What is Success

Leslie Kay lmk2 at garnet.berkeley.edu
Wed Feb 2 14:06:43 EST 1994

In article <1994Feb2.163612.29800 at riscsm.scripps.edu>,
Susan L Forsburg  <susan_forsburg at qm.salk.edu> wrote:

stuff deleted
>That confidence, in whomever has it, for whatever reason, is
>essential for success in science.  are we more persuaded by the
>seminar that says "it works like this" or by the seminar that says
>"it might work like this, or then again, like that?"    Objective
>evaluation and caution are not appreciated in science, oddly enough.
>  You have to give the hard sell.

I wonder sometimes if this is so bad.  It is often difficult to
distinguish between someone's musings and their rightly uncertain
findings after lots of study, especially if they are worded
similarly.  I know I read the papers and go to the talks that
claim to have actually solved something (unless I know the speaker
is good) more often than those that claim to be uncertain.  Perhaps
that is a result of being raised with newspaper headlines and
more increasingly being exposed to sound-bites as news.  I don't
really know the cause.  (how's that for being uncertain?)

I do know that that sense of confidence helps get a point across
and helps get respect, so that when you say that you are uncertain
about a point or a result or an interpretation (later) it is taken
as just that rather than that your work is shoddy.  I also like to
hear confidence, even when it makes me insecure about my own 
uncertainties.  I figure that that is my problem.  I usually can
remember that others are as uncertain as I am, but sometimes I
need reminding.

Leslie Kay
lmk2 at garnet.berkeley.edu

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