Remembering William K. Estes
作者: BPS / 12479次阅读 时间: 2013年3月04日
标签: Estes

Robert Goldstone
Indiana University

Bill Estes’ hard-working ethic was definitely a trait, rather than a contextually specific state, for Bill. Bill was a Professor Emeritus at Indiana University since 1999, where he continued to take his work very seriously. Deep into his 80s, Bill continued to come to work every day, had an active and important research program, and was very tightly enmeshed in the psychology and cognitive science communities here. He gave many excellent talks in our “cognitive lunch” series, which I appreciate all the more because I remember Bill telling me that he didn’t believe in ever giving the same research lecture twice. The talks he presented to us would never be presented again, out of his sense of principle. Bill and I co-taught a graduate seminar on concept learning and representation, but I definitely felt like one of the students.  I learned a lot from Bill about how to make theories precise, testable, and constrained. His own models were simplified but never simplistic. They provided elegant theories based on first principles, and Bill repeatedly used these theories to unify a diversity of phenomena that others had treated as unrelated.  It’s probably a mistake to draw pat comparisons between a scientist’s personality and theories, but I do link Bill’s personal restraint and economy of speech to the parsimony of his models and their ability to explain an impressive range of empirical findings with the minimum of assumptions and representational extravagance.

Bill’s intellectual style was to be reserved, cautious, and big-pictured. He was often slow to respond, but when his response came, it was worth the wait. The academic world seems to getting increasingly fast paced, putting a premium on reaction over reflection, and scientists often seem to becoming increasingly ego-invested. In this context, it›s useful to remember that there are alternatives, and Bill provides a most excellent exemplar of a reflective scientist with exacting and uncompromising standards, who was always interested in the science itself. Bill will be greatly missed here at Indiana University, where he started and finished his professional academic careerwww.psychspace.com心理学空间网

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