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"In his new book, Ignorance, neuroscientist Stuart Firestein goes where most academics dare not venture. Firestein openly confesses that he and the rest of his field don’t really know that much, relatively speaking. And what’s more, knowing itself, he argues, is highly overrated."

I like this sort of humility! Popular science books need much more of this, in my opinion.
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Gaythia Weis's profile photoJames Karaganis's profile photolaurie corzett's profile photoRebecca McMillan's profile photo
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Well, sure. If you don't know that you don't know, then you won't make any attempt to know more. All he's saying is that there's a lot more to know.

Which is good.
 
Knowing what you don't know is also saying that you are knowledgeable about the probable limits of what you do know. One hard thing about conveying science is the concept that there is uncertainty, but that does not preclude taking actions based on what is known. Too many deniers out there what to dismiss science with an "Oh well, it's only a theory". As the author above says, people in general do not like ambiguity. Thus the appeal of rigid belief systems. Rather than trying to sell the non-scientist public on the facts, we need to attempt to entrance them into the process of discovery that is science.
 
+Gaythia Weis Absolutely, and quantifying that uncertainty is very important. Accepting that the results of the scientific method are accurate only to a certain level of precision is, I agree, difficult for many people.

Now, I grew up in the sixties, and I will say that the grounding in science that I received then was very different from what is given to students today. I supposed it helped that my father held advanced degrees in nuclear physics.

It is extremely difficult to open the mind of the faithful to science: they already believe that they have all the answers, and frequently appear to take pity on those whose minds are closed to the wonders of Creation. It is a difficult experience at best, and in the end rarely serves any purpose other than to irritate everyone involved.
 
As that evil poet Donald Rumsfeld knew: There are the known knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns.
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