I have often thought that the nature of science would be better understood if we called theories “misconceptions” from the outset, instead of only after we have discovered their successors. Thus we could say that Einstein’s Misconception of Gravity was an improvement on Newton’s Misconception, which was an improvement on Kepler’s. The neo-Darwinian Misconception of Evolution is an improvement on Darwin’s Misconception, and his on Lamarck’s… Science claims neither infallibility nor finality.
David Deutsch, quantum physicist and philosopher, in The Beginning of Infinity. Deutsch is obliged, in the course of arguing his theses about the nature of knowledge, progress, and human purpose, to rebut reductive notions like instrumentalism and our parochial cultural pessimisms. To do so he often leans on Karl Popper, who described scientific knowledge as being conjectural, ever-improving in its isomorphic fidelity to reality yet always tentative in a strict sense.
It is striking what an effect this clever little substitution has: we know, of course, that all scientific theories are later to be subsumed by better, deeper theories with more explanatory and predictive power; we know earlier theories are now in fact considered erroneous or incomplete for this very reason; but referring to “Einstein’s Misconception” reminds us of just how provisional our knowledge is, how far from any conceivable bedrock we remain. As a matter of philosophical principle, our knowledge is asymptotic: it may increase infinitely, draw nearer and nearer to the foundation, but it will never touch it.
(Perhaps this is so due to something elementally important that Deutsch observes in an unrelated discussion: “All scientific measurements use chains of proxies.” So long as language itself, perception —or more precisely, the inventive synthesis of perceptual data and mental interpretation that creates the world we know—, and measurement tools abstract us from the subject of our study, we can draw infinitely closer to it, but we cannot reach it, so to speak).
Our two deepest theories about the universe, Deutsch notes elsewhere, are in conflict with one another: quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity do not accord with one another and are, therefore, misconceptions, incomplete or incorrect. In this, we are precisely like ancient humankind, and like our forebears we struggle to conceive of our own ignorance; we tend to believe that we know quite a lot, and with impressive accuracy.
So we do. Deutsch demonstrates that although we will, barring extinction, continue to refine and improve our knowledge infinitely, we will also never stop being able to improve it. Thus we will always live with fallible scientific understanding (and fallible moral theories, fallible aesthetic ideas, fallible philosophical notions, etc.); it is the nature of the relationship between knowledge, mind, and universe.
But it remains odd to say: everything I know is a misconception.(via mills)
23 Unusual Ways to Apply Crowdfunding | World Future Society (via mediafuturist)
On November 3, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 2930, a crowdfunding bill that will allow startups to offer and sell securities online. The Senate will likely vote on the bill in early 2012.
After eight decades of arguably the most restrictive rules for raising capital in the world, we are standing on the precipice of a new era for funding: crowdfunding. Here are 23 unusual ways in which the crowdfunding revolution could redefine the business to investor relationship.
Rocketboom Archive - Forwards Backwards
Just your regular backwards video, or maybe not…
Although you walk with vivid pace,
You’ve yet to see your real face.
Your soul as old as Vulcan’s mace,
Your heart feels naught, but cold embrace.
I know you wander,
You often ponder,
If light is real,
If all you feel,
is yet to peal.
And if it were so, what is to stand?
My friend, your life is but an act,
But through your thoughts life can enact,
If your eyes open to the Stage,
Same eyes that closed with bitter rage,
If Soul you open to the Void,
Then true darkness you avoid.
Walk with Mercury these roads,
Walk and you shall see no foes,
As life is freed in million nodes,
None can see where your road goes,
But you are walker, and fear not.
As wisdom walks with solemn pace,
You walk with it, not in race.
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?