Posted: Oct 08, 2019 3:21 pm
by Spearthrower
Let's put this into a hypothetical.

You are knocked unconscious. When you wake up you find yourself in a wholly alien environment where many physical rules you'd previously taken for granted apparently no longer operate in ways you're used to.

You want to find out how shit works. Do you:

a) formulate hypotheses and test them
b) make, record and collate observations

If a) - what exactly are you hypothesizing about?

Hypothesis formation is predicated on observations; the more, the better. We may rightly hold up people like Kepler as brilliant elucidators of knowledge, alighting on key explanatory frameworks that gave us insight into the workings of the universe. But the truth is that such people always stood on the shoulders of lesser known giants. Kepler's greatest contributions to science came after the death of his one-time mentor Tycho Brahe, who was one of history's great observational scientists, generating massive quantities of observed data, even designing improved tools to aid in the acquisition of that data. He was nowhere near as successful a scientist in terms of generating correct explanations, but it was his decades of patient astronomical observations meticulously recorded that freed Kepler from having to go through all that rigmarole personally, or else Kepler would have been too busy collating that evidence himself to have ever arrived at his own theories. Given that, in turn, Newton derived much of his work from Kepler's theories, one can justly say that without Brahe's hard work, neither of them would've been able to achieve what they did, and we'd all be poorer today as a result.

Observation comes first. Understanding cannot come first. Understanding comes as a result of meticulous, methodological observation.