Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Why are modern scientists so dull? And why that question is nonsense.

Bruce Charlton, Professor of Theoretical Medicine at the University of Buckingham, wrote an essay
    Why are modern scientists so dull? How science selects for perseverance
    and sociability at the expense of intelligence and creativity

I stumbled across this on Information Processing, you can download the PDF here.

After reading the paper, I felt the need to check the Elsevier logo on the PDF is not a fake. It isn't. The thing got published in the journal Medical Hypotheses, Volume 72, Issue 3, Pages 237-243. Prof. Carlton btw is Editor in Chief of this journal.

Summary

The argument the author puts forward can be roughly summarized as follows.

Modern scientists are "intellectually dull" and "lack scientific ambition." The reason for this, so Charlton, is a failure of the selective process in the academic system. He argues that the education of scientists is taking increasingly longer. As a result, being a scientist nowadays requires "an almost superhuman level of [...] perseverance - the ability to doggedly continue a course of action in pursuit of a goal, over a long period and despite difficulties, setbacks and the lack of immediate rewards (and indeed the lack of any guaranteed ultimate rewards)."

A near-synonym for this perseverance that he uses throughout the paper is the Big Five personality trait called "Conscientiousness". (The "Big Five" is a fairly common personality test that you can do yourself eg here). Besides Conscientiousness, Charlton writes, scientists today need to score high also on a second Big Five personality trait called "Agreeableness."

In the rest of the paper he argues that actually relevant for scientific success is a combination of three different factors: Most importantly, the IQ. And besides the IQ, creativity and "transcendental truth-seeking." If scientists are selected because of other qualities than these, then the average IQ of scientists isn't as high as it could be and their research not as revolutionary as should be. And that is then the reason why scientists are so agreeable, so conscientious, so uncreative. Or in one word: dull. That bothers Charlton because science has a need for "revolutionary scientists" (Greetings from Kuhn) and we thus have a lack of these people. Instead we have an overdose of the normal scientists. Revolutionary science is what the NSF calls "transformative research".

After elaborating on the importance of a high IQ, Charlton claims we should be looking for people with a low score of conscientiousness because "working on your own problem requires much less perseverance than working hard for many years at non-scientific problems, or working hard for many years at other people's scientific problems."

In one section Charlton writes that creativity has shown to be positively correlated with psychoticism, and even though "high levels of psychoticism are maladaptive," "low psychoticism would therefore be a desirable trait for normal scientists, but undesirable for revolutionary scientists." In the following section, he further makes a case for "asocial and awkward individuals," which he means to be the opposite of "agreeable". (This was the part of the paper that put off Chad, see discussion at Uncertain Principles.)

In the light of his elaboration, educational achievement is then no longer a reliable factor to determine a student's promise. Charlton thus talks into existence the following relation

Educational attainment ≈ IQ x Conscientiousness

Since he claims that low conscientiousness is what distinguishes the "revolutionary" scientist, one then wants to measure this factor. A tedious calculation yields

Conscientiousness ≈ Educational attainment/IQ

Thus, what one should measure is simply a student's IQ, and look at their grades. If their grades aren't as good as their IQ suggests, then they are "under-achievers" and thus promising revolutionary scientists. It is noteworthy that it does occur to the author such a procedure to select scientists has the slight problem that it's not so hard to fake bad grades. His comment is "[A] person could make themselves look like an 'underachiever' by deliberately messing up their exams [...] - however this would only be achievable at the cost of lowering their exam results, which is not often going to be a helpful thing to do so."

Leaving aside that the content of the sentence is close to nil, it neglects the fact that if you'd listen to Bruce Charlton, it would become a helpful thing to cheat on your exams.

Comments

Since, as you know, the failure of the academic system to select the most promising scientists is a pet topic of mine, this can't be left uncommented.

First, the starting point of the whole article is unwarranted. Where is the evidence that something is wrong with modern science? How do you know that we have too few "revolutionary" scientists and too many "normal" scientists? This lacking basis, incidentally, is the same problem I have with Lee Smolin's call for more "risky" research. While I am sympathetic to the argument and personally tend to agree, it's not a scientific statement and anecdotes can't replace data. How do we know it's worse today than yesterday? Who determines whether we need more "revolutionary scientists?" Will somebody calculate a percentage? Who? Based on what? And wouldn't one expect that to depend on the field of research? And on the status of that field?

Second, it is highly doubtful low conscientiousness is beneficial for "revolutionary" science. Charlton's argument is based on his believe that "self-chosen problems provide much more immediate reward," thus requiring a lower level of conscientiousness. Unfortunately, this claim is just bluntly wrong. If you chose a problem yourself, if you are "non-agreeable" and left to your own devices, you better score high on perseverance and conscientiousness, and have a high capability to cope with frustration. I have no clue how Charlton came up with this assertion. In contrast to most of the other claims that he makes, this one is not backed up by any reference.

Third, note Charlton's claim is not merely that revolutionary scientists do not necessarily need a high level of conscientiousness, but that they need a low one, meaning conscientiousness must be understood as actually being harmful to their research.

Forth, any claim that the most promising scientists can be identified by measuring some numbers assigned to their name by itself limits the possibility for revolutions. You may be oh-so sure measuring three relevant factors will reliably select the best scientists, but I might disagree. Who are you to decide what's good for science?

Fifth, and what about that thing called "transcendental truth-seeking?" Let us see what Charlton has to say about that: "A further vital ingredient is necessary: that elite scientists must have a vocational devotion to transcendental values of truth," and "Great revolutionary science is therefore a product of transcendental truth-seeking individuals working in a truth-seeking milieu," and "detecting truth-seeking, requires a scientific system that explicitly and in practice values transcendental truth-seeking." That sounds all well and fine, just that lacking any explanation what "trancendental truth-seeking" is supposed to mean, you could replace "truth" with "banana" and not change the scientific content of these statements. Charlton further claims that "science nowadays [...] lacks the living presence of such transcendental values." I occasionally feel like some of my colleagues values' are a little to transcendental. I guess that means I'm a very dull and normal scientist. Dooh.

Bottomline

The problem Charlton runs into is the same problem all other such attempts to fix the academic system run into. They attempt to define absolute criteria for "success" or "good research," and fail to see that the definition of such criteria itself will work against their goal. Whenever you define a criterion, whenever you fix a percentage, whenever you claim we need more of that and less of that, you are twisting knobs on a system that works best without any twisting. It works without method, and it works without measure.

I argued previously there is no better way to do science than to let scientists do it themselves and just to make sure the research process isn't affected by external pressures. Scientists themselves are well aware of the need for revolutionary science/risky projects/transformative research. They also know brilliant people can be complicated. They know the value of disagreement. They are smart people and most of them know who Kuhn, Feyerabend and Popper are. They are in academia because they are dedicated to science and truth-seeking. The problem is not that they don't know what to do. The problem is that "the system" does not allow them to follow their instincts and various sorts of pressure (most notably financial and time pressure) deviate their interests. This in turn has consequences for the selection process. In the long run this can lead to a detrimental population of the academic research environment.

More details in my earlier post We have only ourselves to judge each other.

For completeness, here's my Big 5 Results, and I'm INTJ.

96 comments:

Peter Turney said...

There are two posts on my blog that support your point of view:

The Heroic Theory of Scientific Development

Genius, Sustained Effort, and Passion

Plato said...

Bee,

Interesting.

Phil and I have been having a continuing exchange about Burton and the startup of PI and my last comment seems to me to deal with your expose' here.

I see no explanation for the idea of expectancy here, as to what is quite capable in the hands of anyone who is creatively empowered. I always encourage this aspect instead of "limitations being placed on the self as to discovery," for such limitations seem to entail limitation within the ability of the person to excel accordingly will be done so, under that accepted creative format. You see?

Best,

Bee said...

Hi Peter: Thanks for the links, that's interesting! Best,

B.

Giotis said...

Bee, basically you are asking for all shorts of privileges without any obligations. It would be nice if life was so easy going and kind but it should be like that for all people and not just for a privileged class or for a new high priesthood of some kind.

Bee said...

I'm not asking for privileges. In contrast to many other folks, I'm not the one running around crying we need more people, we need more people, we need more funding, we need more funding, just because, hey, then we have more people, and we have more funding. What I'm saying is simply if you spend money on innovation, spend it wisely. And you can't do better in figuring out what research should be done than scientists themselves. But they can only perform this task well if they are not influenced by considerations other than progress in science. Note, as I pointed out in earlier posts, that I am talking about the internal organization of academic research, not the question what kind of research a society should support to begin with, that's a different issue (though there are not entirely unrelated of course).

Academic research, especially fundamental research, is in this regard indeed different from many other activities since on short time-scales you can't define a goal, you can't come up with a measure for success other than that provided by the community itself. The mere act of doing so will deviate interests and hinder progress. But that's exactly what funding agencies are doing. That's specific to having specialized expert communities.

And yeah, life should be a less perversely incentivised generally. But it worries me most in academia.

Bee said...

Hi Plato,

I tend to think creativity needs some guidance, especially in the early stages of education. Problem is if creativity is constrained after you have the required education. And that is unfortunately the case. As Charlton also points out, many postdocs do not work on self-chosen projects. Which is a shame if you consider they have completed all required exams and are on the average in their early to mid thirties, and in almost all cases entirely capable of running their own research agenda. But they are too often not able to do so, thanks to the fact that they are tied to supervisors and have to eye the rare chances for future employment. Best,

B.

Rob Knop said...

I think that right now there are forces in how we have designed criteria for success that push towards toeing the line. This is not to say that we don't make revolutionary and paradigm changing discoveries, but if anything it may be in spite of the system instead of because of it.

In my view, the biggest problem, at least in the US, is that we micromanage science by committee. At least in astronomy, we don't fund good people, we fund projects. Each and every research project goes through a proposal process that gets reviewed by committee. I think astronomy would do far better to fund institutions (Unviersities and colleges), let them use the money as they see fit, and stop micromanaging every project that the scientist wants to spend resoruces on. Then do a five-year review of each program (each college's astronomy program, say) to see if the investment is good. If it is, then keep funding those people, as it's a good investment. If it's not, cut them back, or cut them off.

This system wouldn't be without problems-- we'd need to make sure that there was a way for colleges that didn't have a program could break in and get started-- but I think it would both be less wasteful than what we have right now, it would keep people like me from having to leave academia altogether (something I'm still sad about), and it would allow scientists to work on what their scientific judgement told them was best to work on, instead of what was trendy enough to have the best chance of passing by a proposal review committee.

Plato said...

Bee:I tend to think creativity needs some guidance

As an artist with tools, or in the case of Howard's PI most certainty as an ideal for the "place to create," but to recognize then "an idea" can manifest, and who can point us to that? A child's true innocence in asking "the right question?"

