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On Scientific Progress

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Imagining scientific concepts that could improve everyone's cognitive abilities. This is the challenge that some of the world's leading scientific thinkers tackled in answer to the 2011 Edge question.

The responses were various and imaginative. One good example came from author Michael Shermer, who wished we would understand that almost everything important in nature and society...

"...happens from the bottom up, not the top down. Water is a bottom-up, self-organised emergent property of hydrogen and oxygen. Life is a bottom-up, self-organised emergent property of organic molecules."

Adding this to their cognitive toolkit might e.g. let religious conservatives recognise the reality of evolution, says Shermer, and let political liberals see that "too much top-down design can interfere with market efficiency".