Richard Fenyman was a great teacher, scientist and humanitarian to be sure. The problem is with idolization of certain scientists by status quo science establishment and academia, where the mere suggestion of alternate theories is regarded as heretical, and discussion discouraged and shutdown (and so follows funding).

We are in the middle of our evolution, not the end; there is little in the canon of human knowledge which we should be so arrogant as to consider “settled science”.

In David Deutsch’s book “The Beginning of Infinity” (pp. 444) he writes “In regard to theoretical knowledge, the prevailing world view has not caught up with Enlightenment values. Thanks to the fallacy and bias of prophecy, a persistent assumption remains that our existing theories are at or fairly close to the limit of what is knowable – that we are nearly there, or perhaps halfway there.”

In illustrating his point Deutsch quotes Richard Fenyman – “I think there will certainly not be novelty, say for a thousand years. This thing cannot keep going on so that we are always going to discover more and more new laws. If we do it will become boring that there are so many levels one underneath the other…We are very lucky to live in an age in which we are still making discoveries. It is like the discovery of America – you only discover it once” – from “The Character of Physical Law (1965)

Deutsch continues “Among other things Fenyman forgot that the very concept of a “law” of nature is not cast in stone. As for being boring, that is merely a prophecy that criteria for judging problems will not evolve as fast as the problems themselves; but there is no argument for that other than a failure of imagination. Shedding that kind of parochialism is something that will have to be done again and again in the future. A level of knowledge, wealth, computer power or physical scale that seems absurdly huge at any given instant will later be considered pathetically tiny. Yet we shall never reach anything like an unproblematic state.”

Its fine to celebrate Fenyman, Einstein and our many other great pioneers and educators for their accomplishments, but it’s also time to open the door on discussion about some of our so-called “settled science”; and this being an absolute requirement for advancement of the state of the human condition.

http://www.daviddeutsch.org.uk/books/the-beginning-of-infinity/

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