What We Believe But Cannot Prove


This is the title of a pretty cool book which I received last year (thanks Jamie and Sarah), with the subtitle; Today’s Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty.

It has a very impressive list of contributors including Leon Lederman, Jared Diamond, Steven Pinker and Charles Simonyi. Topics include Physics, Biology, Psychology and Computer Science.

Nobody spoke about what I believe but cannot prove, so I’m sticking it up here.

I beleive but cannot prove that in the next thousand years the number of humans on this planet will drop from where it is now (6.75 billion) to under one hundred thousand, and as a species we may indeed go extinct completely.

I’m genuinely surprised that nobody suggested that at the very least our world will look completely different in one thousand years. Global warming is going to be the main contributory factor. I believe we often overlook the role of climate in instigating conflict in the past. Deteriorating weather means shortage of resources, which in turn results in greater demand for remaining resources (and not just food; land which isn’t submerged and is relatively well-protected from the weather will also become coveted). This will inevitably lead to population movement and all the tragedy that brings with it.

Of course for many countries this is already happening, but fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) most of us have become so de-sensitised that we can’t tell whether the scene we’re watching is real devastion or a Hollywood blockbuster.

And why should we think that as a species we will survive?
99% of all the species that ever existed are now extinct. And contrary to popular belief, being more highly developed doesn’t increase your chances of survival –  it decreases it. The virus is the real sucess story of evolution, not  you and me.

What do you believe but cannot prove?


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