Sunday, March 27, 2005

Off-site Essay: The Relativity of Wrong

As I mentioned in last week's essay, I'm am switching to an every-other-week schedule for my Sunday essays. As I also mentiond, I do want to do something on the Sundays when I'm not posting an essay. I still haven't settled on precisely what I'd like to do, but I want to experiment with the idea of posting pointers to good off-site essays.

Isaas Asmiov was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century. In addition to being an acclaimed science fiction author, he is credited with writing over five hundred books (the exact count depending on how one counts his anthologies and collections where he was the editor). He was an equally prolific writer of essays. As impressive as the quanitity of his writings is, the quality of his work is just as remarkable. This is especially true of his intellectual popularizations. Asimov was justifiably considered a polymath and may well have been among the last of the world's rennaisance men, publishing to every category of the Dewey Decimal system with the sole exception of philosophy.1

Of all his essays, my personal favorite is one titled The Relativity of Wrong. Many critics of science assume a naive stance of belittling science because science has a history of proving itself wrong time and again and, therefore, it is insinuated that we shouldn't put any trust in current theories because they could all be overturned during the next paradigm shift. Asimov deftly illustrates that "wrong" is a relative term and that the implicit assumption that wrong is an absolute mischaracterizes the way that science works.

I hope that you enjoy the essay as much as I have.

1 Although none of his books dealt with philosophy, I would suggest that The Relativity of Wrong is about nothing less than epistemology.

No comments:

what is this?

Tell me when this blog is updated. . .