This brings to mind Magritte's painting, when is a pipe a pipe?

The picture shows a pipe that looks as though it might come from a tobacco store advertisement. Magritte painted below the pipe: "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" (This is not a pipe), which seems false but is actually true. The painting is not a pipe, but rather an image of a pipe. As Magritte himself commented: "The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it's just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture 'This is a pipe,' I'd have been lying!" (cited in Harry Torczyner, Magritte: Ideas and Images, p. 71.)

So this Painting underscores "the ideal," that ideas can exist in afiner form, "while on another level."

Showing "successive stages of realization" about where ideas can come from and how they manifest? You see?

By making available "a lot of information" it increases the chances of what had be laying latent for someone to expose.

Basically, it is called remembering, for the idea has always existed out there. You just had to provide the foundation for which it could manifest. It's a position in mind.

Best,

Low Math, Meekly Interacting said...

The author is far too pessimistic. Having worked alongside and collaborated with academic scientists for the past 15+ years, I can state with great confidence that "psychoticism" is alive and well.

Daniel de França MTd2 said...

People generalize the actual situation of the slow progress of hig h energy physics for the rest of science... I quick look at non hep-th/gr-qc clearly shows that this is not the case, far from it, science is progressing faster and faster in those fields.

I guess this thing about hep-th/gr-qc is it due to the excess of enphasis the press gives to these areas.

M*P*Lockwood said...

Even if we concede that all of Charlton's points are true, I do not see this as a big problem for science in general.

True, it might mean that we miss out on a breakthrough genius here or there. Tesla may not have made it through the modern academic system. But if you look at the history of science, revolutionary changes have been made by the slow and diligent efforts of large numbers of "dull" people.

Quantum mechanics seems like an obvious example. There were many scientists who contributed little pieces, and few of them constituted a revolution on their own. Planck doesn't strike me as a wild thinker, he just found something that worked.

We might not have had General Relativity until much later if it were not for Einstein, but even he could be described as "agreeable" and "conscientious." He was definitely able to focus on developing that theory consistently for many years.

It would be interesting to see some examples of people who score highly on the personality traits that ought to constitute a "revolutionary" scientist. I think that just as often, that person may wind up a raving crackpot.

Giotis said...

My point is that you shouldn't ask to function (as a specific group of people) outside society and its harsh reality by demanding a specific set of rules just for you. That could be interpreted by someone as elitism.

On the contrary you should demand the whole society to change in that direction. Only through the elevation of the whole society you could solve your problems.

Bee said...

Daniel: I have no reason to believe that Charlton had theoretical physics in mind. As far as I am concerned, I have never been complaining about 'slow progress' for I have no way to tell whether progress is slower than ideally could be. I have a couple of times pointed out it's natural that progress slows when obtaining new data becomes ever more difficult, and meanwhile designing and launching an experiment can take decades and involve thousands of people.

The problems I have been talking about: increasingly short-term projects because of the granting and job-situation, scientist's interests being deviated by financial pressure, an ever more pronounced cycle of fads, are not only present in physics. Over the years I have been in contact with people from chemistry, biology, economics, and various fields of the live sciences (as the author of that paper) who report similar problems. Possibly it's particularly pronounced in high-energy physics though for two reasons: the competitive pressure is extremely high, and the field is traditionally very fast to react to upcoming trends.

Best,

B.

Uncle Al said...

Genius resides in Asperger's syndrome, high autism, and idiot-savants. Such people are absolutely unemployable. All they want to do is do it. Academic and industrial positions are specifically NOT about doing it. All hired positions are about paperwork, busywork, and ass-kissing. A PI is never found in the lab.

Management is about process not product. The perfect employee is photogenic, compliant, and fills a Federal hiring quota. Competence is insubordination. US Mensa is 50,000+ members with minimum 132 IQs. When did a headhunter ever contact Mama Mensa?

Google specifically hires the unlovable. It wipes their chins, gets them bored, and universally crushes its competition. Google is an ant colony of the Profoundly Gifted, each individual being lost but together forming the perfect weapon. Google can only be defeated by... interviewing its best folks on camera.

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Sorry, Bee, but now you're sounding like a (strangely) banal liar. Just read your mutually excluding statements, one after another:

“But they can only perform this task well if they are not influenced by considerations other than progress in science. Note, as I pointed out in earlier posts, that I am talking about the internal organization of academic research, not the question what kind of research a society should support to begin with, that's a different issue”.

If you are talking about internal organisation problems, then what kind of bad “influences” it can imply? Only one's bad influence upon oneself. Or if you want to say that there are certain, “bad”, e.g. senior, scientists that are the actual source of those creativity-killing influences on other, “nice”, e.g. younger, scientists (yourself including, of course :) ), then don't be afraid to articulate it, to avoid evident nonsense.

When you denouncing (in the above response to Giotis) “funding agencies” as the centre of evil that predetermines goals too rigidly thus stopping progress, you just “forget” to tell that everything that is “decided” by those agencies is actually decided by leading scientists with the help of notorious peer review and other “consulting” actions. So this is how exactly, really these leading professional scientists are using their practically complete freedom of choice (at least in fundamental science), whose alleged “absence” is at the origin of creativity problems, according to you. Come on, Bee, it's all too evident that all priorities and choices in today's fundamental science are totally determined by its own leading professionals. If you want to denounce their bad influence on research practice and result, then have the courage to say it openly. Or shut up and calculate (according to their directions) as everyone else! :)

“Scientists themselves are well aware of the need for revolutionary science/risky projects/transformative research. They also know brilliant people can be complicated. They know the value of disagreement. They are smart people and most of them know who Kuhn, Feyerabend and Popper are.”

Oh, là-là, Bee, so you're living in a very nice environment of very creative scientists but fatally limited, one should deduce, by those horrible “funding agencies” (though completely based on those scientists opinions!) which then routinely practise high treason and heavy sabotage by killing the whole fundamental science's creativity! Then what about all high talks about complete freedom of research choices in Perimeter Institute, for example (among many others)? Dirty lies of the enemies of the people? From which “funding agency” in this case? That Canadian Innovation Fund that would cry even louder than others about its complete freedom of choices made by scientists themselves? Confused in your own lies, big scientists, when it comes down now to gather the stones and account for the wasted billions to the cheated taxpayers, that's what really happens.

In reality, the majority of officially dominating, especially leading scientists hate (by their actions!) all truly “revolutionary” ideas, including Kuhn's vision and the rest: it is exactly what Kuhn was writing about, or else, if one accepts your statements, then his description of science operation should be totally wrong today!

Bee said...

Hi Rob,

I agree with you that funding people instead of projects would be advantageous, except, as you point out, that you need to have alternative means of assessment for young people whose record is too short. That doesn't solve the question though who makes this assessment in either case. Best,

B.

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

This is where cited Charlton's and your own “prescriptions” become grotesquely irrelevant: in cases where those “revolutionary” ideas and approaches have been realised, despite everything, with problem-solving results, but are then rejected without any sensible objection, practically without professional analysis, by mere argument that it is something truly new, “unusual”, not “dull” enough. There are too many too well documented cases of this dominating practice of “officially great” scientists themselves, in order to look for another excuse as both Charlton and you (and many others) are unfortunately trying to do (but Charlton still seems to be much closer to the true reason for zero creativity in today's luxuriously supported Western science). Have a look e.g. at various accounts and references in our book (on line here), by experienced science professionals, often from your “best places”. It is after they have done it, that “creative” and “transformative” research, with well-specified and problem-solving results, that they were treated as the worst enemies by their “dull” professional colleagues, while the results are excluded as much as possible from all information sources, funding and public presentation of science. By contrast, there's no problem with unlimited investment in a huge variety of post-modern lies with no solutions presented and ever possible (“quantum computers”, close to 100 % of “nanotechnology”, inconsistent abstractions behind LHC, “dark” matters, “hidden” dimensions and burgeoning “multiverses”, hot fusion failed but generously supported, etc.). It's not only “dull scientists” or “bad agencies”, it's the heavy dictatorship of obvious lie in the huge establishment officially “searching for truth”, at a time when this truth becomes really vitally, urgently needed, in both science and practical life.

Time to stop lying.

Bee said...

Andrei: You are calling me a liar because you don't understand what I say and blame your lacking understanding on me. This is particularly comical since what you say I should be saying is exactly what I am saying. Why don't you just stop creating non-existent points of criticism?

"If you are talking about internal organisation problems, then what kind of bad “influences” it can imply? Only one's bad influence upon oneself. "

Yes. Exactly. That's what I am saying.

"When you denouncing (in the above response to Giotis) “funding agencies” as the centre of evil that predetermines goals"

I have repeatedly and explicitly said that the origin of the problem is not with the funding agencies (you find that in various older posts). In fact, as you can read in this post, the NSF (and similarly the ERC and the Canadian equivalent whose name I keep forgetting) do acknowledge the need for transformative research projects. What I have said instead, repeatly, is that it is a systemic problem in which the funding agencies play a relevant role. Their role is however, as you correctly point out, not to make the decisions themselves, but to export them back to the community. If you would make an effort to at least read the title of my earlier post: "We have only ourselves to judge each other".

Next time before you call me a liar, try to understand what I say.

Best,

B.

Daniel de França MTd2 said...

Bee, when it was the last time that a new model high energy physics explained anything in nature that couldn't be explained by something older?

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

“Their [agencies'] role is however, as you correctly point out, not to make the decisions themselves, but to export them back to the community.”

But it's already done, from the beginning, “as I correctly point out” above, through peer review and other “consulting” (involving “leading” researchers)! It's you who is not reading attentively my comments! The impression is still that you tend to acknowledge “our”, officially “accepted” researchers' responsibility for all science problems in a very ... “indirect” and particularly “gentle” way. :) OK, you're a “gentle liar” then. :) Don't be afraid, they won't ask for their money back, those poor cheated taxpayers...

Also, your multiply repeated arguments about “short-term” failure (allegedly irrelevant) and always expected “long-term” (infinitely long term!) success are equally ridiculous and so familiar from criminal affairs (it's “Madoff's argumentation”, “just wait and it'll be OK!”). No results in science, despite luxurious support during many decades? And do you know how difficult it is, doing science?! Chatting by all internet tools all the day and still find a time for great research?! :) No, they don't really know it, all those farmers and engineers, with their grotesquely easy jobs giving you great researchers your luxurious life style! Because if they knew, they would be either on the streets or in the labs! :)

The fact that fundamental science results are usually “consumed” differently from “material” products doesn't mean that there should be no efficiency demand in science (including in short term!) that actually evolves otherwise to one gigantic pseudo-intellectual fraud (never seen?). When were your “long-term” arguments in any epoch of real science progress, e.g. at the beginning or in the middle of the 20th century? And today's many-decade “interruption” of science progress is a bit too long for any “long-term” argument to have meaning (especially on the background of infinite acceleration in technology and everywhere else!). Where should it actually end, your “long term”, after your taking a ticket to paradise? :) Progress in science is inhomogeneous in speed but always very different from an evident, horribly frustrated impasse of development we have today (and the related obvious moral degradation: what has this to do with “terms”?).

