Monday, March 10, 2008
Am I Certain?
Every measurement or observation carries with it uncertainty. If we require unequivocal certainty to make a decision about anything, we simply wouldn’t make any decisions.
Am I certain about that? Smiles, of course not.
Uncertainty is okay though. We can be certain about uncertainty.
In the late twenties and thirties much of the development in physics was lead and influenced by German institutions. It was an uncertain period of time where colleagues are friends one day and then sworn enemy the next day.
"The more precisely the POSITION is determined, the less precisely the MOMENTUM is known" WERNER HEISENBERG (1901 - 1976).
And no one will ever be certain of Heisenberg’s motives or intentions during the war. Perhaps his motivation was merely to survive.
In more recent times Colin Powell, I believe had good intentions. Mr Powell was unique in the sense that there was a high degree of confidence worldwide in his character as a man who spoke the truth compared to any other member of the Bush administration. He was given evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Likely a trusting man that couldn’t imagine that evidence was being manufactured for him to present to the UN. He was certain he was presenting credible information.
Perhaps the next US administration could be kinder if they are less certain and self-righteous. A scientist, a theologian, a politician or a reporter would have a greater degree of credibility if they expressed more doubts.
We don’t require certainty to make a decision. In that regards we would look at potential outcomes of decisions in terms of prediction and probabilities. Our concerns about the probabilities should contemplate whether an action would cause more harm than good.
Any planned action that may cause harm to people or to the planet lacks credibility.