The Theory Imperative

Theory: why and how? A delightful rallying cry for finding wonder in simple, iterative quantification + rulesets.

“Progress will be made using simple ideas, refined iteratively and grounded in truth. Simple truths about a system describe some part of it. This may sound like motherhood and apple pie: it ain’t. Truth in this context means parameters and verification. These are hard slog and could require all the ingenuity that modern microbial ecology can muster. But it will be worth it. If we do it we will intellectually outstrip much contemporary classical theoretical ecology. This field is hidebound by the difficulty of experimentation and is therefore contaminated by self‐congratulatory mathematical castles in the air with invented parameters and little verification. More importantly calibrated theory will open the door to a new age in microbial ecology as we stop merely gawping at the wonder of it all, like pre‐renaissance peasants on a star lit night, and start to begin to truly understand.”

It would be lovely to gather monographs like this from every discipline – surely all reach this point at some stage!