Richard Dawkins TV - Daniel C Dennett - Agatha Christie - Karl Popper - Albert Einstein - Arthur Eddington - Richard Feynman - Rene Descartes - Carlos Frenk - Horizon TV - Michio Kaku - Steven Weinberg - Alfred North Whitehead - Jim Al-Khalili - Stephen Hawking TV - Brian Welch - Aldous Huxley - Arthur Conan Doyle - Douglas Adams - Niels Bohr - Ruth Hubbard - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - John Williams - Annihilation 2018 - Irreducible Complexity Cut Down to Size 2012 - Behind the Curve 2018 - Thomas Malthus - Adam Curtis TV - Noam Chomsky -
The God theory is not just a bad theory it turns out to be in principle incapable of doing the job required of it. Richard Dawkins, lecture An Atheist’s Call to Arms
Science is about testing, comparing and corroborating this mass of evidence, and using it to update old theories of how things work. Richard Dawkins, The Root of All Evil? The God Delusion, Channel 4 2011
Evangelicals like Haggard are foisting evidence falsehoods on their flock. The evangelicals are denying scientific evidence just to support bronze-age myths. ibid.
I should emphasize this, to keep well-meaning but misguided multiculturalists at bay: the theoretical entities in which these tribal people frankly believe – the gods and other spirits – don’t exist. These people are mistaken, and you know it as well as I do. It is possible for highly intelligent people to have a very useful but mistaken theory, and we don’t have to pretend otherwise in order to show respect for these people and their ways. Daniel C Dennett, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
Everything must be taken into account. If the fact will not fit the theory – let the theory go. Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles
‘It often seems to me that’s all detective work is, wiping out your false starts and beginning again.’
‘Yes, it is very true, that. And it is just what some people will not do. They conceive a certain theory, and everything has to fit into that theory. If one little fact will not fit it, they throw it aside. But it is always the facts that will not fit in that are significant.’ Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile
Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve. Karl Popper, Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach, 1972
It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience. Albert Einstein, The Herbert Spencer Lecture 10th June 1932
The theoretician is forced, ever more, to allow himself to be directed by purely mathematical, formal points of view in the search for theories, because the physical experience of the experimenter is not capable of leading us up to the regions of the highest abstraction. Albert Einstein, cited Ideas and Opinions 1954
If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts. Albert Einstein, apocryphal attribution
The law that entropy always increases, holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation. Arthur Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World, 1928
This is the key of modern science and is the beginning of the true understanding of nature. This idea. That to look at the things, to record the details, and to hope that in the information thus obtained, may lie a clue to one or another of a possible theoretical interpretation. Richard P Feynman, The Character of Physical Law, 1955
People are always asking for the latest developments in the unification of this theory with that theory, and they don’t give us a chance to tell them anything about what we know pretty well. They always want to know the things we don’t know. Richard P Feynman, QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, 1985
It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong. Richard P Feynman
The scientific process operates in two phases, the empirical and the statistical.
In the first phase, a scientist seeks uniform patterns in the universe based on empirical observations (‘empirical’ meaning based on data received by our senses, as this is, after all, the only means we have).
... The second phase of the scientific method ... a scientist must perform a series of tests that will either verify or refute his original hypothesis. This is where the statistical phase enters the picture.
After our scientist feels confident that he has obtained sufficient statistical evidence to support his theory ... he will disclose his findings to those around him, more specifically to the rest of the world’s scientific community.
Now it is the duty of the scientific community to review this person’s hypothesis by performing their own series of tests. This is necessary as the conclusions of one sole observer should never be accepted as adequate proof of anything.
... As this process continues, one by one, our ever-sceptical scientific community will conduct as many tests as it can think of before offering to support a theory. Only after a sufficient amount of supporting statistical data is obtained might the scientific community be willing to give credence to a theory. Rene Descartes, Discourse on the Method of Properly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking the Truth in the Sciences
We have a set of physical laws that we know from laboratory experiments work; we use these laws to formulate a theory; we use that theory to make predictions, then we compare and then we compare these predictions with observations. Carlos Frenk, Horizon: Of Big Bangs, Stick Men and Galactic Holes, BBC 1991
For all its intricate mathematics the standard model has flaws. Built into it are a series of theories designed to explain observations that don’t make any sense. Theories that are incomplete and unproven. Horizon: Is Everything We Know About the Universe Wrong? BBC 2010
Big Bang theory says that the universe was created in an explosion. But an explosion would produce a universe that was lumpy and messy. With patches there were at vastly different temperatures from one area to another. The real universe is nothing like this. In all directions the temperature appears to be almost exactly the same. ibid.
The Holographic Principle: which says that all three dimensional objects can be encoded in only two dimensions. Horizon: What is Reality? BBC 2011
But Lenny [Susskind] didn’t stop there. He and other physicists made a truly shocking leap of the imagination: they asked what if the whole of reality is a hologram, projected from our own Event Horizon, the far edges of the universe. ibid.
It seems utterly bizarre that the ultimate nature of reality might be holographic. That at the edge of our universe there might be a shimmering sheet of information that describes the entire universe within ... We are about to put this theory to the test. ibid.
If Max [Tegmark] is right, Maths isn’t a language we’ve invented, but a deep structure we are gradually uncovering like archaeologists. An abstract unchanging entity that has no beginning and no end. As we peel back the layers we are discovering the code. Strange as it seems it’s a comforting theory because if the reality is a mathematical object, understanding it might be within our reach. ibid.
These two grand visions of Reality – the mathematical structure and the cosmic hologram represent theoretical thinking at its most imaginative and beautiful. ibid.
Inflation may have started out as a mathematical theory but it has gained acceptance after successful testing against the evidence from the Cosmic Microwave Background. Horizon: How Big is the Universe? BBC 2012
It is often stated that of all the theories proposed in this century, the silliest is quantum theory. In fact, some say that the only thing that quantum theory has going for it is that it is unquestionably correct. Michio Kaku, Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey
No matter how beautiful the theory, one irritating fact can dismiss the entire formulism, so it has to be proven. Michio Kaku
It seems that scientists are often attracted to beautiful theories in the way that insects are attracted to flowers – not by logical deduction, but by something like a sense of smell. Steven Weinberg