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.?