John Ziman – Scientific papers; small pieces in a grander scheme

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John ZimanAlthough the best and most famous scientific discoveries seem to open whole new windows of the mind, a typical scientific paper has never pretended to be more than another piece in a large jig-saw; not significant in itself but as an element in a grander scheme. This technique, of soliciting many modest contributions to the vast store of human knowledge, has been the secret of western science since the seventeenth century, for it achieves a corporate collective power that is far greater than any one individual can exert. Primary scientific papers are not meant to be final statements of indisputable truths; each is merely a tiny tentative step forward, through the jungle of ignorance.

John Ziman   (1925-2005)
Nature, vol. 224

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