Continuing the theme of Bias and unconscious shaping influences.

‘Detached facts cannot therefore satisfy us, and that is why our science must be ordered, or, better still, generalized.

[GMJ: A fact in isolation is useless. It lacks purpose, meaning and significance. A fact in a context of a structured system is how it is put to work.]

It is often said that experiments should be made without preconceived ideas. That is impossible. Not one would it make every experiment fruitless, but even if we wished to do so, it could not be done. Every man has his own conception of the world, and this he cannot so easily lay aside. We must, for example, use language, and our language is necessarily steeped in preconceived ideas. Only they are unconscious preconceived ideas, which are a thousand times the most dangerous of all. ‘

From Henri Poincare, Science and Hypothesis, Dover 1952, a reproduction of the first English translation, 1905 Walter Scott Publishing Co. Ltd. P.143

Who was Henri Poincare?

A few facts: Jules Henri Poincaré, Born: April 29, 1854, Nancy, France, Died: July 17, 1912, Paris, France. Education: Mines ParisTech, University of Paris, École Polytechnique. Parents: Leon Poincaré, Eugénie Launois

‘In his day, Henri Poincare was thought to be the king of mathematics and science, except of course by a few narrow-minded mathematicians like Charles Hermite who considered him too intuitive, too intellectual, or too “hand-waving.” When mathematicians say “hand-waving” disparagingly about someone’s work, it means that the person has a) insight, b) realism, c) something to say, and it means that d) he is right because that’s what critics say when they can’t find anything more negative. Many claim that Poincare figured out relativity before Einstein—and that Einstein got the idea from him—but that he did not make a big deal out of it.’ From Nassim Nicholas Teleb’s The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, 2007, Random House, p175-176.

‘…this man was an international celebrity at thirty-five, a living legend at fifty-eight, whom Bertrand Russel has described as “by general agreement the most eminent scientific man of his generation.” He was an astronomer, a physicist, a mathematician and philosopher all in one.’

From Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, 1974, 1979, Quill William Morrow, p 259.