The growth of Knowledge consists of correcting misconceptions in our theories. Ever since the Enlightenment this had happened through a tradition of criticism. New explanations are proposed, criticized, and then refined.

Since the tradition of Conjecture and criticism has created all Knowledge and Progress it's absolutely imperative that we keep it. Free speech is critical. No idea should be beyond criticism.

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The act of using Creativity to come up with new Explanations. See also:


The theory that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience (i.e. from experimentation). When empiricism was first introduced it played a positive role for Progress by providing a defence against traditional authorities and dogma. All claims of the supernatural now had to be backed up by hard evidence, which meant that 'provable' science superseded religious mysticism and superstition.


There's a class of questions that Popper called 'Who should rule?'. For example, 'Who should hold power?', and then lots of derived questions like 'How should they be educated?.' These are questions that have been asked ever since history begun and are at the root of all squabbles around governing. Popper pointed out that this class of questions is rooted in the same misconception as the question ‘How are scientific theories derived from sensory data?’ which defines Empiricism. It is seeking a system that derives or justifies the right choice of leader or government, from existing data – such as inherited entitlements, the opinion of the majority, the manner in which a person has been educated, etc.

Knowledge Creation

There are only two known sources of knowledge creation: Biological Evolution and the thoughts of People. They have some key differences. In the case of human knowledge, the variation is by Conjecture, and the selection is by Criticism and experiment. In the biosphere, the variation consists of mutations (random changes) in genes, and natural selection favors the variants that most improve the ability of their organisms to reproduce, thus causing those variant genes to spread through the population.


Moral philosophy is basically about the problem of what to do next–and, more generally, what sort of life to lead, and what sort of world to want. Morality is a type of Knowledge. This means that moral 'truths' can be discovered by the usual methods of reason, which are essentially the same as those of science (although there are important differences).


The theory that all failures (all evils) are due to insufficient knowledge. This is the key to the rational philosophy of the unknowable.


We have made virtually no progress over the vast majority of human history. Our species has existed for 200,000 years and for the vast majority of that time, people were alive, they were thinking, they were suffering, and they wanted things. But nothing ever improved. The improvements that did happen happened so slowly that archaeologists can’t distinguish between artifacts from eras separated by thousands of years. Then there was slow improvement, and then faster improvement. Then there were attempts to institutionalize a tradition of Criticism, which is the key to rapid progress—that is, progress discernible in a human lifetime—and there was also Error Correction, so that regression was less likely. That happened several times and failed every time except once—in the European Enlightenment of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.