News | 23 May 2019

The Center for Public Philosophy Creates Video About Human Certainty


What wrapping a rope around the Earth reveals about the limits of human intuition.


Jon Ellis and the Center for Public Philosophy at the University of California, Santa Cruz have released a new animation, Are you sure? Truth, certainty, and politics, at the magazine Aeon. 

“The animation is essentially about human fallibility—how far it extends, and what it means for our political, ethical, and philosophical considerations,” said Ellis, who directs the Center and wrote the script. The video begins with the idea of a rope tied around the Earth at the equator, an example made famous by the early 20th-century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. “Through this example, the animation raises the possibility that all of us are wrong more often than we realize, and asks what this would (or would not) mean for the confidence and certainty with which we tend to hold our beliefs and convictions.”  The animation is grounded in Ellis’ research on Wittgenstein and cognitive bias.

Check out the video below and see what you think.


Producers: Gregor Clark, Jon Ellis

Animator: Adam Ansorge