176 Big Thinkers Answer the Question: What Scientific Idea is Ready to Be Dead and Buried?

bigquestion21-It’s a new year, which means it’s time for the Edge.org to pose its annual question to some of the world’s finest minds. The 2014 edition asks the question, “What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement?” The question came prefaced by this thought:

Science advances by discovering new things and developing new ideas. Few truly new ideas are developed without abandoning old ones first. As theoretical physicist Max Planck (1858-1947) noted, “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” In other words, science advances by a series of funerals. Why wait that long?

So what established scientific idea is ready to be moved aside so that science can advance? The replies — 176 in total — feature thoughts by Steven Pinker, Kevin KellySherry TurkleRobert Sapolsky, and Daniel Dennett, among others. If you’re willing to venture down the rabbit hole, you can access the complete collection of responses here.

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