“All models are wrong, but some are useful.”
Box’s quote reflects a deep and uncomfortable truth about science: None of our ideas are perfect, which means they are all destined to be questioned, reinterpreted, and potentially discarded. Although this is the very process that often makes science better in the battlefield of ideas—with the best ideas presumably winning out—it is also one that can generate anxiety and unpleasantness for everyone involved.
A useful discussion about a constructive approach to our work, feedback and the feedback we give others. We have included links to six related items.
He needn’t have worried—the findings were replicated—but his feelings demonstrate how sometimes we as scientists become personally attached to our work and disengaged from the ideals of a dispassionate, objective researcher. Although criticism is the lifeblood of scientific progress, we are ultimately humans who respond emotionally when we feel that our work is under scrutiny or attack.