The mediocrity principle

Edge has published the answers it received to its annual question. This year they asked what scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit. I’m still going through them, but I especially like PZ Myers’ answer.

The mediocrity principle simply states that you aren’t special. The universe does not revolve around you, this planet isn’t privileged in any unique way, your country is not the perfect product of divine destiny, your existence isn’t the product of directed, intentional fate, and that tuna sandwich you had for lunch was not plotting to give you indigestion. Most of what happens in the world is just a consequence of natural, universal laws — laws that apply everywhere and to everything, with no special exemptions or amplifications for your benefit — given variety by the input of chance. Everything that you as a human being consider cosmically important is an accident. The rules of inheritance and the nature of biology meant that when your parents had a baby, it was anatomically human and mostly fully functional physiologically, but the unique combination of traits that make you male or female, tall or short, brown-eyed or blue-eyed were the result of a chance shuffle of genetic attributes during meiosis, a few random mutations, and the luck of the draw in the grand sperm race at fertilization.

3 Responses

  1. It will take hours to go through them all. I stopped after 15 minutes.

  2. Notify.

  3. Well PZ Myers does know about mediocrity.

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