Name: Fernando L.
Date: Wednesday, June 26, 2002
What are the characteristics of a scientist?
I would say the curiosity is the main trait that drives a scientist.
Why does something work? When does an event occur? How can I recreate
this event? And so on. A formal education helps, but is not always
necessary for success. Look into the histories of Edison and
Westinghouse, and you will see that their main education came not from
schooling, but from experience and trying to "see why things worked".
Scientists come in all shapes and sizes, just like everyone else. What
I think you mean is, "What attitude or aptitude do scientists have?" I think
the short answer is a scientist is always asking: How? Why? does Nature
behave the way it does? This is the distinguishing attitude all scientists
must possess -- it is not like people in other fields do not have these
qualities, though. The education and training of a scientist is important,
but without an inquiring mind, all the education in the world will not produce
a good scientist.
You can get a feel for the answer to your question by looking up thumb-nail
biographies of scientists on the Internet or in resources from your library.
This will give you a picture of the diversity, and the similarities
I do not have an author to quote with a profound answer
to your question. I will make a few comments as to
what I have personally experienced in those I feel
fall into the "good" scientist category:
1. has a passion for learning
2. has an open mind and is not disabled by boundaries
3. can look at situations from many angles
4. is not frustrated in finding one or several
plausible solutions regardless of the time involved,
and who can use failure to improve future approaches
to problem solving
5. uses learned knowledge and theories but is not
fully bound by them in facing new situations , i.e.
can think outside the box
6. can acknowledge input / feelings from others as
one source of information but not be overly swayed by
7. has at their core a desire to improve the human
condition without adversely affecting the environment
or other living things
8. is honest in the collection and analysis of data
whether they support his (her) own theories or not
9. communicates clearly their findings with honesty
as a primary consideration, leaving funding and
politics for others to consider
I am sure there are other good qualities, some
indication of aptitude or intelligence as well as
working with others without ego which could increase
their effectiveness, but lacking these would not make
them ineffective as a scientist.
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