Martin van Creveld writes about the limits of human knowledge:
At the heart of relativity lies the belief that, in the entire physical universe, the only absolute is the speed of light apart. Taken separately, both quantum mechanics and relativity are marvels of human wisdom and ingenuity. The problem is that, since they directly contradict one another, in some ways they leave us less certain of the way the world works than we were before they were first put on paper. The uncertainty principle means that, even as we do our best to observe nature as closely as we can, we inevitably cause some of the observed things to change. And even that time and space are themselves illusions, mental constructs we have created in an effort to impose order on our surroundings but having no reality outside our own minds. The incompleteness theorem put an end to the age-old dream—it goes back at least as far as Pythagoras in the sixth century BCE—of one day building an unassailable mathematical foundation on which to base our understanding of reality. Finally, chaos theory explains why, even if we assume the universe to be deterministic, predicting its future development may not be possible in a great many cases. Including, to cite but one well-known example, whether a butterfly flapping wings in Beijing will or will not cause a hurricane in Texas.
So far, the tendency of post-1900 science to become, not more deterministic but less so. As a result, no longer do we ask the responsible person(s) to tell us what the future will bring and whether to go ahead and follow this or that course. Instead, all they can do is calculate the probability of X taking place and, by turning the equation around, the risk we take in doing (or not doing) so. However, knowledge also presents additional problems of its own. Like a robe that is too long for us, the more of it we have the greater the likelihood that it will trip us up….
Furthermore, surely no one in his right mind, looking around, would suggest that the number of glitches we all experience in everyday life has been declining. Nor is this simply a minor matter, e.g. a punctured tire that causes us to arrive late at a meeting. Some glitches, known as black swans, are so huge that they can have a catastrophic effect not just on individuals but on entire societies: as, for example, happened in 2008, when the world was struck by the worst economic crisis in eighty years, and as coronavirus is causing right now. All this reminds me of the time when, as a university professor, my young students repeatedly asked me how they could ever hope to match my knowledge of the fields we were studying. In response, I used to point to the blackboard, quite a large one, and say: “imagine this is the sum of all available knowledge. In that case, your knowledge could be represented by this tiny little square I’ve drawn here in the corner. And mine, by this slightly—but only slightly—larger one right next to it.” “My job,” I would add, “is to help you first to assimilate my square and then to transcend it.” They got the message.
Read the whole thing. It is a master class on the importance of understanding that what you know, and what you think you know, are merely a momentary glimpse of a fragment of the whole.