2007-09-15 15:39 in /books/completed
I’ve flipped through this book in stores a few times previously, and a month or two ago I finally picked up a copy. It’s a series of 1-3 page essays by various scientists, writers, and philosophers answering the question, “What do you believe is true even though you can’t prove it?”.
Overall, I think the book is worthwhile, although it seems that you could read most or all of the essays online at The World Question Center (for some reason, in a complete different order from the book, though.) Occasionally it gets a bit repetitive as the editor has chosen to group similar answers together, and occasionally an answer seems overly specific to the author’s personal research or just seems to miss the point of the exercise entirely. For example, one has to wonder if Freeman Dyson falls into this category or if he was just feeling ornery when he wrote his disappointingly uninteresting response.
Personally, the most interesting essay for me came from Susan Blackmore, perhaps because I might have been inclined to give the opposite answer. That is, although I can’t prove it, and all my understanding of science argues to the contrary, I believe in free will. However, after reading her essay, I had to contemplate whether I really believe in free will, or merely want to believe it. At some point, I’ll have to think and write more on this subject.
I’ll probably hang onto this book for a while so I can re-read parts of it. Although you can read it fairly quickly, you could also spend years dissecting each of the essays in turn. For that, I think this is a book worth having around.