You See What Your Knowledge Tells You You’re Seeing

But it doesn’t move!

Another take on one of my favorite passages from James Burke’s intro to The Day the Universe Changed, which goes like this

Somebody apparently once went up the the great philosopher Wittgenstein and said “What a lot of morons people back in the Middle Ages must have been to have looked every morning at what’s going on behind me now, the dawn, and to have thought that what they were seeing was the sun going around the Earth, when as every schoolkid knows the Earth goes around the sun and it doesn’t take too many brains to understand that.”

To which Wittgenstein replied, “Yeah, but I wonder what it would have looked like if the Sun had been going around the Earth.”

Point being, of course, is that it would have looked exactly the same.

You see what your knowledge tells you you’re seeing.

One thought on “You See What Your Knowledge Tells You You’re Seeing

  1. The greatest obstacle to understanding reality is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. Reality is not a peer vote. Theory is preferred to experiment because virtual mud packs tighter than real gems. When all you have is a BNC feedthrough, all of your electrical problems look coaxial.
    Two geometric parity Eotvos experiments. The worst they can do is succeed.

    If you crave discovery, do not look where orthodox theory is brightest. Look where heterodox observation is most likely. Imagination is intelligence having fun.

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