The Art of Science

Science makes observations about objective, repeatable, measurable facts. Art deals with subjective perception of stimuli. Artistic perception can vary from time to time as the conditions under which the observation occurs change but also as the psychological state of the observer changes. Hence, if you are feeling excited you may perceive a song one way and if you are feeling anxious your perception will be different.

Science can measure the physical attributes of the song and verify that the sounds that are playing are identical but that doesn’t change the perception of the listener in either of the cases cited above.

In much the same way, there is a broad palate of emotions that we feel and yet there is no objective vocabulary for talking about them. We are pretty good at describing physical sensations that occur in our body but the ones that only manifest in our head leave us speechless or else fumbling for inadequate analogies to try to communicate something of the flavor of these feelings.

I recently read about the fact that there are rods and cones that are sensitive to different frequencies of light. What kinds of them that you have in your eye are dependent on your genetic makeup. In fact, some of the genes are only on the Y chromosome so only women can have those structures. It turns out that some women can see more shades of color, in particular greens, than others can. It is also why only men get a certain kind of red/green color blindness. (Forgive any mis-statements in the above paragraph. The gist of what I said is true, even if I botched up the details.)

My point is that Art is principally a subjective perception where Science attempts to be objective. But that is harder than it sounds. Unless you quantify your scientific assertions with such phrases as “in this time and place” and “in the cases that we measured.” Of course, scientists encourage each other to replicate their results but more often than they would like to admit, they don’t bother to replicate them more than a couple of times. This has let more than one false conclusion stand unchallenged for many years.

Is this because there is a conspiracy to protect the fallacious assertion from being shown to be false? No, it is because scientists prefer to blaze new territory and replicating results is expensive and boring.

I think the Artistic approach of expecting differences in perception is more interesting and exciting in the long run. Then if something emerges that is common among your observations, you can expend the effort to attempt to come up with a theory that explains the cases that you have observed and use your theory to predict future observations in good scientific fashion.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.