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The reasons why making predictions is difficult

Quotes[ edit ] We must be clear that when it comes to atomslanguage can be used only as in poetry. The word " reality " is also a word, a word which we must learn to use correctly. We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct.

Physics is to be regarded not so much as the study of something a priori given, but rather as the development of methods of ordering and surveying human experience. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature. It is a great pity that human beings cannot find all of their satisfaction in scientific contemplativeness.

Some subjects are so serious that one can only joke about them. Truth and clarity are complementary. We must be clear that when it comes to atomslanguage can be used only as in poetry.

The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections. In his first meeting with Werner Heisenberg in early summer 1920, in response to questions on the nature of language, as reported in Discussions about Language 1933 ; quoted in Defense Implications of International Indeterminacy 1972 by Robert J.

Essays in Critical Theory 1993 by Steve Giles, p. Niels Bohr"Atomic Physics and the Description of Nature" 1934 Isolated material particles are abstractions, their properties being definable and observable only through their interaction with other systems.

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We depend on our words. Our task is to communicate experience and ideas to others. We must strive continually to extend the scope of our description, but in such a way that our messages do not thereby lose their objective or unambiguous character … We are suspended in language in such a way that we cannot say what is up and what is down.

Quoted in Philosophy of Science Vol. Motto he chose for his coat of arms, when granted the Danish Order of the Elephant in 1947. However far the phenomena transcend the scope of classical physical explanation, the account of all evidence must be expressed in classical terms.

The argument is that simply by the word "experiment" we refer to a situation where we can tell others what we have done and what we have learned and that, therefore, the account of the experimental arrangement and of the results of the observations must be expressed in unambiguous language with suitable application the reasons why making predictions is difficult the terminology of classical physics. Philosopher Scientist 1949 pp. An expert is a person who has found out by his own painful experience all the mistakes that one can make in a very narrow field.

As quoted by Edward Tellerin Dr. An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field. Said to Wolfgang Pauli after his presentation of Heisenberg 's and Pauli's nonlinear field theory of elementary particles, at Columbia University 1958as reported by F.

World Scientific, 1998, pp. Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true. As quoted in First Philosophy: The Theory of Everything 2007 by Spencer Scoular, p. The question which divides us is whether it is crazy enough.

The question is whether it is crazy enough to be have a chance of being correct.

Niels Bohr

We in the back are convinced your theory is crazy. But what divides us is whether it is crazy enough. Your theory is crazy, the question is whether it's crazy enough to be true. Yes, I think that your theory is crazy.

“It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Sadly, it's not crazy enough to be believed. In this respect our task must be to account for such experience in a manner independent of individual subjective judgement and therefore objective in the sense that it can be unambiguously communicated in ordinary human language.

  1. Philosopher Scientist 1949 pp.
  2. Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future. Pundits like George Friedman continue to be quoted by journalists, invited to appear on TV talk shows, and hired by corporate executives eager to see what the tea leaves say about the future.
  3. Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.

Now we have some hope of making progress. As quoted in Niels Bohr: His Life and Work 1967p. The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. An Essay on Evolutionary Epistemology, 1986 p. It is the hallmark of any deep truth that its negation is also a deep truth Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question. As quoted in Chandra: A Biography of S.

Those who are not shocked when they first come across the reasons why making predictions is difficult mechanics cannot possibly have understood it. Those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it. Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood a single word. If you think you can talk about quantum theory without feeling dizzy, you haven't understood the first thing about it.

As quoted in The Genius of Science: A Portrait Gallery 2000 by Abraham Pais, p. Variant without any citation as to author in Denial is not a river in Egypt 1998 by Sandi Bachom, p. As quoted in Quantum Theory and the Flight from Realism: As quoted in Values of the Wise: Humanity's Highest Aspirations 2004 by Jason Merchey, p.

This is just as it must be. As quoted in God Is Not One: The Way of Devotion, p. In response to those who made purely formal or mathematical arguments, as quoted in What Little I Remember 1979 by Otto Robert Frisch, p.