I understand, of course, that “long-term” argument is practically the only reason for PI existence, among so many other “advanced” cosy places, but it's for the sake of entire (any!) further knowledge progress that one should accept the hard but evident truth of today's fundamental science disaster and change it essentially for better (the latter is impossible without the former). It's elementary in fundamental science: one should avoid confusing problem scales.

After all, do we want a real, huge progress in science, bordel de merde?! Now, when it's obviously most needed?! And what we are, what kind of “professional scientists”, if we don't?! Especially with this crisis on the background and the emerging ever more critical general civilisation state... What you really are, bordel de merde...

Bee said...

Hi Giotis,

I am not asking for a specific set of rules "just for me." I am generally asking for systems to be organized such that they can best fulfill their purpose. How that organization looks like however, depends of course on what the purpose of that system is, thus there won't be no one answer that fits all. Sure, of course I could ask for "all of society" to pay attention to the systems that govern their live working properly. And, as you know, I have written about that many times. Just that the content of this post is the academic system in particular. One of the causes for the problems that we do have with that system is the attempt to apply capitalistic modes of regulation to science in a one-size-fits-all approach. Best,

B.

Chitragupta said...

This is simply a "scientific" resurrection of the idea that the underachiever at school makes good.

-Arun

Bee said...

Hi Daniel,

I see your point, but you don't see mine. How do you know that anything you could have changed about the organization of the academic system would meanwhile have lead to more, or better, results? Answer: you can't know. You have an opinion, and Andrei has an opinion, and Rob Knop has an opinion, and Lee Smolin has an opinion, and Joe Polchinski has an optinion, and Prof. Charlton has an opinion about what could be done to accelerate progress. You twiddle something here and you fiddle something there or you fiddle nothing at all.

What I am saying is you shouldn't listen to any of these people unless they have scientific evidence for their claims. What I have been saying since years is that 'because I think so' and 'I know this guy who' aren't arguments worthy of scientists. What we need is a systematic study of the effects different forms of organization have on the progress of science, gather data, develop models, and design a system capable of self-organization and adaption. And yes, what I am asking for is a scientific understanding of the academic system and the process of knowledge discovery. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Andrei:

"The impression is still that you tend to acknowledge “our”, officially “accepted” researchers' responsibility for all science problems in a very ... “indirect” and particularly “gentle” way. :) OK, you're a “gentle liar” then."

My impression, Andrei, is that you would probably interpret everything I say and do as "gentle" and "indirect" unless I hit you with a brick directly on your head.

Let me repeat for you some parts of a post that you probably didn't find necessary to read:

"it is easy enough to improve the situation:

1.) Question and doubt. Ask yourself whether the realized strategies are optimal for scientific progress, and if you don't think so, don't shrug shoulders. Don't accept criteria you have been taught are right without taking into account that times have changed.

2) Analyze. Peer pressure, intense competition, short resources, project-dependent funding and short-term employment favours mainstream, conservative and low-risk work. Be aware of that. Remind yourself and colleagues that 'Good physics has to be open, critical, and responsive'. Research has shown that simply reminding people to think rationally influences their decisions.

3.) Trust yourself. Don't work on topics that you don't genuinely believe are relevant because you are afraid of your reputation. If this work is unavoidable, criticise - even if you are defeated, you make a contribution to science. (Hey - I told you, you're not getting career advises on this blog.)"

I fail to see what could possibly be "indirect" about that.

"your multiply repeated arguments about “short-term” failure (allegedly irrelevant) and always expected “long-term” (infinitely long term!) success are equally ridiculous "

You continue to assign things to me I never said just to then claim they are ridiculous. What is the purpose of you doing this? I never said, neither here nor elsewhere, that short-term failure is "irrelevant." Of course it is not.

First, I have pointed out repeatedly the essential point is to achieve a balance between transformative and conservative, or normal and revolutionary, call it as you like. Many short-term projects are necessary and adequate. What I am saying is that entirely relying on short-term projects neglects those research agendas that will not fit into this timeframe.

Second, failure is there to learn from it. It is not irrelevant.

Best,

B.

Giotis said...

Yes but I'm just telling you that what you are asking will never happen unless the general principles upon which our societies are built, change. This is not about the specific system of academia; it's about the general ethical, social and conceptual principles and ideas of an entire culture i.e. the western world.

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Bee: “What I am saying is you shouldn't listen to any of these people unless they have scientific evidence for their claims. What I have been saying since years is that 'because I think so' and 'I know this guy who' aren't arguments worthy of scientists. What we need is a systematic study of the effects different forms of organization have on the progress of science, gather data, develop models, and design a system capable of self-organization and adaption. And yes, what I am asking for is a scientific understanding of the academic system and the process of knowledge discovery.”

And what I have been proposing “since years” is precisely well-specified, fundamentally substantiated and practically oriented result of “a systematic study of the effects different forms of organization have on the progress of science” and “a scientific understanding of the academic system and the process of knowledge discovery”, a result that specifies a provably, qualitatively (and uniquely) better system of research organisation “capable of self-organization and adaptation” that we need to initiate now, just the necessary but missing “next step” of science organisation liberated from current system defects you have been discussing during the same years.

Do you know how to use web links, Bee? I can hardly believe that (because mine were always on your blog), but to be sure, try it again: (1) general (but fundamentally substantiated) description of the new system and the change we need, (2) still verbal but more detailed description of modern science problems and their fundamentally based solution within the new organisation, and (3) detailed, mathematically specified theory of a similar but more general transition in the whole society organisation (just as Giotis wants it here!) and the corresponding change in science organisation as a particular case. And it's not any over-simplified and therefore incorrect “model” of usual theory but the result of comprehensive, unreduced interaction analysis, in correlation with observed situation and problems.

As you see, it's not only “I think so”, and the symmetry between all those “opinions twiddle and fiddle” you getting confused with is definitely violated. Mine is much more confusing than others. :) Because it's complete and provable and rigorous and all the rest. Most important, however, is that it ends up in a clearly specified, qualitative and easily comprehensible change, rather than only usual “increase”, “ameliorate” and “work harder”. One essential difference is that it's based on the unique, provably universal definition of real-system complexity (which doesn't exist, according to “well established” official lies), and how can one provide a reliable understanding of a system as complex as science (and closely related society) without such a concept? Regards to Smolin and others.

And now it's my turn to ask inconvenient questions. This theory is “falsifiable” and has enough to be basically correct (confirmed by a variety of applications), and assuming that it's finally true and does provide the needed solution, so what, why were you asking? Can you help to realise it? If not, what all the noise was about (apart from a usual appearance of a simplified version elsewhere as someone's great revelation)? It is easily accessible for years indeed and there's no reaction at all, as if nobody needs anything different from the current bordello, after all statements of the contrary. And that is the real problem. Only bad guys everywhere at power.

Anyway, I gave you what you were asking for with a clear conviction that it doesn't exist. Now, in exchange, your miracle, please. By the way, it is really needed by everybody, that qualitatively better science (and society) organisation. So?

Now she'll say again that I read inattentively and she promised nothing... Women... :)

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Giotis: “On the contrary you should demand the whole society to change in that direction. Only through the elevation of the whole society you could solve your problems.”

Yeah, it sounds correct, but even pessimistically correct because “elevation of the whole society” is usually even less feasible than science reform. However, in this critical epoch, society starts to show strong signs of its general acute problems and the related explicit need for “elevation”. But what is particularly interesting is that any such potential elevation for this kind of “developed” society would necessarily proceed by a sort of new kind of “intelligent”, “scientifically rigorous” guidance based on a causally complete understanding of its dynamics and evolution, beyond all now insufficient “invisible hands”, superficial political manipulations or reduced but fashionable word-play “models” of unitary science (style “gauge invariance”, “Gödel's incompleteness”, etc.). As a result, society is strongly “forced” now to move in that direction of qualitatively new, well-understood organisation of all its structures, including science (which is a relatively independent system well-suited for a local, pioneer initiation of the necessary change). Or else everything will degrade and fall, rather quickly (already in progress). Which provides a better specified hope, doesn't it? Only clever governors are missing to start it. But the objective structure of change becomes clear and reveals quite another role and importance of this special activity we used to call science. It should become life now and in that way solve its own problems.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

So according to Dr. Charlton, if you are whizzy, lazy and crazy you may have what it takes to be the next Einstein. You know I’m beginning to like this guy , for the way I look at it two out of three ain’t bad :-) Seriously though, how do they come up with this stuff? Worse still, someone actually payed for it. I suppose Newton was a brilliant loose screwed slacker and Einstein as well. This sounds more like urban myth rather then science.

With all I’ve been able to gather of the great and successful scientists of both the past and present it's like it is for just about everything else; being 1% inspiration combined with 99% perspiration. Well if you’re really good, perhaps it could be 2% and 98%. I think someone should inform the good doctor that the apple story qualifies being only as a fable. I would concur with Bee that if you allow bright properly trained people sufficient time, resource and some room to breathe this is more often likely to lead to significant results and at times the odd breakthrough. That is publish or perish should be changed to only publish when cherished.

Best,

Phil

Arun said...

Andrei,
blogger.com is not suited to long comments. Maybe this can be turned into a conversation between 2 blogs, with trackbacks and all?

stefan said...

Andrei,

perhaps more people would be willing to listen to what you think you have to say if you knew some rudiments of politeness and how to behave. Andrei, insulting your host is not a good idea to push your ideas.

Have a nice day, Stefan

Kea said...

You only listen to people who are polite! Oooohhh, I see! No wonder I never applied to work at PI.

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Stefan, precisely, in connection with the subject of this post, there is a fine interplay between “politeness” or “correctness” of behaviour and boredom or dullness or mediocrity. While the best way is to maintain the former without falling into the latter, I think that today the “symmetry” is strongly violated in favour of the latter and that produces really big losses in science and elsewhere. Maybe you cannot remember what is known as the “spirit of the 60s-70s”, but that was much more vivid and interesting and definitely less polite but without being vulgar. When Bee is writing, for example, in the previous post something like “Who the fuck are you and what do you want?” and she continues in the same “vivid” style, I don't think that it's particularly “correct”, but probably she tries to escape the reigning boredom, and that's not bad. It's the same with me, but you can never know exactly personal “limits of permissible” or the sense of humour or current mood of other dialogue participants. So small “discrepancies” are unavoidable and better to be neglected, if as a result we can advance towards much more important solutions of growing problems related somehow to this reigning correctness, politeness and mediocrity. Breaking the Wall is never polite, but sometimes is very much needed, maybe especially when everything seems to be so smooth externally, in certain places, because that's how boredom and emptiness win and destroy everything. Moreover, that genuine “creativity” that should constitute the basis of normal, healthy science state is extremely impolite and massively insulting, if you think about it...

