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Preconceived Quotes (3 quotes)

Men who have excessive faith in their theories or ideas are not only ill prepared for making discoveries; they also make very poor observations. Of necessity, they observe with a preconceived idea, and when they devise an experiment, they can see, in its results,only a confirmation of their theory. In this way they distort observation and often neglect very important facts because they do not further their aim.
From An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1927, 1957), as translated by Henry Copley Greene (1957), 38. From the original French by Claude Bernard: “Les hommes qui ont une foi excessive dans leurs théories ou dans leurs idées sont non-seulement mal disposés pour faire des découvertes, mais ils font aussi de très-mauvaises observations. Ils observent nécessairement avec une idée préconçue, et quand ils ont institué une expérience, ils ne veulent voir dans ses résultats qu'une confirmation de leur théorie. Ils défigurent ainsi l'observation et négligent souvent des faits très-importants, parce qu’ils ne concourent pas à leur but.” (1865), 68. A Google translation gives: “Men who have excessive faith in their theories or in their ideas are not only ill disposed to make discoveries, but they also make very bad observations. They necessarily observe with a preconceived idea, and when they have instituted an experiment, they only want to see in its results a confirmation of their theory. They thus disfigure observation and often neglect very important facts, because they do not contribute to their end.”
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Thinking must never submit itself, neither to a dogma, nor to a party, nor to a passion, nor to an interest, nor to a preconceived idea, nor to whatever it may be, if not to facts themselves, because, for it, to submit would be to cease to be.
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What an amateur is, is a lover of a subject. I’m a lover of facts. The fact is the savior, as long as you don’t jam it into some preconceived pattern.
From interview, Carol Krucoff, 'The 6 O’Clock Scholar: Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin And His Love Affair With Books', The Washington Post (29 Jan 1984), K8.
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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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