David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
from the world's big
Start Learning

Does science explain everything?

Question: Does science explain everything?

Adam Bly: Does it? No. Should it? No. Do I want it to? No. No. I do think that there is a place for . . . Again I think it’s also about viewing . . . Again it comes back to that fundamental of, “What is science?” I think that science does have surpassing powers in terms of its utility as a lens. It does cure things, you know? It does have actual great functional value. I’m not sure we could deal with the catastrophic impacts of climate change simply through the arts. I don’t mean that flippantly. I mean there is great value actually to the arts now in making people emotionally invested and even better citizens when it comes to these issues. But you know fundamentally you do need a scientific lens to actually deal with these issues. And so do I think it has surpassing value? Yes. Do I think that it . . . it can be a complete, full worldview? For some yes. For some no. For society at large, I don’t know what that means. There is no such thing as one global lens. So I think it’s a lot more nuanced than that. I do think that there are greater many . . . There are many more forces acting against science than there are forces acting against some of those other lenses. I do think that science is a more certainly progressive . . . It almost seems a copout to say “better”, but better lens than religion at a high level through which to view the world and its problems. Because I think that we as a planet, as a population are better when we know things, when we question things, and we’re capable of understanding the foundations for decisions. And I think that that’s generally true. I would struggle with how to incorporate that into the challenges that a country like China faces today in achieving political reform. Because on one hand those are somewhat democratic ideals that I’ve associated with science. And I think that science and democracy do go very nicely hand-in-hand. And I think if you’re sort of pro-science, you’re pro-democracy. If you’re pro-democracy, you’re pro-science. Or you kind of should be fundamentally, which is why it’s non-partisan. But as you look at, you know, emerging economies and you look most importantly at China right now and its profound place in the world; and on, you know, the next, 20, 30, 40, 50 years of our lives, on one hand I still believe in the power of science; but the way we view democracy . . . the way we view all those kind of institutions I kind of laid out as being analogous with science, somehow all of this needs to be rethought in the context of . . . in the context of China, which is what I was saying earlier about kind of rethinking science in the context of both the eastern and western perspectives. Because some of those same ideas may not hold true for what is ultimately in the best interest of China going forward. So I . . . That would be an interesting, you know . . . That’s something I don’t know yet. I’m not sure how that all mashes up with the rise of science in China.


Recorded on: 10/17/07






It doesn't explain everything, but it's a pretty good start, Bly says.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
Keep reading Show less

How Hemingway felt about fatherhood

Parenting could be a distraction from what mattered most to him: his writing.

Ernest Hemingway Holding His Son 1927 (Wikimedia Commons)
Culture & Religion

Ernest Hemingway was affectionately called “Papa," but what kind of dad was he?

Keep reading Show less

The biology of aliens: How much do we know?

Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.

  • Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
  • "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
  • In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.
Keep reading Show less

How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

Keep reading Show less

Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.