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Restarting Civilisation – Episode 11


Richard Feynman once said: ‘If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis that all things are made of atoms-little particles that that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence, you will see, there is an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied.’

So, we asked the people featured in this app what scientific idea they would like in their back pocket in the event we had to restart civilisation.

Socratic method is the application of reason

The one bit of knowledge you’d impart? It’d be the Socratic method, which is the underpinning of all science. Which is, study the evidence, form conclusions based on the evidence, proceed on those conclusions.  Ignore gut instinct, because gut instinct is wrong, or can be wrong.  Ignore tradition because tradition is based on nothing.  Ignore conventional wisdom if conventional wisdom conflicts with the facts.  Look at the facts, look at the evidence, reason.  Socratic method is the application of reason and everything we’ve ever achieved as a species really owes itself to the Socratic method so, yeah…that’s what I’d give them.