October 2016

This is from Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham (known in the West by the Latinised form of his first name, initially ‘Alhacen’ and later ‘Alhazen’; writing in Basra, in present day Iraq, about a thousand years ago:

“Therefore, the seeker after the truth is not one who studies the writings of the ancients and, following his natural disposition, puts his trust in them, but rather the one who suspects his faith in them and questions what he gathers from them, the one who submits to argument and demonstration, and not to the sayings of a human being whose nature is fraught with all kinds of imperfection and deficiency. Thus the duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and, applying his mind to the core and margins of its content, attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency.” (As quoted by Professor Brian Cox in ‘Forces of Nature’ pp. 213-4).

Alhazen expresses exactly how I feel about the ever exciting quest for truth and my love of science.