Knowing how people think will help you know what they will do.
1000 years ago, people were sure that the Earth is flat and the planets are moving on the sky. 5000 years ago, people thought that the sun or the moon are gods, while the stars were considered candles fixed on the sky. People gave a mystical explanation to all and started to explain that position of stars and planets had an impact on their life. Even today, many people follow the horoscope to see what the future brings to them.
As the science progressed, many new theories appeared. Some were abandoned, some could not be explained and some gave birth to even more intriguing theories.
But how will people in the future look at the world? What will be their theories? How will they look at the Universe? The only way to know is to look into the past. We know that Isaac Newton discovered gravity. His revolutionary idea helped the first astronomers understand the basics of planetary movement. It took a lot of time until Albert Einstein came with his theory of relativity and proved that everything is different. His ideas are simply unacceptable for someone who lived in the same time period with Newton. Maybe, 300 years from now, a new scientist will come with a new theory and prove that everything is far more different then what we thought.
Making science scientific (again) Edit
The three forces electromagnetic force, strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force were all united in a single theory by 1970. Much progress happened in that direction during a few decades before that. However, still today there is no unified theory including gravity.
It is sometimes claimed that an increase in costs caused the stagnation of unification. However, the fact that technological progress and fine tuning of existing theories continue to be made and even to accelerate, that cannot be the case. Unified theories make a wider range of predictions than specialized theories. A wide range of predictions gives a wider range of costs for possible tests, decreasing the cost of the cheapest possible way to test a theory. So if costs were to blame, specialized progress would have been slowed down even more severely than revolutionary unification.
It is also sometimes claimed that more unified theories are somehow more intellectually difficult. But if that was the case, the unification of theories would have slowed down gradually after the scientific revolution. That prediction is falsified by the fact that the rate of theoretical unification did accelerate between the years of 1600 and 1970.
There were, however, major institutional change taking place in academia about 1970. That was when Peer Review journals became more fragmented and Peer Review publication were starting to be officially considered a requirement for "good" science. The argumentation that the advocates of that change used shows a high degree of overlap with the ideas Thomas Kuhn wrote in "The structure of scientific revolutions", in particular, a conflation of real science with what academia did in the name of science and an adjectant despising of the important principle of falsification.
Of course one could, at first glance, argue that correlation does not equal causation. It is, however, obvious that paywalls prevent many people with testable hypotheses from getting access to empirical data. Since "open access" publication just moves the fee from the reader to the author, that is not a solution to the empirical data shortages. It is also obvious that separation of "fields" prevent empirical data in one "field" from falsifying hypotheses/theories in another, protecting pseudoscience within Peer Review. Within the system, "interdisciplinary" science takes place only after each separate "field" has denied publication to empirical data that do not fit their respective dogmas. The result is juxtaposed theoretical hokumpokum that is imported back into the separate "fields" and used as an excuse for denying publication to even more empirical data and retracting publications of empirical data.
What science needs to get started again is a massive leak of information (just as science benefitted from the fact that Johannes Kepler stole Tycho Brahe's observation logs) and theory-testers who read and use not only empirical data that have been Peer Review published, but also empirical data that have been denied publication.
Be a free thinker Edit
Until now, we thought that the asteroids between Mars and Jupiter were formed from the planetary nebula, from matter that existed between Mars and Jupiter. Now, Dawn spacecraft showed clear evidence that Ceres has some sort of hydrated clay below its surface (and this is the source of its white spots). This clay, containing also ammonia, could not be formed that close to the Sun. So, Ceres must be a celestial body that was formed further away and migrated closer to the Sun.
For sure, future generations will look at the theories we have today in a different way and they will have their own theories about formation of every celestial body. And even more. We now think about dark matter and dark energy. But, they might say that both dark matter and dark energy are distortions in the fabric of time and space and that time did not flow with the same speed. Maybe, the fact that we see distant galaxies moving away is because at that moment in the history of our universe, time was flowing slower or faster then today.
We thought that Pluto is a dead world, until New Horizons came there and showed us an active world. This confirms that our theories are not perfect, since they were unable to predict what we will find on Pluto.
Science Fiction Edit
When we look at old sci-fi movies, we see that the film directors tried to make a cosmic world inspired from the world they lived in. However, there were some free thinkers who were not constrained by the most accepted theories of the moment. their books, movies or ideas are still accepted today and are plausible for the future.