The event was straight out of a novel. There I was, moving my late father’s desk into my home. The desk that had been, in my youth, piled with scientific articles, statistical readouts, and last month’s bills, would now house my own collection of papers along with the memories of my dad. I had emptied the desk of all my father’s possessions before moving it to my house, but somehow I had missed something. As my husband and I struggled to get the desk up the steps, a lone paper fluttered to the ground. I picked it up and trembled as I read the quote written in my father’s handwriting. Despite my attempts at rational thought, I felt like somehow this note had been tucked away for me to find at this moment. I share it with you now, for it contains advice, not only for the making of good science, but for life.
As in any study of nature, so with plant diseases, it is of utmost importance to employ the right methods of investigation, to focus on the matter itself instead of facing it with preconceived notions, and to observe and examine the phenomenon carefully and from all angles. Only an exact and careful study of the earliest and subsequent stages of development can save us from the confusion of opinions and suppositions so prevalent in the field, and lead to valid useful results.
Julias Kuhn, 1858