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Coping With Novelty

Harley C. Shands, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1969;20(1):64-70. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1969.01740130066005.
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FOR THOSE so inclined, theorizing offers itself as an endlessly fascinating game. Like mountain-climbing, theorizing hardly ever presents the danger of a final resolution, even though the attainment of a partial insight from time to time enhances the interest of the game. The rule of the game is simple; it is to cover the largest possible number of observations with the smallest possible number of assumptions, according to a principle of parsimony. Wigner1 defines the objective of physics as the "explanation of nature," going on to say that explanation involves "the establishment of a few simple principles which describe the properties of what is to be explained." The ultimate goal is to reduce description to the simplest terms; Szent-Gyorgy comments, "Science tends to generalize, and generalization means simplification."

If theorizing is analogous to a game, then, to continue the mountain-climbing metaphor, the "Mount Everest"


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