THE PLEASURE OF FINDING THINGS OUT

Now the next subject, and the last main subject that I want to talk about, is the one I really consider the most important and the most serious. And that has to do with the question of uncertainty and doubt. A scientist is never certain. We all know that. We know that all our statements are approximate statements with different degrees of certainty; that when a statement is made, the question is not whether it is true or false but rather how likely it is to be true or false… We must discuss each question within the uncertainties that are allowed. And as evidence grows it increases the probability perhaps that some idea is right, or decreases it. But it never makes absolutely certain one way or the other. Now we have found that this is of paramount importance in order to progress. We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and there is no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And a question requires doubt. People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified—how can you live and not know? It is not odd at all. You only think you know, as a matter of fact. And most of your actions are based on incomplete knowledge and you really don’t know what it is all about, or what the purpose of the world is, or know a great deal of other things. It is possible to live and not know.

Richard Feynman – What Is and What Should Be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society (from The Pleasure of Finding Things Out)

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One comment

  1. Pingback: TWENTY SIXTEEN: IN REVIEW | TEETH, FEET & FINGERS

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