But that does not mean that it is not a genuine reality. Nowadays, the individual seems to be able to choose the spiritual framework of his thoughts and actions quite freely, and this freedom reflects the fact that the boundaries between the various cultures and societies are beginning to become more fluid.

But even when an individual tries to attain the greatest possible degree of independencehe will still be swayed by the existing spiritual structures — consciously or unconsciously. Religion helps to make social life more harmonious ; its most important task is to remind us, in the language of pictures and parablesof the wider framework within which our life is set.

But we ought to remember that religion uses language in quite a different way from science. The language of religion is more closely related to the language of poetry than to the language of science.

True, we are inclined to think that science deals with information about objective factsand poetry with subjective feelings. Hence we conclude that if religion does indeed deal with objective truthsit ought to adopt the same criteria of truth as science.

But I myself find the division of the world into an objective and a subjective side much too arbitrary.

The fact that religions through the ages have spoken in images, parables, and paradoxes means simply that there are no other ways of grasping the reality to which they refer. And splitting this reality into an objective and a subjective side won't get us very far. I consider those developments in physics during the last decades which have shown how problematical such concepts as "objective" and "subjective" are, a great liberation of thought.

The whole thing started with the theory of relativity. In the past, the statement that two events are simultaneous was considered an objective assertion, one that could be communicated quite simply and that was open to verification by any observer. Today we know that 'simultaneity' contains a subjective element, inasmuch as two events that appear simultaneous to an observer at rest are not necessarily simultaneous to an observer in motion.

However, the relativistic description is also objective inasmuch as every observer can deduce by calculation what the other observer will perceive or has perceived. For all that, we have come a long way from the classical ideal of objective descriptions.

In quantum mechanics the departure from this ideal has been even more radical. We can still use the objectifying language of classical physics to make statements about observable facts. For instance, we can say that a photographic plate has been blackened, or that cloud droplets have formed. But we can say nothing about the atoms themselves. And what predictions we base on such findings depend on the way we pose our experimental question, and here the observer has freedom of the reasons why making predictions is difficult.

Naturally, it still makes no difference whether the observer is a man, an animal, or a piece of apparatus, but it is no longer possible to make predictions without reference to the observer or the means of observation. To that extent, every physical process may be said to have objective and subjective features.

The reasons why making predictions is difficult

The objective world of nineteenth-century science was, as we know today, an ideal, limiting case, but not the whole reality. Admittedly, even in our future encounters with reality we shall have to distinguish between the objective and the subjective side, to make a division between the two.

But the location of the separation may depend on the way things are looked at; to a certain extent it can be chosen at will. Hence I can quite understand why we cannot speak about the content of religion in an objectifying language. The fact that different religions try to express this content in quite distinct spiritual forms is no real objection.

  1. Their requests reveal the common but fundamentally erroneous perception that forecasters make predictions it is difficult to reason for the miscalculations. His Life and Work 1967 , p.
  2. It is perhaps better to say that Bohr's strength lay in his formidable intuition and insight rather than erudition. Quotes about Bohr[ edit ] Not often in life has a human being caused me such joy by his mere presence as you did.
  3. We in the back are convinced your theory is crazy. The world death rate was 13 per 1,000 people when Ehrlich wrote his book; it has fallen in each decade since, and it is now nine per 1,000.

Perhaps we ought to look upon these different forms as complementary descriptions which, though they exclude one another, are needed to convey the rich possibilities flowing from man's relationship with the central order. In mathematics we can take our inner distance from the content of our statements. In the final analysis mathematics is a mental game that we can play or not play as we choose. Religion, on the other hand, deals with ourselves, with our life and death; its promises are meant to govern our actions and thus, at least indirectly, our very existence.

We cannot just look at them impassively from the outside. Moreover, our attitude to religious questions cannot be separated from our attitude to society. Even if religion arose as the spiritual structure of a particular human society, it is arguable whether it has remained the strongest social molding force through historyor whether society, once formed, develops new spiritual structures and adapts them to its particular level of knowledge.

For he, too, must be able to speak of life and death and the human condition to other members of the society in which he's chosen to live; he must educate his children according to the norms of that society, fit into its life.