Insight : the key to faster progress in science

East, Robert and Ang, Lawrence (2021) Insight : the key to faster progress in science. Foundations of Science, 26, pp. 503-514. ISSN (print) 1233-1821


In scientific work we rightly attach great importance to the testing of predictions from theoretical ideas. We should also attach great importance to the generation of those ideas since these are necessary precursors to advancement in science. Insight plays a substantial role in the generation of ideas and is correspondingly important. It seems that insights are difficult to form and often delayed. We should study how constraints on insight can be reduced and whether the customary objectives in science give enough weight to procedures that may generate insights. This paper offers some suggestions on how to achieve this (We previously published a paper arguing that new ideas are important in any discipline and that some disciplines, such as medicine and psychology, were over-emphasising the testing of ideas, usually by experiment, and needed to look to methods that generated more new ideas than experiments (East and Ang in Aust Mark J, 25(4):334–340, 2017). That way, there would be more to test. Subsequently, we thought that the paper could have spent more time on the circumstances underpinning insight and this paper is the outcome of that thinking).

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