What Do You Believe Is True Even Though You Can't Prove It?
Maura Pennington's very interesting post on the devaluation of the written word led me to a website I'd never heard of, and which I now have to studiously avoid because it's a time-suck of such epic proportions -- kind of like Facebook for people who talk about big ideas instead of about cat antics. It's called Edge. The central premise is simple: a Big Question is put out there and Big Thinkers weigh in with their answers. The questions range from "What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?" to "What have you changed your mind about?" and "What scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit?"
The questions are all fascinating, but one in particular really grabbed me: "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" The first reply that occurred to me was "the idea that what I see as green is the same as what you see as green". Edge compiled 120 very interesting answers, including this one from psychologist 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. I believe this because there is strong evidence for a functional trade-off with development. Young children are much better than adults at learning new things and flexibly changing what they think about the world. On the other hand, they are much worse at using their knowledge to act in a swift, efficient and automatic way. They can learn three languages at once but they can't tie their shoelaces...
I think that, for babies, every day is first love in Paris. Every wobbly step is skydiving, every game of hide and seek is Einstein in 1905.
What about you? What do you believe is true even though you can't prove it?