This Year’s Edge Question

by wjw on January 5, 2008

This year, the Edge Institute’s question is, “What have you changed your mind about?”

They asked this question of 164 people, from Alan Alda to Anton Zeilinger. A few science fiction writers are also in the mix.

Here are the results. The essays cover physics, psychology, social sciences, linguistics, art, even science fiction.

It’s far too much to absorb all at once, but I’m trying to cover a few essays every day, hoping that at least some of these ideas, or their antitheses, will settle into my brain.

David W Goldman January 5, 2008 at 6:53 am

Wow. Some of these are very interesting.

Dave Bishop January 6, 2008 at 5:06 pm

I can’t help thinking that Irene Pepperberg has not, until recently, understood the nature of hypothesis testing!

Of course you have to understand your subject before you can frame a meaningful hypothesis!

The only meaningful measurements are measurements of differences, not of individual effects.

And gathering data to “prove” your hypothesis, rather than to test it, is called “cheating” – and scientists shouldn’t do that.

What Pepperberg is really criticising is wooly thinking and ‘fudgery’ – NOT hypothesis testing (which remains a valid technique)!

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