Great Minds Answer the Question “What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement?” in a New Film

At the start of 2014, posed its annu­al ques­tion to 176 sci­en­tif­ic minds: “What Sci­en­tif­ic Idea is Ready for Retire­ment?” The ques­tion (as we not­ed in Jan­u­ary) 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?

As is its cus­tom, Edge ini­tial­ly gath­ered and pub­lished the respons­es (in text for­mat) from thinkers like Steven Pinker, Kevin Kel­lySher­ry TurkleRobert Sapol­sky, and Daniel Den­nett. Now, as the sun sets on 2014, film­mak­er Jesse Dylan has cre­at­ed a four-minute film based on the project, fea­tur­ing some of the same fig­ures men­tioned above. Watch it up top.

In a few short weeks, we’ll bring you the Edge ques­tion of 2015.

via io9

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Comments (5)
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  • Bruce Watson says:

    Very inter­est­ing but the graph­ics com­pet­ed with the ideas, mak­ing it hard to focus. And the graph­ics won.

  • Gerry Burge says:

    Along the lines of the com­ment above about the com­pet­ing graph­ics, I found myself look­ing for a tran­scrip­tion of the words. I want­ed to read them with­out dis­trac­tion, and with­out hav­ing a film mov­ing me along to the next quote. I need more time to absorb the nuances and pow­er of the words, and wrap my mind around the con­cepts. My sci­ence field was behav­ioral (psy­chol­o­gy and soci­ol­o­gy), but sta­tis­tics was my least appre­ci­at­ed sub­ject, prob­a­bly because it was so math­e­mat­i­cal, and I still had the anx­i­ety which math provoked–causing brain grid­lock. There­fore, I like to sit with a thought, absorb­ing and prob­ing its nuance and mean­ings. How­ev­er, I loved the ques­tion, and the con­cept of pos­ing it. It is my first time learn­ing of your annu­al queries.

  • Oma Rose says:

    On this New Year’s Eve I am most grate­ful that I live in a coun­try where such an impor­tant ques­tion can be asked through a forum such as this one. I appre­ci­ate the graph­ics but agree the dis­rup­tive aspect to them is caus­ing a need to replay the video over and over to focus on the words and con­cepts — an inter­est­ing prob­lem in itself! For Ger­ry who will under­stand, I am an INTJ so over­load­ing dis­trac­tions are dif­fi­cult for me to han­dle.

  • mark says:

    Sci­ence wish­es God would die so they can go on there pro­gres­sive way.
    The fact is, sci­ence can say any­thing they want with­out fear of per­se­cu­tion.
    My the­o­ry is, the more intel­li­gent the sci­en­tist is the more he or she should real­ize that the com­plex­i­ties of our exis­tence are not a chance hap­pen­ing. Only ego stops an intel­li­gent per­son from admit­ting there is a being greater than man.

  • Jim Burrill says:

    The idea that a film can be made where he con­tent only needs to be some­thing which can be stat­ed with one sen­tence… That’s an idea which should be aban­doned soon.

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