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Elvis Chidera

The Value of Science — Paper Summary

summary, paper, science1 min read

Today's summary is about a paper written by RP Feynman in 1955.

Of all its many values, the greatest must be the freedom to doubt.


  1. The challenge of social problems for a scientist is that they are harder than scientific problems.
  2. Scientists don't have any magic formula for solving problems.

The values of science

  1. Scientific knowledge enables us to do and make all kinds of things.
  2. The fun called intellectual enjoyment which some people get from reading, learning, thinking, and working on it.

    The imagination of nature is far greater than the imagination of man.

  3. The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance, doubt, and uncertainty. The author thinks this experience is of vital importance.
    • When a scientist doesn't know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant.
    • When he has a hunch as to what the result is he is uncertain.
    • And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is in some doubt.
    • It has been found that it is of paramount importance that to progress we must recognize the ignorance and leave room for doubt.
    • Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty — Some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain.

Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on. It is our responsibility to leave the men of the future a free hand. In the impetuous youth of humanity, we can make grave errors that can stunt our growth for a long time. This we will do if we say we have the answers now, so young and ignorant; if we suppress all discussion, all criticism, saying, "This is it, boys, man is saved!' and thus doom man for a long time to the chains of authority, confined to the limits of our present imagination. It has been done so many times before.

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