Sunday, August 16

What is it you believe but can’t prove ?

From an early age I developed the idea of the importance of good works and that simply believing in the “Christ” was insufficient if one was to attempt to encapsulate the spirit of what was meant in the age old message. I have since realized that such an assertion may also be somewhat simplistic, since stories have symbolic lessons which are not always clear to us today. However it still remains true to my belief to day.   
Here are a few responses from different people. Which one resonates with you?
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.
Once you adopt the notion that reality and information are rather the same, all quantum paradoxes and puzzles like Schrödinger’s cat 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.

David Buss Professor in the Psychology Department of the University Of Texas at Austin.
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 its 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 exists. I just can’t prove it.

Quotes taken from John Brockman’s book entitled “What We Believe but Cannot Prove”.



Tom said...

Oh dear! On a first run-through, one quote stood out; on a second, further quotes bore examination. To summarise, I particularly liked Carolyn Porco, J Craig Ventor and David G Myers. Maria Spiropula had nothing to say to me, particularly as an experimental physicist.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Tom,
A good choice to include the more instinctive views of what I think are some interesting thinkers:
Carolyn Porco, no doubt you have seen her great images at the website
J Craig Ventor I think strikes a chord in believing our humanistic view of life is unwarranted.
David G Myers begins with the assertion we are from dust to dust, finite and fallible. We have dignity but not deity and so he proposes a faith based humility laced with scepticism to help inform his research and writing.
Best wishes

susan said...

I believe that birds and other animals have a sense of humor.
I believe that the color blue wasn't seen until 1700.
I believe that a woman named Grrllbrg first harnessed fire.
I believe that a man called Fstbngrr invented the wheel.
I believe Antarctica was once inhabited.
I believe the Big Bang is a myth of convenience.

Thank goodness we don't have to prove our beliefs.
Best wishes, Lindsay.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan
it seems many great discoveries arose out of concepts that were entirely unproven , but much later on someone was to revert to the task of proving them to be true. I mot only believe birds and other animals have a sense of humor, but also they can be offended by our actions. I know of a pet parrot, reared from almost the nest that is entirely free to come and go of its own free will. It was decided to get a pal for her, to share some space when she visited, usually at night for some periods during the day

On introductions the intended companion to her she let out an almighty screech of indignation and flew off in huff to stay in a nearby tree for 2- 3 weeks before returning. The birds was rather obviously offended to think it's human friends would conceive it would have any interest in just another bird as a companion !! hence it sulked for few weeks to return only when the intended bird companion was gone.
best wishes