Bee said...

Andrei:

When Bee is writing, for example, in the previous post something like “Who the fuck are you and what do you want?” and she continues in the same “vivid” style, I don't think that it's particularly “correct”,

In contrast to you, I do not insult people personally and I expect to be treated with the same respect. Politeness is not the same as dullness, and it is not in conflict with open criticism. I think you are confusing several very different things. Unfortunately, you are not the only one who can't distinguish between constructive criticism and insult and over the years I've had to endure many people who have long crossed the line where humor ends and tasteless condescendence starts.

In any case, the actual problem I have with your results is that you bore us with endless elaborations (and yes, they are BORING, Andrei, despite what you think is a "vivid" style) evidently without feeling the need to first figure out what the author of the post said you dump your comments under. That is not only impolite, but a reason for me to only read your comments to the extend it is absolutely unavoidable. Following Arun's suggestion, why don't you keep your essays to your own blog if you're not interested in what I have to say anyway.

Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Giotis,

Well, I think one has to start with a specific case before one can achieve a general paradigm shift. I'm not patient enough to sit around and wait for "the general principles upon which our societies are built" to change. The academic system is the natural starting point for change, don't you think so? Best,

B.

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

I am sorry, Bee, but now it's rather you who is incorrect. You formulate a problem in your post and comments and say explicitly that you are very much interested in its solution that doesn't exist, despite several ambiguous attempts. Well, in response, I give you conveniently accessible references to my well-specified problem solution, with short abstracts, short verbal and longer technical presentation forms, everything one might imagine. And in response you say nothing special, just something about politeness and length. But I give you various-length descriptions of solution to a problem you're discussing and saying you're interested to see the “real” solution to. With that your reaction, it just a good demonstration of how it works, the “peer review” novelty-killing machine. Everything beyond one's subjective understanding (or even subjective wish to understand) is to throw off, without discussion. Call it search for truth. And politeness. I'd call it differently, but I'm afraid to be impolite.

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

As Peter points out in one of the posts he mentioned above, it has been argued recently many times that it's in the first place hard work (perspiration!) that is relevant for success. I would want to combine that with persistence, creativity and yes, some amount of insanity I think you need to have to work in academia to begin with. But Charlton is totally on the wrong track with claiming low capability to endure frustration is helpful to initiate a 'revolution' of any sort.

Let me illustrate that with a quotation I previously used here

“Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.”
~Howard Aiken

and then there's of course

“Every revolutionary idea seems to evoke three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases: 1- It's completely impossible. 2- It's possible, but it's not worth doing. 3- I said it was a good idea all along.”
~ Arthur C. Clarke

One might suspect though Charlton felt the need to disagree with what the mainstream seems to have settled one. You know, just to show he's not a "normal" scientist... Best,

B.

Bee said...

Andrei: You just don't get it. I sincerely hope one day it will occur to you why nobody listens to your great ideas.

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Arun, I think that communication in any blogs with comments (especially without immediate moderation) is very well suited for a complicated mixture of various communication modes and preferences. If you don't like any of them, just skip it. After all, there's always unavoidable split into more personal exchanges... By contrast, I think it's better (much more convenient for everybody) to have few “popular” discussion places, than a huge number of blogs exchanging small remarks of “hi, I'm here” style. It's about “self-organisation”: doesn't matter where exactly it occurs, what matters is to have emerging communication structures and centres of interest. And that these will have complex internal structures is rather an advantage. As to the length of comments, I would rather estimate content-to-length ratio, but it's difficult to realise objectively. If we discuss a serious, often “unsolvable” problem, any candidate “solution” cannot be too short, if it is to be understood properly. Personally I read all comments, even those empty for my interests. In the latter case I just boost the speed by few orders... :)

There is a “fundamental” part in this inquiry: whether today's blog and other web communication will finally evolve into something “serious”, changing “usual” world (“long-comment” mode), or will it still remain rather an advanced leisure possibility (“short-comment” mode)? Or in a yet more general formulation, does/can the internet - instantaneous, massive world-wide communication - really change the world, beyond any futuristic techno-hype? The answer's not evident, for the moment... It may be that today we are still within a tentative “purely communicative” mode that only tries to touch the heavy real-world matrix, but can hardly seriously change it. In a “progressive” scenario, the next wave will be the “world-changing” internet, beyond any narrow “professional collaboration” (this one is just a more convenient version of the good old snail mail and direct meetings). In any case, today's “governing structures” wouldn't like this relatively free internet interaction to be able to seriously influence their “suitably fixed” real-world domination (and they do not participate much here!)... You can just talk, but that's about all your “freedom”... And the growing crisis that results... It will all change, in one way or another, going either up or down.

Georg said...

I think the problem is due to the fact
that too many people work as
"Editor in Chief of Medical Hypotheses since 2003 and Reader in Evolutionary Psychiatry "
or similar "professions"
(Belonging to the professions which were
exiled to a island according to
Joh. Swift, for the benefit of the
ideal state)
This brilliant men are missed in science.
Georg

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Bee, why do you think it “will” occur to me? It has already occurred to me long ago and to many others before me. If you want a “widely recognised” version, reread Thomas Kuhn's “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (but there are so many other similar and well-know ideas by various “great men” that you cannot stop citing). The problem is that the reason why is repeated and variously restated and studied and stated again, but never changes practically. There too many too ambitious fools in this world today (and science is one of their preferred playgrounds). And too much money. And too much ambitious fools with money. Today it becomes really difficult to deny the problem, but it persists nevertheless. And it's not my problem, no. Sorry for the truth. It's her fault of being impolite, not mine!

Christine said...

Sorry for being off-topic, but reading the exchanges above it came to my mind the following.

If I were a millionaire, I would invite some bloggers and commenters to a spetacular meeting in Brazil.

Imagine that: Bee and Stefan, Woit, Lubos, Sean, Clifford, Kea, Andrei, Tkk, Phil, Plato, Uncle Al, Coin, Giotis, H-I-G-G-S, Daniel, and so on and so forth, all together, in person, in a spetacular party.

Would they understand each other better?? I wonder.

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

With the help of some cachaça, caipirinha and other tequila, certainly, Christine! Ah, what a pity that you're too nice to be a millionaire... :)

Kea said...

Brazil sounds great, Christine! I'd love to come sometime.

Neil' said...

Bee, the question is not nonsense. I'm not sure how the answer should go, but it's a game and valid point to critique and challenge the scientific establishment, like any other establishment. For now I just make a point of "the principle of the thing" and not specifics, maybe that later.

Bee said...

Neil: I am saying the question is nonsense because the author fails to explain why it's relevant to ask. If you provide that explanation, it might become meaningful.

Giotis said...

Ok then Bee you fix the academic system and let the rest of us deal with the brutal relentless rules of the lawless free market.
When I get fired I'll send you my comments from my cardboard box:-)

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Christine,

“Would they understand each other better?? I wonder.”

An interesting proposal, perhaps you could invite Dr. Charlton to attend. Inform him it could lend valuable insight into his research, in which case it might be all covered off by his grant. Hell, if it means having a great party in Brazil, being a guinea pig for a while would prove as being only a mild inconvenience. Just no thread mills or electric shocks:-)

Best,

Phil

P.S. As to give the good doctor a start my test results according to the site Bee pointed to are O59-C74-E64-A63-N32 Damn,that’s far too boring and stable, oh well I guess I can’t quit my current job to go in search of the TOE :-)

Bee said...

Phil, you score higher on neuroticism than I do? I'm shocked ;-)

-B.

Bee said...

Hi Giotis,

aah, you don't see the big picture. See, we'll start with the academic system and then scientists will take over the world and fix the rest ;-) More seriously, let me quote Steward Brand "Science is the only news." The claim is that the scientific method is the most useful way to find out whether we organize social systems efficiently and optimally to serve their purpose. Just how is any scientist to convince anybody this is the way to go as long as the academic system is a mess? Gee, we can't even take care of ourselves! Academia is thus the natural place to start. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

I certainly agree with you that scientists have always required having a high tolerance level for pain and suffering, along with faith in themselves that they are on the right track. What disturbs me about Charltons’ research is it tries to pigeon-hole people and stereotype them in terms of their capabilities. I would agree that intelligence is a key factor, yet one where you can hardly set a fixed line. For instance Feynman had a reported IQ of 125, while Francis Crick 119, both Nobel Laureates . While these being higher than the mean of 100, are well below what’s required to qualify for MENSA memebership.

As to personality you have the outgoing and flamboyant Feynman again, contrasted to Kurt Godel, who was so shy and withdrawn that he would make appointments with people in places he intended not to be, so as to be assured to avoid them.

With the mental stability aspect, although you can point to those like John Nash and Turing on one hand you have the rock solid stability of John S. Bell on the other. Frankly, I see this as just another expression of one of the most fatal flaws of humanity and that some need to create artificial reasons for division and bigotry. When will we stop wasting valuable time and resource on such misguided and unrevealing pursuits?

Best,

Phil

As for my score on neuroticism my only defence is that we are also products of our environment so perhaps I’ve been affected by soem of your other commenters ;-)

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

I agree with you. The IQ in particular is a very inaccurate measure. As somebody said very aptly, there are as many IQs as there are IQ tests. Many of them do actually test to a large amount not intelligence but intellect, ie they test for acquired knowledge. In many cases this knowledge is moreover strongly language related (questions of the sort "what does the word... mean", "which word does not fit in", "complete the following sayings ..."), others depends on your education or generally your interest in storing pieces of information. Even the logical/maths parts don't capture any information about what I think is the most relevant aspect of intelligence: learning.

In any case, the best way to recognize somebody's intelligence is to ask somebody who is intelligent. And yes, that's a subjective and personal measure, but it's one that I am sure we will never get around. Whatever measure you can invent, it will in the best case limp behind, in the worst case distort. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

What is being actually referred to in all of this, is the attempt to measure potential. While from the physical side of things potential is often measured in terms of differential, as being a quantity that exists between a positive and negative , with little meaning being assignable as to what will definitly be actualized or not. Then again it can represent the measurement between zero and what is above, with no limit or reference point to be define as to what will result as a consequence with at best only suggesting a likelyhood.

If this is what could be identified as whats considered here I would actually have little objection, for these are acceptable to give meaningful results in such consideration and leads often to reasonable conclusions.

However, what we are faced with here is not a potential measureable in either respect, for what could be or should be considered as negative and positive in such regard, just as zero in the other has seemingly little place or definitive meaning.

