|Got all the bacteria, forgot the dinosaurs|
But the thing that caught my eye was his attempt to justify his claim to basic scientific ignorance - the statement that he is not a scientist. How does that apply? If only scientists can know things, why would we have books in the library? Why would we teach science class in school? Indeed, how could we even create new scientists in the first place if they had to actually BE a scientist to understand the world around them? Scientists discover things. They learn things. They figure things out. Then they tell the world about those things, and the world takes that new knowledge and combines it with the earlier knowledge and it becomes understanding. And understanding is available to anyone. I couldn't do the necessary math to explain the fundamentals, say, of CP Symmetry Violation, but I am perfectly capable of understanding both what it is and what it means to the Standard Model. And I'm not a scientist, man.
This is important to me because of a similar construct I run into quite often, even among otherwise scientifically literate and open minded people. Particularly when discussing the implications of known physical laws, they often respond by saying "hey, we don't know everything, some day it might be possible to...". At which point they wander off into a never-never land of science fiction, fantasy and imaginary jargon. But here's the thing - we don't NEED to know everything to know some things. And the things we know are not isolated factoids floating in a dark sea of ignorance, they are related to other things and have implications in the universe. The things we know about matter lets us understand things we cannot directly observe about gravity, and the things we learned from relativity and quantum mechanics allow us to understand not only what is possible in the universe, but what is not.
Science and the scientific method does a very good job of questioning its own conclusions, and requiring proof that can be repeatedly demonstrated. Researchers had seen the Higgs Boson many times before they were willing to announce its discovery. When there is a broad scientific consensus that something is true about the world around us, it usually is. And it is not that knowledge alone, but the conclusions we can draw from it that are important.