More from the Edge

I’ve posted a couple of times previously about John Brockman‘s Edge (in 2009 and 2012), and just in case you’ve forgotten, the site is brazenly devoted:

To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.

ThinkingOne particular feature of Edge is the Annual Question. This is an opportunity for a significant number (usually approaching 200) ‘smart’ people to respond to a compelling and beguiling question. There’s been some good ones (2012, for example: ‘What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?’) and this year’s is no exception: What scientific idea is ready for retirement?

There are 174 responses. My first action was to browse the contributors’ names and check the responses of my favourites, but of course realised that I just might be missing some gems of wisdom from others. So what I’ve done is browse the complete list of responses and note the more appealing/intriguing ones (to me, anyway!). Here’s the resulting list. If any of the titles appeal, just use it to search the list. And remember, these are the notions that the particular author wants sent to oblivion:


Information Overload

Moore’s Law (I wondered when this would stop working)

Large Randomized Controlled Trials (brave)

Opposites Can’t Both Be Right

String Theory

Left Brain/Right Brain (2 contributors)

Common Sense

The Universe (again, 2 contributors)

Brain Plasticity

The Average

There Can Be No Science Of Art

Mouse Models

robotRobot Companions (no surprise, Sherry Turkle)


Statistical Significance (here’s a hot potato – there’s a few on the nature of statistics)

Artificial Intelligence

Human Nature

The Scientific Method

Things Are Either True Or False (surprise contributor, Alan Alda)

The Big Bang Was The First Moment Of Time (another no surprise: Lee Smolin)

Nature Versus Nurture (see also Behavior = Genes + Environment)

Infinity (here’s a surprise)

If none of these appeal to you, do your own browsing. Perhaps, like Sean Carroll, you’d like to get rid of Falsifiability. Or, like Alan Guth, you think we should dump the notion that The Universe Began In A State Of Extraordinarily Low Entropy.

And if you’d like a hard copy, each year’s responses are published in a book.

photo credit: Ars Electronica via photopin cc
photo credit: PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE via photopin cc

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