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What We Believe but Cannot Prove: Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty (Edge Question Series) Paperback – February 28, 2006
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A question behind the question recurs many times. That is, what do the authors believe belief to be? One of the more interesting comments is by Maria Spiropulu: "I would suggest that belief and proof are in some way complementary: If you believe something, you don't need proof of it, and if you have proof, you don't need to believe." Leon Ederman would seem to speak for many contributors with the comment: "To believe something while knowing it cannot be proved (yet) is the essence of physics," while Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi states: "I can prove almost nothing I believe in."
One's intuitive response to some of the contributors' beliefs might be that their beliefs would be considered to be facts. Gino Segre believes (to describe it shorthand) in the Big Bang. Stephen H. Schneider believes in global warming. Leonard Susskind believes in probability. Neil Gershenfeld believes in progress. Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi considers: "I do believe in evolution," and David Buss states: "I believe in true love."
Among the beliefs that would seem to be particularly interesting are the following. Gregory Benford considers: "Why is there any scientific law at all?" Daniel Goleman believes that "todays children are unintended victims of economic and technological progress." Alison Gopnik believes that "babies and young children are actually more conscious . . . than adults are." George Dyson believes that bird dialects correspond to "indigenous human language groups", and Freeman Dyson believes that the reverse of a power of 2 is never a power of 5.Read more ›
"What do you believe to be true even though you cannot prove it?"
This was what John Brockman, the editor and publisher of the online intellectual think-tank "Edge," asked leading thinkers. This book contains what this think-tank deems to be the best answers to this question.
Each contributor's answer is preceded by a brief profile of him or her. (There are 15 female contributors.)
The majority of the thinkers this book's profiles have more than one occupation. The most frequent job titles mentioned in each brief profile are as follows:
(3) scientist (such as physicist, computer scientist)/social scientist (such as psychologist, economist)
(4) director (for example, a director of a laboratory)
Some other occupations mentioned are inventor, writer, editor, journalist, publisher, lecturer, and linguist.
Here is a typical profile:
"Freeman Dyson is professor emeritus of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is the author of a number of books about science for the general public including "Imagined Worlds" and "The Sun," "The Genome," and "The Internet."
Here is a sample of the beliefs that cannot be proved:
Contributor #1: I believe that intelligent life may presently be unique to our Earth but has the potential to spread throughout the Galaxy and beyond it."
#109: "I can prove almost nothing I believe in."
#5: "I believe that evolution explains why the living world is the way that it is."
#20: "I'm pretty sure that people gain a selective advantage from believing in things they can't prove."
#30: "I believe...that cannibalism and slavery were both prevalent in human history.Read more ›
Although he doesn't describe the process, the reader will soon learn that the editor has placed the responses in some general categories. The first area of interest is cosmology - who is out there? How might we learn of them? Can we ever reach worlds light years away? More to the point, how is the universe put together and why in that way and not another? Are there other universes we can't see? Since many of these questions touch on what we call "values", the next grouping addresses that sort of reply. What is "morality" and what are its origins? In this collection, the "divine" is bypassed, leaving only humans to provide the answer to those "eternals". Yet humans, the responders acknowledge, are the product of natural selection.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
YEAYEA..........BUY IT READ IT LOVE IT WELL MOST OF IT AND FOR ME THATS A RARITY.Published 5 months ago by Fredrick H.
First off - fantastic cover design. John Brockman has done some good work with the Edge Foundation. As an author, he's the Rick Riordan of pop-sci publishing, cranking out title... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Rob Fitzgibbon
If you can get this at a low price, it's worth getting. It's not so much a book than a collection of essays by prominent scientists at the website Edge. Read morePublished 17 months ago by J. Davis
Nice to know some of the smartest people alive often don't have a clue and have the good sense to admit it.Published 17 months ago by D. L. Ross
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
The length of each author's contribution varies (some go the point very directly, and some others take the opportunity to be a little... Read more
Wonderful little book that can be picked up anytime one has a moment for some
stimulating ideas. Should be in everyone's library. Good gift for an intellectual friend.
Some very interesting ideas and thoughts inside, but the cover make's it look like a cartoon. It's not a cartoon is it?Published on September 7, 2013 by Kenny A. Chaffin
The book is based on a good premise: Scientists discussing their beliefs that they can't prove. Some simply told about the next step in their own discipline; some dealt with... Read morePublished on June 3, 2013 by Alan Stringer