WHAT SCIENTISTS ACTUALLY DO
EDWARD O. WILSON
Harvard myrmecologist (ant expert), sociobiologist, naturalist, conversationalist, advocate for biodiversity and champion of the notion of the unity of knowledge.
“Let your mind travel around the system. Pose an interesting question about it. Break the question down and visualize the elements and questions it implies. Think out alternative conceivable answers. Phrase them so that a reasonable amount of evidence makes a clear-cut choice possible. If too many conceptual difficulties are encountered, back off. Search for another question. When you finally hit a soft spot, search for the model system--say a controlled emission in particle physics or a fast-breeding organism in genetics—on which decisive experiments can be most easily conducted. Become familiar—no better, become obsessed with the system. Love the details, the feel of all of them, for their own sake. Design the experiment so that no matter what the result, the answer to the question will be convincing. Use the result to press on to new questions, new systems. Depending on how far others have already gone in this sequence (and always keep in mind, you must give them complete credit), you may enter it at any point along the way.”
WILSON, Edward O. (1998: 59) Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. Vintage Books, New York.