Last week I talked a little about the geology of the dump. This week I will talk about geology and all the sciences in more general terms.
You can go and get four or five books on just about any subject you want. After you have read them, you will be somewhat knowledgeable about that subject, not an expert, but you will know the basics and then some. However, one of the problems I have always had with the books, is that they present most of the information as fact and it can give people the mistaken impression that we know everything there is to know.
They don’t tell you that any explanation or theory they present, is just that a theory. It might be the best explanation we have to date but not really proven. Also, I think all the books should have a chapter that outlines all the things we aren’t too sure of and another the talks about what we don’t know.
I had a professor who was a pretty smart dude. Before class started one day, a few of us were talking and he said that one had to always remember that 90 per cent of what you learn in school today, will be proven wrong in your lifetime. That seemed like a mighty high percentage.
If I had to guess I would have put the number much lower. Maybe 25 per cent. However, the older I get the more I am tending to up that percentage.
It’s often not the facts or data that we collect that is wrong, but it is the interpretation of them. I will give you an example. When I was a kid in school, the teachers had some pretty strange explanations of why the physical world was the way it was.
One was that the world had ridges, mountain chains, earthquakes and volcanoes because the planet was like an orange or an apple and it was shrinking with time, causing its surface to get all wrinkly. To kids in school it sounded like an explanation. Then the theory of continental drift came along and it provided a much better explanation and there is a lot of evidence or proof, that this is in fact the way the geological world works.
It is always interesting to read the history of discoveries and new theories because you realize it usually involves a whole lot of work by a whole lot of people. Continental drift is an example of a big advancement in geology in the last hundred years, but you can find these major steps forward in all the sciences and there are lots more still to come.
However, one problem is that when people get to believing one idea or theory, they tend to believe in it complete and are reluctant and sometimes even hostile to new ideas. There are a lot of people who feel or believe that the way the world is today is the way it has always been, and it is the way it will always be. It is a natural feeling because people don’t see the changes.
But if you stop to think about it this is totally wrong. I can remember as a kid when a family in the neighbourhood got a TV and that was the first TV anyone in that area had ever seen. Now we have computers, cell phones, GPS units and all sorts of things. I am old enough; I can remember the first satellite in space and the first photographs of the earth from space. So, the world of humanity is always changing. So is the planet earth. And so must we.
It might be a little scary to think that things are always changing but they are and that’s a good thing because it gives us an opportunity to make them better, and hopefully to learn from our mistakes. It is up to everyone to decide whether they are going to be optimistic or pessimistic about the future and view the past realistically or as some sort of dogma.
If you study history, you will soon discover things were a whole lot different than people believe. So, here’s to the future. We are all in this together, so let’s try to make the most of it.