“As for intelligent life I’m putting my money on the fact that in the whole universe, we are pretty much unique.” [Dr Michael Perryman, European Space Agency]
Duuuuhhh! You’d think if we’d learned anything in the 470-ish years since the scientific revolution kicked in, it would be that we should hold our own knowledge in greatest suspicion.
I’m sure those 16th century dudes would’ve put their money on the fact the Earth was at the centre of the solar system.
A few words from Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Black Swan) are in order:
“The human mind suffers from three ailments as it comes into contact with history, what I call the triplet of opacity. They are:
a. the illusion of understanding, or how everyone thinks he knows what is going on in a world that is more complicated (or random) than they realise;
b. the retrospective distortion, or how we can assess matters only after the fact, as if they were in a rearview mirror (history seems clearer and more organised in history books than in empirical reality); and
c. the overvaluation of factual information and the handicap of authoritative and learned people, particularly when they create categories”