Carl Sagan said that there were no other species on Earth that does science: “It is, so far, entirely a human invention, evolved by natural selection in the cerebral cortex for one simple reason: it works. It is not perfect. It can be misused. It is only a tool. But it is by far the best tool we have, self-correcting, ongoing, applicable to everything.”
The Human Science, to be really, one has two rules which can’t be bent:
First: there are no sacred truths; all assumptions must be critically examined; arguments from authority are worthless.
Second: whatever is inconsistent with the facts must be discarded or revised. Present global culture is a kind of arrogant newcomer. It arrives on the planetary stage following four and a half billion years of other acts, and after looking about for a few thousand years declares itself in possession of eternal truths. But in a world that is changing as fast as ours, this is a prescription for disaster.
In fact, we must understand the Cosmos as it. We must not confuse how it is with how we wish it to be.
The obvious is sometimes false; the unexpected is sometimes true.
No nation, no religion, no economic system, no body of knowledge, is likely to have all the answers for our survival. There may appear new social systems that would work far better than any now in existence.
In the past, science and learning were the preserve of a privileged few. The vast population had not the vaguest notion of the great discoveries taking place near by. Discoveries in mechanics and steam technology were applied mainly to the perfection of weapons, the encouragement of superstition, the amusement of kings. The scientists didn’t grasp the potential of machines (with few exceptions). The great intellectual achievements of antiquity had few immediate practical applications. Science never captured the imagination of the multitude. There was no counterbalance to stagnation, to pessimism, to the most abject surrenders to mysticism.
When the mob came to burn the Alexandrian Library down, there was nobody to stop them. Here clearly were the seeds of the modern world of total ignorance on another level. Image : © Megan Jorgensen