PM Quote of the Day — Mr. Spock

Emotions are alien to me. I’m a scientist

Of course, any Trekker knows that emotions are hardly alien to Mr. Spock.  Of course, in this episode (This Side of Paradise) an outside agent brought his emotions to the surface.  Spock’s emotions are usually presented as a weakness introduced by his human half… or at least he thinks they’re a weakness. 

When I remembered this quote, I laughed at his suggestion that emotion and science can’t mix.  Spock must not have read Thomas Kuhn‘s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  One of Kuhn’s insights — that resistance to the new paradigm is most fierce just before the shift — implies that science doesn’t always have much to do with reason.  More specifically, according to Kuhn, whether a new solution is “normal” or “revolutionary” science depends on the perceived similarity between the proposed new solution and the existing paradigm.   Just how do we subject perception to strictly rational rules? 

Remembering Kuhn’s insight prompts me to stand back when presented with a problem or an answer that doesn’t quite match the puzzles I’ve seen before.  I hope I can recognize that which is driving my fear or embrace of the “new”.

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