Friday, April 15, 2005

The Best Commencement Address Ever

The best commencement address ever given (at least the best I’m aware of, but it’s hard to imagine a better one) was delivered at Caltech in 1974 by physicist Richard Feynman.

The speech, “Cargo Cult Science”, is addressed to recently graduated scientists and engineers and is a wise and witty examination of the scientific method and scientific integrity. He examines some of the ways scientists can fool themselves and their responsibility to be honest in presenting their work to the general public. Unfortunately, his precepts are often broken these days, especially regarding highly politicized issues such as climate change.

The entire speech is available online here. It really is one of the rare pieces of writing that everyone should read.

“Cargo Cult Science” also makes up the last chapter of Feynman’s highly entertaining collection of anecdotes “Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman”. You don’t have to know or care anything about physics to enjoy this book, especially his hilarious (yes, hilarious) account of working on the Manhattan Project during World War II.


Post a Comment

<< Home