Every year, John Brockman comes up with a question and asks the eclectic group on the Edge forum to answer it…then all the answers get bound up in a book. In the past he has asked, “What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?”, “What is your dangerous idea?”, and “What are you optimistic about?” This year’s question is now revealed:
When thinking changes your mind, that’s philosophy. When God changes your mind, that’s faith. When facts change your mind, that’s science. What have you changed your mind about? Why?
It was a tough one. There are so many trivial things that we change our minds about — toast with my oatmeal, or a muffin? —but they don’t make for interesting reading. I’m afraid I got rather general in my answer, and argued that there is a commitment in science to look for data that will change your mind about something you are advocating, which creates an interesting paradox: if your goal is to change your mind about something, doesn’t finding evidence to change your mind mean that on a higher philosophical level you haven’t really changed your mind? For a scientist to really change his perspective would require a retreat into dogma.
Anyway, look for the book when it comes out — there are always infuriating and enlightening answers in them.