Figuring out solutions

By Phyecon1 7 Comments

I am beginning to think it would make more sense to try to come out with solutions to problems, even if one goes wrong in doing so, with many iterations over time will help society . Instead of just dunking on mistakes. I dont see that contributing to much of anything by itself and there are many doing that anyway. The earlier post was on probability and humanities, continuing on the theme. Instead of Bayesian probability to which many disagreements were raised. This time however I have come up with the idea of error rate. Inspired by Feynman in his “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” . I think If we were to bring about this idea of error rate into Humanities, we could bring about the idea that most ideas in life do not work as they are imagined, that police are supposed to help us, except there are exceptions to this. And same is true in general for any theory as well. If we can come up with error rates for different sociological theories or impress on them to measure this, It could bring about an end to some of the theories for its own sake. Or better give a good face saver which is important as well to get people to not invest wholly into bad ideas. Egos can make it difficult for people to walk back on ideas. And many years might be wasted in making amends.

https://thoughteconomics.com/gad-saad-parasitic-mind/

The interview of this is interesting. He speaks of idea pathogens, how they arise in areas where ideas and consequences are separated and so things are made up. What this misses out in my view is that a lot of elites kids are probably not good at science or math or have any interest in them. But are well connected and these degrees in social sciences are about status, much of the wokeism is about status. An Indian journalist Manu Joseph wrote an article once on wokeism as people who know that objectively they are not as talented, but by being woke they can boost themselves in society and gain status. We need to figure out how to ensure these people have decent careers without having to make things up. More on parasitic ideas later.

A quote of John Adams “The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study paintingpoetrymusicarchitecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.” From Wikipedia.

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7 Replies to “Figuring out solutions”

  1. I think If we were to bring about this idea of error rate into Humanities, we could bring about the idea that most ideas in life do not work as they are imagined, that police are supposed to help us, except there are exceptions to this. And same is true in general for any theory as well. If we can come up with error rates for different sociological theories or impress on them to measure this, It could bring about an end to some of the theories for its own sake. Or better give a good face saver which is important as well to get people to not invest wholly into bad ideas.
    Could u add some examples to illustrate ur pt more clearly – i felt a bit unsure about exactly what u meant to say here on the whole though i see two points

  2. well, take any theory, in physics for example where the idea comes from, there is a difference between theoretical values and experimental values. Things dont work exactly as the theory says.

  3. when a person comes with a theory say that poverty causes terrorism, one can count the people who are not poor and still gravitated towards terrorism. If people were asked to consider the error rate of the theory the propose, then they might not invest entirely on the idea and can amend quickly as counter evidence comes about.

    1. yes – academically yes; but everything when mixed with politics & ideology – when glaring discrepancies are easy to sweep aside (like poverty and terrorism theory).

      On the whole, I feel training and life-experiences can add to an already flexible or liberal personality of people who are themselves willing to change their views in face of evidence. But the human condition works exactly the opposite in most cases – even in sciences which should be most receptive to change in position – the field is often full of people who never appreciated the other side;
      Even Einstein famously said in response to Bohr on quantum theory “I, at any rate, am convinced that He [God] does not throw dice.”

      The covid crisis is also rife with such illustrations.

  4. well, academically that would be good, such kind of thinking will filter into politics eventually, not entirely but to a decent degree, and people might contest on errors in the theory perhaps. But that is good. Right now there is complete white or black view on many issues. It will lead to more resources for doing regular surveys, collecting data more thoroughly. That would keep many in humanities engaged as well. something to do.

  5. Since you asked for my opinion, here it is. Various deep problems with this approach:

    a) how do you define error rate?
    b) how do you “impress on” people to measure something that would presumably end their careers, or even make them feel the need for a face save?
    c) why do you think error rate is measurable by people outside of a field than trained inside it?
    d) what makes you think that “elites kids” are not good at maths and science?
    e) saying that “degrees in social sciences are about status” seems like a sweeping generalisation to me.

    I think this piece suffers from a central problem, one of lack of humility. Humanities are entire fields of endeavour investigating very complex, noisy and (often) patchy data, where moral issues are often deeply intertwined with epistemological concerns and chances to experiment are well nigh negligible. This isn’t to say that human affairs remain forever beyond our reach. However, the right mode to study them à la Sciences will require an entirely different set of abstractions that we haven’t invented yet. And I’m certainly not willing to place odds on how long it will take. Heck! I don’t even know of a single complete mathematical representation (simulacrum that is fungible with the real thing) of a bacterial cell…

    Whenever one thinks of applying the scientific method on what humans do (like Communists or Social Darwinists tried, and failed spectacularly) it helps to ponder about just how special and rare we are. We aren’t mere rocks or gas or plasma or such ‘stupid’ matter. Speak of us with utmost humility!

  6. 1.) Error rate is defined as data that does not fit a theory or Hypothesis or an assumed service or function .And Quantifying it. One can use it in various places, of say corruption in local police, or cases against police itself in various localities . This kind of local level data of each locality can become useful.
    2.) Science advances funeral by funeral , as max planck suggested. That will always be there. But this will help people not to invest heavily into any particular theory as it would be legitimate for people to study for when the theory fails. And would bring about quantifying data.
    3.) I dont assume that. I just think this idea/framework can be useful.
    4.) sub section of elite kids are not going to be good at sciences or as interested. I think this is common sense. No single group of people will all become scientists and engineers.
    5.) Where the rigor is not good, there people can game the system.
    Humility I agree is necessary. And measuring errors in theory is something that brings into it. More data where functioning of public service fails will be better. And yes, it will take a long time. That cant be the reason to not do it. Also, the more humanities goes down the norm of quantifying and collecting the data, the less obvious way of gaming the system. Humility in my view, in operational terms is dependent on quantifiable data.

    An example
    https://www.ideasforindia.in/topics/governance/do-dishonest-people-gravitate-towards-the-public-sector-in-india.html

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