Posts Tagged ‘knowledge’

Do Babies Know Right From Wrong?

April 9, 2012 2 comments


I found this article browsing the HuffPost (which I consider to be an extremely liberal source of information, but interesting and useful nonetheless) and thought it was a very interesting line of thought. There is a wide debate always going on about whether humans are born with a knowledge of good and evil, or whether they learn it and develop it over time and as they grow. Before we, and kids too, can scream “that’s not right!” or “that’s not fair!”, we must first know what is right and wrong, correct? A study published last October in PLoS One found that 15-month-old infants could identify unequal distributions of food and drink and that this sense of fairness was connected to their own willingness to share.

“To measure these moral sentiments, researchers first had the children watch movies of an actor distributing food, either equally or unequally, between two people. Most of the toddlers spent more time looking at the unequal outcome, suggesting it surprised them by violating their basic sense of fair­ness. Next, every child picked his or her favorite of two new toys, and the researchers then asked the kids to share one of the toys. Of the infants who shared their favorite toy, 92 percent had also been surprised by the unfair outcome in the videos.”

I went ahead and posted one of the paragraphs that summarizes the main idea and results of this study (above). It does seem to suggest that we do, in some way, know from a very young age about right and wrong and what is fair. Is this our own sense of justice and well-being? Do we already know from a young age that we must fight for and demand what is ours? Scientists previously thought that this age of such recognition was around seven or eight, but anyone with younger siblings, myself included, can attest to the fact that they start screaming for their own equal portions as soon as they can talk! Do you guys also believe that our sense of recognition of right and wrong, and just and unjust, develops nearly as early as we can start to reason with our minds? I, for one, have seen plenty of personal evidence that it does.



Quantum Uncertainty and the Limit of Knowledge

February 26, 2012 3 comments

Quantum mechanics has always fascinated me.  It is the field of science in which science loses all intuitiveness–particles have probabilistic, not definite properties.   This submicroscopic level  is so beyond the grasp of our minds that even expert physicists have only a superficial understanding of its inner workings.

I recently read this article about Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle:  In overly simplistic terms, the uncertainty principle states that the measurement of one attribute of a quantum particle (such as position) will decrease the accuracy of the measurement of another (such as momentum).  Our observation affects what we observe.

The uncertainty principle is sometimes generalized to state there is a limit to how well we are capable of understanding the universe, that there is a limit to human knowledge.  It is often the belief (or at least hope) of scientists that full understanding is possible and even inevitable with time, but could there really be a dead end in scientific progress?  Will physics become a Sisyphean task?  Will we ever give up, disappointed or stop, content in the knowledge we have gained?