Students of science are expected to accept the facts they are taught as being uncontested and incontestable. Examinations assume that every problem has only one correct solution. Only when these students begin researching are they are admitted to the knowledge that scientific results can vary in quality, that many solutions can only be understood as tentative, that facts in scientific literature may be unreliable, and that concepts have a certain degree of plasticity. Those with any degree of insight eventually acknowledge that there are problems which cannot be solved. Such scientific ignorance is paradoxical and directly contradictory to the image of science and its associated technologies.
2. The inherited conception of science is inappropriate for the new tasks of control of the apparently intractable biosphere problems. If humanity is to cope with the enormous problems now confronting it, some of the ideas about science and its applications will have to change. The most basic of these is the assumption that science can indeed be useful for policy, if and only if it is natural and effective and can provide "the facts" unequivocally. But now it has become apparent that humanity must cope with the imperfections of science, with radical uncertainty, and even with ignorance, in forming policy decisions for the biosphere.