Qora – shocking proof

Quora – Shocking proof

What scientific theory do you think will be proven wrong and shock the scientific world? Or what new scientific theory will shock us all?

For me, the implicit assumptions behind the question are themselves disproved.
In my understanding, the essence of science is to question everything, and be willing to examine all sets of evidence, physical, mathematical, logical, intuitive.
The idea that anything would shock everyone seems remarkably naive. Many – yep – certainly, that I could believe; but “All” – no – that makes no sense.

My understandings of reality are now all probability based. All contain uncertainties.
For me, all knowledge is heuristic – bounded by context as to its usefulness.
The idea that the world is flat is a perfectly useful approximation provided you are not interested in anything more than about fifty miles away. Carpenters and builders still use it every day, and manage to build houses that can stand up for centuries. But it wont let you sail a boat around the planet.
Newtonian mechanics is a good enough approximation to work in a far broader range of time, space and velocity. Good enough for projectile trajectories, or jet engines, or planetary orbits over a period of a few hundreds of years. But it wont let you build a system of GPS satellites – that requires the equations of relativity to give reasonable results.

Science seems to be this process of successive sets of approximations to something that are useful in ever stranger environments.
In a sense, we have always lived on this third rock from the sun, but for most people they only ever lived and traveled on a very small part of it. So the heuristics that worked for that small part were much simpler than those required to deliver accurate positions from a constellation of GPS satellites.

I conjecture that should we live the rest of eternity, we will still be dealing with fundamental uncertainties, and successive sets of contextually relevant approximations to something fundamentally unknowable. And in that process we will be able to create technologies and understandings that are indistinguishable from magic to most living today.

For me, the classical notion of “Truth” has been disproven, beyond all reasonable doubt. It seems clear that all that we can ever have is some sort of useful approximation, and that there must always be degrees of uncertainty at the boundaries. And some of those approximations can be very useful indeed – with very high degrees of reliability in the contexts for which they have been developed.
And the very idea of “Truth” was one of those useful heuristics that was useful in getting us to the spread of conceptual paradigms that currently exist in the population of people on this planet (which is a spectrum of many orders of magnitude).

It seems that this universe is, at every level, in some sort of fundamental balance between order and randomness, between the known and the unknown, between searching the unexplored for solutions to existing threats, and discovering new threats in the process. Infinities have that unsettling characteristic, that no matter how much of them you explore, it is a close approximation to nothing compared to what is left to explore. That which we don’t know, and don’t know that we don’t know, must be forever vaster than both what we know, and what we know that we don’t know.

It seems that a good definition of life is that which can replicate, and find a balance between order and chaos (in the non mathematical sense of chaos). Too much order, and there is not enough variation to survive the uncertainties of existence. Too much chaos and the necessary boundaries required to sustain complexity cannot be maintained. Between those excesses lies the virtue of survival.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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