Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Friday, November 27, 2009

An Excess of Certitude

George Will: [T]he greatest threat to civility—and ultimately to civilization—is an excess of certitude. The world is much menaced just now by people who think that the world and their duties in it are clear and simple. They are certain that they know what—who—created the universe and what this creator wants them to do to make our little speck in the universe perfect, even if extreme measures—even if violence—are required.
It has been well said that the spirit of liberty is the spirit of not being too sure that you are right. One way to immunize ourselves against misplaced certitude is to contemplate—even to savor—the unfathomable strangeness of everything, including ourselves.

Though these words were written years ago and were directed primarily at religious fundamentalists, they apply equally to scientists in the age of Climategate.

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