You might be surprised how often scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and statisticians argue over whether the English word data ought to be treated as a singular or a plural noun. Surely they should be spending their time making discoveries and inventing things? Ah, but what you are forgetting dear, naïve reader, is that scientists, programmers and their friends tend toward an acute interest in details. And of course we’re glad they do lean that way, so let’s forgive the navel-gazing. (I hope you’ll forgive my gazing at the navel of scientific discourse in this post.) “The data were analysed using analysis of variance.” “The data was analysed using analysis of variance.” Which is right?…
Humility is the defining characteristic of science. To admit that you don’t know, early and often, is contrary to most people’s psychological make-up. It means that science, the dispassionate discipline, requires us to battle through emotions (like pride) to get at the truth.