January 12, 2017

Which scientific concepts ought to be more well know?

The answers to John Brockman's annual question on Edge are always worth reading. This year, the question was which scientific concepts ought to be more well know. If you haven't done so already, I recommend that you take a look at what the more than 200 contributors thought here.

With all those excellent essays, what resonated with me most were a handful that emphasized the importance of humility, not only in science, but in societal discourse more generally.

For example, Barnaby Marsh writes:
You might not think of humility as a scientific concept, but the special brand of humility that is enshrined in scientific culture is deserving of special recognition for its unique heuristic transformative power ... Scientific humility is the key that opens a whole new possibility space -  a space where being unsure is the norm; where facts and logic are intertwined with imagination, intuition, and play
Oliver Scott Curry:
Fallibilism is the idea that we can never be 100% certain that we are right, and must therefore always be open to the possibility that we are wrong ... Fallibilism is also the guiding principle of free, open, liberal, secular societies
Nicholas G. Carr:
if our intellect is bounded, we can never know how much of existence lies beyond our grasp
And finally Sam Harris:
Our scientific, cultural, and moral progress is almost entirely the product of successful acts of persuasion. Therefore, an inability (or refusal) to reason honestly is a social problem. Indeed, to defy the logical expectations of others -to disregard the very standards of reasonableness that you demand of them - is a form of hostility.
Do read the whole thing though.

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