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April 6, 2011

"Science is the sum total of a great multitude of mysteries." Freeman Dyson on How We Know

The public has a distorted view of science, because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths.
In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries. Wherever we go exploring in the world around us, we find mysteries. Our planet is covered by continents and oceans whose origin we cannot explain. Our atmosphere is constantly stirred by poorly understood disturbances that we call weather and climate. The visible matter in the universe is outweighed by a much larger quantity of dark invisible matter that we do not understand at all. The origin of life is a total mystery, and so is the existence of human consciousness. We have no clear idea how the electrical discharges occurring in nerve cells in our brains are connected with our feelings and desires and actions. -- How We Know by Freeman Dyson | The New York Review of Books

Posted by Vanderleun at April 6, 2011 12:06 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

It would help if certain agenda-pushers in scientific garb stopped saying things like "Those who criticize Theory X just don't know about it." Makes scientists sound like some kind of Gnostic initiates, science a mystery cult they're the only gateway into. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Fearless Ferenc at April 6, 2011 12:59 PM

It is a great relief to know that the truth accessible to humans is not constrained by the knowledge accessible to science.

Posted by: Gagdad Bob at April 6, 2011 2:45 PM

I guess nobody assigns Thomas Kuhn anymore? I'm glad Dyson's saying it, because maybe somebody will listen to him, but everybody ought to know this already.

Posted by: Cris at April 6, 2011 7:17 PM

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