Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Lightcone Institute

After you have stared at the link to the Lightcone Institute in my sidebar for a year or so, I think the time has come to tell you what it is about. It's what I spend my time on that is not occupied by physics - which is typically not much, and presently not any, but has added up over the last decade to make this a more concrete project which managed to attract a moderate but existent amount of interest. It's my way to make constructive use of my desperation about the state of the world, and an antidote to the nagging feeling that what I work on isn't particularly useful for the vast majority of people on this planet.

Sure, I can give you a long speech about the purpose and importance of fundamental research and how it is interesting for the broader public, not to mention that it is where my personal interests are. But it remains a fact that investing into fundamental research is a luxury of societies at a very advanced level. And if I open a newspaper after a day sitting through seminars it tells me the world really has other problems than axion-dilaton coset SL(2,R)/SO(2) 7-branes or similar fun. Sometimes more, sometimes less so. Presently more so.

But hey, as I told you previously, to me science is more than a profession, to me science is a worldview. And thus my interpretation of the problems we are currently facing on a global scale is a lack of scientific method, which has resulted in an erosion of trust in the systems that govern our lives. We are failing to update these systems and their institutions so they be able to deal with our increasingly complex global problems.

Finishing the Scientific Revolution

Science is as old as mankind. We analyze the world we observe to better understand it, and to make our lives more pleasant. The scientific method has proven to be extremely useful to achieve this; this method being nothing but inventing a model for the world based on previous knowledge, and testing how well it works. If it works well or at least better than available models, we call that progress and use it for further examinations. If not, we discard it and look for something better. At least that's the idea. A lot can be said about how this so straight-forwardly sounding manner has worked out during our history in less straight-forward ways, but to say the very least, it has worked tremendously well for the natural sciences.

Science in its organized form has taken off in the 16th and 17th century, and has changed our world dramatically. This period in our history during which we saw a tremendous amount of progress in the fields astronomy, physics, biology, medicine and chemistry is often called the “Scientific Revolution” - a revolution of thought rather than a revolution of governance that kick-started the development of technologies and established scientific research as one of the most important drivers of progress in our societies. We find during this period the names of great thinkers like Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, Bacon, Newton, Franklin and Descartes, to only mention a few.

Today we study as sophisticated areas as neuroscience, nanotechnics, immunology, microbiology or endocrinology. Don't worry if you don't know the latter, I didn't know it either, I Googled it and found it's the study of the glands and hormones of the body. And then there are of course the computer sciences, which are possibly the most impressive outcome of the technological developments altogether and the advancements of computing power itself has had a large impact on the possibilities in scientific research.

I'm not a historian and this isn't an essay about the history of science. I'm just telling you that because this revolution doesn't include the social sciences. Most notably, academic research in the fields that we would today call sociology, politics and economy are still waiting to obtain the attention they deserve. In these areas, the dark middle ages of trial and error in applications have lasted some more centuries, with the situation only slowly changing today. The reason for this is not hard to find. Understanding political or social systems is much more complicated than understanding the motion of planets, since the latter is a system that can very easily be simplified to a model that is computable even by hand. In the political and social sciences, arguments are lead mostly in the narrative, and have for long been detached from what actually was happening in politics. Neither did much of these studies reach the broad public for most of it is not part of the standard school education, as is physics, biology and chemistry.

It is only now, in the 21st century, that the advances have gotten far enough so we begin to understand some aspects of systems as complex as for example our global economy. In fact, the economical system is probably the best investigated case that falls into this category, for there is money to make there. The political system lags behind. This lag is is crucial because it is needed to deal with the progress driven by the natural sciences. What we are running into is a dangerous imbalance in which new technologies change our societies faster than the governing institutions can deal with these changes.

Results from the natural sciences are today very well integrated into our daily lives. Think about architecture, engineering, drug tests, health checks, and numerous investigations behind every single consume item, from your car to canned food.

In the last decades one also finds increasingly more examples for a similar integration of the social sciences. Think about architecture again, but take into account the question what group of people the building will host and what amount of interactivity you want to create. A lot of thought has been put into this for example with PI's building. Or think about city planning in general. Economic modeling too has become quite common, though it is tainted by ideological believes and lacks scientific rigor. And then there are the cases where governments commission models to better understand the outcome of planned regulations, like various forms of carbon taxes. These are all cases where one sees some first glimpse of a development I am sure will speed up rapidly in the coming years: an increasing application of insights from the social sciences to our daily lives, in a more organized manner.

