Today, I am sharing two quotes from Christof Koch’s Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist that struck me in a particularly meaningful way. I’ll leave you to interpret them as you will.
I also write in the face of a powerful professional edict against bringing in subjective, personal factors. This taboo is why scientific papers are penned in the desiccated third person: “It has been shown that. . . .” Anything to avoid the implication that research is done by flesh-and-blood creatures with less than pristine motivations and desires.
This second one, for background, is referring to Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the double helical structure of DNA, neurobiological investigator, and through-and-through “a scientist to the bitter end.”
As a theoretician, Francis’s methods of inquiry were quiet thinking, daily reading of the relevant literature—he could absorb prodigious amounts of it—and the Socratic dialogue. He had an unquenchable thirst for details, numbers, and facts. He would ceaselessly put hypotheses together to explain something, then reject most of them himself. In the morning, he usually bombarded me with some bold new hypothesis that had come to him in the middle of the night, when he couldn’t sleep. I slept much more soundly and, therefore, lacked such nocturnal insights.