In science, human rights, much more, advances come by tiny steps
Pic

Historian: OK, we need to talk about "responsibility" which is a big and scary word. What is my "responsibility" for sustaining Earth? What is my "responsibility" for advancing human rights? What is my "responsibility" for advancing science?

Physicist: Change can start with many tiny blind steps. When a lucky tiny blind step seems to move in a useful direction, then there is a 2nd generation of many tiny blind steps building the first lucky tiny blind step.

Historian: I see where you are going: When a lucky 2nd generation tiny blind step seems to move in a useful direction, then there is a 3rd generation of many tiny blind steps building the 2nd generation lucky tiny blind step. When a lucky . . . on and on until big change results.

Physicist: Correct. Each of many of us can make many tiny blind steps. Each of many of us can suggest that a step, made by us or made by another, seems to move in a useful direction. No one of us is responsible for the outcome. No one of us could be responsible for the outcome.

Historian: If any one of us is thought to be better at suggesting that a step moved in a useful direction, then the next step is likely into a dismal swamp. If we do not include all of us and do not embrace difference, then the next step is likely into a dismal swamp.

Physicist: So, at most, our "responsibility" is extremely limited. We are only "responsible" for tiny blind steps which might and might not move in a useful direction. We are also "responsible" for humility to know we are only part of a picture much, much larger than ourselves. In science, human rights, much more, advances come this way:

Darwin gave us a science so trustworthy that it can be used to solve engineering problems [link]

From a lucky change in a bacterium eons ago, we got here by many tiny blind steps [link]

Many tiny blind steps are preserved in our genome [link]

Cobb & Lane Q&A [link]