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无知的追求

Stuart Firestein: The pursuit of ignorance

有句古老的谚语说
There is an ancient proverb that says
在暗室里很难
it’s very difficult to find
找到黑猫
a black cat in a dark room,
特别是里面根本没有猫的时候
especially when there is no cat.
我认为用这句话来描述科学
I find this a particularly apt description of science
和科研方法特别恰当
and how science works —
在暗室里胡乱摸索
bumbling around in a dark room, bumping into things,
磕磕碰碰想弄清楚不同东西的形状
trying to figure out what shape this might be,
猜想这些东西是什么
what that might be,
有报道说有只猫在暗室的某处了
there are reports of a cat somewhere around,
也许这个报道不可靠 也许可靠
they may not be reliable, they may be,
等等
and so forth and so on.
等等我知道我现在所说的和大多数人 对科学的看法是不同的
Now I know this is different than the way most people think about science. Science,
我们对科学的普遍认识是
we generally are told, is a very well-ordered mechanism for
它是一个用来了解世界、 获得事实和数据的非常有序有理的机制
understanding the world, for gaining facts, for gaining data,
就是说科学是以各种原理为基础的
that it’s rule-based,
这些原理被称为科学方法
that scientists use this thing called the scientific method
我们这样做科学研究已经大约14个世代了
and we’ve been doing this for 14 generations or so now,
科研方法被认为是一系列
and the scientific method is a set of rules
用来从数据中得到事实真相的准则
for getting hard, cold facts out of the data.
我现在想告诉你 我们并不是这样搞科学的
I’d like to tell you that’s not the case.
确实是有一些科研方法
So there’s the scientific method,
但是我们真正在做的就象是这样
but what’s really going on is this. (Laughter)
(笑声)[科研方法Vs.四处排气]
[The Scientific Method vs. Farting Around]
真的是有点象
And it’s going on kind of like that. […
[…在黑暗中四处排气](笑声)那么
in the dark] (Laughter)
我所相信的
So what is the difference, then,
对科学的追求方式
between the way I believe science is pursued
和传统意义上的科学追求有什么不同呢?
and the way it seems to be perceived?
我第一次认识到这个差别是
So this difference first came to me in some ways
在哥伦比亚大学担任两份工作的时候在哥大
in my dual role at Columbia University,
我是一名神经科学教授 同时也要掌管运作一个实验室
where I’m both a professor and run a laboratory in neuroscience
我们的实验室研究大脑如何运作
where we try to figure out how the brain works.
我们通过研究嗅觉
We do this by studying the sense of smell,
来做到这一点
the sense of olfaction, and in the laboratory,
这是一个令人愉悦和振奋的工作
it’s a great pleasure and fascinating work
我很高兴能与我的研究生和博士后们一起工作
and exciting to work with graduate students and post-docs
想出一些很酷的实验来研究
and think up cool experiments to understand how this
嗅觉系统甚至是大脑是如何运作的确实
sense of smell works and how the brain might be working, and,
这样的科学实验令人心情振奋
well, frankly, it’s kind of exhilarating.
但在同时
But at the same time, it’s my responsibility
我担负着给本科生讲授神经科学的教职
to teach a large course to undergraduates on the brain,
这是个很重要的任务
and that’s a big subject,
我需要花费很长时间来组织讲课内容
and it takes quite a while to organize that,
授课是非常有挑战性和非常有趣的工作
and it’s quite challenging and it’s quite interesting,
但我不得不说 对我来说 它不是那么令人振奋
but I have to say, it’s not so exhilarating.
那么这其中的区别是什么呢?
So what was the difference? Well,
我的授课程内容
the course I was and am teaching
叫“细胞和分子神经科学(第一部分)”(笑声)
is called Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience – I. (Laughs)
它分为二十五讲 充满了各种各样的事实
It’s 25 lectures full of all sorts of facts,
使用的教科书是《神经科学原理》这本
it uses this giant book called”Principles of Neural Science”
由三个著名的神经学家写就的鸿篇巨制一共有
by three famous neuroscientists.
1 414
This book comes in at 1,414 pages,
页重达7.5磅
it weighs a hefty seven and a half pounds.
要是换个角度来衡量
Just to put that in some perspective,
这本书相当于两个正常人类大脑的重量
that’s the weight of two normal human brains.
(笑声)
(Laughter)
所以我开始意识到 这门课结束后
So I began to realize, by the end of this course,
学生们也许会觉得
that the students maybe were getting the idea
我们要想认识大脑 就必须要掌握这本书提供的所有知识
that we must know everything there is to know about the brain.
这显然是不对的我想
That’s clearly not true.
他们一定也有这个想法
And they must also have this idea, I suppose,
科学家们做的就是收集数据
that what scientists do is collect data and collect facts
整理出事实然后把他们订在这样的厚重教科书里
and stick them in these big books.
这同样也不是事实
And that’s not really the case either.
我去参加学术会议的时候
When I go to a meeting,
在会议结束后
after the meeting day is over
我和我的同事们
and we collect in the bar
聚在酒吧里喝上几瓶啤酒
over a couple of beers with my colleagues,
我们从来不谈论我们已经知道的东西
we never talk about what we know.
我们谈论的是我们不知道的东西
We talk about what we don’t know.
我们谈论还有什么是需要被研究的
We talk about what still has to get done,
什么是实验室下一步的重点工作事实上
what’s so critical to get done in the lab. Indeed,
我认为 玛丽 · 居里给出了最好的诠释:
this was, I think, best said by Marie Curie
她说 一个科学家不在意已经落实的东西
who said that one never notices what has been done
而是在意那些还没有落实的东西
but only what remains to be done.
这是她在取得第二个研究生学位后
This was in a letter to her brother after obtaining
在给她弟弟的信里这样说的
her second graduate degree, I should say.
告诉大家 这一直是我最喜爱的玛丽
I have to point out this has always been one
· 居里照片之一我相信
of my favorite pictures of Marie Curie,
在她身后的光芒
because I am convinced that that glow behind her
绝对不是摄影棚的特效
is not a photographic effect. (Laughter)
(笑声)那一定是真的光芒
That’s the real thing.
她所撰写的论文现在
It is true that her papers are, to this day,
珍藏在法国国家图书馆的
stored in a basement room in the Bibliothèque Française
一个有含铅内墙的混凝土地下室里
in a concrete room that’s lead-lined,
如果你是一个学者
and if you’re a scholar
想要看看这些笔记本
and you want access to these notebooks,
你必须穿上一整套辐射防护服
you have to put on a full radiation hazmat suit,
那是相当可怕的事儿
so it’s pretty scary business. Nonetheless,
尽管如此 我认为我们的课程遗漏了(居里夫人所说的)
this is what I think we were leaving out
没有教给学生
of our courses and leaving out
作为科学家 在与公众的互动中
of the interaction that we have
也省略了告诉他们 什么是未被发现的
with the public as scientists, the what-remains-to-be-done.
这是令人振奋和有趣的东西
This is the stuff that’s exhilarating and interesting.
如果你愿意 你可以叫它无知
It is, if you will, the ignorance.
这正是我们没注意到的方面
That’s what was missing.
所以我想 嗯 也许我应该开一门课
So I thought, well, maybe I should teach a course
这门课讲的是“无知” 这也许就是我真正擅长的
on ignorance, something I can finally excel at, perhaps, for example.
后来我真的就开设了这门关于无知的课
So I did start teaching this course on ignorance,
它真的是个相当有趣的课 我会告诉你们
and it’s been quite interesting and I’d like
这门课程的网址
to tell you to go to the website.
你可以在那里找到各种各样的信息 它完全是对外开放的
You can find all sorts of information there. It’s wide open.
对我来说 教这门课的那段时间是段美妙时光
And it’s been really quite an interesting time for me
我得以见到其他来参与的科学家
to meet up with other scientists who come
和他们讨论他们所不知道的事情
in and talk about what it is they don’t know.
当然 我现在使用”无知”这个词
Now I use this word”ignorance,” of course,
听起来好像有些恶意挑衅的意味
to be at least in part intentionally provocative,
因为无知有很多贬义的内涵
because ignorance has a lot of bad connotations
我说的当然不是那样的意思
and I clearly don’t mean any of those.
我不是说愚蠢 我也不是说对事实、原因和数据的
So I don’t mean stupidity, I don’t mean a callow indifference
那种没心没肺的幼稚无知
to fact or reason or data.
我说的无知是 未被启蒙的
The ignorant are clearly unenlightened, unaware, uninformed,
没意识到的不了解的 除了占用自己的公司
and present company today excepted,
还经常占用选举办公室
often occupy elected offices, it seems to me.
在我看来这也许是另一个故事
That’s another story, perhaps.
我这里指得的是另一种无知
I mean a different kind of ignorance.
我所说的无知可没那么多贬义
I mean a kind of ignorance that’s less pejorative,
我所说的无知是说我们
a kind of ignorance that comes
在知识上共同的差距
from a communal gap in our knowledge,
一些我们还没有了解的东西
something that’s just not there to be known
或者了解得还不够得东西
or isn’t known well enough
或者我们无法预知的东西
yet or we can’t make predictions from,
这种无知在
the kind of ignorance that’s maybe best summed up
詹姆斯·克拉克·麦克斯韦发表的声明中有最好的诠释:
in a statement by James Clerk Maxwell,
也许是最伟大的物理学家牛顿或者爱因斯坦说过
perhaps the greatest physicist between Newton and Einstein,
“完全自觉自醒的无知
who said,”Thoroughly conscious ignorance
是每一次科学进步的前奏
is the prelude to every real advance in science.”
“我认为这句话说得非常好 完全自觉自醒的无知
I think it’s a wonderful idea: thoroughly conscious ignorance.
这正是我今天所要
So that’s the kind of ignorance
讲的无知但当然
that I want to talk about today,
首先我们要搞清楚
but of course the first thing we have to clear
我们该如何利用我们已经掌握的事实?
up is what are we going to do with all those facts?
科学发现正以惊人的速度积累着
So it is true that science piles up at an alarming rate.
我们知道科学发现就是
We all have this sense that
这些堆积如山的事实
science is this mountain of facts,
科学的这种积累模式 就象很多人说的
this accumulation model of science, as many have called it,
它看似坚不可摧 它看似毫无可能
and it seems impregnable, it seems impossible.
你怎么可能掌握这一切呢?
How can you ever know all of this?
事实上 科学文献在以惊人的速度增长在
And indeed, the scientific literature grows at an alarming rate.
2006 年 共有一百三十万篇论文得以发表
In 2006, there were 1.3 million papers published.
那是大约 2.5%的年增长率
There’s about a two-and-a-half-percent yearly growth rate,
去年一年呢
and so last year we saw
有一百五十万篇论文被发表
over one and a half million papers being published.
这个数值除以一年的总分钟数
Divide that by the number of minutes in a year,
就意味着每一分钟就有三篇论文发表出来
and you wind up with three new papers per minute.
我在这儿已经讲了十多分钟了
So I’ve been up here a little over 10 minutes,
就是说我已经失去了三篇论文
I’ve already lost three papers.
我需要离开这儿
I have to get out of here actually.
赶紧去读那些论文呢
I have to go read.
我们怎么利用这些已经发表的论文呢?嗯
So what do we do about this? Well, the fact is
事实是科学家在做的就是所谓
that what scientists do about it is a kind
的可控的忽略就是说
of a controlled neglect, if you will.
我们不需要对我们操心那些发表的论文
We just don’t worry about it, in a way.
事实当然是重要的
The facts are important.
为了成为科学家
You have to know a lot of stuff
你要知道很多东西
to be a scientist. That’s true.
这是事实但知识多并不会让你成为科学家
But knowing a lot of stuff doesn’t make you a scientist.
要成为一名律师
You need to know a lot
你要掌握很多知识
of stuff to be a lawyer
要成为会计师、电工或者木工 你要掌握很多知识
or an accountant or an electrician or a carpenter.
但在科学方面 掌握很多知识并不是重点
But in science, knowing a lot of stuff is not the point.
掌握得知识多可以帮助你更好地
Knowing a lot of stuff is there to help you get
了解你的无知
to more ignorance.
所以掌握知识是很重要的
So knowledge is a big subject, but I would say
但我会说知道自己的无知更重要
ignorance is a bigger one.
这就让我们去思考
So this leads us to maybe think about, a little bit about,
我们通常想采用
some of the models
的一些科学模式
of science that we tend to use,
在这里我要纠正你们对科学研究模式的一些偏见
and I’d like to disabuse you of some of them.
其中一个很常见的科学研究模式
So one of them, a popular one, is that scientists
就是科学家们在耐心地把拼图上的小图块一张一张地拼在一起
are patiently putting the pieces of a puzzle together
去揭示一个又一个重大的发现
to reveal some grand scheme or another.
这显然不是那么回事 因为
This is clearly not true. For one, with puzzles,
说到拼图厂家能保证你一定能做出完整的拼图
the manufacturer has guaranteed that there’s a solution.
但我们对科学研究却没法打保票实际上
We don’t have any such guarantee. Indeed,
我们中的
there are many
很多人对制造商也不是那么有信心
of us who aren’t so sure about the manufacturer.
(笑声)
(Laughter)
所以我觉得科学研究并不遵循拼图模式
So I think the puzzle model doesn’t work.
另一种普遍的模式是科学研究是需要一层层解开的难题
Another popular model is that science is busy unraveling things
就象你拨开一层层的洋葱皮
the way you unravel the peels of an onion.
一层一层地
So peel by peel,
你一点点剥开洋葱的外皮
you take away the layers of the onion
去了解其中的核心真相
to get at some fundamental kernel of truth.
我同样不觉得这个模式是正确的另一种
I don’t think that’s the way it works either.
也是很普遍的一个 就是冰山模式
Another one, a kind of popular one, is the iceberg idea,
我们只能看到水面上的冰山尖
that we only see the tip of the iceberg but underneath
但是水面下才是隐藏着的大部分的冰山
is where most of the iceberg is hidden.
所有这些上述模式都是基于我们掌握
But all of these models are based on the idea
的事实基础上的
of a large body of facts
那些我们已经部分或者全部了解的事实
that we can somehow or another get completed.
我们可以铲开
We can chip away
冰山去了解它是怎么回事
at this iceberg and figure out what it is,
或者象现在的气候
or we could just wait for it to melt,
我们等着它融化了就行了
I suppose, these days,
不管怎么说我们最终会知道冰山到底什么样
but one way or another we could get to the whole iceberg. Right?
对吧? 这都是可控的
Or make it manageable.
但我认为科学研究与此不同
But I don’t think that’s the case.
我觉得真正的科学研究模式
I think what really happens in science
更像是个魔力井
is a model more like the magic well, where
不管你捞出多少桶水
no matter how many buckets you take out, there
井里总有另桶水着你去捞
‘s always another bucket of water to be had,
还有一个我特别喜欢的说法
or my particularly favorite one,
科学研究就象池塘上的一圈圈涟漪
with the effect and everything, the ripples on a pond.
科学研究就
So if you think
象是池塘里那不断扩展的一圈圈涟漪一样
of knowledge being this ever-expanding ripple on a pond,
重要的是我们要意识到我们的无知和
the important thing to realize is that our ignorance,
知识的边界 是和我们所掌握的知识同时增长的
the circumference of this knowledge, also grows with knowledge.
所以说知识造就无知
So the knowledge generates ignorance.
我觉得这句话真是说得太好 这是乔治 ·
This is really well said, I thought, by George Bernard Shaw.
萧伯纳在庆祝爱因斯坦工作成绩的晚宴上
This is actually part of a toast that he delivered
所说的祝酒词中的一句话他认为:
to celebrate Einstein at a dinner celebrating Einstein’s work,
科学
in which he claims that science
只会创造出比答案更多的问题 [“科学总是错误的 不创造出十个问题科学就没法解决任何一个问题
just creates more questions than it answers.[“Science is always wrong. It never solves a problem without creating 10 more.”]
“]我觉得这真是至理名言了
I find that kind of glorious,
他说的一点没错
and I think he’s precisely right,
不过这也算是给科学界职业安全感结果呢
plus it’s a kind of job security.
他可能是抄袭了
As it turns out, he kind of cribbed that
哲学家康德
from the philosopher Immanuel Kant who a hundred
早在一百年多年前 康德就有了同样的
years earlier had come up with this idea
问题繁殖的想法 就是说 每一个答案都会产生更多的问题
of question propagation, that every answer begets more questions.
我喜欢”问题繁殖”这个词的意思
I love that term,”question propagation,”
把问题不断繁殖下去
this idea of questions propagating out there.
所以我说搞科研的模式不是说
So I’d say the model we want to take is not
我们从无知
that we start out kind
开始找到事实答案
of ignorant and we get some facts together
然后我们获得知识这样的步骤
and then we gain knowledge.
其实真的正好相反
It’s rather kind of the other way around, really.
我们会自问 我们用我们掌握的知识做什么好?
What do we use this knowledge for?
我们用我们收集到的事实来证明什么?
What are we using this collection of facts for?
我们正是用知识和事实来推出更好的无知
We’re using it to make better ignorance,
如果可能 推出更高质的无知因为
to come up with, if you will, higher-quality ignorance. Because,
你知道有低质量的无知 也有高质量的无知
you know, there’s low-quality ignorance and there’s high-quality ignorance.
这两个可不是一样的
It’s not all the same.
科学家总是为这个话题辩论
Scientists argue about this all the time.
有时我们叫它牛市会议
Sometimes we call them bull sessions.
有时我们叫它研究提案
Sometimes we call them grant proposals.
不管怎么说 它就是关于无知的讨论
But nonetheless, it’s what the argument is about.
它是我们的无知 它是我们所不知道的
It’s the ignorance. It’s the what we don’t know.
它也是一个好的提问
It’s what makes a good question.
那么我们怎么考虑这些问题呢?
So how do we think about these questions?
这里我给你们看一个图表 这个图表经常
I’m going to show you a graph that shows up quite a bit
被各个科学部门用来做聚会的海报
on happy hour posters in various science departments.
这张图表关于你的科学兴趣
This graph asks the relationship between what you know
和你掌握知识多少的关系
and how much you know about it.
你的科学兴趣
So what you know,
可能是从什么都不想知道到想掌握一切
you can know anywhere from nothing to everything, of course,
当然你掌握知识的多少可以在
and how much you know about it can be anywhere
或少或多的任何地方
from a little to a lot.
所以我来举个例子 有一个本科生
So let’s put a point on the graph. There’s an undergraduate.
他知道的不多 但他有很多兴趣
Doesn’t know much but they have a lot of interest.
他们几乎对所有的东西感兴趣
They’re interested in almost everything.
现在来看一个硕士生
Now you look at a master’s student,
因为他受教育的时间更长
a little further along in their education,
你看他知道得更多
and you see they know a bit more,
但是他的兴趣却有点儿减少了
but it’s been narrowed somewhat.
最后你来看看博士生
And finally you get your Ph. D., where it turns out
你会发现他们感兴趣的东西几乎都没了
you know a tremendous amount about almost nothing. (Laughter)
(笑声)在你沿着图表的线条在看下去的话 真正让人不安的是
What’s really disturbing is the trend line that goes through that because,
在零点的下方的一个点
of course, when it dips below the zero axis, there,
它是在负值区域的
it gets into a negative area.
恐怕你们可以找到的就是像我这样的人了
That’s where you find people like me, I’m afraid.
但重要的是这些是可以改变的
So the important thing here is that this can all be changed.
仅仅是改变X轴上的某个标记 就可以改变整个视角因此
This whole view can be changed by just changing the label on the x-axis.
与其问你知道多少
So instead of how much you know about it,
我们不如问 “你想问的问题是什么?
we could say,”What can you ask about it?”
“所以可以肯定
So yes, you do need to know a lot
你确实需要掌握很多科学知识
of stuff as a scientist,
但是掌握这些知识的目的
but the purpose of knowing a lot of stuff
不仅仅是为了了解这些知识
is not just to know a lot of stuff.
那只能让你变成一个科学怪人
That just makes you a geek, right?
对吧? 掌握很多知识的目的是
Knowing a lot of stuff, the purpose is
为了能够 提出更多的问题
to be able to ask lots of questions,
是为了能够提出细致、
to be able to frame thoughtful, interesting questions,
有趣的问题那才是科学工作的重点
because that’s where the real work is.
让我给你讲讲两个诸如此类的
Let me give you a quick idea of a couple
问题
of these sorts of questions.
我是一个神经科学家 那么我们如何提出
I’m a neuroscientist, so how would we come up
神经科学领域里的问题呢?
with a question in neuroscience?
因为这些问题并不总是那么直接
Because it’s not always quite so straightforward. So,
那么比如说
for example, we could say,
我们可以问 大脑是干嘛用的?
well what is it that the brain does? Well,
嗯 大脑可以做到的一件事就是它能让我们移动
one thing the brain does, it moves us around.
它能让我们用双腿行走
We walk around on two legs.
这似乎有点太简单
That seems kind of simple, somehow or another.
是不是?我的意思是 几乎每个都超过 10
I mean, virtually everybody over 10 months of age
个月龄的人都可以用双腿走路
walks around on two legs, right?
对吧?所以说这个问题没什么意思
So that maybe is not that interesting.
所以我们可能会选择提出一些
So instead maybe we want to choose something
更复杂些的问题去研究
a little more complicated to look at.
视觉系统怎么样?
How about the visual system?
对 就是视觉系统了我是说
There it is, the visual system.
我们喜欢研究视觉系统
I mean, we love our visual systems.
可以搞很酷的研究事实上
We do all kinds of cool stuff. Indeed,
超过 一万两千位神经科学家
there are over 12,000 neuroscientists
是研究视觉系统的
who work on the visual system,
从视网膜到视觉皮层的
from the retina to the visual cortex,
这些科研不仅仅是局限在视觉系统
in an attempt to understand not just the visual system
还包括如何通过视觉系统研究去了解
but to also understand how general principles
大脑是如何运作的普遍原理
of how the brain might work.
目前的情况是:
But now here’s the thing:
我们现在拥有很好的
Our technology has actually been pretty good
复制视觉系统的技术
at replicating what the visual system does.
我们有电视
We have TV, we have movies,
我们有电影我们有动画
we have animation, we have photography,
我们有摄影、我们有模型识别技术 很多其他的这一类技术
we have pattern recognition, all of these sorts of things.
有些视觉技术的工作原理和视觉系统不大一样
They work differently than our visual systems in some cases,
尽管如此 我们现有的视觉技术
but nonetheless we’ve been pretty good
已经与视觉系统非常近似了但是
at making a technology work like our visual system.
机器人技术的发展已经有一百年了
Somehow or another, a hundred years of robotics,
你还没见过一个用两条腿走路的机器人
you never saw a robot walk on two legs,
因为机器人不是用两条腿走路的
because robots don’t walk on two legs
这可不是一件很容易做到的事
because it’s not such an easy thing to do.
一百年的机器人技术
A hundred years of robotics,
我们甚至不能让机器人
and we can’t get a robot that can move more
走上一步或者两步
than a couple steps one way or the other.
你让机器人走个斜面试试 它们肯定会摔倒
You ask them to go up an inclined plane, and they fall over.
让它们转身 它们也会摔倒了 这是个科技上的难题那么
Turn around, and they fall over. It’s a serious problem.
对大脑来说 什么是最难完成
So what is it that’s the most difficult thing
的任务呢?
for a brain to do?
我们应该学着研究什么呢?
What ought we to be studying?
也许应该研究用两腿行走是怎么完成的 研究运动系统
Perhaps it ought to be walking on two legs, or the motor system.
我给你们举个我自己实验室的例子
I’ll give you an example from my own lab,
我们对嗅觉问题特别感兴趣
my own particularly smelly question, since
我们研究嗅觉
we work on the sense of smell.
这里是五个分子构图
But here’s a diagram of five molecules
和他们的化学排序
and sort of a chemical notation.
这都是些最普通的分子了
These are just plain old molecules,
但如果你用你脸上那两个鼻梁下的小洞洞
but if you sniff those molecules
来闻闻那些分子的话
up these two little holes in the front of your face,
你会在脑海记住那个印象非常深刻的“玫瑰”
you will have in your mind the distinct impression of a rose.
如果说真的有玫瑰的话
If there’s a real rose there,
那些分子就是“玫瑰”
those molecules will be the ones,
但即使没有玫瑰
but even if there’s no rose there,
你也会有关于这些分子的记忆
you’ll have the memory of a molecule.
我们是如何把一些分子转变成脑海里的印象的?
How do we turn molecules into perceptions?
这个怎样的一个过程呢?
What’s the process by which that could happen?
还有另一个例子: 两个非常简单的分子结构 带着这些化学符号
Here’s another example: two very simple molecules, again in this kind of chemical notation.
也许这样看着它们的分子式更容易
It might be easier to visualize them this way,
灰色的圈圈是碳原子
so the gray circles are carbon atoms, the white ones
白色的是氢原子 红色的是氧原子
are hydrogen atoms and the red ones are oxygen atoms.
那么这两个分子式的差别就在于一个碳原子
Now these two molecules differ by only one carbon atom
和两个与碳原子相连的氢原子
and two little hydrogen atoms that ride along with it,
其中的一个分子叫乙酸庚酯
and yet one of them, heptyl acetate,
带着特殊的梨味儿
has the distinct odor of a pear,
但是醋酸己酯却带来一种很明显的香蕉味儿
and hexyl acetate is unmistakably banana.
我就想问两个非常有趣的问题
So there are two really interesting questions here, it seems to me.
其中一个是 一个如此简单的小分子
One is, how can a simple little molecule like that
是如何在你的脑海里建立起如此清晰的认识
create a perception in your brain that’s so clear
让你轻松辨别出一只梨或是一个香蕉的呢?
as a pear or a banana?
第二 我们到底是怎样辨别出这个差异的呢?
And secondly, how the hell can we tell the difference
两个分子仅仅只有一个碳原子键的不同而已
between two molecules that differ by a single carbon atom?
我的意思是 这样的问题对我来说简直是太有趣了
I mean, that’s remarkable to me,
我们每个人都拥有这个星球上最优质的化学探测器呀!
clearly the best chemical detector on the face of the planet.
你甚至从来都没想过这些
And you don’t even think about it, do you?
对吧?让我们再回来谈谈无知和设问
So this is a favorite quote of mine that takes us
这是我最喜欢讲给大家的一句名言
back to the ignorance and the idea of questions.
我喜欢引用名言是因为我想既使是死人
I like to quote because I think dead people
也应该参与这样的讨论
shouldn’t be excluded from the conversation.
我认为(关于无知的)
And I also think it’s important to
谈论其实已经进行很久了
realize that the conversation’s been going on
埃尔温
for a while, by the way.
· 薛定谔是伟大的量子物理学家
So Erwin Schrodinger, a great quantum physicist and,
我认为他也是哲学家 他指出你需要不懈地
I think, philosopher, points out how you have to
“保持永久无限期的无知”
“abide by ignorance for an indefinite period” of time.
正是这种如何持久
And it’s this abiding
得保持无知 我认为 正是我们需要学会的
by ignorance that I think we have to learn how to do.
这是件很不容易的事情
This is a tricky thing.
可没有那么简单
This is not such an easy business.
现在我该讲讲我们的教育系统了
I guess it comes down to our education system,
我要讲讲
so I’m going to talk
无知和教育
a little bit about ignorance and education,
因为我觉得教育系统需要重视“无知”
because I think that’s where it really has to play out.
那么现在让我们正视现实吧
So for one, let’s face it,
这个时代有谷歌 维基百科这样的网站
in the age of Google and Wikipedia,
大学的运营模式
the business model of the university and probably
甚至是我们的中学 真的都需要一些实质的改变
secondary schools is simply going to have to change.
我们真的不能光靠贩卖“事实”为生了
We just can’t sell facts for a living anymore.
你只要轻松的点击鼠标就可以找到事实的
They’re available with a click of the mouse,
如果你想
or if you want to,
在现在这样的年代 你甚至可能仅仅对着墙提问
you could probably just ask the wall
墙里面藏着
one of these days,
的机器就可能 回答你所有的问题
wherever they’re going to hide the things that tell us all this stuff.
我们要做的是什么?
So what do we have to do?
我们必须让我们的学生
We have to give our students
尝到探索的滋味 去了解事实以外的世界
a taste for the boundaries, for what’s outside that circumference,
事实之外还有什么 除了事实还有什么
for what’s outside the facts, what’s just beyond the facts.
我们应该怎么做?
How do we do that? Well,
是呀 现在有个问题
one of the problems, of course,
很难解决 那就是–考试目前
turns out to be testing.
我们的教育制度
We currently have an educational system
是非常高效的 但是非常高效地干了件坏事
which is very efficient but is very efficient at a rather bad thing.
在二年级时 几乎所有的孩子都对科学感兴趣
So in second grade, all the kids are interested in science,
无论女孩还是男孩
the girls and the boys.
他们喜欢把东西拆开 他们有很强的好奇心
They like to take stuff apart. They have great curiosity.
他们喜欢做调查 他们喜欢去科学博物馆
They like to investigate things. They go to science museums.
他们喜欢四处玩耍
They like to play around.
他们是小学二年级的学生
They’re in second grade.
他们对什么都感兴趣
They’re interested.
等到了第 11 或 12 年级(高中) 只有
But by 11th or 12th grade, fewer than 10 percent
不到10%的学生对科学感兴趣
of them have any interest in science whatsoever,
更别说想把科学探索作为自己的职业了
let alone a desire to go into science as a career.
所以我说 我们有这个极其高效的系统
So we have this remarkably efficient system
很善于打击这些孩子们心里的科学兴趣
for beating any interest in science out of everybody’s head.
这真的是我们想要的吗?
Is this what we want?
我的一位大学老师同事把这样的现象
I think this comes from what a teacher colleague of mine
叫做”填鸭式教育”
calls”the bulimic method of education.”
你知道吧?你可以想象出来的
You know. You can imagine what it is.
我们只是把一大勺的
We just jam a whole bunch
“事实”塞进他们的喉咙里
of facts down their throats over here
然后他们在考试的时候再把它吐出来
and then they puke it up on an exam over here
每个回家的孩子从学校里没得到什么有益的收获
and everybody goes home with no added intellectual heft whatsoever.
我们不能这样继续下去了那么
This can’t possibly continue to go on.
我们该怎么办?
So what do we do?
那些遗传学家
Well the geneticists, I have to say,
我不得不说他们中流传着很有趣的格言
have an interesting maxim they live by.
遗传学家经常说 你总能得到你想要筛选出的东西
Geneticists always say, you always get what you screen for.
我们可以把这句话当成警告
And that’s meant as a warning.
我们总能得到我们想要筛选出的东西
So we always will get what we screen for,
测评方法是非常重要的
and part of what we screen for is in our testing methods. Well,
我们已经听过太多的测试呀
we hear a lot about testing and evaluation,
评价呀我们需要认真考虑我们在进行测试的时候
and we have to think carefully when we’re testing
我们在评分还是在除草
whether we’re evaluating or whether we’re weeding,
我们是不是要把一些人排除掉 我们是不是在裁掉一部分人
whether we’re weeding people out, whether we’re making some cut.
评价是一回事 你在教育学类文献中
Evaluation is one thing. You hear a lot about evaluation
可以阅读到很多有关如何做测试的书
in the literature these days, in the educational literature,
测评其实相当于反馈
but evaluation really amounts to feedback and it amounts
测评为试验和错误提供机会
to an opportunity for trial and error.
测评提供
It amounts to a chance to
的这些反馈
work over a longer period of time
应该是为了以后的长期工作提供帮助
with this kind of feedback.
这就和除草不同 但我要告诉你们
That’s different than weeding, and usually, I have to tell you,
通常情况下当人们谈论到评价
when people talk about evaluation, evaluating students,
评价学生评价教师
evaluating teachers, evaluating schools,
评价学校评价项目 他们谈论的实际上就是除草
evaluating programs, that they’re really talking about weeding.
这就不是什么好事了
And that’s a bad thing,
因为你会得到你想选择的
because then you will get what you select for,
结果呢我们真的得到了我们想要的(不到10%的高中生想搞科学)
which is what we’ve gotten so far.
我觉得我们需要有这样的测验问 “某某是什么?
So I’d say what we need is a test that says,”What is x?”
“答案可以是”我不知道 因为没有人知道 ”
and the answers are”I don’t know, because no one does,”
或者更好的答案是”你的问题是什么?
or”What’s the question?” Even better.
“或者 回答 “好的 我会查一下
Or,”You know what, I’ll look it up, I’ll ask someone,
我会问别人我会打电话给别人问 我的找到答案”
I’ll phone someone. I’ll find out.”
这才是我们需要的反应
Because that’s what we want people to do,
这才是我们评价的方式
and that’s how you evaluate them.
对一些优等生班
And maybe for the advanced placement classes,
答案可能是 “这就是答案 接下来的问题是什么?
it could be,”Here’s the answer. What’s the next question?”
“这是我特别喜欢的答案
That’s the one I like in particular.
让我引述威廉 · 巴特勒 · 叶芝的话来结束我的演讲
So let me end with a quote from William Butler Yeats,
他说”教育不是把桶填满 ;
who said”Education is not about filling buckets;
而是点亮火苗
it is lighting fires.”
“所以我建议
So I’d say, let’s get out the matches.
让我们拿出火柴来谢谢
Thank you.
(掌声)
(Applause)
谢谢大家 (掌声)
Thank you. (Applause)

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