No, actually this is more like a potential defined by a recipe, such as what constitutes to be a good cake as opposed to a poor one, only in this case one where the ingredients are neither readily identified or clearly defined, with the subjective element much too great for it to be considered a problem meaningfully able to be approached by science; at least at its present stage of ability. I think for now it's best to let it alone and continue to be guided as we always have and that is to say the proof is in the pudding, or cake as it's argued here..

Best,

Phil.

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Just to continue the cake analogy, as to emphasize to where we agree, is to say the initial ingredients should have some reason to be believed they are appropriate, they also need to be stirred properly, then given the time and environment to rise and then to bake. However, despite all this it’s only when tested by the result of experiment, which is to ask if it tastes like reality are we actually able to know. This then is certainly what science is and the only method by which those who practice it can or ever should be weighed.


Best,

Phil

Plato said...

Hey Phil,

However, despite all this it’s only when tested by the result of experiment, which is to ask if it tastes like reality are we actually able to know.

A new term like "Grokking" can encompass one doing science and eating their cake too?;) This is a transitional stage geometrics is developing toward "toposense." A feeling of, movement and momentum.

"Let no one destitute of geometry enter my doors. Plato's Academy

No finer way then of painting the world by now recognizing how colourful and melodious the abstract theoretical world can be, as one applies brush strokes or use select poetic symbolic word relations, for adding meaning to one's life.

The brain then, is firing in a most beneficial way?

Best,

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Plato,

Oh yes, Robert A. Heinlein, the great contemporary writer of science fiction whose works I’ve enjoyed since days past. Yet to compare my feeble attempt at imagery, although quite the compliment is yet hardly one deserved, for his was truly original leaving one to wonder from where it came.

The other thing that stands out for me about him is he was not afraid to use sex as an enticement for having his readers be inspired more to science. Now this indeed would be an interesting approach to be tried by some future Perimeter public lecturer. I’m not certain how effective it would be, yet I’m confident a high school auditorium would not be able to satisify the potential numbers or even Skydome for that matter:-)

I must now apologize to the authors of this blog for my straying from the theme

Best,

Phil

Plato said...

Yes I apologize too for going off topic and I know some scientists are true lovers and are not so dull.

Best,

Metal said...

Well, I must be a very successful scientist because I have very low 'conscientiousness'. Till today I thought that was something that was dragging down my career but now I know better. :)

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Arun,

“blogger.com is not suited to long comments. Maybe this can be turned into a conversation between 2 blogs, with trackbacks and all? “

Being inspired by your above noted thought and realizing that my response to Andrei would be far too long to be tolerable, I’ve taken the liberty to post one on my own blog (which due mainly to neglect has lots of space). This stands not simply to serve as an argument, counter to Andrei’s position, yet rather more as the way I envision the business of fundamental scientific research might be addressed. This may seem to be a little unorthodox and perhaps foreign from the Ivory Tower perspective, yet one I see as being more consistent with the current state, demands and general realities of the world.


Best,


Phil

bgc said...

Author here (Bruce G Charlton) - there is an awful lot of detailed critique here of views that I do not hold and have not said: maybe people might take a couple of minutes to read at least the 300 word Abstract, even if you don't have time to read the whole paper ;=). Or maybe just read the last sentence?:

Summary: Question: why are so many leading modern scientists so dull and lacking in scientific ambition? Answer: because the science selection process ruthlessly weeds-out interesting and imaginative people. At each level in education, training and career progression there is a tendency to exclude smart and creative people by preferring Conscientious and Agreeable people. The progressive lengthening of scientific training and the reduced independence of career scientists have tended to deter vocational ‘revolutionary’ scientists in favour of industrious and socially adept individuals better suited to incremental ‘normal’ science. High general intelligence (IQ) is required for revolutionary science. But educational attainment depends on a combination of intelligence and the personality trait of Conscientiousness; and these attributes do not correlate closely. Therefore elite scientific institutions seeking potential revolutionary scientists need to use IQ tests as well as examination results to pick-out high IQ ‘under-achievers’. As well as high IQ, revolutionary science requires high creativity. Creativity is probably associated with moderately high levels of Eysenck’s personality trait of ‘Psychoticism’. Psychoticism combines qualities such as selfishness, independence from group norms, impulsivity and sensation-seeking; with a style of cognition that involves fluent, associative and rapid production of many ideas. But modern science selects for high Conscientiousness and high Agreeableness; therefore it enforces low Psychoticism and low creativity. Yet my counter-proposal to select elite revolutionary scientists on the basis of high IQ and moderately high Psychoticism may sound like a recipe for disaster, since resembles a formula for choosing gifted charlatans and confidence tricksters. A further vital ingredient is therefore necessary: devotion to the transcendental value of Truth. Elite revolutionary science should therefore be a place that welcomes brilliant, impulsive, inspired, antisocial oddballs – so long as they are also dedicated truth-seekers.

http://medicalhypotheses.blogspot.com/2009/02/why-are-modern-scientists-so-dull.html

Bee said...

Dear Prof. Charlton:

Your reply to my criticism is entirely unconvincing. I am afraid you will have to make a bit more of an effort than copy-and-pasting the summary of your paper to address my criticism. At the very least you should read what I wrote...

Best regards,

B.

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Well, Bruce, Bee may be basically right here, without you being wrong: the point is that hers is just the attitude of that “dull” (“Conscientious and Agreeable”), now absolutely reigning community of professional scientists which you try to “cure” as a major problem, which explains the “strong” reaction. (And don't be surprised to discover that some of them, especially those from “officially advanced” institutes do consider themselves revolutionary scientists with enormous, Bruce, practically unlimited talent!) You sort of saying “we have a problem, friends, and the problem is you”. :) So they're slightly against it, what did you expect? :) No need to repeat other arguments developed above. These “scientists” will always advance one and the same “best idea”: give us all we need and leave us alone, including our exclusive right to decide on the quality of our results. So if the quality of their results is never that bad, according to them, are you surprised? :) How can you “prove” rigorously that there is any problem in modern science? Any opinions you may refer to cannot provide proof: they may be subjective. And don't even doubt that any your argument will find the due response of self-estimating “scientists”: they are protecting their unmerited profits, Bruce, it's so humanly understandable (but especially inhumanly!). Madoff also keeps stating that he could always provide everybody with everything, they had only interrupted the working process! This never-ending trickster demagogy is too old and too well known.

And it actually shows, Bruce, the weakness of your own ideas about how to cure the disease. You're repeating the old mistake of “good people” (here “honest scientists”) that try to attack “evil” directly, with their goodness as “invincible” weapon. But there's another old saying: “legion is their name”. In our case, if that “dull” majority (and majority can hardly be “revolutionary”, at least in this kind of world!) has already taken the full power in this classical, unitary kind of system (with a particularly totalitarian internal rule in science), then any “honest”, “revolutionary” deviations will be suppressed and excluded as “mental illness” or “low professionalism”, without hope. The “selection system” you try to ameliorate is there just for that, whatever other purpose it may “officially” announce (like “search for truth”, “revolutionary science”, etc.). It's enough to imagine a real “elite scientific institution seeking potential revolutionary scientists” (you don't need to look too far away for a relevant example!) that has a very luxurious, both public and private, support and exceptionally high status “officially recognised” by all possible authorities but as all other majority-determined institutions is dominated, of course, by “dull”, zero-result, zero-problem-solution, but actually very ambitious, “self-revolutionary” scientists. So, following your high-IQ idea, those “officially top” guys meet now another, truly superior, truly revolutionary IQ and problem-solving results. Can you really imagine them accepting that superiority, “in the name of truth” and “scientific revolution”?! There are few truly impossible things in this world, but this one is surely among them.

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Continued:
Bruce, efficient problem solution exists, of course, but it needs a much stronger, though finally quite natural change of the whole system. It is variously described in references from my comment above (rejected even without any discussion, you happy guy Bruce). Without reproducing details here, the essential general property missing in your and many other propositions is that efficient science organisation should maintain the “best creative” selection of people and results basically “automatically” and objectively, by it's intrinsic dynamics, rather than mainly subjective efforts. It's true, however, that transition to this or any other truly novel, essentially better science organisation will always need a greater and inevitably subjective shift of consciousness, not only and not so much of scientists, as of society that “orders” them research and pays for it (and should directly profit from its widely understood, co-created results, with that genuine kind of science!). Which returns us back to the main argument of “dull” establishment scientists: they do pay us, don't they, those stupid taxpayers, for many years and without any serious objection, so where's the problem? One should acknowledge, Bruce, that there's something to it, from any point of view: any society has a kind of science it really deserves (whatever other advanced hopes and best principles may be).

bgc said...

I think that many of the questions asked by Bee, or his criticisms, are answered in the references to my previous papers - and to some which have been published since this article.

These are avaiable on the blog - http://medicalhypotheses.blogspot.com

Of course my arguments and answers would not satisfy everyone; and they certainly could not compel acceptance by anyone who wants not to believe them.

But to answer Andre Kirilyuk - I am interested in analyzing the situation, and extending the insights of Hans Eysenck into the nature of genius (I have taken most of these arguments from him).

I am also interested in IQ and Conscientiousness as the first- and second-best validated measures of 'normal' job performance and educational attainment, but the fact that very high C seems actually to impair creativity. This is quite well established empirically in the references I gave.

However, I personally certainly do not expect that this understanding will fix the system, indeed I don't expect the system to be fixed at all. It _could_ be fixed, in theory, but not in practice. I expect the system will continue to get worse; I also expect that science funding will collapse quite soon (deservedly so, in most cases: http://hedweb.com/bgcharlton/funding.html )

Science is by now extremely decadent and corrupt (as is academia in general - http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2009/04/are-you-honest-academic.html ); but in this it is merely one part of a D&C civilization which will likely be overwhelmed by economic collapse and demographic changes within the next few decades - science included.

Well, it was marvellous while it lasted (or, at least, the science was)...

Giotis said...

There is a possibility in the future to observe a gradual decay in various areas of scientific research but I think that will happen for pragmatic reasons.

After the scientific and technological boom of the last 100 years, we've reached in some areas a certain limit or a threshold on the things we can understand. I suspect that there might be a recession period that could last for a significant amount of time until the next scientific revolution. Moreover don't forget that there are limits on the achievements we can accomplish as a specie. Our capabilities are finite after all and there are factual reasons to suggest that scientific progress cannot grow exponentially or even linearly with time constantly. Such a slump is expected to occur naturally.

The social and economical considerations are important of course but the societies are stable enough and I don't expect any big surprises in that respect.

Plato said...

Bruce G Charlton:A further vital ingredient is therefore necessary: devotion to the transcendental value of Truth. Elite revolutionary science should therefore be a place that welcomes brilliant, impulsive, inspired, antisocial oddballs – so long as they are also dedicated truth-seekers.

As an expectation and statement of, it would need to be understood what "seekers of truth" would actually imply here.

