William Shatner: "Logic of Imagination" Propels Scientific Discovery

Actor, Author, and Recording Artist
Scientific discovery is more complex than simply observing the physical world. How we observe and how we draw conclusions is driven by the human imagination, says Mr. Shatner. The dramatic change in certain scientific conclusions provides evidence, from governmental dietary guidelines to the persistent mysteries posed by fundamental physics. That 98 percent of the universe remains shrouded in mystery — scientists call it dark matter — is proof enough that our universe is more profound than our minds. Or perhaps our minds are more profound than we tend to realize. Shatner's newest book is Leonard: My Fifty-Year Relationship with a Remarkable Man.
  • Transcript


William Shatner:  The mystery that surrounds us is so profound, 90 to 98 percent, that eight percent differs from the thing you read to the thing you read is dark energy or dark matter. We don't know what it is. We don't know what 98 percent of the universe is. And this wonderful man Einstein, this wonderful man who imagined these scientific theories, much like the Greeks who said all right, If you cut something in half you've got a half. And then you cut that half and you keep going down the line you must come to the end and they said we'll call it an atom. And that's how they made their scientific discoveries through the logic of imagination. Whereas we have tools to dimly, dimly see into the physical nature, dimly see a law yeah, that seems to be a law. Wait a minute, there's something here that counteracts that law. So just like our diets, the pyramid, carbohydrates, a little bit of meat, one day is 180 degrees reversed. No, no, no, what we meant was protein and a little bit of carbohydrates; exactly 180 degrees different in your diet. That's what's happening in science all the time. There's a wonderful line, scientists spread rumors.

We know everything is unified. We know. If we use our imagination like the Greeks, we look around us and we say the whole world is unified electrically, atoms, matter, there's got to be an operating - the thing has to be managed in some way. It's there. Everything follows a logic. We have these little instruments that will peer into the universe. We're seeing a spec. We're seeing a dust mote. Wouldn't the theory of everything maybe you discover that as you die, maybe as you die you go there is the theory of everything. Boom. And you're dead.