Brilliante Fehlleistungen

BALTIMORE – Ein berühmter Ausspruch von Thomas Edison lautet: „Ich bin nicht gescheitert. Ich habe lediglich 10.000 Methoden gefunden, die nicht funktionieren.“ Diese Aussage fasst eine grundlegende – aber oft missverstandene – Wahrheit über die wissenschaftliche Forschung zusammen. Fortschritt in der Wissenschaft – wie in jeder kreativen Disziplin – ist kein direkter Durchmarsch hin zur Antwort, sondern ein komplexer Zickzackweg mit vielen Fehlstarts und Sackgassen. Fehler sind nicht nur unvermeidlich, sondern für innovatives Denken sogar entscheidend, da sie anderen Entdeckern den Weg weisen.

Man könnte sich fragen, ob das heutige, hochgradig umkämpfte und unterfinanzierte wissenschaftliche Umfeld, in dem Veröffentlichungen und Zitate zu einem Hauptkriterium für Erfolg geworden sind, überhaupt Platz für solche Fehler hat. Die einfache Antwort lautet: Ja. Tatsächlich sind sie wichtiger als je zuvor – und nicht nur an den Hochschulen.

In der Tat beruht die gesamte wissenschaftliche Methodik auf der Erkenntnis, dass die Entdeckung dessen, was nicht funktioniert, entscheidend ist für die Erkenntnis dessen, was funktioniert. Jede wissenschaftliche Theorie muss anhand vergangener Beobachtungen oder Ergebnisse falsifizierbar sein. Damit eine Theorie als wissenschaftlich bezeichnet werden kann, muss sie bestimmte Vorhersagen zukünftiger Beobachtungen oder experimenteller Ergebnisse enthalten. Wenn dann diese Beobachtungen oder Ergebnisse mit den Vorhersagen nicht in Einklang sind, wird die Theorie verworfen oder muss geändert werden.

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