Thursday, April 17, 2014

Certainty and Uncertainty

Last week at the Conference of World Affairs at the University of Colorado, I attended a panel discussion titled, The Wisdom of Uncertainty.  I found this subject very informative, because we live in a world of uncertainty, but have a natural inclination to bring order and certainty to things around us.

One panelist stated that knowledge is an unending adventure on the edge of science, where we may be mistaken, but science is self-correcting when something is proven wrong. The danger becomes when people are so certain of a belief that they cease to look at facts any longer. Another panelist quipped that Google is the greatest propagator of false certainty.

I like applying this analysis of uncertainty to the world of writing. As writers, we can’t be certain that anyone will read our work, but we can be certain that we will write and finish our manuscripts. This gets into attitude. Confidence and certainty are very different things. I can be confident in my abilities, but there is uncertainty in the outcome of the final product.

Uncertainty is necessary in a world of change. Those who are most certain are often caught off guard, when the world changes. By maintaining a sense of curiosity and constantly testing our assumptions, we can learn, grow and possibly turn pockets of uncertainty into knowledge.

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