Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Which Anomalies?

So how do you know which anomalies are fake and which anomalies…you can spend a lifetime pursuing fake anomalies, and which ones are genuine? There’s no simple answer, you have to have a nose for anomalies, that’s one simple answer. But the second answer is, if something is regarded as anomalous, like continental drift, bacterial transformation, these are examples of anomalies, simply because they don’t fit the big picture, then it’s wise to pursue those because your big picture may be wrong and it may completely turn your scientific world view topsy-turvy. On the other hand, if something is an anomaly because it cannot be confirmed, then the more you study it, the smaller the effect, then you’re in serious trouble. And this usually means it’s a false alarm, a false anomaly.
Not very complicated, but important to remember. :)

Another quote from the same interview:
Now when you send it to a journal for publication, the referee said, oh well how do you know they’re just not bright, they can’t talk, whatever, that they’re stupid and don’t understand the question? Well its obvious, because when you give it to them, they clearly understand what you’re asking because they often give you elaborate, convoluted, even ingenious interpretations of the proverb, but completely missing the point. A bit like the people who review my grant proposals…

Here's a recent interview of V S Ramachandran (being interviewed by Charlie Rose). Excellent overview of a latest perspective on how our Brains work: