I, as usual, have three dozen problems with this article, but I'll narrow my objections down to one item. In the article, the author states:
"Yet in a wider sense of the term, the decisions of a scientist choosing a problem and pursuing it to the exclusion of other possible avenues of inquiry may be said to have an economic character. For his decisions are designed to produce the highest possible result by the use of a limited stock of intellectual and material resources. The scientist fulfils this purpose by choosing a problem that is neither too hard nor too easy for him. For to apply himself to a problem that does not tax his faculties to the full is to waste some of his faculties; while to attack a problem that is too hard for him would waste his faculties altogether. The psychologist K. Lewin has observed that one's person never becomes fully involved either in a problem that is much too hard, nor in one that is much too easy. The line the scientist must choose turns out, therefore, to be that of greatest ego-involvement; it is the line of greatest excitement, sustaining the most intense attention and effort of thought. The choice will be conditioned to some extent by the resources available to the scientist in terms of materials and assistants, but he will be ill-advised to choose his, problem with a view to guaranteeing that none of these resource be wasted. He should not hesitate to incur such a loss, if it leads him to deeper and more important problems."
The author earlier used the example of a giant puzzle that all scientists were trying to solve. The method the author claimed that science used was as follows: each scientist following their comparative advantage in particular puzzle piece preparation and permutation. But science isn't like that!
We don't know if the universe even has a solvable puzzle. Physicists are currently searching for a 'theory of everything'. This ToE, if it exists, will combine quantum mechanics and general relativity into one giant 'solved puzzle'. This understanding will enable us to peer into the early nanoseconds of the universe and understand why things are the way they are. But it is possible that there isn't a theory of everything. It is possible that we won't be able to find all of the pieces because there isn't a complete puzzle that exists. It's possible that the best humanity can do is to get a practical, workable, fuzzy, general understanding of the nature of things. This might be enough for our continued survival as a species.
The author acts like each individual scientist has the ability to choose from a number of unsolved scientific problems, and that the scientist will know in advance which might be too easy or too hard. The scientist will then choose the goldilocks problem, the one that is just right. BOGUS. It implies that a scientist knows the level of difficulty of each problem before he or she begins to solve it. It also implies that scientific problems can be broken into solvable chunks like puzzle pieces.
You know what you call a problem that is too easy? You call that problem solved. Too easy... BAH. The only reason that the problem exists is that someone hasn't figured it out yet. It's possible that no one has tried. A scientist won't look at it and think, I can solve this one in two weeks, so I won't even try. Every time a scientist discovers something it's an opportunity to publish his or her findings in a peer reviewed journal, and publishing is a major motivation for the scientist to figure things out. If anything an ambitious scientist will be motivated to find the 'too easiest' problems out there and solve them and publish the results.
Also not every puzzle piece is available to every scientist. The fields of specialization are so narrow that at the frontiers of scientific discovery there may be only a few people qualified to even know where the particular pieces are. In those cases those small groups of specialized scientists are actually working in 'isolation' like the author mentioned in the beginning of the essay. Anyway, I can't wait for our meeting this Thursday.