205 Big Thinkers Answer the Question, “What Scientific Term or Concept Ought to Be More Widely Known?”


Image by Ben­jamin Reay, via Flickr Com­mons

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 2017 edi­tion asks, “What sci­en­tif­ic term or con­cept ought to be more wide­ly known?” And the ques­tion comes pref­aced by this thought:

Richard Dawkins’ “meme” became a meme, known far beyond the sci­en­tif­ic con­ver­sa­tion in which it was coined. It’s one of a hand­ful of sci­en­tif­ic ideas that have entered the gen­er­al cul­ture, help­ing to clar­i­fy and inspire.

Of course, not every­one likes the idea of spread­ing sci­en­tif­ic under­stand­ing. Remem­ber what the Bish­op of Birmingham’s wife is reput­ed to have said about Darwin’s claim that human beings are descend­ed from mon­keys: “My dear, let us hope it is not true, but, if it is true, let us hope it will not become gen­er­al­ly known.”

So what estab­lished sci­en­tif­ic idea should we try to get out there? What con­cept should, at all costs, see the light of day? The replies — 205 in total — fea­ture thoughts by Richard Dawkins, of course, who’d have us learn more about the notion of “Genet­ic Book of the Dead.” You will also find selec­tions by Bri­an Eno (“Con­fir­ma­tion Bias”), Jared Dia­mond (“Com­mon Sense”),  Jan­na Levin (“The Prin­ci­ple of Least Action”)Steven Pinker (“The Sec­ond Law of Ther­mo­dy­nam­ics”) and more. Access the com­plete col­lec­tion of respons­es here.

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