Qualified Entry: Non-Fiction Category
By: Mazna Mundir
To express my opinion on this subject I think have to, first, explain what ‘research’ and ‘perfect’ mean. Hence let me use some space for that. Research is a search for knowledge or truth. It is an investigation to establish novel facts. It works for the advancement of human knowledge and it is goaded by human curiosity. The scope of research spread on a wide variety of subjects in the universe. It involves laborious hours, painstaking assignments, patient waits and unlimited funds. Research also requires valor. If we don’t have the courage to delve and dig deep to seek for what we want to know, we will never see the light at the end of the tunnel. As the great Nobel laureate physicist Albert Einstein rightly quoted, “I think that only daring speculation can lead us further and not accumulation of facts”, gallantry is an essential part of research.
Perfect is… well, the word itself is mystifying. The word ‘perfect’ can never be defined perfectly since the range of perfection varies according to each individual’s thoughts. Something that is perfect for a person may not be for another. This psychological aspect of perfection renders it immensely complex to articulate for sure that anything, anything at all is perfect. In spite of that, if I must, undeniably define perfect; it is a state of completeness or absolute flawlessness. Perfect is which lacks nothing, an ideal model.
Now having delineated the keywords of my topic; I can neither say I agree that there is no hope of perfect research, nor that I disagree. At best, I can present an argument supporting the statement “Yes, I agree” and also I can present an argument supporting the statement “No, I don’t agree”. You may ask how can I prove my point in both sides without contradicting each other. But I want you to notice the mere fact that, there is a flux in leaning to one side, is proof that nothing is perfect.
Now, if I am to agree that there is no hope of perfect research, I can furnish the following argument. Research is a continuous and ongoing process and also it never reaches the perfection it ought to. Ptolemy said that the earth is in the center of the solar system. Had Copernicus thought Ptolemy’s research was perfect would we have learned that the earth is not in the center but the sun is? And even that was corrected by Kepler’s first law indicating that the planets orbit the sun in elliptical paths as opposed to the Copernican system which said the planets moved in circular orbits. Accordingly one person stops his research at a particular point believing that his hypothesis is correct but another continues from thereon judging that the previous research is defective and discover something more.
Knowledge is like the illimitable ocean that it cannot be measured. Thus, since research is a hunt for knowledge, it cannot be perfect, as knowledge itself is not perfect. If research were to be perfect it has to be 100% accurate. But no research in the world, no knowledge is 100% accurate. Either a research unravels something new or it defies an already existing theory. As science, technology and observations advance some beliefs we held to be true are proven to be
false. If a hypothesis is approved by a research it is said to be fact. But even that might change in the future. When the accuracy of observation sharpens, a new hypothesis will arise to challenge the old one. Sometimes the new one will add something more to the old one or it might reject the old one as erroneous, whereas the new hypothesis will supplant the old one. And if some more researches are conducted on the subject and the new theory is proven wrong, again, another theory will surrogate the previous one. So this process of research will go on forever and ever until mankind walk this earth. And these researches can never be perfected because some way or the other, scholars will find errors in the existing theories derived by research and will establish a new theory in coming times.
In my view nothing in the world, nothing except Gods’ creations is perfect. If it were the world will not evolve and it will not reach the ‘true perfection’ it should, which is reached only by evolution. Moreover there is a paradox in the concept of perfection, as expressed by Lucilio Vanini, an Italian free thinker, “the greatest perfection is imperfection”. For example, on my search ‘Does Coffee Make You Fat?’ I found out that the author of the book ‘Why Diet & Exercise Fail?’ Daniel Matthew Korn has said in his book, as cited in the Health Habits web link that “long term caffeine use, in combination with other dietary factors can contribute to lowering our ability to use our stored body-fat and interfere with our storage of nutrients”. On that same site a reader of Korns’ book says that Korn himself stated that “there is very little research into the direct effect caffeine has on metabolism and obesity”, and the reader concludes by saying “researchers can design studies to test if caffeine has a direct effect upon obesity. Until Then you can ignore his caffeine/obesity theory as unproven.” So as you can see I wasn’t able to extract a perfectly clear conclusion from this search. I mean who would? The same article provides two ambiguous views. It also proves that one research cannot yield a perfect result, may be in future Korns’ theory on Caffeine and obesity will be proven but we cannot be sure on that.
I can present another paradigm. Had the ingenious scientists like Alva Edison, Albert Einstein, and Galileo Galilei believed their research and previous findings by other scholars to be perfect would we be enjoying the comforts of these wonderful inventions we take for granted. If these master minds had thought that everything that can be discovered or invented has been completed all the astonishing discoveries like Gravity, Black Holes, Computers, Televisions and X-rays would not have been discovered. So ultimately we understand that there is no limit for research and inventions. No boundary for discovery and innovation. The world renowned scientist Sir Isaac Newton once very modestly wrote “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me”. How true? What mankind has discovered is only an infinitesimal amount from this infinite quantity of knowledge.
Now if I am to present my argument on, no, I don’t agree that there is no hope of perfect research, I might argue as follows. To begin with, if we use the phrase ‘there is no hope’ it means that in no way, can we accomplish a perfect research. But maybe, if the stars align, we could
realize a perfect research. Research can, at best, only attain different levels of achievement. If we place ‘perfect’ at 10 on a scale of 0-10 and place ‘less-than-perfect’ at 5, then maybe research might reach 9; the remaining one… only God knows. But if, perhaps, research were conducted on subjects with a small range, then there is a possibility that it might reach that magical number 10.
Furthermore, research being perfect or not, depends on the person who execute the task. If the “scholar” is an indolent, inadequate and incompetent person, then, obviously the research would be imperfect. But if the task was implemented by a true genius, a sagacious, erudite person, then there is a fair chance it will be perfect. An American professional basketball player and one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, Wilt Chamberlain rightly quoted “They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds”. So if research were carried out by such people will it be perfect? Fat chance! Besides, perfection of research also depends on the people who review the domino effects and seal it as perfect or imperfect. If their psyche supposes it to be perfect, then no problem, there is hope of perfect research. Consequently this psychological aspect also has a colossal and most momentous role to play in defining a research perfect.
Finally in conclusion I feel that this article per se cannot be flawless. If it is so, I cannot say that it is impossible to define perfect and define it all the same. Tricky topic!
In Sri Lanka the school curriculum does not include any research. Therefore I have no experience in doing research. But writing this article was similar to a research for me since I had to look up many facts & figures on the internet and books. I edited this article many times before I finally realized what I was doing. I was trying to make this article perfect. But it cannot be so, given that you may find many faults in it, or not. This led me to believe that it is tremendously difficult to reach perfection.