Todos los años EDGE plantea una pregunta. La de 2005 es «¿Qué crees que es verdad aunque no puedes demostrar que lo sea?». Las respuestas de los científicos -de múltiples disciplinas, algunas poco científicas- son muy interesantes.
La pregunta tiene mucha miga. Se puede entender al menos de dos formas. Por un lado, podría entenderse como aquello que crees por fe aunque de ninguna forma, jamás, podría demostrarse que es cierto. Pero también podría entenderse como qué crees que es cierto aunque ahora mismo no puedes demostrarlo (aunque quizá podría demostrarse en el futuro).
Yo me tomaría la pregunta en el primer sentido y daría una respuesta acorde. Curiosamente, es Michael Shermer el que da una respuesta que se acerca mucho a la mía:
In conclusion, I believe, but cannot prove…that reality exists and science is the best method for understanding it, there is no God, the universe is determined but we are free, morality evolved as an adaptive trait of humans and human communities, and that ultimately all of existence is explicable through science.
Explica cada uno de esos puntos, pero es asombrosamente conciso en el último párrafo.
Aquí viene una selección de otras respuestas. Las ideas son interesantes, aunque si uno conoce la obra de los implicados no son excesivamente sorprendentes.
Jared Diamond atribuye la extinción de grandes animales a la colonización humana de los continentes (los bichos no habían visto nunca a un ser humano y se dejaron matar, más o menos):
When did humans complete their expansion around the world? I’m convinced, but can’t yet prove, that humans first reached the continents of North America, South America, and Australia only very recently, at or near the end of the last Ice Age. Specifically, I’m convinced that they reached North America around 14,000 years ago, South America around 13,500 years ago, and Australia and New Guinea around 46,000 years ago; and that humans were then responsible for the extinctions of most of the big animals of those continents within a few centuries of those dates; and that scientists will accept this conclusion sooner and less reluctantly for Australia and New Guinea than for North and South America.
Howard Rheingold habla de las historias que nos contamos y de cómo esas historias cambiarán en el futuro próximo para incluir otros factores:
I believe that we humans, who know so much about cosmology and immunology, lack a framework for thinking about why and how humans cooperate. I believe that part of the reason for this is an old story we tell ourselves about the world: Businesses and nations succeed by competing well. Biology is a war, where only the fit survive. Politics is about winning. Markets grow solely from self-interest. Rooted in the zeitgeist of Adam Smith’s and Charles Darwin’s eras, the scientific, social, economic, political stories of the 19th and 20th centuries overwhelmingly emphasized the role of competition as a driver of evolution, progress, commerce, society.
I believe that the outlines of a new narrative are becoming visible-a story in which cooperative arrangements, interdependencies, and collective action play a more prominent role and the essential (but not all-powerful) story of competition and survival of the fittest shrinks just a bit.
Martin Rees dice que la vida inteligente podría existir sólo en la Tierra (cosa que yo también podría creer). Aún así, tenemos el potencial de extendernos por todo el universo (cosa que dudo hagamos):
I believe that intelligent life may presently be unique to our Earth, but that, even so, it has the potential to spread through the galaxy and beyond-indeed, the emergence of complexity could still be near its beginning. If SETI searches fail, that would not render life a cosmic sideshow Indeed, it would be a boost to our cosmic self-esteem: terrestrial life, and its fate, would become a matter of cosmic significance. Even if intelligence is now unique to Earth, there’s enough time lying ahead for it to spread through the entire Galaxy, evolving into a teeming complexity far beyond what we can even conceive.
Rudy Rucker es muy divertido. El universo como novela y todos los universos posibles adyacentes como borradores:
Reality Is A Novel.
I’d like to propose a modified Many Universes theory. Rather than saying every possible universe exists, I’d say, rather, that there is a sequence of possible universes, akin to the drafts of a novel.
We’re living in a draft version of the universe-and there is no final version. The revisions never stop.
From time to time it’s possible to be aware of this. In particular, when you relax and stop naming things and forming opinions, your consciousness spreads out across several drafts of the universe. Things don’t need to be particularly one way or the other until you pin them down.
Each draft, each spacetime, each sheet of reality is itself rigorously deterministic; there really is no underlying randomness in the world. Instead we have a great web of synchronistic entanglements, with causes and effects flowing forward and backwards through time. The start of a novel matches its ending; the past matches the future. Changing one thing changes everything. If we fully know everything about the Now moment, we know the entire past and future.
Susan Blackmore descree del libre albedrío. Básicamente, porque no existe ningún «yo» que pueda hacer uso del libre albedrío:
It is possible to live happily and morally without believing in free will. As Samuel Johnson said «All theory is against the freedom of the will; all experience is for it.» With recent developments in neuroscience and theories of consciousness, theory is even more against it than it was in his time, more than 200 years ago. So I long ago set about systematically changing the experience. I now have no feeling of acting with free will, although the feeling took many years to ebb away.