By "science implicit," how could one not mention that by that word alone, serious intent and value is already indeed "truth seeking?" So you see how this truth seeking must be expressed further.

Of course Bee mentions guidelines in terms of education, but if "foreign to the language" Lincos, would this in itself not let you see the aspect of any lone wolf who'd blazed a trail in terms of let's say Number Theory, to have given part of the answer "to genius." I think, this is what you have had to say in order to see it as this way.

So one would need some more guidelines here as to what it means to be a truth seeker, and not just, one of science by trade(even though this is what Bee is implying specifically).

You've already castigated the rest of society, when it's in the "potential of society" that the answers will come, from those called scientists and those who seek truth, are not by definition just scientists or, a scientist. You see?

So by opinion then, philosophical brainless, is less then acceptable to those of hard core science?:)

So on a lighter note then.

"Deep play doesn't have to do with an activity, like shallow play. It has to do with attitude or an extraordinarily intense state."-Dianne Ackerman

It is by accomplishment then as a summation to an individual's life in documentation that examples can be seen as one would judge eccentricity, as the same as, psychotic ism? Why not add a few more..um... sicknesses, to what is a natural process to what deep play and thinking represents creatively?:)It seems this is the craze these days.

Asperger syndrome with Newton?

Best,

bgc said...

Plato - I can't follow all of your argument - but you ask for more on Transcendental Truth: http://medicalhypotheses.blogspot.com/2009/02/transcendental-truth-in-science.html .

The fact that we currently find it so hard to understand TT (by whatever name) is evidence of our drift away from real science - these matters were regarded as perfectly straightforward, mainstream, daily realities a couple of generations (c 50 plus years) ago.

Bee said...

Dear Dr. Charlton,

You are merely evading a reply to the criticism I raised, and that not even in a subtle way. Instead you make vague referrals, and choose to reply to questions that are easier to address. Best,

B.

bgc said...

Bee said: "You are merely evading a reply to the criticism I raised, and that not even in a subtle way. Instead you make vague referrals, and choose to reply to questions that are easier to address."

Errr - I provided a reference to a whole essay explaining what I mean by Transcendental Truth. I don't see how that is an evasion.

Of course if you do not believe in the reality and importance of truth, then nothing I can say is likely to convince you.

I would merely point out that pretty much all great scientists up to and including Einstein did believe in Truth in the sense I refer to; and they used to write about it a lot.

My contention (following from Charles Murray) is that it is very unlikely that great work will be done by people who do not believe in Transcendental values (truth, beauty, virtue) and live in a society which has these beliefs.

In the absence of transcendental values (in situations like mainstream modern science and society in general) it is not impossible that there will be great accomplishment, just very unlikely hence uncommon.

(Of course, since Genius also requires a coincidence of extremely high intelligence, creativity, self-belief, luck and some other things - it is never going to be at all common. But genius is now not just uncommon but absent altogether.

Still, in my essay I was not really talking about Genius, but the ability to do revolutionary science - which is still to be found: I have at least two such revolutionary scientists as friends: David Healy (psychiatrist), Geoffrey Miller (evolutionary psychologist). It has been instructive to observe the career difficulties of such giant talents.)

Bee said...

Dear Prof. Charles,

The reason why I criticized your elaboration on truth was not that I don't believe in truth, but that it's a bad scientific style to talk about something that hasn't been properly defined. That however wasn't the central point I was making.

To make it easier on you, I was saying

a) it is highly doubtful low C is beneficial to self-driven research. You are disagreeing with yourself on this point. You want revolutionary scientists and a revolution needs persistence more than anything else.

b) you want to fiddle around with the academic system but haven't thought about the consequences. Any measure, no matter what, once fixed will sow the seeds of its own demise. People will work towards that measure and thereby decrease its usefulness. The only way to avoid that is to leave judgement to the community, and just make sure that judgement isn't skewed.

c) You should be consistent enough to leave room for a 'revolution' of your own construct.

I also think you are misunderstanding my intentions. I am quite sympathetic to what you say. I am just trying to point out what the consequences of a realization of your vision would be.

There is no higher power that can pick your 'revolutionary' and 'truth seeking' scientists. Simple measures like the ones you are suggesting are destined to fail exactly because any fixed criterion is inevitably destined to miss the unusual. The only thing we have to rely on is the ability of intelligent people to recognize intelligence. It's an adaptive and self-evolving process. Consequently, what we should be doing is to enable the possibility for scientists to act on this recognition and select those people, together with incentives to do so.

Best,

B.

Bee said...

oops, I meant Charlton...

bgc said...

Bee said: "a) it is highly doubtful low C is beneficial to self-driven research. You are disagreeing with yourself on this point. You want revolutionary scientists and a revolution needs persistence more than anything else."

Answer: it is not low C which is beneficial to revolutionary science but high creativity, and C is (studies suggest) negatively correlated with creativity. (This comes from Eysenck).

I point out that the level of C required to do 10-15 years of a modern doctorate then several 3 year chunks of postdoctoral work on other people's problems BEFORE being able/ willing to tackle one's own scientific problem; is *much* greater than the level of C required to work super-hard on one's own chosen scientific problem.

Modern scientists are selected to be the kind of person prepared to defer working on their own problem until - well - late thirties, early forties? Anyone who is prepared to do this will never get around to working flat out on their real problem - they will simply evolve from working on the problems of their employers to working on whatever problems have the best chance of being well funded.

To do what one cares passionately about does not require superhuman C. To spend a couple of decades in 'training' and continuous steady productivity *does* require superhuman C.

And superhuman levels of C virtually rules-out creativity.

Bee said: b) you want to fiddle around with the academic system but haven't thought about the consequences. Any measure, no matter what, once fixed will sow the seeds of its own demise. People will work towards that measure and thereby decrease its usefulness. The only way to avoid that is to leave judgement to the community, and just make sure that judgement isn't skewed.

Answer - well I am doing some analysis and suggesting what could be done if people wanted it. But I don't actually expect that this will be done, because science is now controlled by and almost entirely consists of very high C (but uncreative) 'normal' scientists.

It seems highly likely that real revolutionary science is a small scale elite activity, supported mainly by patrons - not politicians.

Bee said: c) You should be consistent enough to leave room for a 'revolution' of your own construct.

Answer - as above re patrons. I have tried to cover this in other articles, which I referenced.

Bee said: There is no higher power that can pick your 'revolutionary' and 'truth seeking' scientists. Simple measures like the ones you are suggesting are destined to fail exactly because any fixed criterion is inevitably destined to miss the unusual. The only thing we have to rely on is the ability of intelligent people to recognize intelligence. It's an adaptive and self-evolving process. Consequently, what we should be doing is to enable the possibility for scientists to act on this recognition and select those people, together with incentives to do so.

Answer - yes, well, in a way; but it is not just intelligence that needs to be recognized but also creativity.

This can be done, has been done, is being done - for example in classical music performance where there are traditions of great pianists, combining technical expertise with creativity. Each generation of great pianists is able to recognize and select the next.

This used to happen in science as well - but doesn't happen any more (except maybe/ probably in mathematics).

Now industrious mediocrity rules - with one generation of industrious mediocrats (high C/ low creativity, moderately high IQ) selects the next generation of industrious mediocrities.

Bee said...

Dear Dr. Charlton,

Thanks for your explanation.

I point out that the level of C required to do 10-15 years of a modern doctorate then several 3 year chunks of postdoctoral work on other people's problems BEFORE being able/ willing to tackle one's own scientific problem; is *much* greater than the level of C required to work super-hard on one's own chosen scientific problem.

I said repeatedly that I seriously doubt this is true, and it is unclear to me where your conviction comes from. I happen to work (about to leave) at an institute where postdocs are not bound to work on somebody else's projects, but are free to do their own stuff. Many of them can tell you a long story how hard it is to follow ones own intuition, to ignore other people's advice, to dismiss supervisor's suggestions, to work outside the mainstream, to work without external motivation, without appreciation, to make oneself an outsider by trying to be "revolutionary" while all the time knowing (high IQ and all) it is highly likely one will fail and end up burned out without having accomplished anything.

In contrast to this, you can chose to work on a topic that is well-embedded in an already existing and established research program, to be part of a self-supporting community, to be "normal," and accepted.

Do you really think it is the latter that requires higher C?

Modern scientists are selected to be the kind of person prepared to defer working on their own problem until - well - late thirties, early forties? Anyone who is prepared to do this will never get around to working flat out on their real problem - they will simply evolve from working on the problems of their employers to working on whatever problems have the best chance of being well funded.

That is entirely correct, and is very worrisome indeed. There are many ways however to address that problem that have nothing to with imposing centralized selection criteria, but in the first place to give people a way to be more independent earlier. I have written about that many times, you can eg read what I wrote here (see "some suggestions").

To do what one cares passionately about does not require superhuman C. To spend a couple of decades in 'training' and continuous steady productivity *does* require superhuman C.

The vast majority of people on this planet work in jobs they do not passionately care about. There is nothing superhuman about this. The only thing you need to realize is that you need a place to sleep and food to put into your face. You are totally neglecting the omnipresent, and very real, fear of failure, together with the feeling of "not belonging anywhere" that arises from trying to do something different.

I also think you are putting too much emphasis on creativity. Excuse me for being cynical about that, but I have possibly received too many very creative "theories of everything." And no, the people who send them are not stupid either. They just lack the persistence to first learn the basics of the field they aim to revolutionize.

Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Dr. Charlton,

It’s nice to find that you took note of this post and then further chose to take the time to defend your ideas here. However in my view, despite what appears to be a proposal with a logical basis, I don’t see it standing up to the true decider of truth in science and that being observation. In my own ealier critique of your thesis, I pointed out the wide variety of people, in terms of intelligence and character traits that we recognize as ground breaking scientists. I would ask then, if you could offer explanation as to why many of these people wouldn’t be the kind that would stand as to be chosen capable to have accomplished it none the less?

I will admit the primary reason I dismiss ideas such as you own, is that stereotyping, in of itself tends to destroy rather than to cultivate the best strength of humanity and that is found to be its very diversity. I would therefore submit, the best way to promote science, is to have it be perceived and realized as being something of valuable and then as Darwin so well demonstrated nature will do the rest. That is to say its more important to find what represents being success, then what it takes to achieve it. You might say that even nature itself doesn’t have the audacity to think it understands what that might be.

Best,

Phil

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Bee: “The only thing we have to rely on is the ability of intelligent people to recognize intelligence. It's an adaptive and self-evolving process. Consequently, what we should be doing is to enable the possibility for scientists to act on this recognition and select those people, together with incentives to do so.”

