To me, that’s the beauty of science: to know that you will never know everything, but you never stop wanting to, that when you learn something, for a second you feel crazy smart, and then stupid all over again as new questions come tumbling in. It’s an urge that never dies, a game that never ends.
Robert Krulwich of Radiolab takes a look at three books, each tackling the question of whether there are just some things we may never know.
Read more at Krulwich Wonders…
We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others, be hard on your beliefs, take them out onto the veranda and hit them with a cricket bat. Be intellectually rigorous, identify your biases, your prejudices, your privileges. Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies and then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions, like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from either end of separate tennis courts.
… Please don’t make the mistake of thinking the arts and sciences are at odds with one another. That is a recent, stupid, and damaging idea. You don’t have to be unscientific to make beautiful art, to write beautiful things. If you need proof, Twain, Douglas Adams, Vonnegut, McEwan, Sagan, Shakespeare, Dickens, for a start.
You don’t need to be superstitious to be a poet, you don’t need to hate GM technology to care about the beauty of the planet, you don’t have to claim a soul to promote compassion. Science is not a body of knowledge, nor a belief system, it is just a term which describes human kind’s incremental acquisition of understanding through observation; science is awesome. The arts and sciences need to work together to prove how knowledge is communicated.
The idea that many Australians including our new PM and my distant cousin, Nick Minchin, believe that the science of anthropogenic global warming is controversial is a powerful indicator of the extent of our failure to communicate. The fact that 30% of the people in this room just bristled is further evidence still. The fact that that bristling has more to do with politics than science is even more despairing.
An excerpt from Tim Minchin’s Occasional Address and Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters at the University of Western Australia. Watch on Youtube here.
An extraterrestrial visitor examining the differences among human societies would find those differences trivial compared to the similarities.
Our lives, our past and our future are tied to the sun, the moon and the stars. We humans have seen the atoms which constitute all of nature and the forces that sculpted this work; and we, who embody the local eyes and ears and thoughts and feelings of the cosmos, have begun to wonder about our origins — star stuff contemplating the stars, organized collections of 10 billion billion billion atoms, contemplating the evolution of nature, tracing that long path by which it arrived at consciousness here on the planet Earth. Our loyalties are to the species and to the planet. Our obligation to survive and flourish is owed not just to ourselves but also to that cosmos ancient and vast from which we spring.
We are one species.
We are star stuff harvesting star light.