Monday, January 2

What do You Believe in 2006 but can’t yet prove

I thought it might be interesting as a New Year’s reflection to consider what we believe but can’t yet prove.

I currently believe our state of general wellbeing and living conditions are much more a random outcome of our resident geographical location that hitherto was understood, as explained by Jared Diamond, author of Guns Germs and Steel and Collapse.
I attended his book launch with my eldest daughter and her husband (both ardent fans) when he was out in Australia last year. I am thinking of doing a posting about his conclusions when I finish reading his book entitled Collapse. In this book he sets out the repetitive reasons for collapses of past civilisations and the implications for our future.

I have also found Albert Schweitzer’s philosophy and life example inspirational and influenced my beliefs. Should you be interested in reading about my posting on his life and thought click here.

I have taken selected quotes from prominent thinkers using as my reference a publication by John Brockman entitled “What We Believe but Cannot Prove”. Check out his website. www.edge.theforum

Here are selected few with condensed comments on what they currently believe but can’t prove.

Jared Diamond –Evolutionary biologist and professor of geography at UCLA, author and Pulitzer Prize winner with extensive field experience in North America, South America, Africa, Asia , Australia and New Guinea.

When did humans complete their expansion around the world? I ‘m convinced , but can’t yet prove, that humans first reached the continents of North America, South Americas, and Australia only very recently-during or near the end of the last Ice Age. Specifically I’m convinced they reached North America around 14,000 years ago, South America around 13,500 years ago and Australia and New Guinea around 46,000 years ago. And that within a few centuries of those dates humans were responsible for the extinction of most of the big animals of those continents.

Anton Zeilinger. Professor of physics at the University of Vienna. Click here for his website

Once you adopt the notion that reality and information are rather the same, all quantum paradoxes and puzzles_ like Schrödinger’s cat (click here to gain appreciation of this notion) disappear. Note the price of reconciliation is high. If my hypothesis is true, many questions become meaningless. There is no sense asking what is going on out there. Schrödinger’s cat is neither dead nor alive unless we obtain information about its state. By the way, I also believe that the day will come when we learn to overcome “de coherence” and to observe quantum phenomenon outside the shielded environment of Labourites. I hope that (unlike the unexamined cat) I will be alive when this happens.

Carolyn Porco-Planetary scientist click here for her website

We may soon discover life-forms under the ice on some moon orbiting Jupiter or Saturn or decide the intelligible signals of an advanced, unreachable distant alien civilisation.

J Craig Ventor –Visionary Genomic Researcher. Click here for his website

Our human centric view of life is clearly unwarranted. From the millions of genes we are continually discovering in all our organisms, we learn that a finite number of genes appear over and over again and could easily have evolved from a few microbes arriving in a meteor or in intergalactic dust.

Leon lederman -Nobel Prize Winer in Physics 1988. Click here for his website

To believe something while knowing that it cannot be proved (yet) is the essence of physics. Guys like Einstein, Dirac, Poncare, extolled the beauty of concepts, in a bizarre sense placing truth at a lower level of importance.

Maria Spiropula -Experimental physicist.

I believe nothing to be true if it cannot be proved.
My hunch (and my wish) is that in the laboratory we will be able to segment space-time so finely that gravity will be studied and understood in a confined environment –and that gravitational particle physics will become recognised field.

David G Myers-Professor of psychology at Hope College, in Michigan
Click here for his website

The mix of faith based humility and scepticism helped fuel the beginning of modern science and it has informed my own research and writing. The whole truth cannot be found merely by searching our minds, for there is not enough there. So we must put our ideas to the test. If they survive, so much the better for them; if not. So much the worse.

Jonathan Haidt Associate professor in the department of psychology at the University of Virginia. Click here for his website


If psychologists took religious experience seriously and tried to understand it from the inside, as anthropologists did in studying other cultures, I believe it would enrich our science. I have found religious texts and testimonials about purity and pollution essential for understanding the emotion of disgust and for helping me to see the breadth of moral concerns beyond harm, rights and justice.

And my pick is ……corny as it may sound!

David Buss Professor in the Psychology Department of the University Of Texas at Austin. Click here for his website

I believe in true love. The road of ordinary love are well travelled and their markers are well understood- the mesmerizing attraction, the ideational obsession, the sexual afterglow, the often profound self sacrifice, the desire to combine DNA. But true love takes it own course, through unchartered territory. It knows no fences, has no barriers or boundaries. It’d difficult to define. Eludes modern measurement, seems scientifically woolly. But I know true love I exists. I just can’t prove it.

I am interested in what you believe but can’t prove? And what you think about any of the above named or others beliefs.?

22 comments:

Sylvana said...

Well, I believe in ghosts but can't prove that they exist. I believe in them though because I have had several first hand experiences.

arulba said...

I believe that there really is nothing that can be proved. Proof is too heavily reliant upon the observer and how do we know that the observer does not alter the outcome of what it is that is being proven?

I believe that one day, proof won't be so important as it is today because we will finally begin to trust in that which is beyond the mental reasoning that requires "proof" of existence.

arulba said...

By the way - I love that your pick comes from Austin!

Rachael Byrnes said...

