Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Fourth of July!

I'm back at my desk in Chicago and have two thoughts for you on my return.

The first is from a book review in yesterday's Times: What if everything you think you know is wrong?

The book, But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present as if It Were the Past, is by Chuck Klosterman.

The first sentence (all emphasis mine):

The premise of this book can be succinctly stated: Most of what we believe is likely to be wrong.

It's not a favorable review, but it's an interesting topic.

Consider the phenomenon of gravity. Aristotle attributed it to an innate striving of all solid things toward their natural place at the center of the earth (which for him was also the center of the cosmos). A couple of millenniums later, Newton overthrew the Aristotelian theory. This moves Klosterman to ask, “If mankind could believe something false was objectively true for 2,000 years, why do we reflexively assume that our current understanding of gravity — which we’ve embraced for a mere 350 — will somehow exist forever?”

It’s a good question. Philosophers of science talk about the “pessimistic ­meta-induction”: If all our past scientific theories have turned out to be wrong, our current theories are bound to be wrong too. 

My second thought of the day? Don't live to be 96.

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