Me, cave man

Me, cave man

If you think about what life was like 2,000 years ago, it seems fairly primitive by today’s standards. Indeed, it was only 500 or so years ago that Copernicus figured out the earth orbits the sun, and not the other way around as most people believed. We’ve come a long way.

But it also seems highly unlikely, statistically speaking, that we’ve all been born at the time in history when we’ve actually got it all right. So what are the widely-held beliefs of today that will be proven wrong over the next 2,000 years?

It seems to me that true scientific discovery is based upon being open to new data, even data that proves popular belief incorrect.

My close friend and mentor Paul Montgomery once told me that if he taught elementary school science class, he’d start the school year by explaining this. “This year, we’ll be learning what some smart people have figured out. Some of you may go on to make other great discoveries, or even prove what we believe today incomplete or incorrect. With this in mind, let’s begin.”

The accomplishments of humankind to date are numerous and beneficial, no doubt. I am very grateful to those who came before me, and I enjoy a better life due to their work. But I strive to be open to learning new things, changing my mind based on new data, and exploring the unknown. I’m not infallible, and by realizing so and adopting some humility, I hope to continue to improve my life and the life of those around me by discovering new truths. Let’s abandon ridicule of different ideas and put aside preconceived notions for a moment, with the goal of learning something new.

Photo courtesy NOAA.