Thursday, March 9, 2017

Hunches Essential in Science

I believe that scientists tap into the transcendental force for inspiration much like artists, musicians, writers and mystics.

In Approaches to Social Enquiry, Blaikie quotes, "The transition from data to theory requires creative imagination. Scientific hypotheses and theories are not derived from observed facts, but invented in order to account for them."

When you get results in a study, the results don't come out and tell you what they mean. They are very Joe Friday - just the facts, ma'am. The researcher has to make sense of them, usually based on their lens, experiences, background, knowledge base and theory.

And, "...there can be no set of rules given for the procedure of scientific discovery - a hypothesis is not produced by a deductive machine by feeding experimental observations into it: It is a product of creative imagination, of a mind which absorbs the experimental data until it sees them fall into a pattern, giving the scientific theorist the sense that he [sic] is penetrating beneath the flux of phenomena to the real structure of nature."
Sometimes I get my hunches in the shower or driving or in the early morning upon waking or (my favorite) when I'm out for a long walk.

And, "...every discovery contains an 'irrational element' or a 'creative intuition.' "

Srinivasa Ramanujan was a mathematician who produced math formulas that came to him in dreams from a Hindu goddess. He had very little math training but wound up at Cambridge thanks to those dreams and goddess.

And, "Hesse...stressed the role of creative imagination, as well as logic, in the process of scientific discovery."
Hunches are essential and integral to discovery. Hypotheses and logic are like yin and yang, the forest and the trees, left and right brain working together.
And, "In all these cases, because causal structures and/or mechanisms had never been observed, it was necessary first to imagine what they might be like, and then to formulate these ideas into some image or model."
You step back from the painting or the study and let the a-ha moment of inspiration guide you, if you trust enough to listen and wait for it.
Also, in describing the deductive process used by a clinician, Blaikie quotes: "Here there is a rapid reciprocation between an imaginative and critical process."

Daniel Gilbert in Stumbling Upon Happiness notes that imagination is what separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."

I see a lovely pattern here.

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