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What a Thought Experiment is All About

My thought experiments don’t happen in my mind. I undertake these experiments out in the world. 

I call what I do thought experiments and a thought experiment – any sort of experiment really – involves setting up a hypothesis and then seeing it through. 

A thought experiment specifically involves making a counter-factual statement as a foundation by which to then be able to look back on our own lives and our own world by virtue of the fact that it is in a sense disorienting.  In a sense it puts us in a position to see no longer in normal terms what is an everyday occurrence for us, an everyday experience. 

So my thought experiments are not thought experiments that happen in my mind that I write. 

They are thought experiments that I undertake literally out in the world and the travel documentaries for plants are an example of a thought experiment because they are presenting a counter-factual situation to our way of living, but one that mirrors how we live in a way that we can step into that world and look at our own world from afar from the standpoint of another species. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think’s studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


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