A Caldwell Society Lecture
Dr. Gibson of Glenalmond College
Tuesday saw the first Caldwell Society lecture of the new term for which we welcomed Dr Gibson from Glenalmond College. Dr Gibson runs the ‘William Bright Society’ at Glenalmond and he brought with him ideas relating to the ability to think and reason.
He challenged the children that all that they take to be true might not necessarily always be the case and cited examples of work by Newton and Einstein which, up to recently, the world took as self evident and correct.
He began by asking groups to write down something they believed was evidently ‘true’. This produced a number of interesting and factual answers, including one boy who said he was ‘human’ much to the derision of the assembled Society! Dr Gibson progressed to say that while all appeared ‘true’ some might not necessarily interpret it to be so. He continued to ask questions of the group and then asked each group to define words such as ‘Knowledge’, ‘Belief’, ‘Bias’, ‘Scepticism’, etc. The children did well in many of their explanations and Dr Gibson continued to provide challenging questions based around examples of each word. He continued by giving each group statements on cards, asking the children to decide, on a sliding scale, which of the statements was a potential Fact and which was a possible Belief. These included comments such as ‘terrorists attacked New York in 2001’ to ‘all bodies have an immortal soul’. It provided some really interesting answers, all remarkably different between the groups – as no doubt he had hoped.
He came round to say that our idea of knowledge is established through four mediums:
Reason, Language, Emotion and Perception.
He added that knowledge is what we interpret to be true and is not necessarily always the case, and that one should always question accepted beliefs.
All too quickly the lecture had come to an end and we thanked Dr Gibson for providing the Society with much to think about – the purpose of his talk!