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Long Live Ignorance!

[ 2 ] April 23, 2012 |

In an interview with Casey Schwartz for Newsweek — The Daily Beast, neuroscientist Stuart Firestein argues that knowledge is overrated:

As I began to think about it, I realized that, contrary to popular view, scientists don’t really care that much about facts. We recognize that facts are the most unreliable part of the whole operation. They don’t last, they’re always under revision. Whatever fact you seemed to have uncovered is likely to be revised by the next generation. That’s the difference between science and many other endeavors.  Science revels in revision. For science, revision is a victory. In religion, or astrology, or any other belief system, revision is a kind of defeat. You were supposed to have known the answer to this. But the joy of science is that it’s about revision.

Dr. Firestein, the chair of the biological sciences department at Columbia University, has taught a popular course called IGNORANCE, dedicated to what we don’t know.  His new book, Ignorance: How it Drives Science, was released today by Oxford University Press.  It promises to be a great read.

Comments (2)

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  1. Suresh says:

    There is some truth to it, but it is easy to argue against the basic premise. To prove something wrong, one almost always relies on the truth of numerous other facts. In fact, to find out how something unknown works could also be stated as “the” goal of science. I think “testing the limits of our knowledge” is just the way Prof. Firestein approaches his science.

  2. loretta says:

    maybe that’s living in the moment

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