The Growth of Scientific Knowledge and Scientific Ignorance

Noting that knowledge is growing at an exponential rate, Kevin Kelly argues that thanks to science, our ignorance is growing exponentially faster.

If knowledge is growing exponentially we should be quickly running out of puzzles. Because of our accelerating rate of learning, a few writers declared we must be in the age of “the end of science.”

Yet the paradox of science is that every answer breeds at least two new questions. More answers, more questions. Telescopes and microscopes expanded not only what we knew, but what we didn’t know. They allowed us to spy into our ignorance. New and better tools permit us new and better questions.

Thus even though our knowledge is expanding exponentially, our questions are expanding exponentially faster. And as mathematicians will tell you, the widening gap between two exponential curves is itself an exponential curve. That gap between questions and answers is our ignorance […] in other words, science is a method that chiefly expands our ignorance rather than our knowledge.

via Seed