I believe that anything is possible! All that we think is true (even that which we have so called "proven") could be false and all that we belive but can't prove could be true. This world could be a dream, a kind of purgatory where we are tested in between real life and the next life.. or life could be a s real as it feels to us.. we just don't know... and can't know. Maybe this world is hell because we have to live with that uncertainty or maybe it;s heaven because that uncertainty means life is so interesting... or maybe it's neither. who knows!! Maybe we are decendants of aliens or creatures of some higher creatures making.

madcapmum said...

You're so incredibly well-read that I hesitate to make a book suggestion, but have you seen "Dark Age Ahead" by Jane Jacobs? The Jared Diamond stuff brought it to mind.

bohemiantroubadour said...

World Revolution is at hand.

bohemiantroubadour said...

Can you truly Prove that Australia Exists?

DA said...

I believe many things your have written down I find very interesting Lindsay. I'll check out the links later on..

Now here's another story (to be read on CafeDA more in depth):

Your felicitous remark on "smell the flowers along the way" pulled me over the treshold to stay on holidays instead of going to work today. This actually saved a little Dutch dog from getting drowned.

So if anyone does not believe peoples ability to influence things remotely we have proven them to be wrong today my thoughtful friend :-) Thank you..

Gary said...

I have two 'beliefs that I can't prove' to offer:

1. There is no divine hand within the universe, yet the universe itself, and all within it, is beyond our tiny concept of divine.

2. Lindsay Lobe is the wisest blogger of them all! (I can't prove this because I've only sampled a few hundred blogs and there are probably more being created daily than I could keep up with in a lifetime.)

Vee said...

Lindsay, you've put me in quandary. I've been sitting and racking my brain, trying to find a belief that I can't prove. Maybe I haven't had enough life experience to believe in something that defies proof, or maybe I'm just the type of person who has idealistic beliefs and therefore proof that things like true love exist (true stories from Chicken Soup for the Soul) *sheepish grin* Or whatever I've believed in has been dis-proved and a new substantial real belief has taken it's place. Anyway, I'm rambling. I don't have a theme enhanced answer for this.

Thanks for visiting my blog and the comment.

Lindsay Lobe said...

Sylvania
I would love to hear of your experience with ghosts

Arulba
Our lack of progress is because of our lack of trust.

Rachael
A humouress clarification

Madcup
On the future reading list

Bohemian Troubadour
Australia I think is a great concept for a holiday. Come over one day to see how real it feels.

DA
Enjoyed your story,and for anyone who hasn’t its a great story, guaranteed to send shivers down your backbone as you read all about it on his blog!!

Gary
Thankyou and I agree our Universe(and maybe multiverses)are all
way beyond out conceptual ability,our attempt at imagining the divine.

All one can do I think is to continue on in a sense of wonderment and a reverence for that life within it that we know.

Vee
When we feel comfortable about your beliefs its usual not to feel any need to question them, but I think that may change in your life adventures some time down the track! Please Stay in touch

Granny said...

I'm simple. I look at the stars, each of which is a sun, and think how arrogant of us to believe we are the only intelligent life in the universe.

Can I prove it? Of course not.

I believe that there is a power of some sort greater than ourselves and it doesn't matter what it is as long as I remember that I'm not it.

Can't prove that one either.

I do believe in Australia though, if that helps. Thanks for the package. I forget to email you. Been a lot going on lately. The girls love the pictures and I was able to show them on the map where Melbourne is.

Lindsay Lobe said...

Granny
your in good company with many of the scientists with those beliefs.

Nerdine said...

I believe in reincarnation. I believe I have lived before, and will live again in another body. Can't prove it's the right thing, though. And I don't really care about finding absolute truths either. What help are they? Otherwise I agree with Arulba. proof is somewhat individual in a way. I can consider something proof that someone else does not.

Lindsay Lobe said...

Hi Nerdine
yes I do think that truth is a very personal thing.

Sometimes an enlightenment, or maybe where just comfortable with our beliefs.Trying to define it is devilishly difficult.

veenaapponavan said...

I doubt, therefore I might be.

- vp
- Christmas 2005
- Is it ok Rachel?

Lindsay Lobe said...

Hi Veenaapponavan
Welcome.....to be or not to be. To doubt therefore we might be !!

veenaapponavan said...

There is a story I read somewhere. Shakespeare, while writing one of his plays, broke his pencil. He went to buy a new pencil. At that time, he thought, "2B or not 2B".

:))

Lindsay Lobe said...

I also read a real story about Shakespeare indicating he could not spell very well. But he became a literary genius.

I think maybe the reason for this (like Bertrand Russel), was he always worked with the sharp end of a pencil. !!

bohemiantroubadour said...

"What is Truth?"

The Truth is what it is, it is the Truth.

This should clear up that existential question very simply.

Lindsay Lobe said...

I think reality and knowledge is the same thing. When we say anything or make a statement about something, say an object, we are only able because we have information on it. Your bog does exist as I can assign features to it.

Knowledge is transmitted from one subject to another, and thereby loses its dependence on any single individual but it remains real. We can say the truth is the truth, but we are also all trapped in this wondrous universe at this point of time and only have a tiny concept of it all. We can’t step out and view it independently to find out the universal truth.

bohemiantroubadour said...

I agree completely with your above paragraph completely.

It is vanity for an individual to stake a claim on Truth. We are trapped in this point and time among the wonders of the world with minimal knowledge.

Truth is what is however much the world and people change, progress, digress, etc.

Truth is Truth. We are all seeking Truth. That is why man is born.

What is Truth?