In mathematics, where proofs are everything, evidence is important too. But evidence is only as good as the model, and modeling can be dangerous business. So how much evidence is enough?
Those mathematicians know to be cautious when working with their models. Because they know that no matter how useful and interesting their model, no matter how compelling the evidence they collect, there might be something out there about elliptic curves that they didn’t quite imagine. And if you can’t imagine it, your model can’t capture it, and that means the evidence won’t reflect it.
“But it is increasingly clear that the mind is mainly drawn to the future, not driven by the past. Behavior, memory and perception can’t be understood without appreciating the central role of prospection. We learn not by storing static records but by continually retouching memories and imagining future possibilities. Our brain sees the world not by processing every pixel in a scene but by focusing on the unexpected.”
What do these images tell us about humans’ abilities to conceive of the future? Does this show the power of human imagination or its limitations?
“Some of the portraits are fantastic — swashbucklers riding on giant seahorses, anyone? But others are actually surprisingly accurate visions of our current era, including farming machines, helicopters, and what looks like a precursor to the new robot vaccum, the iRobot Roomba vacuum:”
“Nothing is original, says Kirby Ferguson, creator of Everything is a Remix. From Bob Dylan to Steve Jobs, he says our most celebrated creators borrow, steal and transform.”
“But just having a strange and powerful experience doesn’t determine what you believe. I walked off that train with a new respect for why people believed in magic, not a new understanding of reality. Sometimes people have remarkable experiences, and then tuck them away as events they can’t explain.”
“‘People are so afraid of variety that they try to fit everything into a tiny little box with a specific label,’ says 16-year-old Rosie King, who is bold, brash and autistic. She wants to know: Why is everyone so worried about being normal? She sounds a clarion call for every kid, parent, teacher and person to celebrate uniqueness. It’s a soaring testament to the potential of human diversity.”