Friday, December 23, 2005

Embodied Knowledge - Part 1. Sensory Experience.

Human Understanding Is Grounded In Experience.

    To get a good feel for something, you need to get some kind of experience of it. To learn how to fix bikes you need to actually work on bikes - seeing what they're made of and how the parts move together.

    Lesson 1:

    We need to see, touch, taste, feel, and/or smell things in order to make sense of them.

    We start this process soon after we're born, and we continue for our entire lives. Through our senses we learn about the world, about our mothers and fathers and brother and sisters, about water and wood and rocks and trees and food and drink and glass and plastic and red and blue and bright and dark and sharp and blunt and hot and cold and so on... Watch a growing child, and you will see that new learning is always incorporated through the senses:


    Higher level learning, like learning to read, is based on these experiences. If you don't remember this from your own life, just watch and listen to a class of first graders learning to read.


    or learning to write:


    There are plenty of sights and sounds and movements going on...

    Because all human understanding originates with our senses, the most direct, grounded, way to learn something new is to explore it directly with your senses.

    • Toying with bike parts helps you understand how to fix bikes…
    • Seeing the way body parts fit together is the best way to learn physical anatomy (which is why so many health professionals learn anatomy in cadaver labs).
    • Feeling the muscles underneath the skin is the best way to learn about the physical anatomy of massage.
    • Finding out how heavy something is helps you guess what it is made of (wood, metal, plastic?).
    • Deciding if your soup is salty enough is done by... you guessed it... tasting it!

    This is true for every kind of human knowledge. The most grounded knowledge, that which is used to create all of our understanding, is direct, observable, sensory experience.

    Part 2 will discuss how we use sensory experience to understand things that are too difficult or complex to understand with direct experience alone.

    Embodied Knowledge - Part 2. Metaphorical Knowledge

    In Part 1 we saw that all knowledge originates with our senses. This section describes how we use sensory experience to construct knowledge when we cannot directly experience something.

    For complex things that are hard to understand, or for things we can't sense directly (maybe, unlike with bicycles, we don’t have direct access to the parts), we understand them through metaphors that draw from things we have sensed directly. Metaphors draw from things we already understand to help us understand things that are more complex or less easy to directly sense. All "higher" knowledge is created like this, constructed with metaphors based on the foundation of sensory experience.

    Metaphors in the last sentence are indicated with italics:

    • Higher knowledge is
    • constructed with metaphors,
    • based on the foundation of sensory experience.

    What this means for learning is that knowledge makes “sense” by linking to real world observations - by connecting with things we understand through sights, sounds, tastes, textures, smells, measures, weights, numbers counted...

    And THIS MEANS that questions are best answered by exploring the world - either:

    1. directly exploring it (as discussed in Part 1), or
    2. by studying the direct explorations of other people, related to us with metaphors.

    Metaphors that work, that help us understand things, are those that ground something abstract to something we are already familiar with. They build on knowledge we already understand very well, rooted in our sensory experience.


    1. "You need to take care of your health as a priority, even if you want to care for others. It's like the oxygen mask on the plane - you have to affix your own oxygen mask first or you might pass out and be useless to everyone else... So, to be of help to others, you need to be careful to take care of your basic needs."

    Metaphors that don't work, that do not help us actually understand things in useful ways, are those that fail to ground the new understanding in things we already understand. They are either too abstract (too far removed from our experience) or fail to sensibly connect to the experience they're evoking - so they don't help us use the metaphor in our lives.

    1. "Its just energetic, man. You need to feel the vibrations, and you'll just know what you need to do."
    2. "Using these physics equations is like learning to ride a bike. You just need to practice, and once you get them, you just get them."
    In example number one, the listener may feel reasurred or even encouraged by the metaphor. However, it is unlikely that the difficult decision of which cancer treatment your child should undergo will be made easier with intangible vibrations. The metaphor is ungrounded.

    In example number two, the struggling student is unlikely to suddenly "get" the physics problem by writing it out over and over again. The metaphor doesn't translate well to the real situation.

    If you are trying to understand cancer treatments, you may benefit from speaking to people who already understand them, and can answer your questions in ways that help nurture your understanding. If you want to learn how to solve physics problems, you may benefit from a patient and imaginative teacher who can suggest different ways of seeing the situation, until one of them works for you. So when you are trying to understand something that you can't explore all by yourself, you might try to find people who already understand it and will describe what they have seen or learned in a way that relate, metaphorically, to things you already know through your life experience.