And after four centuries, it is really about time to finish the scientific revolution.

Reestablish Trust

And why is this necessary? It is necessary because we simply are no longer able to deal with the problems we are facing. Just look at the present economic crisis. If you stop for a moment trying to find somebody to blame, then the problem comes down to:
  1. Lack of understanding how the system works, i.e. studies that would have been necessary are missing.

  2. Paying more attention to ideology than to scientific argumentation, i.e. failure acknowledge the importance of objectivity.

  3. Failure of our political system to incorporate knowledge in a timely manner.

You can say the same with regard to the question why climate change is so slow to be addressed. You can say the same about lots of other outstanding problems, may that be the increasing gap between the rich and the poor, water shortages, or even your country's inability to come to any conclusion of how to address coming energy scarcity. These are processes that happen, but they happen excruciatingly slow and are hindered by unnecessary rhetoric and psychological games.

Is it really surprising then that many people have lost trust in what politicians say? Is it really surprising that we are now facing several years of aftermath of a economic crisis because of lacking faith in this system?

The conclusion that I draw from this is that the most important thing we need is a solid basis for arguments, and a way to integrate won insights. We need to improve the systems we are operating in, the systems that are meant to allow us to live together with a minimum amount of friction and a maximum amount of progress.

I neither believe that human behaviour is predictable, nor do I think the goal can be to replace human decisions with 'scientifically correct' decisions - this is plain nonsense. What I think however is possible, and necessary, is to make sure decisions can be reached and incorporated fast and easily. One should make a clear distinction here between opinion and the process to reach and implement a decision from opinions. What I am talking about is to set up the system, based on scientific insights, to provide a better environment for those living within it to pursue individual goals without being hindered by outdated institutions.

Or, in short, make sure the system can correct its own mistakes.

The Lightcone Institute

So that's what the institute is about. It is about bridging the gap between the natural, the social, and the computer sciences to initiate this change. And since it is a change in which the scientific community plays a pivotal role, one can't do it without addressing the problems of the academic system itself. The problems of the academic system are in many ways reflections of the larger problems we see in our societies: We have a system that is hindering progress, and knowledge about this dysfunctionality is not incorporated. The system is outdated and unable to correct itself.

You see the above discussed points reflected in the four pillars of the Institute's research. There is the interdisciplinary research to make these connections between the different areas of science, there is the basic research to provide the fundamental pieces that might be missing, there is researching research to address the role of the scientific community. And then there is the essential public outreach to get the hopefully won insights to where they needs to be. The latter point is meant to include communication to the public, as well as to private, academic, and governmental institutions.

You will find that on the website the areas of research are populated with some possible research topics that fall into these categories, like Social-Ecological Systems, Network Science, or the Future of Scientific Publishing.

As to the operation of the Institute, it is a directed research in that the Institute has a clearly defined mission that studies should be dedicated to. Here are the mission statements:
  • The Institute's research is to be beneficial and relevant for society.

  • The research is focused on interdisciplinary work between the natural and social sciences, fundamental research, and the sociology of science.

  • The Institute aims to strengthen the public outreach of the scientific enterprise and actively communicate its research endeavors.

  • The Institute will collaborate closely with political institutions, businesses and academia.

All that's missing is money and people.
“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance to keep pace with the times.”

~Thomas Jefferson


26 comments:

Michael F. Martin said...

A worthy mission. A few questions -- is religion excluded from the domain of study? Not enough attention has been given to the study of religion as an evolutionary adaptation. Regardless of the answer, how will you prevent members of the lightcone from developing religion-like biases either for or against certain theories or methodologies?

Last, I love the Jefferson quote because the fact is that the mind and laws are part of a feedback loop of evolution in which abstract ideas can eventually and radically transform the gene pool. He had a slice of it.

John Gonsowski said...

Hi Bee, your post seems a little related to Peter's post on Hagelin where I posted this a couple days ago:

The idea of a place where both physics and esoteric ideas can be studied is not a bad idea though one can certainly do it incorrectly or be too one sided. Discussed in the link below are Plato’s Academy, Gurdjieff’s Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man, Maharishi International University, Perimeter Institute, and the authors’ Quantum Future Institute.

