The World Question Centre has released the results of their 2008 question, which is:
When thinking changes your mind, that’s philosophy.
When God changes your mind, that’s faith.
When facts change your mind, that’s science.
WHAT HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND ABOUT? WHY?
Science is based on evidence. What happens when the data change? How have scientific findings or arguments changed your mind?
There are some exceptional answers to this question, and while I haven’t read them all, here are some highlights I’ve read so far:
It is a simple fact: hardly any of my software even still runs at all!
– Some typical self-important wank from Kai
These [local experts on human behaviour] are the thousands or millions of bright professionals and practitioners in each of thousands of different occupations. They are the people who went to our high schools and colleges, but who found careers with higher pay and shorter hours than academic science. Almost all of them know important things about human nature that behavioural scientists have not yet described, much less understood. Marine drill sergeants know a lot about aggression and dominance. Master chess players know a lot about if-then reasoning. Prostitutes know a lot about male sexual psychology. School teachers know a lot about child development. Trial lawyers know a lot about social influence. The dark continent of human nature is already richly populated with autochthonous tribes, but we scientists don’t bother to talk to these experts.
– Geoffrey Miller
is smashing down the ivory tower
I realised too that I had to learn to evaluate opinions separately from those who were giving them: the truth might sometimes come out of a mouth I disliked, but that didn’t automatically mean it wasn’t the truth.
– Brian Eno
[Doris] Lessing urges us to take pause and to reconsider the capacity of our language and cultural systems to proffer knowledge to those outside of our immediate public.
– Museum curator Hans Ulrich Obrist
brings up something I’ve been thinking about myself: What good is all this stuff we have? (Artists, of course, call them “objects”).
Growing up as a young proto-scientist, I was always strongly anti-establishmentarian, looking forward to overthrowing the System as our generation’s new Galileo. Now I spend a substantial fraction of my time explaining and defending the status quo to outsiders. It’s very depressing.
– Sean Carroll
, a theoretical physicist at CalTech realises he’s part of the scientific establishment, and why that’s okay.
Russian America was a social and technological experiment that worked, until political compromises brought the experiment to a halt.
– George Dyson
looks at something I’ve often wondered about: What was Alaska like while the Russians were there?
The problem for me was that just as I couldn’t find any evidence that there was a god, I couldn’t find any that there wasn’t a god. I would have to call myself an agnostic. At first, this seemed a little wimpy, but after a while I began to hope it might be an example of Feynman’s heroic willingness to accept, even glory in, uncertainty.
– Alan Alda
works on the God question.
Give me 100% not-cotton clothing, genetically modified food (from a farmers’ market, preferably), this-year’s laptop, cutting-edge dentistry and drugs.
– WELL co-founder Stewart Brand
is trying hard to piss off his disciples.
A sentence of Ludwig Wittgenstein from his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (5.6) was like a dogma for me: “Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt. — The limits of my language signify the limits of my world ” (my translation). Now I react to this sentence with an emphatic “No!”.
– Neuroscientist Ernst Pöppel
doesn’t know why he changed his mind about this, and that’s a good thing.
I thought that it would change people. I thought it would allow us to build a new world through which we could model new behaviors, values, and relationships. In the 90’s, I thought the experience of going online for the first time would change a person’s consciousness as much as if they had dropped acid in the 60’s.
– Douglas Rushkoff
can’t see the forest for the trees.
In addition to the myth of two nuclear bombs bringing the war to an end, there are other myths that need to be demolished. There is the myth that, if Hitler had acquired nuclear weapons before we did, he could have used them to conquer the world. There is the myth that the invention of the hydrogen bomb changed the nature of nuclear warfare. There is the myth that international agreements to abolish weapons without perfect verification are worthless. All these myths are false. After they are demolished, dramatic moves toward a world without nuclear weapons may become possible.
– Freeman Dyson
seeks to rewrite modern myths.
Imagine if your company or organization had one fellow [the CPU] who sat in an isolated office, and refused to talk with anyone except his two most trusted deputies [the Northbridge and Southbridge], through which all the actual work the company does must be funneled.
– In descibing his change of mind, David Dalrymple
accidentally comes up with a wonderful way to describe the modern computer.
As for me, I’ve changed my mind about cars. Four doors are good.