Monday, 13 June 2011

On being wrong

Achieving consensus - Wikipedia

If we are to make intellectual progress, this is if we are to move from untrue ideas towards true ideas, then many of our current ideas must be wrong. In a few hundred years at most, we shall presumably have better ideas than many of those we now hold dear. In other words, the wisdom of crowds is only temporary.

I think that’s why consensus is so untrustworthy, especially scientific consensus. When a new idea comes along, the old one is consigned to the dustbin of history and we should not be so naive as to think it won’t happen to us. It will.

If progress continues, then the majority must eventually be proved wrong in a number of important assumptions. There is no wisdom to be found in crowds, only the temporary and illusory security of consensus. A humbling thought one might say - if it wasn't so bloody frustrating.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed. Which is why my starting point is always to disagree with everybody on every topic.

If they're right and I'm wrong, then no harm done. If everybody else is wrong and I am right, then maybe we can take a step forward.

So actually, you're wrong.

Demetrius said...

The history of ulcer and related gastric treatment is a case in point.

James Higham said...

Always assuming, AKH, that we'll be here in 100 years.

A K Haart said...

MW - Ho ho!

D - exactly. We still haven't learned the lesson there.

JH - I will be here in 100 years because I eat my five portions a day.