As the above link mentions, you need the scientific method and a broader range of things to look at than most scientists look at. The problem in my view is that if you really look at most world leaders (political, military, and economic) what you find is that the qualities we value in leaders like strong action under pressure tend to come with bad characteristics like no conscience and too much secrecy. For example, this article from the alternative news site of the Quantum Future Institute mentions this Thomas Jefferson quote:

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs." Thomas Jefferson 3rd president of the US (1743-1826), Letter to the Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin (1802)"

Christophe de Dinechin said...

Hi Bee,


This Lightcone institute sounds like a great idea, but I believe that the objectives are very difficult to achieve. A lack of money and people may be only the beginning of the problems. The primary issue, I believe, is that there is no such thing as the truth. There are only individual truths based on what each one of us has heard, seen, learned, experienced, and ultimately decided to classify as "true".

The collective truth is very difficult to achieve. It's basically a kind of social voting process among all these individual truths. Sometimes, this process fails spectacularly, leading us for example to repeat mindlessly the collective truth that there are 5 senses when it takes about 10 seconds to realize how wrong that number is.

Social sub-groups may form that have a different truth than the majority: people who think that Einstein is wrong, people who claim that the moon landing was a hoax, people who think that the fight against global warming is lost, religions, camembert lovers, physicists, you name it.

The big risk is that when you belong to one such social sub-group, the group's truth may appear more solid than it is in reality. But we tend to select people we feel comfortable with, we tend to avoid confrontation. The Edge foundation, for example, might be seen as having more or less the same objectives as the Lightcone Institute. But as I have recently written regarding "What is your Dangerous Idea", they sometimes end up showing a very surprising uniformity of thought, at least as far as specific topics are concerned. The point I'm making in the link above is not about the existence of God, it's about the search for comfort that leads even the brightest thinkers to seek folks who believe the same thing as we do.

So, will the LI be able to find a way to harness the creative power of truly conflicting viewpoints, "sparks that fly"? Or will it favor a more comfortable, but also more sterile uniformity of thought? And if it seeks conflicts, then how can it reach out, since conflict leads to complicated answers, and complicated answers are exactly what is so hard to bring to the world...

Anyway, it is still a great idea. How do I join? :-)

Plato said...

Maybe where ever you start your Academy Bee you might have something placed over the door way much like I did.:-)

"Let no one destitute of geometry enter my doors."

You have to get the full scope of Thomas Jefferson, not only in his attempts at writing the United States Constitution with Franklin but how it underwent that revision to better exemplify "a nation of people." This can also be contrasted with John Adams.

I wonder then JohnG if this is to show "what craziness" not only is thought of with regard to Hagelin at Peters blog, but serves to remind people here as well, the influences that can be brought to bear here?

Do you believe any of what you showed? What does to onesided mean?

While Bee referred to E8 as some god like apparition, Coexter and many others had a full grasp of what the cave means in terms of geometrical thinking. Like Dali, placing his thoughts of religion as some geometrical move to the tesserack. Being the partier he was, maybe this occupied his mind and his thoughts in relation.

Best,

Bee said...

Hi Michael,

Religion is certainly an interesting social phenomenon that has had a major influence on the course of world history, and as such is definitely worth studying. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi John,

I don't think any of the topics I talked about in this post are esoteric, and I have no interest in esoteric research. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Christophe,

The problems you raise are exactly the kind of problems scientific research - ideally - is supposed to take care of. Of course nothing is ever ideal, and since scientists are human only they are subject to all kinds of self-delusions as everybody else. The process of scientific research has some means to address this issue, like anonymous peer review, or external advisory committees for institutes. That doesn't work perfectly - and in fact this issue is one of the research areas of the Institute - but it helps. I doubt 'The Edge' has either, but then that's not their aim. In my perception they are mostly some kind of club of more or less interesting, and likely hand-selected people, that has occasionally open discussions.

Another thing that helps dealing with the kind of problem you mention is to make people aware of their own weaknesses. I think this can make a big difference. Again this is one of the reasons why the sociology of science is part of the agenda.

As far as believing things you've been told is concerned, there are just practical limits to how much you can possibly doubt. If you have 24/7 to do nothing than contemplate the possible truth value of every item of information you have obtained, then you can be skeptical about all and everything. But that's just not how the world works. I, as many others I believe, don't closely investigate everything that I've been told unless it becomes subject of my own research. Otherwise I wouldn't have time for anything.

Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi John G,

I have always found it interesting that the U.S. constitution was largely written by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin being persons studied in and as such inspired by social philosophy and science. I would say it stands to strengthen Bee’s contention that such elements serve well as the fundamentals in this endeavor. It further lends reason to believe that many may find in time that these principles need not be invented yet simply rediscovered as being already there. I consider the Lighthouse institute stands as to be consistent with these beginnings in relying on the same methods and means to realize their intended ends.

This of course as Bee points out requires people and resource which I think can only be secured by having it become a political entity which then can be seen clearly as having a chance in affecting meaningful change. Perhaps only science can demonstrate how politics can be effective while remaining true to both intent and outcome.

Best,

Phil

John Gonsowski said...

Bee, "esoteric" is just one example of being broader (that got mentioned at Peter's blog cause Peter was talking about Hagelin). Here I added the Thomas Jefferson quote about banks and the idea of world leaders being O.J Simpson-like, nothing esoteric about that. In discussing O.J., Bill O'Reilly mentioned that four percent of the general population are sociopaths. That's one out of every 25 people you meet. If you then add in the idea of these people having steely nerves that can naturally rise in power then the percent amoung world leaders is much higher.

It would be nice if you would think "esoteric" too. My Discovery Magazine at the end of an article on the ultimate end of the universe added the idea that life could still continue in a dead universe as disembodied quantum life forms. Seems that should be a valid area of research if Discover Magazine is mentioning it? Kaku is into UFOs (so are Ark, Tony, and Jack), seems that should be a valid area of study especially given that it relates to possible government secrecy. I live in Tucson, AZ and the governor at the time of the Phoenix Lights has admitted he saw them and could find no one who could explain them to him and that he ridiculed them at the time just to prevent any panic. The government cult of secrecy can even effect leaders who do have a conscience. A JFK quote: "We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."

Plato, I very much consider myself to be a Quantum Future Institute member (I'm Bluelamp on their forum). One sided means scientific method without a broad array of topics or a broad array of topics without a scientific method. Maybe think Pauli and Jung as an example of the two coming together equally. I like geometry from both ends too (think Tony Smith and John Fudjack who both may come more from one end but very much reach both ends).

Bee said...

Hi John,

I'm really sorry to disappoint you, but I'm unfortunately a very unesoteric person. I fall among the 4% of sociopaths though. Best,

B.

John Gonsowski said...

Bee, well there's still hope for you. I've personally voted twice for Ray-gun, four times for Bush Leaguers and there was even a SpongeBob Dole Pineapple in there somewhere.

Plato said...

ISAACSON: The virtue of tolerance, which I think is the most important virtue we need in the 21st century. When Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration, he had a great line, "We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable." And Franklin crossed out "sacred and undeniable" and put, "We hold these truths to be self evident." [Franklin] said we need to be a very tolerant nation in which our rights are based on reason, not based on religion, and I think in this century, we have to be tolerant of all religions and all tribes, and that was the thing that Benjamin Franklin taught us.

This issue was important to me and I was following from the perspective of what is "self evident."

You see a group gather for what is principled and Jefferson needed correction to what was a scientific perspective and one which I thought sound as well, from an Inductive/deductive approach. You have to know how to get there.

I am not sure how scientists, on their own think themself fully equipped, without understanding the inception of constitutions without understanding how this applicability must be found like Plato's Academy, as a foundation of a democracy.

Yes, it does need injections of spirit. Maybe transformed to a higher octave with the right injection to the heart area, when it runs afoul and of a disregard for the populace and the language that democracy was written for.

Symbolically if one was to introduce endocrinology in the picture, of what is emotive, then it would not be to far a leap to consider the construction of the human being, as capable of absorbing some of that spirit?:)Leaves do it:)

Best,

Plato said...

