a policy of uncertainty
On Spiked Science there is a series of quotes from various scientists, answering the question: “if you could teach the world just one thing…”
I should teach the world that science is the art of doubt, not of certainty. Science is the antithesis of faith, and of the popular view that science provides immutable theories and fixed facts about the world in which we live.
— Frances M Ashcroft
If I could teach the world just one thing about science, then it would be how to think about the world and ourselves in the sceptical, evidence- and model-based manner. That is the main contribution of science, and is perhaps the greatest invention in human history.
— Alan M Kay
I should teach the world that science as the search for answers actually generates only more questions, and as a result, the amount of knowledge available to humankind continues to grow exponentially.
This is of no great value, however, unless we also develop systems of understanding to assimilate and act upon this information effectively, to prioritise it and understand its value, and to inform our decisions, drawing upon the diverse origins of the data in a consistent way. What we need to focus on, in the coming decades, is the development of wisdom systems – that is, our ability to use knowledge effectively, for the benefit of people and the environment around us.
— Dr Bob Bloomfield
The main thing to understand is that science is about uncertainty. Science teaches us to have a high tolerance of uncertainty. We do not yet know the answers to most of the important questions – nature is smarter than we are. But if we are patient, and not in too much of a hurry, then science gives us a good way to find the answers.
— Freeman J Dyson
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Addendum: a short article by Salman Rushdie, reprinted on Beyond The Beyond, Bruce Sterling’s Wired Blog: The Trouble With Religion.