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.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Steven Pinker Explains the Neu­ro­science of Swear­ing (NSFW)

Philoso­pher Daniel Den­nett Presents Sev­en Tools For Crit­i­cal Think­ing

New Ani­ma­tion Explains Sher­ry Turkle’s The­o­ries on Why Social Media Makes Us Lone­ly

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