On the Big Think website, Michael Strevens has outlined some ideas from his recent book about how science advances.
I stumbled upon Strevens through Michael Shermer’s Skeptic Podcast. Shermer and his professor guest discuss at length (about an hour and a half) his singular insight that trying to understand and promulgate a Big Picture of Reality is what kept the scientists of the past (they used to call themselves natural philosophers) for hundreds of years from actually making the breakthroughs necessary to come up with one.
What was needed was data, and lots of it, with no concern for theories of any kind, elegant, inelegant or otherwise.
Here is the link to the podcast, which we feel is well worth your time if a deeper understanding of how we gain knowledge is a subject that interests you.
Some of the key takeaways from the book:
- Modern science requires scrutinizing the tiniest of details and an almost irrational dedication to empirical observation.
- Many scientists believe that theories should be “beautiful,” but such argumentation is forbidden in modern science.
- Neglecting beauty would be a step too far for Aristotle.
My heart raced a bit when I read the line “an almost irrational dedication to empirical observation.”
This describes our obsession with finding the best sounding pressings of our favorite music better than any seven words I’ve ever come up with, that’s for sure. If only I were a better writer!
However, I did have some skills to bring to bear to the problems I was trying to solve, the most important of which was the fact that I was a naturally a skeptic.
I have never been much interested in what anybody thought about either audio or records unless they had good evidence to back up their claims. Rarely was such evidence forthcoming, and in the few cases when it was made available to me, I had no trouble finding fault with it.
By taking a different approach to the pursuit records and audio, by avoiding theorizing and just accumulating more and more and better and better data, I was able to learn things that seem to have completely escaped the vast majority of reviewers and audiophiles.
This site is full of the information I’ve managed to learn over the last forty or so years. The first twenty were mostly a waste; I made all the mistakes that audiophiles tend to make and are still making today. The last twenty taught me and my staff 99% of what we know, based on the data we were accumulating through increasingly rigorous record shootouts with access to much improved playback.
This changed everything, and you can read about it on this blog in hundreds of commentaries. Or you can buy the superior pressings our scientific approach to finding, cleaning and evaluating them has made possible.