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Peter Medawar ↠ 3 summary

Advice to a Young Scientist Alfred P Sloan Foundation Series

Calling He deflates the myths surrounding scientists invincibility superiority and genius; instead he argues that it is common sense and an inuiring mind that are essential to the makeup of a scientist He delivers many wry observation. Medawar advocates a young scientist to inspirit the role of scientific meliorism the world can and should be improved through their insights and skills Throughout Medawar bestows the distilled wisdom that research neophytes accept the candid challenge of scientific inuisition with unbreakable enthusiasm humility instead of egotistical prowess and embosom the role of opportunity and chance in success as remarked by Fontenelle Ces hasards ne sont ue pour ceux uijouent bien These strokes of good fortune are only for those who play well In short this work acts as a series of transient transitions between snapshots of the scientific landscape bureaucracy to the symphony including Medawar s estimations of the racial and sexual panorama amongst scientists the distinctions between public and private perceptions of a research s life and most importantly the undercurrents of the researcher s mind Coy caution of the limits of rationalism is brought to the foreground casting dust on prominent scientists Dawkins who argue of the baleful bemusing being of why prompted uestions With such a contrarian idea this Nobel prize winner attentively arrows admonitions towards those who may claim the supreme omniscience of science to cleanse doubt particularly insofar as it relates to the meaning of being In his own words Young scientists must however never be tempted into mistaking the necessity of reason for the sufficiency of reason Rationalism falls short of answering the many simple and childlike uestions people like to ask uestions about origins and purposes such as are often contemptuously dismissed as nonuestions or pseudouestions although people understand them clearly enough and long to have the answers

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S on how to choose a research topic how to get along wih collaborators and older scientists and administrators how and how not to present a scientific paper and how to cope with culturally superior specialists in the arts and humanitie. I don t read self help books but I guess in a way this book counts as one However the advice in this book isn t the type of advice that s meant to be inspirational but unhelpful It s very practical and occasionally funny and it covers various topics each in short chapters I ve decided to write down some of the things that I found particularly interesting If you try your hand at research and find yourself indifferent to or bored by it you should leave science without any sense of self reproach or misdirection After you ve taken your PhD you must on no account continue with your PhD work for the remainder of your life easy and tempting though it is to tie up loose ends and wander down attractive byways The great incentive to learning a new skill or supporting discipline is an urgent need to use it The process of euipping oneself has no predeterminable limits and is bad psychological policy The beginner must read but intently and choosily and not too much The best way to become proficient in research is to get on with it Endless poring over the research of others is sometimes psychologically a research substitute much as reading romantic fiction may be a substitute for real life romance There will always be gaps and shortcomings in your knowledge and to be any good you ll have to go on learning all your lives Euality of treatment of men and women should come from euality of merit not that which represents an enforced and perhaps reluctant acuiescence in the newly devised statutory obligations that now reuire employers to treat women as if they were human beings Increasing the number of women in science is important because the world is now such a complicated and rapidly changing place that it cannot even be kept going let alone improved without using the intelligence and skill of approximately 50 percent of the human race Future husband take note Anyone who goes to the extreme length of marrying a scientist should be aware beforehand that their spouse is in the grip of a powerful obsession that is likely to take the first place in their life outside the home and probably inside too There is no uicker way for a scientist to bring discredit upon himself and on his profession than roundly to declare that science knows or soon will know the answers to all uestions worth asking and that the uestions that do not admit a scientific answer are in some way nonuestions or pseudouestions that only simpletons ask and only the gullible profess to be able to answer A scientific attack upon religious belief is usually no less faulty than a defense of it If in spite of the most anxious precautions a scientist makes a mistake about a matter of fact then the mistake must be admitted with the least possible delay The scientist may even gain credit from such a declaration and will not lose face except perhaps in the bathroom mirror The intensity of the conviction that a hypothesis is true has no bearing on whether it is true or not To be creative scientists need libraries and laboratories and the company of other scientists The stereotype that represents the scientist as someone coldly engaged in the collection of facts and in calculations based upon them is no less a caricature than that which makes a poet poor dirty disheveled tubercular maybe and periodically in the grip of a poetic frenzy One of the most comically endearing traits of a young research worker is the illusion that everyone else is eager to hurry off to do his research before he can In reality his colleagues want to do their own research not his Excess of confidence in the rightness of their own views is a sort of senile hubris as offensive in older scientists as excess of hubris in the young The old fashioned remedy for hubris was a smart blow on the head with an inflated pig s bladder People with anything to say can usually say it briefly only a speaker with nothing to say goes on and on as if he were laying down a smoke screen In Great Britain the Institution of Electrical Engineers issues an admirable Speaker s Handbook in which a speaker is recommended to stand with his feet 400 millimeters apart as this stops trembling The instruction is amusing not because electrical engineers are especially tremulous but because of its high degree of uantitative refinement it is as if experiments had shown that feet 350 or 450 millimeters apart could be relied upon to precipitate a bout of convulsions Good writing upon a subject is almost always shorter than bad writing on the same subject and memorable too Criticism is the most powerful weapon in any methodology of science it is the scientist s only assurance that he need not persist in error Every time the mayor of an American municipality finds against fluoridation or someone in England pronounces it inefficacious or even downright harmful there is a clamor of rejoicing in the corner of Mount Olympus presided over by Gaptooth the God of Dental Decay In science there is always beyond Science will dry up only if scientists lose or fail to exercise the power or incentive to imagine what the truth might be

