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Data, ideas, and the nature of scientific progress

Keith Putirka
Data, ideas, and the nature of scientific progress
American Mineralogist (September 2015) 100 (8-9): 1657-1658


Scientists sometimes have the idea that "data are eternal," i.e., that our scientific observations long outlive our hypotheses and ideas based on such. In this Editorial, we make use of work by science historians Chang (2004), Danielson and Graney (2014) and others, to show that data have a limited period of usefulness-a date of expiration so to speak. Beyond that date (probably mostly unknown beforehand), data either are (1) no longer of interest, because the problems that motivated their collection are resolved or no longer of concern, or (2) because new technologies render them obsolete. Scientific progress in any era is thus defined as the art of making observations that are "good enough"-so as to develop the "middle-level" and other theories, which as discussed by Chang (2004), appear to have lasting value.

ISSN: 0003-004X
EISSN: 1945-3027
Serial Title: American Mineralogist
Serial Volume: 100
Serial Issue: 8-9
Title: Data, ideas, and the nature of scientific progress
Author(s): Putirka, Keith
Affiliation: California State University, Fresno, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Fresno, CA, United States
Pages: 1657-1658
Published: 201509
Text Language: English
Publisher: Mineralogical Society of America, Washington, DC, United States
References: 9
Accession Number: 2015-089111
Categories: General mineralogy
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, copyright, Mineralogical Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201538
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