How cute is this? It’s almost like animals just know how to make us happy. Anyway, I would like to discuss something that I find remarkable. And it all boils down to this picture here:
I know I’m nowhere near cool enough to judge, but can we have a consensus that most people nowadays wouldn’t choose to walk down the street like this? Of course, there’s room for everyone. But my point is…we’re always going to look dreadful in retrospect!
And it’s the same in science. I won’t go into the details about pessimistic induction or Hempel’s dilemma…rather, I think this prediction by a famous American Nobel prize winner sums it up well:
“The grand underlying principles have been firmly established…further truths of physics are to be looked for in the sixth place of decimals” — Albert Michelson
This was recorded in 1903 when Newtonian physics was the predominating paradigm…and then within a few years this was turned on its head by Einstein’s discovery of the theory of relativity. There are many quotes like this, but the point is, are we in a position to say that we absolutely know that empirical science will be able to uncover all the truths of the universe, including the hard problem of what is consciousness?
Whilst I certainly admire it’s value as a tool, I think that the historical evidence sings aloud one point very clearly…one thing we can guarantee in science is that there will always be shifting paradigms. And what is progress? What is the scientific measure for it? We keep on discovering that there appears to be infinitely more to discover! I don’t claim that this makes empirical science wrong per se, but that using our imperfect senses to examine the world is incomplete in itself…we need more tools to discover universal truths (see Simple? post). And my suggestion is that the key to opening the lock is through proper investigation into the nature of consciousness as a source of information for complex biological systems.
By the way, if you’re thinking that faulty predictions and paradigm shifts are just a thing of the past (and now we’ve advanced beyond such silliness), please take a look at this quote from a biologist author of the best-selling book, The God Delusion:
“Darwin may have been triumphant at the end of the twentieth century, but we must acknowledge the possibility that new facts may come to light which will force our successors of the twenty-first century to abandon Darwinism or modify it beyond recognition.” — Professor Richard Dawkins
And indeed we see this happening before our very eyes – Does evolutionary theory need a rethink?. A plethora of scientific articles are flooding the Pubmed website now, and many scientists such as renowned British biologist Denis Noble are crying out for revolution (refer to this journal article, for example).
Poor old Darwin! What’s the lesson from all this, and from all of history? I think it’s good to do what we love and are able to do in life eg. science, labourer, tree surgeon, parent etc…however, there is an inevitable and somewhat embarrassing situation; you’re going to die sometime…and so are we all. And it doesn’t matter how much money you’ve collected, how hot your other half is…or even how much you know about the essential 8-carbon fatty acid cofactor that binds to the TCA enzyme pyuvate dehydrogenase…it really won’t make any difference.
So my proposal is that now is the time to make a difference…and I think me and Henry are in agreement on this one, although I would like to ask him, as I’ll ask you, what then does really matter in this fleeting life? (You get points if you guess correctly.)
“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” — Henry David Thoreau