Tuesday, February 07, 2006

How little we know about ourselves, others, the world

Xenophanes, a pre-Socratic:
The gods did not reveal, from the beginning,
All things to us; but in the course of time,
Through seeking we may learn, and know things better.

But as for certain truth, no man has known it,
Nor will he know it; neither of the gods,
Nor yet of all the things of which I speak.
And even if by chance he were to utter
The final truth, he would himself not know it;
For all is but a woven web of guesses.
This is one of the epigrams to Popper's falsificationist The Growth of Scientific Knowledge. It strikes me now that it applies more to people, and to introspection, than to any science. This has certainly been a whorl of a semester.

They say that you can beat the National Weather Service at prediction by just guessing everyday that the weather will be the same as yesterday. This year I think my best stand-pat bet would be: the upcoming week will be completely unlike the week that is past.


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