We’re All Equal in Our Infinite Ignorance
Brett: Induction says that prediction is the main reason science exists, but it’s really explanation.
You want an explanation of what’s going on, even if you can’t necessarily predict with any certainty what’s going to happen next.
In fact, knowing what’s going to happen next with some degree of certainty can be deflating. The unknown can be far more fun than absolute certitude about what tomorrow will bring.
Naval: This brings us to the related point that science is never settled. We should always be free to have new creativity and new conjecture.
You never know where the best ideas are going to come from. You have to take every idea that’s made in good faith seriously.
This idea that “the science is settled” or “the science is closed” is nonsense. It implies that we can all agree on the process with which we come up with new theories.
But new theories come through creativity and conjecture. The door is always open for new people with new ideas to come in and do that.
Brett: As Popper said, “In our infinite ignorance we are all equal.”
Even if someone claims expertise—and they might have a valid claim—there’s an infinite number of things they don’t know that could affect the things they do know.
The student who’s not expert in anything can still come up with an idea that can challenge the foundations of the greatest expert.
Like the child, the expert is ignorant about a whole bunch of things and could have errors. Someone who lacks that fine-tuned knowledge can still point out those errors and present a better idea.