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The Science of Uncertainty

  • The principle of Relativity, Quantum Physics' principle of indeterminacy and the second law of Thermodynamics (about entropy) are sometimes interpreted as proofs that Science "doesn't know".
  • It is not true that Science "doesn't know": Science "knows" that it doesn't know. Not knowing and knowing that one doesn't know are not the same thing.
  • If you don't know, you might also not know that you don't know, i.e. you might well think that you know. Science knows that it doesn't know, and sometimes it even knows "what" it doesn't know.
  • Science does not know the value of pi and the square root of the number 2 (they both have an infinite number of decimal digits). But it knows that it doesn't know them. It doesn't mean that Science cannot say anything about them. In fact, it can say a lot about them precisely because it knows that it doesn't know them.
  • In fact, those scientific theories that revealed embarrassing limits in the program of explaining everything indirectly laid the foundations for a veritable science of uncertainty.
  • First of all, science studies the relationship between our senses and reality (how do we validate what we "know").
  • Science can research what are the limits to what we can know, to our understanding of the universe.
  • Science can also study how much certainty is truly relevant and makes sense (many problems require a "plausible" solution, not necessarily a perfect one, but they require it right away).
  • Science can even improve on certainty: you can be certain that a cherry is red or that the sky is blue, but Science can tell you "how" red and "how" blue they are.
  • Science cannot predict the future but may be able to predict how much we can predict about the future.