Better methods can’t make up for mediocre theory

Un article intéressant de Paul Smaldino dans Nature (Novembre 2019).

The thing is, we don’t just want science to be reproducible. We want it to help us to make better sense of the world.

For that, we must create better hypotheses — and those require better models and better measurements.

A theoretical model of mine (P. E. Smaldino and R. McElreath Soc. Open Sci.3, 160384; 2016) made headlines when it showed that bad science — or rather, less rigorous science that could produce more papers in less time — could crowd out the more robust sort. This suggested that generating better hypotheses is at least as important as reducing methodological errors for minimizing false discoveries.

Who cares if you can replicate an experiment that found that people think the room is hotter after reading a story about nice people? Will this help us to develop better theories? You can craft a fun story about that result, but can you devise the next great scientific question?

To generate good hypotheses, we need good theory.

la suite ici:

Nature 575, 9 (2019)doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-03350-5

Théoricien, c’est à dire…

Les oeuvres de Nassim Nicholas Taleb nourrissent ma réflexion actuelle, en particulier son ouvrage Antifragile, que j’exploiterai dans une prochaine communication sur la conservation (Paris, 20e anniversaire du C2RMF). Le feu d’artifice intellectuel de ses oeuvres m’a ramenée à son blog, plus particulièrement son Philosophical notebook, où j’ai trouvé une pépite. Je la recopie, avec la mise en forme accentuée utilisée par l’auteur.

You are worldly … i.e., a theoretician

The rewards of reading in the text, a great investment: Croesus to Solon [in the account by Herodotus], expressing his admiration at the Athenian visitor: ὡς φιλοσοφέων γῆν πολλὴν θεωρίης εἵνεκεν ἐπελήλυθας — “you are a lover of wisdom ( φιλοσοφέων) and have seen a lot of things around the earth (γῆν πολλὴν θεωρίης εἵνεκεν ἐπελήλυθας)”. (Histories, Book 1, 30.2).

In other words: “you are a philosopher and a theoretician” meant “you are wise and worldly” —theoria means looking! It is exactly the opposite of the modern effect for both: lover of wisdom (not a nerd), and someone who has seen things (not some tenured person with blinders)!

N. N. Taleb

Co-To-Co-Co Project

Conservation theories are increasingly understood as historical references, rather than analytical tools. However, theory must be taught not as a history lesson, but as a dynamic process of reflection, allowing reality into this process. Theory is an invitation to transform reality, right here, right now. Traditional theories – whether for architecture or works of art – often demonstrate their limits in the face of the challenges posed by the new « heritage objects » (i.e. modern architecture, industrial heritage, contemporary art,…). Therefore, from a didactic perspective, we wish to collect an anthology of texts, in order to examine new concepts applicable to different fields of conservation. Because interdisciplinarity, by definition, is not limited to sciences or to art history, we will borrow elements of thought and analysis from semiology (Eco), literary criticism (Genette), aesthetics (Ingarden), analytical philosophy (Goodman), as well as from contemporary conservators.

Les théories de la restauration sont de plus en plus souvent perçues comme des références historiques, et non plus des outils d’analyse. Or la théorie ne doit pas s’enseigner comme une histoire, mais comme un processus dynamique de réflexion, permettant de penser le réel. Les théories traditionnelles – que ce soit pour l’architecture ou les œuvres d’art – démontrent souvent leurs limites face aux défis posés par les « nouveaux patrimoines » (i.e. l’architecture moderne, le patrimoine industriel, l’art contemporain …). C’est pourquoi, dans une perspective didactique, le projet “Cotococo” s’applique à rassembler des textes pour une anthologie critique, afin d’examiner de nouveaux concepts applicables à différents champs de la conservation-restauration. Parce que l’interdisciplinarité n’est pas limitée aux sciences ou à l’histoire de l’art, nous emprunterons des éléments de réflexion à la sémiologie (Eco), la critique littéraire (Genette), l’esthétique (Ingarden), la philosophie analytique (Goodman) autant qu’aux restaurateurs contemporains.

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