… a good ecologist must have a broad synthetic mind, an ability to practice strong inference, and a sense of place or a feel for nature (that is, they must be respectful, alert, observant, and intuitive).
— Paul K. Dayton (Observation & Ecology : Broadening the Scope of Science to Understand a Complex World)
The best of science doesn’t consist of mathematical models and experiments, as textbooks make it seem. Those come later. It springs fresh from a more primitive mode of thought, wherein the hunter’s mind weaves ideas from old facts and fresh metaphors and the scrambled crazy images of things recently seen. To move forward is to concoct new patterns of thought, which in turn dictate the design of the models and experiments. Easy to say, difficult to achieve.
— E. O. Wilson, The Diversity of Life (1992)
By observation we usually mean using our eyes, but this just reflects how visually dominated modern people are, raised in a literate and now graphical world. All of our senses have great potential to provide valuable information. For example, smelling or tasting soil can reveal otherwise invisible aspects of its biological, physical and chemical balance. An experienced bird-watcher often learns more from songs and calls than from glimpses of birds that may be elusive. A good fitter and turner can feel the removal of a few ‘thou’ (thousands of an inch) from a crankshaft turning in a lathe.
— Excerpt From: David Holmgren. “Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability.
We had this old idea, that there was a universe out there, and here is man, the observer, safely protected from the universe by a six-inch slab of plate glass. Now we learn from the quantum world that even to observe so minuscule an object as an electron, we have to shatter that plate glass, we have to reach in there. So the old world observer simply has to be crossed off the books and we must put in the new term: participator. In this way we have come to realize that the universe is a participatory universe.
— John Wheeler
What we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.
— Werner Heisenberg