Art in Science: a quest(ion)
Where Art sculpts with its materials, plans the design of form, and is passionate about the message (or lack of), Science sculpts with its data, plans the design of experiment and is passionate about the implication (if there is any).
I was arguing with a friend the idea that science is very much like art, in that there is art in science, and that science is much more subjective than we would like to believe. I found a quote from a published study titled “It’s a PhD, not a Nobel Prize’: how experienced examiners assess research theses”, (http://www.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@raid/documents/doc/uow016364.pdf) detailing what examiners look for when assessing a thesis produced by a PhD candidate. Much of the objective knowledge that trickles out into the public realm is subject to an examiner’s red pen and someone’s personal bias. Isn’t that the same way with art and its critics?
What Makes an Outstanding Thesis?
Interviewees were asked to comment on what they thought set apart a ‘good’ PhD from a standard or passable PhD. There was considerable unanimity across the disciplines with regard to these characteristics, and one of the unifying responses was the use of the artistic metaphor. For example, words and phrases such as the following were used, particularly by scientists, to describe a good PhD:
- ‘an artistic endeavour where the student is designing the work and there is elegance of design, of the synthesis, and executions’ (Sc/Male/22);
- design—where it all fits together;
- a well-sculpted piece of work.
The use of the artistic metaphor extended to such terms as ‘elan’, ‘passion’, ‘excitement’ and ‘sparkle’. Clearly, these experienced examiners believed there was a level of ‘art’ involved in producing a particularly good thesis.
—more fun readings of kindred musings: http://www.scq.ubc.ca/the-art-of-science-the-science-of-art/