The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell

With Bill Moyers,

Myth and the Modern World, Pg 31,

"Campbell:Yes. This is the first Nation in the world that was ever established on the basis of reason instead of simply warfare. These were eighteen-century deists, these gentlemen. Over here we read, In God We Trust." But that is not the God of the Bible. These men did not believe in a Fall. They did not think the mind of man was cut off from God. The mind of man, cleansed of secondary and merely temporal concerns, beholds with radiance of a cleansed mirror a reflection of the rational mind of God. Reason puts you in touch with God. Consequently, for these men, there is no special revelation anywhere, and none is needed, because the mind of man cleared of its fallibilities is sufficiently capable of the knowledge of God. All people in the world are capable of reason. All men are capable of reason. That is the fundamental principle of democracy. Because everybody's mind is capable of true knowledge, you don't have to have special authority, or a special revelation telling you that this is the way things should be.

It is important that because you think you have a science degree, you have some special privilege to reason, while those not credentialed, have some how useless information to share with you.

Such a light shared here in the country of such democracy building, sees facets of it in the world seeking independence. Such a foundation then becomes of use to understand how strong a nation can become to lead by example, and how to heart how a destitute country will recite this pledge of allegiance, or, a how a Dalai Lama seeks to establish such principles in governing a nation apart from it seat of power from it's homeland.

Best,

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Plato,

“Thomas Jefferson…….. We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable.”

“Benjamin Franklin….. We hold these truths to be self evident."

The first is conviction grounded in faith and the second a statement deduced from a premise. The first excludes reason as to not to be questioned, while the second only falsifiable if the premise can be shaken. Personally I prefer the second for it holds the promise it may lead to understanding while the first denies this to ever to be realized.

Best,

Phil

Michael F. Martin said...

Phil,

Although I don't disagree with you, there are other ways to interpret that edit.

For example, if one were to take a naturalistic view of religion "sacred and undeniable" could be interpreted to mean --to important to the health of the group to be abrogated for the sake of any individual interest--. Thus religion becomes not antithetical to reason, but subject to and harmonious with it.

I am bothered by scientists who prefer the bare aesthetics of an ontology that includes only what can be explained already. That aesthetic has its instrumental value to scientists, of course. But it's an aesthetic nonetheless.

Javier said...

In SF the idea that you present has a name since long time ago. It is the "psicohistory" presented on the Iaac Asimov books related to the foundations.

It is my second area of interest n science beyond quantum gravity and I have been learning all the apropiate tools (as far as I see them) on the subject that I have had time to study. But I alwasy have thought of it as a hobby, not like somthing that could be supported.

In facto one of the predictions of psicohistory coud easily be that the people who actually have money will not one something as psicohistory developped.

On the other hand the economy prize of this year has acknowledged that he has beguined to study echonomy heavily influenced by the psicohistory idea sothe subject has an academic foundatioins. That´s a good point because, not surprsingly, people like Lubos Motl consider the whole topic crankpot. Fourtunately about that topic I know a lot more math and relate technical issues that him and I can bypas his naive arguments very easily xD.

Anyway, luck with the project. Be sure that I´ll keep an eye in it

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Michael,

“Thus religion becomes not antithetical to reason, but subject to and harmonious with it.”

In as the issue is truth, to claim one that provides no means to be challenged to one that does as being simply an aesthetical difference for me serves only to trivialize reason rather then to elevate it.

Oh yes for the sake of clarity I’m not a scientist so the opinions I express shouldn’t be considered as to be any part of a consensus in regards to them.

Best,

Phil

John G said...

"In as the issue is truth, to claim one that provides no means to be challenged to one that does as being simply an aesthetical difference for me serves only to trivialize reason rather then to elevate it."

Sounds like Peter Woit's arguement against string theory. This isn't surprising, I actually think the protospace for physicality and the protospace for consciousness (aka God) is the same thing... Clifford Algebra!

Michael F. Martin said...

Phil,

The question of whether a particular religious belief leads believers to act in ways that promote the good of the group is as testable (and falsifiable) as any claim that could be made about human behavior. I'm not sure why you think otherwise.

Best,

Michael

Plato said...

"I’m a Platonist — a follower of Plato — who believes that one didn’t invent these sorts of things, that one discovers them. In a sense, all these mathematical facts are right there waiting to be discovered."Harold Scott Macdonald (H. S. M.) Coxeter

JohnG:I actually think the protospace for physicality and the protospace for consciousness (aka God) is the same thing... Clifford Algebra!

Let me be an advocate then for a minute about abstractness that has no real dealings with reality assuming there is "no mathematical basis" to it?

Let me then remind you about what is "real and what becomes testable" and serves in this way to speak too. What actually happens. You have no evidence.

