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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

4.3 out of 5 stars 89 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The title's question was posed on Edge.org (an online intellectual clearing house), challenging more than 100 intellectuals of every stripe—from Richard Dawkins to Ian McEwan—to confess the personal theories they cannot demonstrate with certainty. The results, gathered by literary agent and editor Brockman, is a stimulating collection of micro-essays (mainly by scientists) divulging many of today's big unanswered questions reaching across the plane of human existence. Susan Blackmore, a lecturer on evolutionary theory, believes "it is possible to live happily and morally without believing in free will," and Daniel Goleman believes children today are "unintended victims of economic and technological progress." Other beliefs are more mundane and one is highly mathematically specific. Many contributors open with their discomfort at being asked to discuss unproven beliefs, which itself is an interesting reflection of the state of science. The similarity in form and tone of the responses makes this collection most enjoyable in small doses, which allow the answers to spark new questions and ideas in the reader's mind. It's unfortunate that the tone of most contributions isn't livelier and that there aren't explanations of some of the more esoteric concepts discussed; those limitations will keep these adroit musings from finding a wider audience. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In this informative and often surprising book, more than 100 notable scientists and scholars answer the question, "What do you believe even though you cannot prove it?" The responses range from the thought-provoking to seemingly trivial (or just plain silly). Professor of cosmology and astrophysics Martin Rees, for example, admits that he believes intelligent life is unique to our world (in sharp contrast to many of his fellow contributors). Alun Anderson, senior consultant to New Scientist magazine, believes cockroaches are conscious. Mathematician and science-fiction novelist Rudy Rucker believes in a multiplicity of universes. Susan Blackmore, who has written widely on the subject of consciousness, appears to believe that she doesn't exist. The contributors touch on a broad spectrum of subjects, from religion to science and many points in between. Although some of the responses are arrogant or nitpicky, the majority are thoughtful, honest, and revelatory of the contributors' own intellectual and philosophical biases. And the book certainly gets us thinking about our own deeply held, if entirely unprovable, beliefs. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product details

  • Publisher : Harper Perennial; 1st edition (February 28, 2006)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0060841818
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0060841812
  • Item Weight : 7.2 ounces
  • Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.61 x 8 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 89 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
89 global ratings
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Top reviews from other countries

ces london
4.0 out of 5 stars Ooh my brain hurts!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 14, 2016
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R
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! Great delivery!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 20, 2020
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Peter G. Tibbs
5.0 out of 5 stars A good buy
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 22, 2020
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Chris Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars What We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty by John Brockman
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 28, 2014
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Alexander
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 7, 2016
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