    Different kinds of metaphors:

    If no one has invented the tools or techniques yet for directly exploring a particular subject, the next best thing is to use current knowledge (from direct experience of whatever we can study) to make educated guesses (using our best metaphors) about what we would find if we could explore the unexplorable system. And for this to be realistic, the guesswork has to somehow tie-in to things that are directly observable. This is called modelling, in the sense of making a model of something (a useful metaphor, no?). By relating to things that are directly observable, models can be used to make predictions - which can then be tested. By testing the predictions made by different models, researchers can choose the one that works the best. However, even the best models are still just models. The observations that inspire them are good solid real-world knowledge, but the models are just guesses, imaginary sketches of what something would look like if we could really see it.


    When we learn about the phenomenon we call gravity, we are taught that things fall to the earth because they are "pulled" by the "force" of gravity. Pushing and pulling are things we understand with our real world experience. We talk about the effort expended when we push or pull on something as the amount of "force" we apply.

    By calling gravity a "force", Isaac Newton (who first described gravity) was able to metaphorically explain something invisible in terms of things we all understand. He created mathematical equations that accurately predicted the accelaration of falling objects, and suggested that objects fall because they are being pulled by a force, which he called gravity.

    Scientists have been following his lead for centuries, inventing creative metaphors to describe things that are difficult to understand. There was a time when they talked about heat as if it was an invisible weightless fluid called "caloric" that "flowed" from hot objects to cooler objects. Some physicists prefer to use the metaphor of tiny invisible "strings" instead of the metaphor of tiny invisible "particles" to describe the fundamental "building blocks" of the universe. String theory advocates explain what we observe in terms of the "vibrations" of the tiny invisible strings. Quantum physicists explain the world in terms of tiny particle like "packets" of energy that are waves or particles depending on how you look at them...

    The point with all these different ways of understanding the world around us is that they are METAPHORS. You can't see a sub-atomic wave-particle, and you can't see a sub-atomic vibrating string.

    When someone comes up with a new model that allows them to use an established branch of mathematics to make new predictions, which are tested and come true, people tend to get really excited as though they've made a new "discovery" (a metaphor which suggests that you have uncovered something and can now see it). This is not accurate. Nothing was uncovered.

    What they have done is come up with a new, and statistically useful, model. It may help make predictions. It may even help us work with invisible wave-particles... But it doesn't uncover anything. Instead, it organizes our observations according to an imaginary framework that is new and exciting for us.

    In summary, so far:
    1. The origin of all knowledge is sensory experience.
    2. Things that cannot be directly experience are conceptualized in terms of things that can be (with metaphors).
    3. Special metaphors called models are used to make predictions about things that can be experienced, and when they work the models are used AS IF they represent knowledge of real things.
    The next section will deal with how to use this understanding to answer the questions we ask about life, the universe, and everything...

    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    Embodied Knowledge - Part 3. Using Direct Experience and Metaphors to Understand the World

    Our journey so far:
    * Part I: All knowledge is comes from our senses
    * Part II: Metaphors are bridges from direct to indirect knowledge

    * How do we use these realizations to find good answers to tough

    For most of our important Life Questions:

    • What causes cancer?
    • Should I drink bottled water or filtered tap water?
    • What is human nature?
    • How can I lose weight?
    • Are people inherently good or inherently evil?
    • Is it safe to eat tuna?
    • How do I know if I'm following my destiny?
    • Is there life after death?

    the answers are not obvious. Following parts 1 and 2, we need to connect with direct experience and grounded metaphors. This is hard to do without help. We can't understand invisible biological systems directly. We need tools to make them visible, and carefully constructed experiments to determine how they function. Because most of us don't have access to these tools and experiments, we need help from the thousands of researchers that DO have access to these things, and HAVE studied and characterized them. If your curiosity is cancer, you are therefore very very lucky that researchers publish their findings, and the thing to do is read about cancer based on these published findings.

    Just thinking about things isn't enough. There has to be a search. Or research.

    The same formula applies to anything you want to study, provided that the tools of exploration have been invented, and they have been used by researchers who follow good experimental protocols and publish their results in peer-reviewed journals. Peer-reviewed journals are those that publish articles that have been reviewed by editors who are educated in their subject matter. This helps weed out mistakes, and reduces the amount of unreliable information that is published.

