The importance of being uncertain

It is imperative in science to doubt; it is absolutely necessary, for progress in science, to have uncertainty as a fundamental part of your inner nature.

To make progress in understanding, we must remain modest and allow that we do not know. Nothing is certain or proved beyond all doubt. You investigate for curiosity, because it is unknown, not because you know the answer. And as you develop more information in the sciences, it is not that you are finding out the truth, but that you are finding out that this or that is more or less likely.

That is, if we investigate further, we find that the statements of science are not of what is true and what is not true, but statements of what is known to different degrees of certainty.

Every one of the concepts of science is on a scale graduated somewhere between, but at neither end of, absolute falsity or absolute truth.

5 thoughts on “The importance of being uncertain

  1. It seems to me that science produces a lot of theories that end up accepted in schools and text books carried on as baggage labeled truth. Science works on finding HOW it is possible, HOW it happened, should of or will happen.

    Evolution, at least Macro Evolution, is still a theory that many will argue is a proven fact because that’s how they recall it in science and is reinforced in media reports.

    Westerners pride themselves on holding noble ideals such as equality and universal human rights. Yet the dominant worldview of our day — evolutionary materialism — denies the reality of human freedom and gives no basis for moral ideals such as human rights.

    So where did the idea of equal rights come from?

  2. We know nothing. All we have are working assumptions ( hypothesis) backed by data. More data me and greater certainty, but never complete certainty. David Wilkinson’s “ambiguity advantage” book is really interesting on this subject too…

  3. Richards approach drove me forwards as an engineer and now as a human engineer. thanks for sharing

  4. It is imperative to science that we want to know more and that we have a passion to investigate, to discover “why?”
    If we have that passion we are already starting from a premise that we don’t know.
    Scientific research from the past has repeatedly shown us that if we dig deeper there’s more to uncover, more to learn. We did not stop when we decided the world was flat.
    It is imperative we start from the certainty that we do not know all the answers but that we will grow with more degrees of certainty.

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