The sociologist of science Ludwik Fleck on the evil spirits of popularization

GKnowledge is not a criterion for truth. Even those who are sure, that means, are therefore not right with an assertion. The reverse is also true: Uncertainty is not an indication of falsehood; those who are not entirely sure of their cause need not be wrong. When scientists become public experts who do not pretend that there is one hundred percent certainty, but who use provisional probability statements to influence far-reaching political decisions about social life and our scope for freedom, then it is just as useful not to forget a widespread latent need for certainty: that expresses itself initially and mostly as a willingness to doubt.

Trivially, the need for certainty or security expresses itself with power precisely when life is thrown out of the ordinary and when it is a matter of increasingly dealing with uncertainties. Once it has been awakened, it will not simply be lulled back to sleep with the psychological comfort that is often given; much worse than total or growing uncertainty – if it existed – would be absolute certainty, because it robs the future of its openness.

.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.