    To understand the world, you have to study the world, or other people's studies and work at it until your answers make sense. You need to learn the best models available that characterize whatever you are studying. Since all models of understanding are based on metaphors, the goal is to find the metaphors that are most closely linked to the observations they are trying to explain. Those metaphors will be created by people who do the most direct studies of whatever you are learning.
    • Astronomers are the best people to ask about the stars.
    • Astro-physicists are the best people to ask about the age of the universe.
    • Auto mechanics are the best people to ask about what is going wrong with your car.
    • Photographers are the best people to ask about photography.
    • Chemists are the best people to ask about the chemistry of photographic film.
    • Faith healers are the best people to ask about the rationale behind faith-healing practises.
    • Statisticians examining empirical evidence are the best people to ask about the consequences of faith healing as a medical strategy.
    • Buddist monks are the best people to ask about the practises of buddhism (what it feels like to practise buddhist meditation).
    • Cognitive scientists are the best people to ask about the metaphorical thought-system of buddhism (what is actually going on in the brains of people practising meditation).
    • Neurologists are the best people to ask about the physical consequences of buddhist meditation on the brain.
    • Statisticians examining empirical evidence are the best people to ask about the consequences of buddhist meditation techniques on mental-health.

    Properly studying something means finding out who understands it the best, and learning from them. These people should be able to provide explanations that tie-in directly to as many observations as possible. Their models should help researchers make predictions that come true.

    • It means finding out who is really exploring the exact subject you are interested in (as above), and studying what they have learned.
    • It means finding the shortest path to direct knowledge (sensation).

    This kind of learning takes work, but it works! It is more involved than simply taking your uncle's or your teacher's or your doctor's or your pastor's or your president's or your sister's or your naturopath's word for it. And it gives you better answers than reading random books or newspaper articles or esoteric magazines or ancient manuscripts or amateur websites... Answers that are actually useful, that you can use to help your life and the lives of your loved ones! Answers that actually work, instead of wasting your time and money... Answers that protect you and your family from false prophets, misinformed people, con-artists and charlatans.

    Sunday, December 11, 2005

    Exploring the Real World

    Most of us have questions about life.

    Is there life after death?

    If I wish really hard, will it come true?

    Is it safe to eat ground beef?

    Why do people get cancer?

    and so on...

    One question that used to weigh heavily on many people's minds was whether or not the Earth had an edge that you could fall off, if you travelled too far. Sailors were scared to sail too far from home, lest they fall of the edge of the world into an infinite abyss. And no matter how much people argued and argued about whether or not there was such an abyss, the issue could not be settled once and for all - until it was explored!

    The way people learned about the shape of the world was by exploring it. Arguing about whether it should be flat or round made no difference to the actual shape of the Earth. In the end, the shape of the Earth was discovered when people sailed all the way around it (which would clearly be impossible if there was a giant cliff in all directions). This discovery, made through exploration, settled the issue once and for all (at least for sane people).

    Of course, not all questions are as straightforward as whether the earth is flat or round.
    But all questions are ultimately settled through

    Whether or not the world is teeming with trillions of tiny invisible organisms, an idea that seemed laughable a few centuries ago (and still does to some people), was settled when a Dutch scientist invented the Microscope. With his microscope, he could see that there were millions of tiny life forms swimming around in a drop of water, that our bodies were made up of tiny cells and so on. An entire realm that had previously been unknowable became explorable. Over the last 3 centuries, microscopes have been refined so well that we can now see the tiny particles that make up all atoms that make up all molecules that make up all cells that make up every living thing...

    Of course, we don't all need to look through a microscope to learn about bacteria and viruses and molecules and atoms and so on. It can really help our understanding, but it isn't necessary. We can learn about these things from books, photographs, educational videos, knowledgeable teachers... The catch is that the source of the knowledge has to be real exploration - exploration of the real observable world. Without real world observations, we're still stuck at round earth vs. flat earth...

    However, knowing what books to read and who to ask can be tricky, especially if we've never been taught how to do it (as is the case for most of us).
    • Should you read The Watchtower?
    • Or should you read Common Ground?
    • Should you read Scientific American?
    • Should you read David Suzuki?
    • Should you read Deepak Chopra?
    • Should you read the Dalai Lama?
    • Should you read the Bible?
    • Should you read the Bhagavad Gita?
    What you should read depends on what you want to learn. If you want to learn about hindu spirituality, the Bhagavad Gita is a good place to explore an influential hindu holy text. If you want to learn what the Jehovah's Witnesses believe, then you might read The Watchtower. If you want to know what New Agers believe, then you might read Common Ground. If you want to know what "Mind-Body" medicine guru's are preaching, read Deepak Chopra. However, if you want to know about the structure of the human brain, you're better off reading directly scientific publications. The Watchtower authors don't know much about it. They don't explore it. The Bhagavad Gita authors didn't explore it, they didn't have the tools and techniquest to learn about brain structures. Neither did the authors of the Bible. But authors in scientific journals like Scientific American Mind are typically people who actually explore the brain, or study the explorations of others who do.

