Explain Why Accidental Discoveries Are Made In Science

722 Words3 Pages
I argue that Gale presents a logical, convincing argument as to why accidental discoveries do not exist in science. In this essay, I will describe Gale’s definition of a discovery, and explain what he means by “accidental discoveries cannot be made in science.” Then, I will support this statement by using examples to demonstrate that accidental discoveries are indeed not possible.
Gale claims that “discoveries can happen only to those whose conceptual systems are somehow prepared to recognize what it is that will be eventually discovered.”(pg. 141) By this, he means that one will not recognize what they are looking for if they don’t know what they are looking for. In other words, if one comes across something by accident, their mind will not be prepared to recognize the objects presented to them. In simpler terms, they will not recognize the object, and will ignore it. For example, take Lavoisier’s discovery that water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen. Gale argues that Lavoisier would not have discovered or verified the composition of water if he had not posited it. In other words, if Lavoisier did not already have a preconceived notion of the substances which combine to form water, he would not have
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On the other hand, in the first scenario, the assistant does not know what result to expect, so all he can think of is that he has done something wrong. He does not fathom that he might have discovered something. Thus, although the last two examples may seem like accidental discoveries, they share one thing in common- the person who makes the discovery is prepared, and ready to recognize that which is placed before them (even if it is not the result that they expected). If this is not the case, then a discovery cannot be
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