Scientists and their brains

Torahiko Terada (translated by HI)

An old scientist close to me told me the following; ‘If you want to be scientist, you should have a good “brain” ’, this is a general statement often remarked by ordinary people. Yes, this seems to be true in a sense. On the other hand, ‘if you want to be a scientist, you should NOT have a good “brain”’, is also true in a sense. The later statement is seldom addressed and it is rare that why not is illustrated. These opposing statements are, in fact, shedding light on one thing from both sides. These statements which look paradoxical, obviously come from an ambiguity in the definition of the term, “brain”.

A precise and scrupulous brain is needed in order not to lose the logical chains or miss the relations between the parts and the whole. When you face a choice from among complicated options, you need deep consideration and intuition to allow you to see through to the future. In this sense, scientists should surely have a good “brain”.

However, finding arcane questions from ordinary life that appears clear and easy to understand by even “bad brain”, in the usual sense of the word, owners, are more important for not only scientific educator, but for all people working in scientific research. In this sense, scientists should be duller, less sophisticated people than ordinary with their bad-brains.

So-called clever guy is, so to speak, an impatient traveller. Although they can get to their destination earlier than others, they might miss precious treasure along the roadside or side street. A “bad-brain” guy misread like a dull one with poor muscle slowly follows and sometimes happens to pick up the treasure.

Clever guys are likely to come to the foot of Mt. Fuji, take a glance at the top, and leave with a general knowledge of Mt. Fuji. But, if we don’t climb Mt Fuji, we don’t completely understand it.

Because “good-brain” people can see the word clearly, they can also see difficulties in their way. At least, they feel so. This likely decrease their brute courage which allow them to go forward. Because there is a haze ahead of “bad-brain” people, they are likely optimistic and then manage to bridge any difficulties and sometimes complete it. Difficulties nobody can overcome are rare.

Therefore, dedicated students should not easily take advice from “good-brain” teachers. They must point out all difficulties and then declare there is no future to the plans you are making. If you start without considering the details, your might easily overcome the highlighted difficulties and, meet unexpected difficulties instead.

“Good-brain” scientists are likely to place too much trust in the power of their brain. As a result, when there are inconsistencies between what nature expresses and what they consider with their brains, they might think “nature is wrong”. Unless they are very much idiots, their way of thinking must progress in that direction. By this way of thinking, natural science becomes not science of nature. Moreover, when they obtain results that are consistent with their hypotheses, they might forget to ask themselves the important question, “is it an artifact caused by an unexpected factor?”.

“Poor-brain” scientists are eager to tackle problems by methods regarded as senseless by “good-brain” scientists. When they finally come to understand that it is wrong, they still gain a clue of something else that is not wrong. Therefore, it often happens that their clues are not available to the people. It is because nature runs away from people just looking at it from behind their desk or drawing in the air. Also it is because nature opens a window for the “naked” people who rush into heart of nature.

“Good-brain” people can’t love anyone. Love is blind. To be a scientist, you should catch nature. Nature opens its naked heart only to its lover.

The history of science is the history of illusion and error in a sense. It is history of inefficient work done by tremendous fools.

Although “good-brain” people are appropriate as critics, they rarely become activists, because any activities bring associated risks. People who fear injury can’t become a carpenter. People who fear failure can’t become a scientist. Science is the edifice built on the bulk of a foolish, daredevil corpse, or flowers blooming by a river of blood. Those who emphasize their interests rarely become warriors.

“Good-brain” people likely find faults of work done by others. Therefore, they likely develop the illusion that works done by others are trivial and they are wiser than any others. Then, their ambitious spirits goes rusty and their progress will stop. “Poor-brain” people think that results obtained by others usually are excellent. At the same time, they think they also can perform such an excellent work. The way of thinking happens to stimulate their ambitions.

Some of “good-brain” people can find faults of works done by others, not by themselves. The people can achieve progress to some extent and contribute to an academic community, while criticizing others works. Others of “good-brain” people have much better brains than those people. They can notice even faults of results done by themselves. These people can’t finalize their work even if they study as hard as possible. Then, they likely quit their study before publishing their work. This is actually equal to the case in which they have not done anything. These people know anything except that human is an animal that often makes mistakes. Meanwhile, the pretty fool people happen to perform daring experiments or present daring theory thanks to their ignorance. As a result, they find out hundreds of faults and one or two truths. Those found facts occasionally contribute the academic society and mistakenly happens to allow him to become a big-name researcher. In science, any faults disappear like bubbles and only truths remain. Thus, people who do something contribute to science more highly than people who don’t anything.

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