Re: Pizza Example

From: Eric Kaun <>
Date: Tue, 06 Apr 2004 15:16:46 GMT
Message-ID: <yRzcc.51347$>

"Anthony W. Youngman" <> wrote in message
> Somebody gave me a wonderful quote recently. "Logic and mathematics give
> you a consistent model. Academicians have an unfortunate tendency to
> confuse consistency with truth."

It's an interesting quote, but I'm not so confused. Fine - consistency isn't truth, and let's assume that it doesn't even imply truth. How would you judge the "truth" of a model? Such doesn't even make sense, really. Models are useful or not. Consistency is one of the best measures we have, but that doesn't mean it's perfect. Out of curiosity, how do you judge a model?

This argument is tired: "Someone has a model. Models aren't truth. Therefore, I can use any model I like." Which is true in a degenerate sense, but also useless.

> As for you being worried if you could understand engineers or doctors -
> I'm sorry, but I don't see why I should assume that other people are
> better than me.

Hmmm. In other words, you assume that you, your significant other, or your garbageman are equally adept at performing a quintuple bypass, or perhaps walking a tightrope 20 stories up on a windy day or cleaning a nuclear reactor?

You should assume people are better than you because they are; not on a single all-encompassing nonsensical "person-goodness" axis, but rather on axes of specific abilities.

> If I can't understand (at least superficially)

And that's the key: there are nuances in every field that are very difficult to acquire without years of experience.

> what
> they're doing, then I conclude they are either crap at explaining
> themselves or, worse, they don't understand themselves.

Frequently the former, sometimes the latter, but sometimes simply a lack of verbal ability that wouldn't necessarily lead me to assume they don't understand what they're doing. I think you need some additional measures. Anti-intellectualism is a poor foil for intellectual elitism.

> And I'm sorry if
> I'm cynical, but I've had enough experience of various professions (and
> from my own research) to know that people are very good seeing what they
> want, and not seeing what they don't want. I don't trust "experts". Far
> too many of them wear blinkers :-(

Of course you trust experts; you use products every day that were theorized, designed, and built by them. If you really didn't trust experts you certainly wouldn't be using this Infernal Machine. Yes, people see what they want - are you that different? I'd say blinker-wearing is just as true of those who do what's most obvious and immediate; the straightforward answer isn't always the right one.

  • erk
Received on Tue Apr 06 2004 - 17:16:46 CEST

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