The Edge.org posed the question:
What have you changed your mind about? And why?
Self-introspection and confessions of change are very useful. Before listing some of confessions of the great thinkers at The Edge, let me confess some of my own changes of belief over the years:
- Acupuncture is an amazingly powerful medical treatment –> NOT
- Homeopathy works –> NOT
- Christianity is the answer and Jesus is the way –> NOT
- Marxism is the answer for the world –> NOT
- Belief is an all or nothing thing –> NOT
If you get a chance below, please tell us what you use to believe but don’t now.
Now for the Greats ! Hopefully some will want to go to the site and read the details:
- Memory is stored once –> Memory is constantly recreated.
— Joseph LeDoux, neuroscientist
- Analogies can explain anything –> NOT
— Piet Hut, astrophysics
- Perception is useful to the extent it is veridical –> Perception is useful because it is NOT veridical
— Donald Hoffman, cognitive scientist
- Cultural relativist –> NOT
— Timothy Taylor, archaeologist
- Mathematical Platonist –> NOT
— Keith Devlin, mathematician
- Newborns are blank slates –> NOT; Sexual Orientation is natural –> NOT
— David G. Myers, social psychologist
- Adult brain does not make new neurons –> Does too !
— Robert Sapolshy, neuroscientist
- The machinery that allows humans to learn language is “special” –> NOT
— Gary Marucs, psychologist
- Quantum reality is timeless –> Time is real
— Lee Smolin, physicist
- Science guaranteed ethical behavior –> NOT
— Ken Ford, physicist
- Sex Differences are socially constructed –> True but biology is huge
— Diane Halpern, Psychologist
- Laws of physics are immutable –> NOT
— Paul Davies, physicist
- Rational thinking would eventual eradicate irrational thinking and supernatural beliefs –> NOT
— Marco Iacoboni, neuroscientist
- Skepticism is primarily an intellectual virtue, whose goal was truth –> Nope, it is used as a weapon
— Rupert Sheldrake, biologist
- I once trusted in the wisdom of Nature –> Mother Nature is not our Friend
— Sam Harris, neuroscience
- Scientific literature is respected and builds –> New scientific ideas can be smothered with silence
— Robart Shapiro, chemist
- I should trust the consensus of experts in disciplines outside my area of expertise –> Much of scientific opinion and even more of medical opinion fall into the murky area circumscribed by a lack of adequate knowledge about the processes at hand.
— Paul Ewald, biologist
- I use to believe and prove the Paranormal –> Now I prove it false
— Susan Blackmore, psychologist
- I used to believe that you could find out what is true by finding the smartest people and finding out what they think. –> However, the most brilliant people keep turning out to be wrong.
— Randolph Nesse, psychiatrist
Note: This is only a partial list stripped of their interesting essays. Here is a link to the book version if you don’t like reading on-line. The Edge has also written on other questions — see here. My previous post lists samples of answers to the question, “What do I believe that I can not prove?”.