    AND, if you don't feel up to it or don't have the time to research everything properly or whatever is stopping you, at least find someone who knows what they're talking about, who's knowledge is ultimately derived from real world observations and studies, and get them to explain it to you.

    The easy way to distinguish whether something is Magical Thinking or sound information is by finding out if the answer it gives actually corresponds to real live observable evidence! If there is reputable, published evidence to support the claim, well, it may just have something to it. If you are taking someone's word for it, and they don't seem to have access to any evidence to support their claim - well then, what that means is that their claim is so weak that it doesn't actually account for anything observable in the real world!!! If it did, there would be evidence. That's what evidence is! Real world observable effects...

    Now, a lot of things haven't been properly studied yet. Maybe the microscopes aren't good enough to detect the bugs yet, or the ships aren't quite good enough to sail us around the world yet... BUT SOMEDAY THEY WILL BE! Things are progressing so fast now that someone may already have found a way to answer a question that was impossible to explore just last year!
    If you want good answers, make sure you get the most up to date research. An issue that you are worried about, that people are arguing about may already be settled...

    So if your question is medical but goes beyond the scope of your family doctor's training (he or she is not able to explain it satisfactorily) then you have to find someone who knows better (a specialist). This is becoming more and more common, because more and more is being discovered, and you can't possibly expect a general practionner to keep up on it all!

    If your question is about taxes, you need to consult a tax lawyer, or tax accountant, or get a book written by one!

    If your question is about horoscopes, find a journal that has critically investigated the claims of astrologers who claim they can predict things based on the stars. See if they really can! (this is one of the questions that was answered a long time ago).

    By looking in the right places, you can actually:

    Find out if there really are any psychics in the world (its worth finding out).

    Find out if anyone really can levitate.

    Find out if praying really does make a difference, and if so: what kind of difference does it make?

    Find out if there's any value to an alternative medical practice (or at least find out if it has any basis in reality).

    Find out if past-life regressions are real, or just a fairy tale...

    Find out if talking to water really does make it freeze into beautiful crystals, or if that is an ingenious hoax...

    Of course you don't ask someone who's job it is to sell you stuff! You ask (or read) people with no vested interest in convincing you either way. Independent researchers. And researchers who's writings are reviewed by others in their field, held to high standards, and judged to be competent.

    • If you want to know which vacuum cleaner is the best, don't trust the salesman! Read a good independent review of vacuums!
    • If you want to know about a medication, don't just read its advertising materials! Read independent reviews of the medication.
    • If you want to know how hypnosis works, and whether or not "memories" it appears to reveal are legitimate, read about the human brain and how it constructs experience and memory. ...and so on.

    Panning for Gold

    Panning for gold requires patience, and an understanding of the properties of gold relative to other minerals. Gold panners don't just work with any pile of sand and pebbles. No, they learn how to distinguish promising from hopeless sediments. And once they've done that, they have a method for sorting through all the junk to get to the gold. They swirl it around and around and the junk spills out of their pans - leaving behind any gold.

    If you're panning for knowledge, its the same game.

    There's lots of junk knowledge out there. Way more than there is real knowledge.

    To get to it, you need to learn how to sort the promising from the hopeless (which will save you lots and lots of time!). And once you've decided what information you'll work with, you need a method to get through the heap of sand and muck to find the goods.

    How to know what to work with? And how to sort it?

    For suggestions on this, see Who To Trust and Exploring the Real World.

    Who To Trust

    In life, it is often hard to know who to trust.

    Sometimes the people who are the most convincing are lying through their teeth. Sometimes the truth is harder to understand than fantasy, and so we get swept up in the fantasy and leave the truth behind.

    The thing is: reality is much more useful than fantasy. Really exploring lets you learn about the world. Pretend exploring is fun, as any child will tell you, but doesn't say much about the world. Real exploring is an adventure. Like any good adventure, it takes courage, humility, and perseverance. Pretending to explore the world does not require these things. It just requires an imagination.

