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 Wednesday, 05 January 2005
Wednesday, 05 January 2005 12:51:45 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

This promises to be an interesting read: an article about what some great minds believe, though they can not prove.

Via slashdot I found an article on The Edge entitled "WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS TRUE EVEN THOUGH YOU CANNOT PROVE IT?" which looks quite interesting.

From the article:

“It may be that it's okay not to be certain, but to have a hunch, and to perceive on that basis. There is also evidence here that the scientists are thinking beyond their individual fields.“

Unfortunately they are slashdotted at the moment, so actually reading the whole thing will have to wait until the rest of the world is done... :-(

Comments [4] | | # 
Wednesday, 05 January 2005 13:50:44 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Yeah, and they were also MetaFiltered and BoingBoinged... ;-)
Wednesday, 05 January 2005 15:44:04 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Fairly interesting article. There were ten pages of reactions from various 'thinkers' to the question, and to be honest, I couldn't be bothered to go past the first page at the present time - the first page alone has about fifteen short essays by various people.

Most of them were very interesting. But there is a guy near the bottom of hte first page who is listed as holding the 'Einstein Chair of Physics" that kind of annoyed me by arguing against an anthropic universe. Beasically, he says the universe isn't a product of random chance, but won't say more than that. Here's some logic for you. If you think the universe is NOT the product of random chance, the only other option is that you think it's the product of deliberate design. In otherwords, he's a creatonist, but is afraid to say so. He takes the anthopic beliefs to task for being 'unscientific', as if belief in an invisible dude with a beard creating the universe is more scientific than believing in an infinite number of possible universes.

I don't have any real problem with people who choose to believe in the supernatural. I do have a problem with people who claim to be scientists that base their calculations of the natural world on unverifiable supernatual beliefs.
The Evil Cub
Thursday, 06 January 2005 22:55:42 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I suppose it depends on how you define “belief” Is “belief” an intuition of a hypothesis that leads you discover ways to validate that intuition even if you know that the tools do not exist? Or is it the case that “belief” equates to blind faith in which that which you know can never be proven (e.g. supernatural beings)?

There is more to science than simply the study of natural phenomena. The scientific method is a tool for finding truth. It helps you answer the question, “How do I know what I think I know?” Sagan would tell you that it is a bullshit/baloney detector kit. Just because the scientific method, *at the moment*, tells me that a given hypothesis does not meet the standards of truth, does not necessarily mean that it absolutely false. Long ago, I reasoned that the scientific method was far more accurate in determining truth that (blind) faith. That doesn’t mean that I consider all phenomena that cannot be proven to be false. It simply means I do not consider it to be true. In the world of databases, it falls into a third category: unknown.
Thomas
Friday, 07 January 2005 10:01:53 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
If you read the essays you'll find that several of the contributors spent some time qualifying both "proof" and "belief" before answering.

More people qualified "proof" however, since any rational and educated person realizes that we don't KNOW anything for certain and can actually prove nothing - thus everything we think we know is really just a belief.

Having qualified "proof" they proceeded to take a more pragmatic definition of proof in terms of actually answering. After all, it isn't practical in any real sense to assume all our beliefs about reality may be faulty, so to function we do have to assume we have proof for some things.

Of course it is also important to remember that most of these people are high-end scientists and thinkers, who are fully aware that we can't prove basic things like gravity. To paraphrase one of the contributors: we have a belief (or in scientific terms a theory) about how it works, but we don't actually KNOW for a fact.
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