A scientific belief that undergirds most of modern physics might have just been proven wrong. If so, what does this tell us about what we’ve thought we understood about physics for the last hundred years?
In 1905, Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity proposed that nothing in the universe could travel faster than light in a vacuum. For reasons far too geeky to explain — some of which are beyond my understanding — this is a fundamental building block of the standard model of modern physics. But scientists at the CERN physics lab in Switzerland have observed a particle traveling faster than the speed of light. Does this mean we don’t know as much as we think we know?
First, it doesn’t mean that the practical applications of modern physics are all wrong. Laws of science based on Einstein’s theories have given us lasers and CDs and all sorts of amazing modern products that we wouldn’t otherwise have. But it does mean — once again — that we see that scientists can have a firm belief in things they state as fact which turn out to be wrong.
Experts know a lot of things. They’re very useful in a lot of situations. I’m not arguing against knowledge. But I am arguing that a lot of experts get pretty arrogant in their assumptions that they must be right.
Some of the most arrogant “experts” are the people who believe they have everything figured out about concerning how to govern a society. These people aren’t just confident. They’re arrogant in their certainty that you have an obligation to obey them. They believe that the majoritarian systems that we use today — with a majority selecting people to make decisions for everyone else — is moral and practical. The truth is that it’s neither, but it’s what we’ve been doing for so long that the experts are unable to think about anything else.
Listen to experts in some fields, but don’t assume they’re as right as they assume they are. In fact, trust the ones who admit that there are a lot of things they don’t yet know. Run screaming from the arrogant ones who tell you they’re going to make your decisions for you.