Forrest W. Young
Truth & Consequences
- Everything is illusion
- There is no rational scientific way to know the true
nature of anything.
- Everything we perceive is just perception of reality,
not reality itself.
- Reality exists independent of observation, but can't
- Observation changes reality.
- The statement "everything is
illusion" is itself an illusion.
( So is this statement ... etc., etc... )
- Rational-Scientific search for
truth is not convergent (over time). Analogy:
Hill climbing algorithm trying to find the highest point
of the ocean. Even on land, the landscape changes slowly
- The scientific method has been
useful, however. It has provided an understanding
of realilty which has been beneficial to mankind for the
last 200 years.
Will it continue to be useful?
- The final and most important truth:
In their book "Mathematics and the Imagination", Edward
Kasner and James Newman call this formula "elegant, concise
and full of meaning". They also quote a remark by Benjamin
Peirce, the Harvard Mathematician, "Gentleman", he said,
after writing this formula on the blackboard, "that is surely
true, but is is absolutely paradoxical; we cannot understand
it, and we don't know what it means, but we have proved
it, and therefore we know it must be the truth."
e = 2.718281828... and
i = sqrt(-1)
1 = -e raised to the pi*i power!
- I play ... I work ...
I take my work seriously ... but not too ...
I do what I do because it is fun ... and because its useful.
(but, it's all an illusion)!
When we play, we do not ask why we are playing ...
we just play.
Play serves no moral code except that strange code which,
for some unknown reason, imposes itself on the play.
You will search in vain through scientific literature
of motivation. And as for the strange moral code observed
scientists, what could be stranger than an abstract
for truth in a world full of concealment and deception.
Can it be that all the great scientists of the past
were really playing a
game, a game in which the rules were written not by
man but by nature?
In submitting to your consideration the idea that
the mind is at
its best when playing, I am myself playing. And that
makes me feel
that what I am saying may have in it an element of truth.
John Lighton Synge
- I enjoy mathematics.
Mathematical systems are internally consistent artificial
systems with their own complete reality (though clearly,
not real reality).
But, Godel's proof lets us know that a mathematical
system can't be both internally consistent and complete
Keep in mind, though, that mathematics for its own sake
isn't the goal in applied mathematical fields like Statistics
and Psychometrics. We must always be able to relate the
mathematics to reality (the real reality) so that
we can determine its usefulness. And when the further
development of a mathematical system isn't useful we should
move on to something else. (See my adobe acrobat notes
Future of Psychometrics).
- I particulary enjoy programming.
With programming, things are clearly right or wrong
--- no gray --- all black and white.
Unfortunately, that's not really true at advanced levels.
With complicated programming systems all you know for
sure is that the system isn't right! The probability that
there are bugs is so close to one that you just know they
are lurking around somewhere!
- But most of all, I like Data
Visualization and Analysis.
I think the biggest problem in the social sciences is
that researchers either study meaningful questions sloppily,
or meaningless questions carefully.
I believe that Data Analysis and Visualization can help
researchers in the social sciences optain carefully reasoned
answers to their carefully constructed scientific questions:
Meaningful answers to meaningful questions.
I enjoy Data Analysis and Visualization because I enjoy
helping others find meaningful answers to meaningful questions.
What I enjoy most is inventing methods that have the
potential to improve and expand the kinds of meaningful
answers that people can obtain to their meaningful questions.
A Poetic Summary
|seeing data - asking truth - gaining insight
forrest w. young
The Moral of the Story
Don't take this scientific stuff too seriously, especially
in the Social Sciences. Enjoy it, but be sceptical. And in
Statistics and Psychometrics the best one can do is to help
others find meaningful answers to their meaningful questions.
Data Analysis and Visualization is one way to do that.