Robert K. Merton quotes

  • Most institutions demand unqualified faith; but the institution of science makes skepticism a virtue.
    -- Robert K. Merton

    #Science #Unqualified #Demand

  • Science is public, not private, knowledge.
    -- Robert K. Merton


  • We thus begin to see that the institutionalized practice of citations and references in the sphere of learning is not a trivial matter. While many a general reader-that is, the lay reader located outside the domain of science and scholarship-may regard the lowly footnote or the remote endnote or the bibliographic parenthesis as a dispensable nuisance, it can be argued that these are in truth central to the incentive system and an underlying sense of distributive justice that do much to energize the advancement of knowledge.
    -- Robert K. Merton

    #Knowledge #Practice #Justice

  • The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true. The specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. For the prophet will cite the actual course of events as proof that he was right from the very beginning.
    -- Robert K. Merton

    #Science #Self #Errors

  • Anticipatory plagiarism occurs when someone steals your original idea and publishes it a hundred years before you were born.
    -- Robert K. Merton

    #Years #Ideas #Stealing

  • A cardinal American virtue, 'ambition,' promotes a cardinal American vice, 'deviant behavior.
    -- Robert K. Merton

    #Ambition #Vices #Virtue

  • Max Weber was right in subscribing to the view that one need not be Caesar in order to understand Caesar. But there is a temptation for us theoretical sociologists to act sometimes as though it is not necessary even to study Caesar in order to understand him. Yet we know that the interplay of theory and research makes both for understanding of the specific case and expansion of the general rule.
    -- Robert K. Merton

    #Views #Order #Understanding

  • Only when he has published his ideas and findings has the scientist made his contribution, and only when he has thus made it part of the public domain of scholarship can he truly lay claim to it as his own. For his claim resides only in the recognition accorded by peers in the social system of science through reference to his work.
    -- Robert K. Merton

    #Science #Ideas #Peers

  • The purely abstract theorist runs the risk that, as with modern decor, the furniture of the mind will be sparse, bare, and uncomfortable.
    -- Robert K. Merton

    #Running #Risk #Mind

  • The youthful brain should in general not be burdened with things ninety-five percent of which it cannot use and hence forgets again... In many cases, the material to be learned in the various subjects is so swollen that only a fraction of it remains in the head of the individual pupil, and only a fraction of this abundance can find application, while on the other hand it is not adequate for the man working and earning his living in a definite field.

  • Where lies the line between sorcery and science? It is only a matter of terminology, my friend.

  • The tree of research must be fed from time to time with the blood of bean-counters, for it is its natural manure.

  • Intellectuals ... regard over-simplification as the original sin of the mind and have no use for the slogans, the unqualified assertions and sweeping generalizations.

  • If the modern leader doesn't know the facts, he is in grave trouble, but rarely do the facts provide unqualified guidance.

  • Harriet Miers is totally qualified for the Supreme Court of the United States. Her legal background, her absolute leadership in the legal field when she was a practicing lawyer are unqualified.

  • The best way to accomplish serious design ... is to be totally and completely unqualified for the job.

  • I'm unqualified to do anything other than music.

  • Unless we abandon elements which resemble a police state, we can't meet the demands of being a modern society.

  • When energy prices go up, the difficulty of projecting demand also goes up - uncertainty goes up.