What Is the Value of Imagination and Wishful Thinking in Science?

By Frank Wilczek

A statue of Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell, discussed below, who formulated the classical theory of electromagnetism.

How do we learn? Learning about learning isn’t easy, but since the rewards are potentially enormous, it’s worth looking hard to find answers. One way to begin is to ask what non-human examples, from biology and technology, teach us about learning.

How Nature Learns
The world’s most impressive example of learning is all around us, in the phenomenon of life. Living organisms have “learned” how to gather energy and information amidst a complex environment to grow, to repair themselves, and to produce offspring that repeat those feats.

Biological evolution’s learning strategy, through which the biosphere’s organisms became so sophisticated, is, of course, natural selection. As elucidated by Darwin, natural selection has two basic components: descent with modification, and what he called the struggle for existence. The idea is that organisms produce offspring similar but not identical to themselves, and that the “fittest” offspring — those best adapted to their conditions of life — are more likely to reproduce abundantly. Over time, successive generations become better adapted.

The definition of fitness is circular, but not empty. The fittest organisms are, by definition, those which succeed in producing many descendants. Increasing fitness, in that sense, does not in itself imply increasing sophistication or complexity. (For example, …read more

Read more here:: https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/2017/07/17/what-value-imagination-wishful-thinking-science/