Monday, January 6, 2014

Serious Research

I recently encountered a quote by Thorsten Veblen, the 19th century sociologist, that went like this: "The outcome of any serious research can only be to make two questions grow where only one grew before." And what can anybody say to this but "amen"? But how often have you heard one say, or perhaps said yourself: "Let me research it." or "According to my research"? I guess the point is rather trivial. Most of us equate research with "information gathering." And to some extent, we're right. But serious research is always about something that has no answer. It most assuredly has an information component to it, sometimes tons of information . . . but no definitive answer. What's the cause of cancer? What is art? What's the origin of the universe? Does my life, your life have a purpose?

Veblen is simply pointing out the ground truth of our experience: there is no ground truth. There are only channels, avenues, tunnels into it.
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