Saturday, February 11, 2006

Assumptions, Presuppositions and Sheep

Back in the 70's I read an obituary in Physics Today of a young physicist who had passed before his time. In the eulogy to the man, it was mentioned that he was so careful in making assumptions that if he saw a hillside with sheep grazing, he would only go so far as to say 'the side of each sheep that is in view is white'. As if to say that what is not seen could turn out to be another color. Now, that seems kind of ridiculous. But, in a laboratory, whether scientific or engineering, that kind of skepticism has its place.

We can't live our entire lives being skeptical like that but using this approach occasionally in disciplined way has value.

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