Time Capsule #16

Why we need science to be wrong more, Austria, and an Asimov short story.


I don’t really have much to say for the intro. So let’s get on with it.

✏️ Why We Need Science to Be Wrong More

Science, my boy, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.

~ Jules Verne

The scientific method is a process of knowledge gathering through the testing of hypotheses. In layman's terms: you have an idea or concept that you think is true, you test it in a reproducible and measurable way, and you gather the subsequent data.

Before the last 150 years, the treatment of infections was almost entirely based on traditional medicine practices and folklore. It was only when German scientists in the late 1800s were investigating dyes that would colour human, bacterial, or animal cells that it was proposed that it may be possible to create a chemical that selectively destroys foreign infectious cells without attacking the host. After 606 failed experiments, the German scientists (with the help of a Japanese scientist) created a compound that was effective in treating syphilis: arsphenamine.

606 experiments.

Science does not provide conclusions — science provides progress. We must remember that what we know now, in 200 years will likely be considered archaic.

This is not to say science is useless. It has reached a level of effectiveness that has allowed life expectancies to rise around the world. But those who use science as the flag under which they place their life are missing the point.

Science by definition is the art of proving wrong previously held beliefs — it is the art of perseverance, the art of thinking outside the box, the art of going against public opinion to produce something better than what we have or know now.

This is how scientific progress is made.

📸 Photo of the Week

Austria is a 100% go-to when I do my first Euro trip.

📖 Book of the Week — Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

I recommended this book a couple of weeks back and having just read it again I am going to re-recommend it. I wrote a book review about it for my Ship30for30 essay challenge earlier this week which I will share below:

Anna Karenina is a classic of Western literature and one of my favourite books of all time.

Set in Imperial Russia in the Mid-to-Late 1800s, it primarily focuses on two main characters, Anna Karenina and Konstantin Levin, who are both members of Russian aristocratic society. They have independent but parallel journeys, with Anna engaging in a very passionate but socially unacceptable affair, whilst Levin (created in part in the image of Tolstoy himself) is himself in the process of setting up his own family, simultaneously while confronting the deep questions of his existence.

Tolstoy is a master at capturing the beauty of the human experience. The way he describes a walk in the woods, the emotions when proposing to a future spouse, or the group dynamics in public society, for example, makes the most uninteresting event seem full of life. He masterfully weaves the stories of the many characters together to create an ever-changing, vibrant plotline that will keep you on your seat the whole time.

But most importantly, the story of Anna Karenina is an examination of the human being. The highs and lows of life, the tendency for us to change our feeling towards someone or something over time — these moments are captured beautifully by Tolstoy in a way that I have never seen done by any author.

This is a must-read for a fiction lover, but I would recommend it to anyone. It's a masterful work of literature and has stood the test of time.

💭 Quote of the Week

Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

~ Mary Schmich

🔭 Sunday Best

Old Western Culture Great Books List

The Relativity of Wrong by Issac Asimov

Schubert - Piano Sonata in D Major