Nothing can be more wrong about genuine intelligence nature and progress than this attitude and nothing can be closer to the real cause of modern science demise than the actual domination of such attitude in the official science establishment. Even apart from deeper issues and using your own logic, how are you or anyone else would objectively determine who exactly those “intelligent people” provided with exclusive ability to “recognise intelligence” are? Ah, “self-organised process”, alias mafia, yeah, that's how exactly it's going on in practice: they say they're intelligent about each other and others are not intelligent enough to be able to provide any correct judgement about their (or any) intelligence. How convenient! Unfortunately, it's also the best, most efficient way to kill genuine intelligence and unfortunately it is realised now on a planetary scale. Any mass killing is a terrible crime, even with respect to animals. But what about massive killing of genuine human intelligence, so that human “organisms” remain alive, but without that once essential property, intelligence, the more and more resembling instead a soulless agglomeration of fighting, instinct-driven animals? Exactly as you put it, Bee:

“The vast majority of people on this planet work in jobs they do not passionately care about. There is nothing superhuman about this. The only thing you need to realize is that you need a place to sleep and food to put into your face. You are totally neglecting the omnipresent, and very real, fear of failure, together with the feeling of "not belonging anywhere" that arises from trying to do something different.”

What a perfect expression of a “normal” establishment scientist attitude, its real basis, isn't it, Bruce? Tell them about “transcendental” motivations after that...

Contrary to those self-organised mafia games of modern science, genuine intelligence uniquely appears and develops by objectively creative, real-problem-solving results of its activity, rather than by any “voting” or “top opinions”. Of course, solutions proposed should be consistent and comprehensive/unified, especially at the modern stage of empirically advanced, all-embracing knowledge, far from purely abstract “solutions” to separated abstract “models” showing immediately their limits beyond their very narrow, artificial frameworks. In other words, genuine intelligence is indistinguishable from genuine progress (easy to recognise, finally!), it could be considered as its universal “tool” but which evolves together with the object (and subject!) of its application.

Bee: “I also think you are putting too much emphasis on creativity. Excuse me for being cynical about that, but I have possibly received too many very creative "theories of everything." And no, the people who send them are not stupid either. They just lack the persistence to first learn the basics of the field they aim to revolutionize.”

Yeah, that's how it works, another good illustration! But who gave you that divine power to decide what is right or wrong, correct or incorrect? What about your own limitations that might just not permit you to understand a truly “revolutionary” theory? You didn't propose any consistent, problem-solving theory, of anything, let alone everything, did you? It's even an intrinsic property of especially correct revolutionary theories that they are not understood by the majority of “normal” scientists! Why killing creativity then, after all well-known scientific revolutions and their well known “structure”?! Especially when a new one is so evidently needed? No excuse for being cynical, not in this case...

Bee said...

Hi Andrei:

The sentence you quote above is, as Charlton also noticed, incorrect. It wasn't meant to be about intelligence but about that elusive "promise of being a revolutionary scientists" of which intelligence is only one factor. Apologies.

You need nobody to determine who the people are who pick the people who pick the people in the same sense that you need nobody to determine who determines who is sexy in a population. It's an emergent property that defines itself qua success. You just need to give selected people an opportunity to show their skills, and allow variations. And as I said many times before, you don't want a system entirely composed of 'revolutionary scientists' either. You only need a mechanism to reach the right balance. Best,

B.

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Bee: “You need nobody to determine who the people are who pick the people who pick the people in the same sense that you need nobody to determine who determines who is sexy in a population.”

In which population, in European population, in Chinese population? :) Even in this much easier case (with respect to science), you'd be surprised about the diversity of “sexy” preferences. But it's relatively easy with sex because with previous huge work of mother nature, it is relatively easy to have children (= “creative result”) with healthy sex, while in science today you have your “sexy” choice of officially “best” scientists in so many technically really best, luxuriously supported and well-organised places, both “ordinary” departments and dedicated “advanced” institutions, but without any real progress for so many decades (no desired and promised “children” of real problem solution)! It's total, well-established sterility, accompanied by so esoteric perversity that sexual examples fail completely the comparison. After which you're saying, innocently:

“It's an emergent property that defines itself qua success. You just need to give selected people an opportunity to show their skills, and allow variations.”

As if you don’t know that all of it has already been so ambitiously, so luxuriously realised and the result is evident: NO SUCCESS (including the decade-old activity of Perimeter Institute, among many others, much older ones, whose adherents also had greatest possible chances to show all their abilities before, usually for many years!). It's evident that all “critical periods” are off long ago (compare with explosive development at the beginning and in the middle of the last century). How many centuries of wasted opportunities are needed to understand that it's a failure? We just don't have them any more, not even decades. And then, if it's true and it's but a pompously supported but evident failure, rather then success, what happens then, in your mechanism of science development? Who'll fire the self-selected mediocrity from its top positions and give a chance to real, so much needed progress, even if its quite plausible creators are here, with all the desired, variously confirmed problem solutions, but eliminated and blocked by that dominating “selection of the worst”?

“You only need a mechanism to reach the right balance.”

Yeah, a “mechanism” called freedom, the true one (e.g. fair competition), which is not there at all in today's science totalitarian “self-estimate” practices. The “balance” is therefore violated to the maximum possible degree, in favour of zero creation and dominating nothingness, everywhere.

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Bruce, whereas I basically agree with your negative estimates of today's official science establishment, you may be jumping too easily to extreme pessimism about any science progress perspective, somewhat against your own “transcendental” attitude. If “ordinary” ways are jammed, while progress is still highly needed, it's just the case to find a more special, “transcendental” problem solution. After all, you say it yourself:

“It seems highly likely that real revolutionary science is a small scale elite activity, supported mainly by patrons - not politicians.”

Indeed, “small scale” in organisation doesn't mean small scale of creation, as well as huge scale of official science organisation and expenses means zero scale of real problem solution. And some try those “transcendental” solutions, in their unreduced, non-imitative version (contrary to officially “advanced” institutes of only verbally disguised “normal” establishment science). There is, for example, your compatriot Don Braben and his Blue Sky Research initiative that even used to be quite successful not so long ago. You also have a diversity of all kind of knowledge-oriented “royal institutions” and foundations guided by people explicitly insisting on novelty in science. Catch them, bite them, hit them, until they become really, practically transcendental and provide support to creative science. I also think that very close, world-wide interactivity between professional participants and all supporters of truly creative science is essential for any practical success. I would even add that after a big number of overseas imitations of such enterprise only compromising the idea, we would especially need genuine version realisation(s) in Europe (with very few real attempts anyway) that would be more probable in cases where practical and intellectual conditions are more ready than elsewhere (even though everything transcendental tends to be unpredictable!). Anyway, stay in touch: it's only due to this C-driven criticism of your views here (merci, madame!) that I have learnt about your activity, while a large number of other efforts in that direction are known (see e.g. details and references in my recent article).

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

Also forgetting to tell you, Bee, in connection to the title of Bruce's article and your post, how not to notice that today's science has indeed become so evidently, so overwhelmingly dull, uninteresting, boring, while in reality science is a highly creative but in addition practically important and therefore extremely exciting activity, in any its usual state? But today, precisely, it's not “sexy” any more, not popular among young generations, and it's almost socially “shameful” (or at least “awkward”) to be a fundamental science professional today. No need to look for statistics, it's evident, and it's also true for all these allegedly “exciting” and “new” initiatives of post-modern “interdisciplinary” story-tellers like Santa-Fe, or Perimeter, or so many others. No interest, sorry, and it's already “decided”, irreversibly and at all levels. So talking after that about some future “expectations” becomes grotesque: it's just inertia of the failing but unconditionally maintained establishment. An explicitly specified, qualitatively greater change is badly needed in order to restart real, really interesting science development. Lying general, unspecified promises and their wasted billions of the falling establishment cannot do that, they just contribute to the opposite effect. Knowledge development and money-changing practices are not directly compatible and when the latter replaces the former, a catastrophe is guaranteed (I wonder if it may be true not only with respect to science).

Bee said...

Andrei: You still don't understand it. Let me try it once again. Neither you nor I nor Bruce has any way to tell whether or not the present system is more or less successful than possibly could be. Your repetition of your believe the academic system may be not as successful as it could is merely an expression of your opinion, and please excuse me for not wanting to promote your opinion as a defining criterion. Or Bruce's opinion, or Lee's opinion. Not even my own opinion for that matter. What I say is the best thing we can do is rely on everybody's desire for progress. We all might have a different idea for what's the right thing to do. The problem with the present system is that it streamlines people into specific mode of thinking due to external pressures, thus the resulting plurality is reduced. That's the problem. Yes, you can call that freedom if you like.

Your elaboration on the dullness of science again misses the point that yours is a subjective assessment of the situation and thus not even worth disagreeing on. Best,

B.

Plato said...

So easily passed over without Scientific credentials, eh?:)

Essentially, what is needed is that the social system of science should be staffed by devoted truth-seekers and that transcendental truth should be (to adapt Murray’s quote) a live presence in the culture of science such that scientific leaders compete to come closer to the ideal of truth that captivates them. Once such a system is established, then science should grow by recruitment of similar personnel – by a kind of ‘apostolic succession’ in which genuine truth-seekers recognize others sharing their own motivations. So science depends on a restoration of the truth-seeking apostolic succession of scientists.Transcendental truth in science

I think Phil and I might be close here to what you are proposing and while "philosophical" in recognition, it was an attempt in my view of arriving at such a conclusion about Truth, the Good and Transcendental thinking.

Phil presented Pirsig to me and I recognized Pirsig's journey for a truth which already existed in my summation with regard to perceptions and understanding of that journey, although Pirsig, was already diagnosed himself.

Pirsig's examination of the discourse on Rhetoric was another example of him becoming more then the observer, but of the deep play that his personality endeavoured to strive for in his own perfection and truth seeking. A careful analysis of his journey, as told in the story. The journey while reflective in his book Zen and th Art of Motorcycle maintenance was about transcending, along with his son, to realize what the truth was about his life and all that he had gone through.

Artistically such recognitions are needed as you suggest as prevailing the course set out by let's say a scientist called Penrose and his son might be the work of an Escher to transcend. You see?

You might then understand this ideal to exist, that it is only by becoming aware "that such things [already] exist" and that it is only by remembering( our deep involvement with the times) that we gain access too, what will already and eventually to be discovered.

For this then I would as I did for Phil present the Aristotelean arche for consideration.

Bee's mention of the PI institutes format is a good case in point about "cultivation of the creative facets of endeavours" that allow science to move forward under these "potentials" of Truth Seeking. A Whiteboard for allowing another to interject in a space provided by another scientist? You see?

It would seem more in tune I think with the "optimism of society" that such a discourse presented on Truth and truth seeking can be a "foundational ideal" with regards "to all" in their pursuit, other then, just citizens of that society who call themself scientist. You see?

You've already allotted such scientist by name to a "mere function of being" as residents of society, along with the rest of us.:)

Best,

Bee said...

