Tuesday, January 04, 2005

What Do You Believe Is True Even Though You Can't Prove It?

Jan. 23: added individuals' links.
(Previous posts cherry-picking from Edge are here and here.)

Cherry picking from Edge's World Question Center - 2005's question is What Do You Believe Is True Even Though You Can't Prove It?
Oliver Morton:
As far as knowledge goes I'm a consumer, and sometimes a distributor, not a producer; most of what I believe to be true lies far beyond my capacity for proof... I know that almost all my beliefs are based on faith in people, and processes, and institutions, and their various capacities for correcting themselves when in error.
Chris W. Anderson:
The Intelligent Design movement has opened my eyes...
[read the rest]
Robert Provine:
Instead of considering whether other animals are conscious, or have a different, or lesser consciousness than our own, should we question if our behavior is under no more conscious control than theirs?
David Gelernter:
...how can people say "a brick wall and a hard problem seem wholly different yet I can draw an analogy between them?"... The answer is: we are able to draw an analogy between two seemingly unlike things because the two are associated in our minds with the same emotion.
Alex (Sandy) Pentland:
Tribal Mind....Even for lengthy interactions, accurate predictions can be made by observing only the initial few minutes of interaction...the largely unconscious social signaling that occurs at the start of the interaction appears to be more predictive...the linguistic and factual content seems uncorrelated with the pattern or intensity of social signaling...It is also provides a concrete mechanism for the well-known processes of group polarization ('the risky shift'), groupthink, and the sometimes irrational behaviors of larger groups.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb:
We are good at fitting explanations to the past, all the while living in the illusion of understanding the dynamics of history....
severe overestimation of knowledge in what I call the " ex post" historical disciplines...
...by reading the newspapers, history books, analyses and economic reports; all you get is misplaced confidence about what you know.
...The evidence can only be seen in the disciplines that offer both quantitative data and quantitative predictions by the experts...the economists got caught because we have data...
Elizabeth Spelke:
...one of our shared core systems centers on a notion that is false: the notion that members of different human groups differ profoundly in their concepts and values. This notion leads us to interpret the superficial differences between people as signs of deeper differences.
...the most striking feature of human cognition stems not from our core knowledge systems but from our capacity to rise above them. Humans are capable of discovering that our core conceptions are false, and of replacing them with truer ones.
Bruce Sterling:
I can sum my intuition up in five words: we're in for climatic mayhem.
Alan Kay:
there are very few interesting actual proofs in computing. A good Don Knuth quote is: "Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it."
Roger Schank:
I do not believe that people are capable of rational thought when it comes to making decisions in their own lives...
Susan Blackmore:
...I long ago set about systematically changing the experience[of feeling free will]. I now have no feeling of acting with free will, although the feeling took many years to ebb away....
As for giving up the sense of an inner conscious self altogether-this is very much harder. I just keep on seeming to exist. But though I cannot prove it-I think it is true that I don't.
John McWhorter:
Much has been made over the parallels between the evolution of languages and the evolution of animals and plants. However, I believe that one important difference is that while animals and plants can evolve towards simplicity as well as complexity depending on conditions, languages do not evolve towards simplicity in any significant, overall sense-unless there is some sociohistorical factor that puts a spoke [Spike? -Ed.] in the wheel.
Alison Gopnik:
I believe, but cannot prove, that babies and young children are actually more conscious, more vividly aware of their external world and internal life, than adults are. ...when we need to learn something new, say when we learn to skydive... we become vividly, even painfully, conscious of what we are doing...As we become expert we need less and less attention...

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