152— January 4, 2005 — 8th Anniversary
Great minds can sometimes guess the truth before they have either the evidence or arguments for it (Diderot called it having the "esprit de divination"). What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?
contributors; 60,000 words:)
Gardner • Nicholas Humphrey • Marc D. Hauser •
Daniel Gilbert • George Dyson • Daniel C. Dennett
• William Calvin • Lawrence Krauss • Neil Gershenfeld
• Joseph LeDoux • Stephen Kosslyn • Philip W.
Anderson • Kevin Kelly • Paul Davies • Haim
Harari • Janna Levin • Steven Pinker • Alison
Gopnik • Martin E. P. Seligman • John McWhorter •
Freeman Dyson • Robert Sapolsky • Leonard Susskind
• Keith Devlin • Susan Blackmore • Clifford
Pickover • Piet Hut • Gino Segre • Roger Schank
• Alan Kay • Bruce Sterling • Judith Rich Harris
• Arnold Trehub • Gregory Benford • Lynn Margulis
• Sam Harris • Elizabeth Spelke • Kai Krause
• Todd Feinberg • Nassim Nicholas Taleb • Irene
Pepperberg • Jesse Bering • Scott Atran • Karl
Sabbagh • Gary Marcus • Stewart Kauffman • Ray
Kurzweil • John Barrow • Jaron Lanier • Alex
Pentland • Richard Dawkins • Jean Paul Schmetz •
Thomas Metzinger • John R. Skoyles • John Horgan •
David Gelernter • Jordan Pollack • Lee Smolin •
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi • Jeffrey Epstein • Michael
Shermer • Leon Lederman • Tom Standage • Simon
Baron-Cohen • Stephen Petranek • J. Craig Venter •
Maria Spiropulu • David Buss • Esther Dyson •
David Myers • Denis Dutton • Donald Hoffman •
Kenneth Ford • Margaret Wertheim • Alun Anderson •
Philip Zimbardo • Paul Bloom • Robert Provine •
W. Daniel Hillis • Martin Nowak • Seth Lloyd •
Donald I. Williamson • Jonathan Haidt • Rebecca Goldstein
• Ned Block • Christine Finn • Rupert Sheldrake
• Rudy Rucker • Douglas Rushkoff • Verena Huber-Dyson
• Chris W. Anderson • Charles Simonyi • Carolyn
Porco • Martin Rees • Pamela McCorduck • James
O'Donnell • John McCarthy • Carlo Rovelli •
Leo Chalupa • Howard Rheingold • Steve Giddings •
Tor Nørretranders • Stanislas Deheane • Benoit
Mandelbrot • Ellen Winner • Paul Steinhardt •
Oliver Morton • Alexander Vilenkin • Terrence Sejnowski
• Brian Goodwin • Stephen H. Schneider • Randolph
Nesse • Timothy Taylor • Marti Hearst • Daniel
Goleman • Robert Trivers • Jared Diamond [click
here for responses]
The 2005 Edge Question has generated many eye-opening responses from a "who's who" of third culture scientists and science-minded thinkers. The 117 contributions comprise a document of 60,000 words.
The New York Times ("Science Times") and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ("Feuilliton") have been granted rights to publish excepts in their print and online editions simultaneously with Edge publication. The editors of "Science Times" and "Feuilliton", respectively, made their own selections. The Italian newspaper, Il Sole 24 Ore will follow on Sunday, January 9th.
This year there's a focus on consciousness, on knowing, on ideas of truth and proof. If pushed to generalize, I would say it is a commentary on how we are dealing with the idea of certainty.
We are in the age of "searchculture", in which Google and other search engines are leading us into a future rich with an abundance of correct answers along with an accompanying naïve sense of certainty. In the future, we will be able to answer the question, but will we be bright enough to ask it?
This is an alternative path. It may be that it's okay not to be certain, but to have a hunch, and to perceive on that basis. There is also evidence here that the scientists are thinking beyond their individual fields. Yes, they are engaged in the science of their own areas of research, but more importantly they are also thinking deeply about creating new understandings about the limits of science, of seeing science not just as a question of knowing things, but as a means of tuning into the deeper questions of who we are and how we know.
It may sound as if I am referring to a group of intellectuals, and not scientists. In fact, I refer to both. In 1991, I suggested the idea of a third culture, which "consists of those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectual in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefining who and what we are. "
I believe that the scientists of the third culture are the pre-eminent intellectuals of our time. But I can't prove it.
Happy New Year!
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is cofounder and resident artist of Edge.
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