In his book, Advice to a young scientist, Sir Peter Medawar posed a challenge to the reader that helps in figuring out if you are clever enough for scientific research or not. While the test might be very simplistic, it has sufficient depth to be of interest to Vimarsh readers so I am giving it here. I must warn you that it is my version of it, as best I could recall it. Although I think I do give all the essentials.
Fact: El Greco’s paintings often appear distored, in that they seem squeezed or otherwise contorted.
A possible explanation is that he must have had some sort of defect in his eyes.
You are asked to evaluate this explanation and offer your views on its credibility. Medawar argues that those who can correctly evaluate the explanation are fit for scientific research. Those who cannot offer an evaluation but can understand the correct one are also fine for science, though perhaps of a slightly less theoretical kind. But those who can neither offer their own evaluation nor understand the one given to them are the ones who are absolutely unfit for scientific research.
I have met people of the third kind in research! So this test is not useful to evaluate your chances for being successful in carrying out scientific research. The bar is set very low in India
I hope you would take this challenge. But if the correct evlauation appears below I urge all of you to think independently about it before taking a look at it. Of course, people of the third kind will never get it, so it does not apply to them
Last edited by tarun on Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
Karma police, arrest this man, he talks in maths. He buzzes like a fridge, he’s like a detuned radio…
–Karma Police, Radiohead