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To those interested in a life in science Sir Peter Medawar Nobel laureate deflates the myths of invincibility superiority and genius; instead he demonstrates it is common sense and an inuiring mind that are essential to the scientist's. The belief of Comenius that the pursuit of universal learning to be acuired and applied to the benefit of all men for the common good is truly via lucis the way of light MedawarThis book really gives great encouragement and enlightens his readers on the perks of being a scientist Honestly Medawar brings back the interest I have for science where creativity and imagination is one of the few essential things needed Although it is a little hard to read in terms of the vocabulary used it really feels as if he is talking and advising to you rather than giving a lecture or just reading


10 thoughts on “Advice to a Young Scientist Alfred P Sloan Foundation Series

  1. says:

    Medawar is one of a handful of classics on my science communication book shelf It is elouently written and delves into many of the challenges of producing scientific knowledge for the public Anyone with a science degree from univers

  2. says:

    Advice To A Young Scientist is a book by P B Medawar for folks keen on entering research Medawar won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1960 for his research on why immune systems reject organ transplants Medawar's writing is meticulous and a joy to read Though the former half of the book deals with practical information for the newbie the latter turns into a treatise on science and the scientific method Not ba

  3. says:

    The belief of Comenius that the pursuit of universal learning to be acuired and applied to the benefit of all m

  4. says:

    Accessible and down to Earth All the so when you consider that it is written by a Noble Prize Laureate As his bac

  5. says:

    Medawar advocates a young scientist to inspirit the role of scientific meliorism the world can and should be improved through their in

  6. says:

    Our lab decided to read this book together during the pandemic It was informative in the sense that it described in writing much of the unwritten rules of science don't go to graduate school where you went to undergrad never use the word prove etc There were portions of the book I liked and other times where I thought Medawar went a little off the beaten path into his random opinions He definitely wrote as if h

  7. says:

    A witty collection of mostly useful advice to a young scientist that may or may not still be relevantI don't personally know if many people starting out research careers today have uite the ambitions of young scientists addressed by Medawar I feel people these days might be a little less naive and arrogant but I still had a few of my own uestions answered Plus Medawar's writing is worth reading in and of its

  8. says:

    Wonderful short read And by the great Sir Peter Medawar who is as good a science writer as he is a scientist You are not alone in your fears of inadeuacy starting out as a scientist It's a learning process filled with mistakes and embarrassments That's how scientists get so good at what they do Loved it that I came across this book at a time when I am starting out as a full time researcher as well

  9. says:

    I don't read self help books but I guess in a way this book counts as one However the advice in this book isn't the type of advice that's meant to be inspirational but unhelpful It's very practical and occasionally funny and it covers various topics each in short chapters I've decided to write down some of the things that I found particularl

  10. says:

    A wonderful book for those who wish to embark on a career in science The pragmatic advice will help all young researchers to

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