I was lucky enough to see Richard Dawkins when he came to McGill a couple years ago. He gave a talk called: Stranger Than We Can Suppose. The title refers to a quote from biologist J.B.S. Haldane who famously said:
“Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”
Apparently, here in North America, someone felt it was a better idea to use the word stranger rather than queerer. I wonder why?
Anyway, it was an all round inspiring talk (and used to be online but I think CBC has since decided to charge for it) but there was one part that intrigued me the most. Dawkins quoted an exchange between the Austrian philosopher Wittgenstein and a friend:
Wittgenstein: Tell me, why do people always say that it was natural for men to assume that the sun went around the earth rather than the earth was rotating?
Friend: Well, obviously, because it just looks as if the sun is going around the earth.
Wittgenstein: Well, what would it look like if it had looked as if the earth were rotating?
The question was supposed to be rhetorical to illustrate the fact that it should just as easily look as though the earth was rotating because that’s what’s actually happening. I wonder if Wittgenstein would consider this video an answer to his question of what it would look like if we actually were perceiving the Earth spin as the universe stood still: