Physicist Carlo Rovelli: "the idea of something being "scientifically proven" was practically an oxymoron and that the very foundation of science is to keep the door open to doubt"
Physicist Lawrence Krauss: "In the public parlance, uncertainty is a bad thing, implying a lack of rigour and predictability....Indeed, no number, no measurement, no observable in science is exact. Quoting numbers without attaching an uncertainty to them implies they have, in essence, no meaning"
Neil Gershenfeld: "Uncertainty is intrinsic to the process of finding out what you don't know, not a weakness to avoid. Bugs are features – violations of expectations are opportunities to refine them."
Clay Shirky: "We should stop thinking that average family income and the income of the median family have anything to do with one another, or that enthusiastic and normal users of communications tools are doing similar things...We should stop thinking that the largest future earthquake or market panic will be as large as the largest historical one"
Here's to hoping smart people actually embrace uncertainty. Ironically (and intuitively), it seems the more intelligent you are, the more confident you are in your own judgment - to a fault.
A couple nits with the article though:
1. It ends with a resounding endorsement of "bottom-up" thinking. While "bottom-up" thinking is critical, it has serious disadvantages without interaction with "top-down" thinking.
2. The article also cites a quote saying, in essence, that "a good scientist is never certain." The reality is more nuanced. I'm currently reading the scientific historian Thomas Kuhn's legendary treatise on the Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The reality of science, like any other discipline, is that it happens within a pedagogical and social frame - of colleagues, mentors, culture, norms - that drive macro-level patterns in the shift of paradigms. The usefulness of normal science inside a given scientific paradigm, that is, the detail, rigor, enumeration of applications, is a direct result of the psychological and instrumental commitment of scientists to the paradigm.