John McWhorter sugiere que algunos lenguajes especialmente simples de Indonesia podrían haber aparecido como versiones habladas por el Hombre de Flores y luego recogidas por los humanos locales. Coevolución lingüística entre especies:
Now, I can only venture this highly tentatively now. But what I «know» but cannot prove this year is: the reason languages like Keo and Ngada are so strangely streamlined on Flores is that an earlier ancestor of these languages, just as complex as its family members tend to be, was used as second language by these other people and simplified. Just as our classroom French and Spanish avoids or streamlines a lot of the «hard stuff,» people who learn a language as adults usually do not master it entirely.
Specifically, I would hypothesize that the little people were gradually incorporated into modern human society over time-perhaps subordinated in some way-such that modern human children were hearing the little people’s rendition of the language as much as a native one.
Steven Pinker, simplificando, cree en una naturaleza humana innata muy compleja:
In 1974, Marvin Minsky wrote that «there is room in the anatomy and genetics of the brain for much more mechanism than anyone today is prepared to propose.» Today, many advocates of evolutionary and domain-specific psychology are in fact willing to propose the richness of mechanism that Minsky called for thirty years ago. For example, I believe that the mind is organized into cognitive systems specialized for reasoning about object, space, numbers, living things, and other minds; that we are equipped with emotions triggered by other people (sympathy, guilt, anger, gratitude) and by the physical world (fear, disgust, awe); that we have different ways for thinking and feeling about people in different kinds of relationships to us (parents, siblings, other kin, friends, spouses, lovers, allies, rivals, enemies); and several peripheral drivers for communicating with others (language, gesture, facial expression).
When I say I believe this but cannot prove it, I don’t mean that it’s a matter of raw faith or even an idiosyncratic hunch. In each case I can provide reasons for my belief, both empirical and theoretical. But I certainly can’t prove it, or even demonstrate it in the way that molecular biologists demonstrate their claims, namely in a form so persuasive that skeptics can’t reasonably attack it, and a consensus is rapidly achieved. The idea of a richly endowed human nature is still unpersuasive to many reasonable people, who often point to certain aspects of neuroanatomy, genetics, and evolution that appear to speak against it. I believe, but cannot prove, that these objections will be met as the sciences progress.
Neil Gershenfeld tiene una respuesta muy interesante: cree en el progreso aunque no puede demostrar que los cambios sean siempre para bien:
What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?
The enterprise that employs me, seeking to understand and apply insight into how the world works, is ultimately based on the belief that this is a good thing to do. But it’s something of a leap of faith to believe that that will leave the world a better place-the evidence to date is mixed for technical advances monotonically mapping onto human advances.
Naturally, this question has a technical spin for me. My current passion is the creation of tools for personal fabrication based on additive digital assembly, so that the uses of advanced technologies can be defined by their users. It’s still no more than an assumption that that will lead to more good things than bad things being made, but, like the accumulated experience that democracy works better than monarchy, I have more faith in a future based on widespread access to the means for invention than one based on technocracy.
Nicholas Humphrey es otro que no cree en la consciencia. Es más, la consciencia estaría deliberadamente diseñada para parecer mucho más misteriosa de lo que es:
I believe that human consciousness is a conjuring trick, designed to fool us into thinking we are in the presence of an inexplicable mystery. Who is the conjuror and why is s/he doing it? The conjuror is natural selection, and the purpose has been to bolster human self-confidence and self-importance-so as to increase the value we each place on our own and others’ lives.
If this is right, it provides a simple explanation for why we, as scientists or laymen, find the «hard problem» of consciousness just so hard. Nature has meant it to be hard. Indeed «mysterian» philosophers-from Colin McGinn to the Pope-who bow down before the apparent miracle and declare that it’s impossible in principle to understand how consciousness could arise in a material brain, are responding exactly as Nature hoped they would, with shock and awe.
Daniel C. Dennett sobre la condición humana: la adquisición de un lenguaje humano sería prerrequisito para la aparición de la consciencia:
I believe, but cannot yet prove, that acquiring a human language (an oral or sign language) is a necessary precondition for consciousness-in the strong sense of there being a subject, an I, a ‘something it is like something to be.’ It would follow that non-human animals and pre-linguistic children, although they can be sensitive, alert, responsive to pain and suffering, and cognitively competent in many remarkable ways-including ways that exceed normal adult human competence-are not really conscious (in this strong sense): there is no organized subject (yet) to be the enjoyer or sufferer, no owner of the experiences as contrasted with a mere cerebral locus of effects.
Richard Dawkins lo tiene claro y bien claro:
I believe that all life, all intelligence, all creativity and all ‘design’ anywhere in the universe, is the direct or indirect product of Darwinian natural selection. It follows that design comes late in the universe, after a period of Darwinian evolution. Design cannot precede evolution and therefore cannot underlie the universe.