Michael Schell Posted about 1 year ago Is science just imagination in a straitjacket? Scientists are explorers of complex landscapes. On these landscapes, it is easy to find novelty, and it is even easier to get lost. The scientific method allows us to strike the right balance. The scientific method, as described by Popper, is the oscillation between conjectures and refutations. To use your terminology, the imagination is the conjectures, and the data are the restrictions placed on the conjectures. Feynman's point is that artists need no be restricted by the data. Good art is only restricted by its ability to tell us truths. By contrast, in the course of doing their jobs, scientists constantly run up against refutations to their beautiful, imaginative ideas. This makes science difficult, but it also makes science uniquely qualified to describe the natural world in a way that leads us down unexpected avenues, nooks, and crannies within the fractal landscape (nature) we explore. Most of the working scientists in the world spend most of their time restricting their imaginations with experiments, calculations, critical thought, and statistics. In fact, they often do this too much--at the expense of the imagination part. On the other hand, it is bloody difficult to dance across the fractal and not get lost. That is why so few scientists do both conjectures and refutations well. As an example of one who did, you need to look no further than Feynman.