### Main ideas

(slightly edited for a better flow)

Science is a never ending process of getting deeper and deeper theories, but each theory always makes assumptions. It says if you grant me these assumptions, I can explain these other things. If you grant me molecules, and the idea that they bounce around and have kinetic energy, I can explain temperature and thermodynamics, but I’m assuming those molecules. It’s a theory of everything except its assumptions. The assumptions are the thing it’s not explaining. It’s the miracles. –

Science can never have a theory of everything. The point is to break your theories. When you can break your theory, when you find its limits, that’s when you break out the champagne, because that’s when you’re going to go to the next step. Gödel’s incompleteness theory tells us that this process will never end. –

### Longer excerpts

### Science is a always based on miracles aka assumptions

That’s because for two different reasons. First, what is the theory? A scientific theory is an explanation. It says if you grant me these assumptions, I can explain these other things. If you grant me molecules, and the idea that they bounce around and have kinetic energy, I can explain temperature and thermodynamics, but I’m assuming those molecules.

So whatever you assume, is a thing that you’re not explaining, they’re what I would call the miracles of the theory. Now, of course, you can then try to say, “Well, I can get rid of those miracles.” I can say that particles are themselves what the physicists would call irreducible unitary representations of the Poincaré group, which is the symmetries of spacetime.

I can have my theory of spacetime and say particles are merely these representations of properties of spacetime, but now I’m assuming spacetime. Every scientific theory is going to have this thing where it says, these are my assumptions, and those are the miracles, and that’s what a scientific theory is. By definition, a scientific theory can never be a theory of everything. It’s a theory of everything except its assumptions. The assumptions are the thing it’s not explaining. It’s the miracle.

**Tim Ferriss: **It’s turtles all the way down.

**Donald Hoffman: **That’s right. It’s explanations all the way down. There’s another deep reason why that has to be true. It comes from Gödel’s incompleteness theorem. That Gödel showed that any finite axiomatization of mathematics that you make, that’s at least rich enough to account for arithmetic will have a weird property that there are truths that cannot be proven from that system.

He actually showed that there are statements that are true, but cannot be proven from within that system. If you add those true statements to your axioms, to your assumptions, so those axioms are like the assumptions of a scientific theory. Then Gödel’s theorem still comes back and says, well, there’ll be new statements that are true, but that cannot be proven from within that new axiomatization.

What this means is that any conceptual scheme that we come up with will always and only barely scratch the surface of reality. This is a truly humbling point of view is to say, and by every scheme we come up with, you can show that you can actually write down truths that are true, but can’t be proven. Our theories will always never get all of the truths. This is great job security for mathematicians and scientists. We’ll always be doing that. So that’s why I don’t believe my own theory.

### Incompletness theory

That is the nature of science, that good scientists understand that we will never have a theory of everything.

When they talk about a theory of everything, it’s with a wink and a nod, that we will always have. That science is a never ending process of getting deeper and deeper theories, but each theory always makes assumptions.

As scientists, it’s not our duty to believe our theories. It’s our duty to study the theories, really understand them thoroughly, and then try to break them.

The point is to break your theories. When you can break your theory, when you find its limits, that’s when you break out the champagne, because that’s when you’re going to go to the next step. Gödel’s incompleteness theory tells us that this process will never end. There is job security. Go into science.