“Of course we might be wrong, but…”

From an interview on TheVerge.com with Brian Cox, the physicist and science superstar and host of the entertaining BBC radio show/podcast, The Infinite Monkey Cage:

Science is often presented as being dogmatic, when actually it’s the opposite of that. I’m just writing a new book actually, with a colleague of mine Jeff Forshaw at Manchester [University], and it’s really about how to think like a scientist. And in it we say that there’s an implicit preface — the start of every scientific book or every theory, the sentence should start “of course we might be wrong, but…” Could you imagine if every other area of human thought began with that? Imagine if the Bible started with “of course we might be wrong. However, in the beginning, God created…” Fantastic!

It’s a delight to fully embrace not-knowing. It takes the pressure off. You don’t have to be right or to have it figured out.

When I was young, I was pretty close to having it all figured out. Somehow, though, I’ve gotten dumber as I’ve aged. That’s normal, right?

Grasping for certainty can lead to bludgeoning others, and yourself, with the so-called right answers, with your application of what’s black and white and with no room for grey. And you’re likely to end up holding tightly to a comfortable fiction.

What if you searched for possibilities instead of certainty? Everything gets bigger with that approach. More possible paths. More possible solutions. More insecurity and uncertainty, yes. But more fun, too.

You look good in grey. Really. It flatters you.

Of course, I might be wrong…

3 thoughts on ““Of course we might be wrong, but…”

  1. […] I’m not envisioning a cynical, “prove-it-to-me”, arms folded, hard-hearted kind of doubt. The posture that seems most promising is an open-minded, skeptical, yet optimistic curiosity. The attitude that responds with “fascinating” and “help me understand” and “I wonder why…” and “I might be wrong, but…” […]

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