    If you want to know about far-flung places in the world, you are better off asking real explorers than pretend explorers. Pretend explorers may have more fantastical stories, so it may be more fun or compelling to listen to them. But real explorers can actually tell you about the places they've seen.

    In the same way, if you want to know about something closer to home, like food safety, you are better off asking someone who has explored the subject, rather than someone who is simply imagining up their answers. You want to ask someone who has studied biology AND who has read good and up-to-date research on food safety issues. You don't want to ask the clerk at the health food store, unless they happen to be well studied on the subject (and can refer you to good sources to back up what they say).

    Conjuring up imaginary answers to real world questions can be exciting, fun, frightening, confusing, frustrating, dangerous... lots of things. One thing it is not is reliable. People who make up answers to things, rather than actually investigate it, are not reliable when it comes to good information.

    This is true of the exalted philosophers of history, as well as your next door neighbour. It's true of your doctor (if your doctor doesn't do his or her homework) just as it's true of your cab driver (with his far-fletched conspiracy theories). It is true of your naturopath (who believes that all the ailments of your body can be diagnosed by looking in your eyes) just as it is true of your yoga instructor (who thinks all diseases can be cured by breathing properly).

    The trouble with this realization is that you can't just rely on people for their title. A good doctor and a good naturopath should be trained in how to do good research. But you can't necessarily tell whether your doctor or naturopath actually does this. For that, you have to ask questions, and get really good explanations. If they can't explain it well, then they probably don't know what they're talking about (even if they do, you need to find someone who can explain it well enough to you). If they dont' have, or can't retrieve good references (of reliable studies) that back up their claims, then they probably haven't done their homework. That doesn't mean they're bad people, but it does mean that their explanations (at least about whatever topic you are asking about) are not very reliable.

    There are lots and lots and lots and lots of people who don't know what they are talking about.
    Most people.

    Finding good answers means avoiding those people and asking people who actually know - who are well studied in - what they are talking about.

    Thursday, December 08, 2005

    What is Science?

    People have all kinds of opinions about Science.

    They think that Science has all the answers,
    or that it is too restrictive to get at the deeper truth.

    They think that Science is objective,
    or that it is objectionable.

    They think that Science is realistic,
    or that it is really boring.

    They think that Science is the new Religion,
    or that it is just a passing trend.

    They think that Science is an adventure,
    or that it is just an escape.

    But what is Science and how does it work? How is it different from Religion or Philosophy?

    First of all, science is not a thing, nor a philosophy. It is not a belief system, nor an ideology. The central difference between science, on the one hand, and religion and philosophy, on the other, is that science relies on a fundamentally different approach for its work to be carried out. That difference is Empiricism.

    Empiricism generally means understanding the world by directly observing it. It is concerned with the world as others can see and hear and feel it. It demands that ideas about how the world works be linked to real world observations - that they tie in somehow with observable reality. That they can be verified or refuted. Doing science is about observing the world (measuring it, describing it, documenting it), and then thinking about it, coming up with ideas that might explain it, and testing those ideas against accumulated evidence.

    Doing philosophy is about thinking abstractly and about logically manipulating arguments. Philosophers may ask great questions about the universe and the meaning of life and the origin of truth and so on. The way they do it is by thinking, structuring arguments, and refining their arguments so that they are logically consistent. Philosophy draws its working material from accepted truths called axioms, which provide the material to build arguments about life and the universe. These truths do not have to be proven with observations or evidence. They just need to appear obvious - so seemingly true that it would be silly to doubt them. With philosophy, many amazing things are learned about the way humans structure their thinking, about how to communicate ideas effectively, about how to evaluate and compare different ideas against one another. However, due to the fact that philosophy does not rely on real world evidence, the practical usefulness of philosophical ideas is relatively limited. Engineers do not rely on philosophy to build bridges.

    Religion is similar to philosophy in its foundation, except that religious people tend to place less emphasis on being logically consistent. Like philosophy, religion relies on accepted truths, ideas that must be accepted on faith because they do not correspond with specific observations in the real world. Interestingly, this hasn't stopped people from trying to prove articles of faith. It has, however, stopped people from succeeding.**

    **more excerpts from a US Federal Judge's ruling about "Intelligent Design" being taught in science classrooms.
    and a story about how museum guides are learning to manage public confusion over science.

    Proofs for most religious ideas cannot be actually made, because the ideas are fundamentally abstract. When the ideas are concretely expressed, they are usually wrong - that is, they usually conflict with discoveries made since the religious ideas were first thought up.

    The earth, after all, is not flat.

