Seeking coherence: Building a safety net

Building coherent pictures of an increasing set of diverse phenomena is the critical element of scientific thinking, not just for the purpose of confirming a theory, but for thinking about models and confirming one's thinking and intuition. Because it is so important, we use one of two icons here. 

The crossword puzzle (or Sudoku) focuses on the fact that it is the consistency of the crossing information that tells us we have the right choice. The clue "Shore" (5 letters) could have a variety of answers depending on which meaning we take.  It could be "beach" (as in "asandy beach") or "brace" (as in "shore up an unstable wall"), or even "Dinah" (a 1950's singer and movie star). It's only the crossing answers that help us select which of our many possible choices are correct.


The safety net icon focuses on that fact that coherence -- links to other things we know -- is one of the best ways that we can check our memory -- and be certain that we don't fall prey to one-step thinking (errors of direct recall).

Building coherence across multiple principles, and even across different channels on cat television, is one powerful way that science progresses from small phenomenological models with limited applicability to grander principles that explain many aspects of our world.

Joe Redish 7/3/11

Article 239
Last Modified: July 5, 2018