Midnight repost: A scientist’s ten commandments


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The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: The post below, from September 27, 2010, reports on one of the simplest but most profound scientific papers I have ever read. Its advice is doubly needed today, especially commandment #3.

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A scientist’s ten commandments

Published today on the astro-ph website, this preprint by Ignacio Ferrín of the Center for Fundamental Physics at the University of the Andes, Merida, Venezuala, is probably the shortest paper I have ever seen. I think that Dr. Ferrin will forgive me if I reprint it here in its entirety:

1. Go to your laboratory or your instrument without any pre-conceived ideas. Just register what you saw faithfully.

2. Report promptly and scientifically. Check your numbers twice before submitting.

3. Forget about predictions. They are maybe wrong.

4. Do not try to conform or find agreement with others. You may be the first to be observing a new phenomenon and you may risk missing credit for the discovery.

5. Criticism must be scientific, respectful, constructive, positive, and unbiased. Otherwise it must be done privately.

6. If you want to be respected, respect others first. Do not use insulting or humiliating words when referring to others. It is not in accord with scientific ethics.

7. Do not cheat. Cheating in science is silly. When others repeat your experiment or observation, they will find that you were wrong.

8. If you do not know or have made a mistake, admit it immediately. You may say, “I do not know but I will find out.” or “I will correct it immediately.” No scientist knows the answer to everything. By admitting it you are being honest about your knowledge and your abilities.

9. Do not appropriate or ignore other people’s work or results. Always give credit to others, however small their contribution may have been. Do not do unto others what you would not like to be done unto you.

10. Do not stray from scientific ethics.

It seems that some scientists in the climate field (Phil Jones of East Anglia University and Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University are two that come to mind immediately) would benefit by reading and following these rules.

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3 comments

  • john hare

    I think rather that the general population would benefit from reading, understanding, and following these rules. The “scientists” would have a much harder time fooling the public in an atmosphere of informed skepticism.

  • Cotour

    “6. If you want to be respected, respect others first. Do not use insulting or humiliating words when referring to others.

    #6 should be #1, and should be taught in all families and schools all over the country and world, and if it were then 80 percent of what we see before us today would vaporize. And then what would those who want and need chaos, confusion and racism reign do to push their narrative and agenda of “Equality” in their quest for power and control?

    They would have been disarmed and would have been rendered impotent and irrelevant. Politics, the dirtiest filthiest most deadly game that human beings play.

    “You don’t love me, you don’t even like me, so I must destroy you.”

    “But I respect you as a human being”

    “No matter, you must be destroyed”

  • Lee S

    I love this list, it’s almost perfect…. If it was taught the world over as commandments to something that provably works rather than those 10 commandments which while been good natured, don’t acctually work in real life.. secular mankind would be miles ahead of religion right now… And we might be sending humans rather than rovers to mars this window!
    ( I claim no responsibility for accuracy or truthfulness of my statement… Blame it upon the dairy council 🤣”

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