- When, however, the lay public rallies around an idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly scientists and supports that idea with great fervour and emotion—the distinguished but elderly scientists are then, after all, probably right.
corollary to Arthur C. Clarke's law; see Clarke
Paranormal Borderlands of Science (1981) 1920–92 Russian-born biochemist and science fiction writer: Arthur C. Clarke ‘Asimov's Corollary’ in K. Frazier (ed.)
- Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.
Resuscitatio (1657) ‘Proposition touching Amendment of Laws’ 1561–1626 English lawyer, courtier, philosopher, and essayist:
- I adhered scrupulously to the precept of that brilliant theoretical physicist L. Boltzmann, according to whom matters of elegance ought to be left to the tailor and to the cobbler.
Relativity: The Special and General Theory (1916) preface 1844–1906 Austrian physicist: attributed; Albert Einstein
- When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
Profiles of the Future (1962) ch. 2; see Asimov 1917–2008 English science fiction writer:
- False views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness.
The Descent of Man (1871) ch. 21 1809–82 English natural historian:
- Data! data! data!…I can't make bricks without clay.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892) ‘The Adventure of the Copper Beeches’ 1859–1930 Scottish-born writer of detective fiction:
- It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgement.
A Study in Scarlet (1888) ch. 3 1859–1930 Scottish-born writer of detective fiction:
- It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.
often quoted as ‘Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler’ 1879–1955 German-born theoretical physicist: ‘On the Method of Theoretical Physics’, lecture delivered at Oxford, 10 June 1933
- God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically.
Quest (1942) 1879–1955 German-born theoretical physicist: Leopold Infeld
- The grand aim of all science [is] to cover the greatest number of empirical facts by logical deduction from the smallest possible number of hypotheses or axioms.
The Universe and Dr Einstein (1950 ed.) 1879–1955 German-born theoretical physicist: Lincoln Barnett
- Quod erat demonstrandum.
Which was to be proved.
often abbreviated to QED
bc Greek mathematician: Latin translation from the Greek of Elementa bk. 1, proposition 5 and passim fl. 300
- The great tragedy of Science—the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
Collected Essays (1893–4) ‘Biogenesis and Abiogenesis’ 1825–95 English biologist:
- It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast. It keeps him young.
Das Sogenannte Böse (1963; tr. Marjorie Latzke as On Aggression, 1966) ch. 2 1903–89 Austro-German zoologist:
- The biologist passes, the frog remains.
sometimes quoted as ‘Theories pass. The frog remains’
Inquiétudes d'un biologiste (1967) 1894–1977 French biologist:
- No good model ever accounted for all the facts since some data was bound to be misleading if not plain wrong.
Some Mad Pursuit (1988) 1928– American biologist: Francis Crick