Quotes

“Scientists are perennially aware that it is best not to trust theory until it is confirmed by evidence. It is equally true . . . that it is best not to put too much faith in facts until they have been confirmed by theory.”
Robert MacArthur, Geographical Ecology, 1972


“Remember, always, that everything you know, and everything everyone knows, is only a model. Get your model out there where it can be viewed. Invite others to challenge your assumptions and add their own.”
Donella H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems: A Primer, 2008


“As the variance goes to infinity, the information per observation about the location of the average value, 1/sigma^2, goes to zero. It may seem strange that an observation could provide no information about the mean value.”
Steve Frank, The Common patterns in nature, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 2009


“Firstly, don’t call your matrix ‘matrix’. Would you call your dog ‘dog’? Anyway, it might clash with the function ‘matrix’.”
Barry Rowlingson, R-help, 2004


“I thank the National Science Foundation for regularly rejecting my (honest) grant applications for work on real organisms (cf. Szent-Gyorgyi, 1972), thus forcing me into theoretical work.”
Leigh Van Valen, A new evolutionary law, Evolutionary Theory, 1973


“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”
Richard Feynman, Rogers Commission Report, 1986


“I will just comment on infinity here, and just for a moment”
Guy Hoelzer, an undergraduate lecture on evolution, 09 Feb 2012


“Good science can wait.”
Joan Strassmann, blog, 21 May 2013


“Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.”
George Box, Empirical Model-Building and Response Surfaces,1987


“But as my conclusions have lately been much misrepresented, and it has been stated that I attribute the modification of species exclusively to natural selection, I may be permitted to remark that in the first edition of this work, and subsequently, I placed in a most conspicuous position— namely, at the close of the Introduction—the following words: ‘I am convinced that natural selection has been the main but not the exclusive means of modification.’ This has been of no avail. Great is the power of steady misrepresentation; but the history of science shows that fortunately this power does not long endure.”
Charles Darwin, The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life, 1872 (6th edition)


“With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.”
John von Neumann, attributed by E. Fermi, as written by Freeman Dyson, no date