Hi Plato,

I largely agree with you, and as I said before I am even sympathetic to Charlton's idea. What I am suggesting is the practical 'how to.' What I am saying is that the 'how to' Charlton proposes is not a solution. Best,

B.

Plato said...

Hi Bee,

I think to understand his point one has to examine the place where the "limitations of science" is recognized and what he is saying is essentially truth seeking has a predetermined method by way of, in which to foster this, yet, he may not know how.

Dennis William Siahou Sciama FRS (November 18, 1926–December 18, 1999) was a British physicist who, through his own work and that of his students, played a major role in developing British physics after the Second World War.

Sciama also strongly influenced Roger Penrose, who dedicated his The Road to Reality to Sciama's memory. The 1960s group he led in Cambridge (which included Ellis, Hawking, Rees, and Carter), has proved of lasting influence.


Apostolic references for sure by way of the teachers and their progeny. John Archibald Wheeler and Kip Thorne?

But there had to be something "unsettling in society" Kuhn recognized it, in order for artistic expression to pounce upon "scientific doctrine" in order to push perspective further, and thusly, you come to the likes of Dali and Escher pushing perspective.

Imagine historical Cubism artistically correlated with Quantum Gravity?

Art Mirrors Physics Mirrors Art, by Stephen G. Brush

Arthur Miller addresses an important question: What was the connection, if any, between the simultaneous appearance of modern physics and modern art at the beginning of the 20th century? He has chosen to answer it by investigating in parallel biographies the pioneering works of the leaders of the two fields, Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso. His brilliant book, Einstein, Picasso, offers the best explanation I have seen for the apparently independent discoveries of cubism and relativity as parts of a larger cultural transformation. He sees both as being focused on the nature of space and on the relation between perception and reality.

The suggestion that some connection exists between cubism and relativity, both of which appeared around 1905, is not new. But it has been made mostly by art critics who saw it as a simple causal connection: Einstein's theory influenced Picasso's painting. This idea failed for lack of plausible evidence. Miller sees the connection as being less direct: both Einstein and Picasso were influenced by the same European culture, in which speculations about four-dimensional geometry and practical problems of synchronizing clocks were widely discussed.

The French mathematician Henri Poincaré provided inspiration for both Einstein and Picasso. Einstein read Poincaré's Science and Hypothesis (French edition 1902, German translation 1904) and discussed it with his friends in Bern. He might also have read Poincaré's 1898 article on the measurement of time, in which the synchronization of clocks was discussed--a topic of professional interest to Einstein as a patent examiner. Picasso learned about Science and Hypothesis indirectly through Maurice Princet, an insurance actuary who explained the new geometry to Picasso and his friends in Paris. At that time there was considerable popular fascination with the idea of a fourth spatial dimension, thought by some to be the home of spirits, conceived by others as an "astral plane" where one can see all sides of an object at once. The British novelist H. G. Wells caused a sensation with his book The Time Machine (1895, French translation in a popular magazine 1898-99), where the fourth dimension was time, not space.


Best,

Plato said...

Did Picasso fail?

Cubist Art: Picasso's painting 'Portrait of Dora Maar'

Cubist art revolted against the restrictions that perspective imposed. Picasso's art shows a clear rejection of the perspective, with women's faces viewed simultaneously from several angles. Picasso's paintings show multiple perspectives, as though they were painted by someone from the 4th dimension, able to see all perspectives simultaneously.

So a "relativistic interpretation" is merely confining from a much larger perspective:)

Best,

Plato said...

Sorry some links are now defunct so I can only give quotes for consideration.

Penrose's Influence on Escher

During the later half of the 1950’s, Maurits Cornelius Escher received a letter from Lionel and Roger Penrose. This letter consisted of a report by the father and son team that focused on impossible figures. By this time, Escher had begun exploring impossible worlds. He had recently produced the lithograph Belvedere based on the “rib-cube,” an impossible cuboid named by Escher (Teuber 161). However, the letter by the Penroses, which would later appear in the British Journal of Psychology, enlightened Escher to two new impossible objects; the Penrose triangle and the Penrose stairs. With these figures, Escher went on to create further impossible worlds that break the laws of three-dimensional space, mystify one’s mind, and give a window to the artist heart.

Arun said...

I'm not sure Charles Murray is any kind of practitioner of truth-seeking. The Bell Curve is littered with atrocities in that regard.

The "transcendental truth" simply needs to be replaced by "applicability to Nature/reality" and this whole complaint, quoted below, vanishes.

"The lack of any anchor of practice to transcendental truth has rendered many areas of modern science a kind of ‘glass bead game’ [4], disciplines that are free-spinning cogs with little or no explanatory, predictive or manipulative connection with the natural world. By its ultimate reliance on professional evaluations (various different versions of peer review applied to research funding, publication, prizes, promotions, etc. [5]) some branches of modern science have become structurally indistinguishable from academic literary criticism: arcane, rigorous, sometimes brilliant – but ultimately a fashion-driven pastime of ringing variations for the sake of career advancement."

Arun said...

It was possible, even till 1950, for Einstein to read all important papers in physics. But since then, science advances on such a broad front, and in such specialization that it is not possible any more. In performing his analysis till only 1950, Murray completely ignores the hugely increased volume of research.

Just to take an example, a trivial one, just in the last few years, applied scientists have figured out ways to double the efficiency of the venerable incandescent lamp. If it is trivial, why wasn't it done before? If it is not deep, what could be deeper than enhancing the prospects of human survival by reducing our energy use? What is dull and unexciting about this result?

Plato said...

Innuendos by Arun? So I thought to have a look.

Mainstream Science on Intelligence

The Bell Curve controversy prompted a similar if more detailed report by a task force of the American Psychological Association, titled "Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns"[3] explicating what the mainstream association of psychologists have to say about the subject of intelligence.

I am not sure but this to me had faint sounds of like issues that Larry Summers had before he was replaced at Harvard? Wild speculation here for sure?

Best,

Plato said...

I should clarify on Larry Summers a bit here. Not to be judgemental or to create discord, but to show how close "these issues sound" on the idea of intelligence and how socially these can be interpreted and were by issue of the non confidence vote administered.

Best,

bgc said...

I see that Arun and (maybe) Plato are having a go at The Bell Curve. I presume that they know nothing about this subject. That is no disgrace - I was ignorant too, until about 3 years ago (and I am working in psychology, so lacked any real excuse).

However people can learn about IQ quite easily if they want to, without even leaving their computer terminals - it would only take a couple of hours.

Start with the reference Plato gave "Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns" then move onto the personal web pages of Linda Gottfredson at Delaware where there are dozens of papers.

The book Intelligence: a very short introduction, by Ian Deary is also extremely good.

Mackintosh, Lynn, Jensen, Eysenck - all are good. Geoffrey Miller (see his web pages at U New Mexico) is cutting edge. Satoshi Kanazawa (LSE) has many stimulating ideas. Also Lars Pencke at Edinburgh is very solid. But I would skip James Flynn as he is pretty confused.

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arun said...

BGC,

I'm not going to turn this comments column into a debate about the Bell Curve. Just to let you know that I spent a lot of effort chasing down their citations and reading them when the book was published. Not this google kind of thing. Anyone who thinks that that book is a pursuit of transcendental truth is sadly mistaken.

The other thing is that the nature of science has changed tremendously, even since 1950. Now experimental apparatus can cost even billions of dollars to create and operate. Murray's study as reported by you does not address that. Another lack of pursuit of transcendental truth, it seems to me.

I suppose the first triple Axel (spelling) was a big innovation for ice skating; but when every competitor is able to do it, it becomes "dull". The situation in science may be that the kind of intellectual advances that used to make news have now become commonplace. So you're looking for a four-Axel leap, and not finding it, and thinking something is wrong with science. Not so.

-Arun


-Arun

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Plato,

I think what is often missed about the Bell curve is to ask, why the distribution exists as it does and what it is telling us about how are species has developed and further how it should continue. I find these the much more interesting and relevant questions, then any attempt to exploit it for the reason of assessing any individual’s ability as being of advantage. The common way this is viewed I would say is skewed somewhat, in imagining it’s worse to be at the back of the slope then the front. Yet what’s missed so often as like anything that’s that demonstrates symmetry are the commonalities shared, rather than the differences to be found.

For instance those which are found within this graph to be profoundly handicapped and those that are extremely gifted often share similar problems of circumstance. The most often missed of these is how each is viewed by the bulk in the curve and how they find themselves being unable to relate to the same. You could say the greatest commonality they share is the isolation they often find themselves in, when it comes to those of the majority and very similar reasons being each is not largely understood by the group in the main, with both left often unappreciated and sometimes even feared. One has to wonder sometimes, what’s the difference between being considered a mindless killer and a evil genius for instance, when it comes those found in the norm; or for that matter a addled idiot or an absent minded professor.

So the way I look at it, is if there is careful attention to be paid to any of this, is to first ask how and why the curve has formed and what does that tell us about ourselves as a species in terms of what is being selected for? That is in this instance to ask, what’s being served by what Bee refers to as that invisible hand. I guess what i’m saying, is before we tinker with what constitutes to be a good cake, we should decide first why nature doesn’t make some of them particularly frequently. The caution I’m expressing is to suggest, that until we have a much better understanding of this, it’s a little premature to decide what the purpose of each are and the importance or utility they serve in the overall scheme of things. I’ve then often asked if it is actually true to say, that only fools rush in where wise men never tread.

Best,

Phil

Plato said...

Hi Phil,

Yes thanks on the elaboration here as to the Bell Curve(we've spoken before on the succession of Bell himself which I know has great meaning to you).

IN my view at it's basis it was statistically motivated as you seem to be saying and as I read through the articles as Bruce mentions to do so and Google availability made some understanding based on experimental constructs given to identify components of the study.

The statistical sense of Maxwell distribution can be demonstrated with the aid of Galton board which consists of the wood board with many nails as shown in animation. Above the board the funnel is situated in which the particles of the sand or corns can be poured. If we drop one particle into this funnel, then it will fall colliding many nails and will deviate from the center of the board by chaotic way. If we pour the particles continuously, then the most of them will agglomerate in the center of the board and some amount will appear apart the center.

Not as advanced as Arun for sure as to the outcome of a socially motivated assessment embedded within socially acceptable and psychological differences of opinion. So it is between these two groups of psychologists, but more to the understanding that Bruce administers his opinion based on this outcome.

And yes Phil awareness to the words of caution of where one treads.

Best,

Zephir said...

Unfortunatelly, I must agree with most insights of prof. Charlton. Contemporary scientists are superficial and overspecialized in sense of descriptive approach based on positivism. The cannot see the most trivial connections of reality, what's worse: they even refute to see them!
Would Galileo pass peer-review today?
Are we getting dumber?
Is science like democracy?

Zephir said...

A crystalline example of average scientist's thinking...