    And of course, scientific discoveries do nothing to dismiss the value of religious thinking, which is hugely important to billions of people. By contrast, the role of religions might be better understood as complementary to science, since religion and science properly work in different realms. Science works with the observable world, and religion with the unobservable. Religion is hugely valuable for providing comfort and support to people by answering many of the big questions and concerns in life that cannot be answered scientifically.

    So, if science works differently than philosophy and religion, how does it work?

    Science is a process - a massive international project, a work in motion. It progresses through collaboration, communication, and evaluation. People study things, report their findings, and evaluate the findings of others. It is not simply one method employed by one or a small group of cultures. It is made up of thousands of investigative methods, with new tools and techniques being invented all the time. Science is not "Western". It is international. Its processes and insights are relied upon by every nation on earth. It is carried out by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, conducting experiments and analyzing them, and reporting their findings. It is also carried out by people that review and evaluate scientific publications, helping experimenters to design better and better studies.

    The processes of scientific investigation, reporting, and reviewing are the internationally accepted standards for research and development. Every piece of modern technology is based on countless scientific discoveries made in the past, and refined over the years. No other system of knowledge has built airplanes or computers. No other way of problem solving has answered fundamental questions in Biology, for example that every living thing is made up of tiny cells, or Physics, for example that all matter is made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. In fact, no other system of study and communication has the built-in corrective measures necessary to overcome the natural human temptation to invent magical answers (that the moon is made of cheese, or that diseases are caused by evil spirits), or to discover our often hidden assumptions and test them to see if they are valid.

    This does not mean that great discoveries aren't made by people employing mystical or spiritual techniques. It just means that those discoveries can't be known to be great, and certainly can't be known to be accurate or useful until they are examined, studied, and evaluated. Many great discoveries in human knowledge were made by dreamers, meditators, and thinkers. But they became part of human knowledge by being studied and evaluated, and found to match observations in the real world, and to be useful in making predictions about future events... This is how other people came to accept them, and to make use of them. On the other hand, plenty of committedly held ideas, arrived at by philosophical or spiritual introspection, have fallen by the wayside as investigators evaluated them and found them to be mistaken or baseless. The world, despite the protestations of some religious fundamentalists, is not flat. It is round. There is nobody left that navigates the earth using the idea that it is flat. Evolution, independent of our belief systems, not only occured in the past, but is continuing to occur around the world, all the time.

    Now, the fact that scientific research can help people create reliable knowledge doesn't mean that mistakes aren't make along the way!!! Of course they are. Anyone investigating pressing problems will make mistakes. The great thing about scientific collaboration, evaluation, and experimentation is that mistakes can be caught and corrected. While many assumptions made by scientists in the past have turned out to be wrong, as will some of todays assumptions, the way we eventually discover that they are wrong is through science!

    And there is, sadly, no way to guarantee that scientific discoveries aren't used for ugly or cruel purposes. This is one of the things that unites science with religion and philosophy. Religious and philosophical ideas, just like scientific ones, have been manipulated by warriors and politicians to justify conquest and injustice, bigotry and contempt. Technologies created with scientific discoveries can be used for kindness or cruelty. What groups of humans do with technological innovations is a function not of science itself, but of politics - the systems of power and decision making in human societies.

    About scientific knowledge:
    • Scientists can't know it all, ever. They never will. Any untested scientific assumptions and ideas are simply hypotheses waiting for someone to test them, or waiting for the tools and techniques to catch up to the point where someone CAN test them.
    • Scientists DO know some things very well. In fact, the collaborative processes that make up science are a highly reliable way to know things. Countless examples through history reveal that believing you know something just because you feel it really strongly is an unreliable way of knowing things. Believing you will win the lottery does not improve your chances. Believing that you will evade lung cancer does not stop smoking from injuring your lung tissue. Instead, we need to work together to learn about life. We rely on each other to examine and verify our knowledge, to improve it and develop it. Thousands of psychological studies show that people are routinely wrong about things they believe very strongly. By contrast, sharing your ideas and having them tested is a great way to find out if they are true. The idea that the world is round ultimately prevailed over the idea that it is flat when people put it to the test and sailed around it.
    Finally - Science is diverse:

    There is no one way of thinking in science. There are many approaches, more or less useful for different kinds of investigation. And they are tested and refined as soon as the tools and techniques can do it.

    Again: Scientists do not all think alike. It is the rich diversity of ideas, which are then evaluated and tested, that drive scientific progress.