I may show the relevance and support to indicate the differences of Thomas and Franklin and further elucidate, the method to adopting "this principal to reason" not only as an inductive/ deductive method to approach to reason, but to apply it to mathematics, would then be to loose sight of, using objects like a soccer ball, and the applicable version to Plato's God(the quintessence, according to Plato was identified with the dodecahedron) version of reality that Tegmark/Baez talk about?

There is an upending quest then to adopt a "mapping process( new mathematics[ where does this exist?]" that underlies this reality and because something can become "so abstract like string theory" you might have actually lost touch?:)

An equation means nothing to me unless it expresses a thought of God.Srinivasa Ramanujan

It would most certainly be better they who advocate this, spoke for themself. But then what scientist do you know would ever implicate God into that Conversation? People have been crucified literally in their profession for speaking like this.

It would be better not to use the word like esoteric , because this immediately taints the idea of the "universality of language" which can be seen only by those who are "not" destitute of the geometry that exists at the basis of this reality, and do not hold to that value in the saying, on top of this door to the academy?:)

Under the "Lightcone institute" one can be advocating this perception and then saying, "this mathematical basis" does not exist?


Best,

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Michael,

There is nothing that insists that the truths being cited are to be considered good for a group, yet simply reasonable as an individual’s expectation of how they should be considered within one. If you were to argue the truths themselves don’t qualify as being self evident, I would say here you may have a point. As for example if you were to compare them to something that is considered by most as being self evident such as “A finite whole is greater than any of its parts” then I would admit you have reason for doubt. However, if you where to insist they be true as a result of them being sacred and undeniable you have no method presented within the statement by which it be tested, rather contrarily told they should not be. If you consider this simply to be a difference of aesthetics then I would reiterate that we are at odds as to what is to be considered as reason.

Best,

Phil

stefan said...

I know, economics is not so much at the focus of the Lightcone Institute, but I just stumbled upon this essay Economics needs a scientific revolution by Jean-Philippe Bouchaud in this week's edition of Nature. A quote:

The supposed omniscience and perfect efficacy of a free market stems from economic work done in the 1950s and 1960s, which with hindsight looks more like propaganda against communism than plausible science. In reality, markets are not efficient, humans tend to be over-focused in the short-term and blind in the long-term, and errors get amplified, ultimately leading to collective irrationality, panic and crashes. Free markets are wild markets.

Tsts, always these French commie scientists ;-)

Cheers, Stefan

Bee said...

Thanks for the quote, I might reuse that elsewhere!

Michael F. Martin said...

It will be more difficult in terms of building models, I think, to partially abrogate the rational hypothesis than it would be to leave it intact and look at other ways to modify the existing models.

For example, the rational hypothesis operates in conjunction with another hypothesis that each person has a static set of preferences than can be ordered lexically. Why not, instead of grafting irrational behavior in (which is hard to measure), relax the assumption that preferences are time-independent. The time dependence of preferences, after all, can be observed by simply watching the patterns of consumption or production for a group of people within a certain time window.

Sorry for the long-windedness. I wish more physicists were interested in economic models. The problem that Stefan has identified is real, but I think the behavioral law and economics approach is a difficult one to take in revising models because it introduces a new set of complications in making approximations.

bellamy said...

"I fall among the 4% of sociopaths though."

Really, dear. What kind?


The first is conviction grounded in faith and the second a statement deduced from a premise. The first excludes reason as to not to be questioned, while the second only falsifiable if the premise can be shaken. Personally I prefer the second for it holds the promise it may lead to understanding while the first denies this to ever to be realized."

Well, the truths are anthropocentric, so it's really a matter of the lesser of two evils. If Ben had gone all the way in things, the truths themselves would've been a bit different: rather than claiming 'rights', suggesting and encouraging certain kinds of processes.


(Oh, and for continued comedic irony, my word verification this time round is 'nonessl'. Mmmmm.)

Bee said...

Hi Bellamy,

Is the paragraph that ends with a quotation mark a quotation? If so, by whom and in what context? I can't make much sense out of it.

I think Google must have changed something about the word verification. The words are still nonsensical, but now pronounceable. Like, maybe they random sample syllables together or so. Probably easier to retype.

My sociopathy is a severe allergy to personal questions ;-)

Best,

B.