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J_Thomas comments on No One Knows What Science Doesn't Know - Less Wrong

38 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 October 2007 11:47PM

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Comment author: J_Thomas 27 October 2007 02:18:53PM 0 points [-]

"Knowing" is different for christians versus scientists. A christian can "know" that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. A scientist who "knows" that gravity comes from the curvature of space is accepting a tentative hypothesis which he will discard when something better comes along. He's taken something that's compatible with the known facts and if he's active in that particular line of research then he's using what he "knows" to choose interesting things to look at.

At any given time some people will be behind the times about what science "knows". I met a mathematician who didn't believe me about molecular biology in 1982. She simply didn't know there was any such thing. She went off and researched it, and the next time we met she apologised for disbelieving me and she admitted that there was such a field. It's easy for scientists to be just as far behind as anybody else about things outside their own specialities.

This is related to people not keeping up with fashions and fads. The latest ideas in another field -- things you believe somebody "knows", the current default hypotheses -- often are just not very important to what you're doing.