Clocks and clouds

Jonah Lehrer:

Karl Popper the great philosopher of science once divided the world into two categories: clocks and clouds. Clocks are neat, orderly systems that can be solved through reduction; clouds are an epistemic mess, “highly irregular, disorderly, and more or less unpredictable.” The mistake of modern science is to pretend that everything is a clock, which is why we get seduced again and again by the false promises of brain scanners and gene sequencers. We want to believe we will understand nature if we find the exact right tool to cut its joints. But that approach is doomed to failure. We live in a universe not of clocks but of clouds.

Hat tip: Richard Oliver

4 thoughts on “Clocks and clouds

  1. Md Santo

    In my view, we live IN BETWEEN clock and clouds. We live IN BETWEEN mind-brain and consciousness-DNA. We live IN BETWEEN body-mind and soul. So, put in balance between probabilistic with possibility expectation. So again, put in balance between “deducto-hypothetico-verificative” as our scientific mind set with “gnosis” as human potential natural phenomenon. Visit our Mobee Knowledge K-base and and

  2. David Spira

    I only learned of Popper’s works a few years ago. I think I would have been spared a lot of intellectual turmoil had I read his work in highs school.

  3. Beatriz Chatain

    I do agree we should not consider everything able to be analyzed and then predictable or understandable enough to be decoded. However a universe composed only by “clouds” would be disappointing I believe. For instance, works on the neurogenesis process or even the DNA structure discovery had given lots of hope to many people. It seems the challenge is to keep a good balance between both categories.


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