yesterday’s heresies have become today’s new orthodoxies. No religion exhibits that pattern in its history.
When you're talking deaths in clinical trials, mistakes are not an option. It's just an area where we have to have absolute, foolproof reporting in place.