They say you should never judge a book by its cover. I say, never judge a book by its title. This is what the title read
What we believe but cannot prove.
Today’s leading thinkers on science in the age of certainty
A quick browse through the pages indicated that it had opinions of people of the likes of Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker. Dawkins actually believes in something which cannot be proved!!!! Will wonders never cease!!! That made me pick up the book. It definitely did not live up to its promise. Each person had their own pet theories which were either un-provable or unproved. Some made it so obtuse that it was very hard to understand what they were getting at. Nevertheless there were some interesting snippets that I want to share with you.
Let me begin with what Dawkins believes. “All over the universe, wherever life exists it would have evolved through a process similar to natural selection.” Surely, I expected better from you, Mr.Dawkins. I expected something in the lines of what Maria Spiropulu says, “I believe nothing to be true if it cannot be proved”
Susan Blackmore says something very paradoxical, “It is possible to live happily and morally without believing in free will”. I never thought even free will was a matter of belief.
This one was really profound and closer to home for me. “I can’t prove it, but I am pretty sure that people gain a selective advantage from believing in things they can’t prove”, says Randolph M.Nesse a professor of psychiatry from the University of Michigan. If there is one theory that I would love to follow-up and know more about, it is this. He gives some interesting examples of why he feels so from his observations of psychiatric patients. Surely worth pondering.
Another Psychologist, David Buss says, “I believe in true love” :-) Don’t we all!.
A startling revelation from, Donald D.Hoffman, a professor in Cognitive Science. Sounded so much like Vedanta to me. “I believe that consciousness and its contents are all that exists. Spacetime, matter and fields never were the fundamental denizens of the universe but have been among the humbler contents of consciousness, dependent on it for their very being”
There are some purely scientific beliefs too, like Ray Kurzweil who believes that we will find ways to circumvent the speed of light as a limit on the communication of information and Freeman Dyson, a professor emeritus of physics in Princeton who says, “it never happens that the reverse of the power of two is a power of five” although you cannot come up with a mathematical proof.
Let me end it with two absolutely contradictory beliefs
Daniel C Dennet, the director of the center of cognitive studies in Tufts university who believes the “acquiring human language is a necessary precondition to consciousness, in the strong sense of there being a subject, an I” and Alen Anderson, the ex-editor-in-chief of New Scientist believes that “even cockroaches are conscious”