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The pursuit of ignorance  

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

http://www.ted.com/talks/stuart_firestein_the_pursuit_of_ignorance.html

 

Has anyone watched it ?  :beyersmile:

post #2 of 28

Yeah,

to those who judge the video by its title, this is less provocative: The pursuit of new questions that lead to knowledge.

 

 

The problem is that he defines ignorance in a "noble" way, that has nothing to do with the (willful) ignorance we see in audio and other areas.

 

 

The beginning about science vs. farting doesn't make sense to me. He's speaking a lot but is saying very little, and that little doesn't make sense, to me anyway.

Of course scientific research is not as simple as do a) then b) then c) and the problem is solved, never was, never will be.

 

 

This reminds me of the anti-science stuff some guys are posting. The thing is, what's more likely to happen if someone doesn't understand science:

a) admit that he/she doesn't understand science, or

b) say that science is stupid.

 

Similarly, when beliefs conflict with measurements:

a) admit that he/she could be wrong, be open-minded, ask for explanations, or

b) say that measurements are stupid and dismiss them.


Edited by xnor - 9/25/13 at 12:21pm
post #3 of 28

He also has a book out.  "Ignorance:How it drives science".  Book is pretty good though not completely satisfying to me.  I expected more development of his ideas.

 

But yes, pretty interesting.  What we don't know leaves room for discovery.  So that is what scientists are looking for: places to make discoveries, to add to our knowledge, to figure out new things.  A known proven thing isn't any fun to a scientist with this outlook.

post #4 of 28

I guess it's a very basic idea and one that is probably older than science itself: knowing everything would mean there are no unanswered questions left to ask.

 

Krauss said it in 2011, Feynman in 1966, ... the list probably goes back to the first philosophers.


Edited by xnor - 9/25/13 at 4:51pm
post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio-Omega View Post
 

http://www.ted.com/talks/stuart_firestein_the_pursuit_of_ignorance.html

 

Has anyone watched it ?  :beyersmile:

 

very interesting, and educative. I liked it a lot. I shall get the book. :beerchug:

post #6 of 28

As confirmed by some reviews it is "easy to read, even for the layman", short, aimed at nonscientists. That's also the main objections to it, it's too short and maybe too shallow.

 

What I like however is that he addresses the problem of authority, opinion, bias and the importance of unbiased observations and measurements. We impose obstacles to advancing knowledge on ourselves through confirmation bias, for example:

- read cable X makes a difference.

- hear a difference with cable X in a non DBT (already biased).

- favor other (biased) reviews that confirm my beliefs.

- dismiss proper blind tests, measurements, science in general ..

 

Yeah please get the book, Lenni! :beerchug:

 

 

 

 

Now on to a different thing. What I never liked is the idea that figuring something out somehow creates bigger knowledge gaps. What if knowledge is of limited quantity in our universe? Figuring something out wouldn't create gaps but close them.

Think of all possible knowledge like an enormous cave system. Whenever we advance to the next branching (gain knowledge up to that point) we of course uncover at least 2 new ways which were unknown before, but we didn't create them.


Edited by xnor - 9/26/13 at 7:29am
post #7 of 28

To quote G'Kar (Babylon 5):

 

Quote:
 If I take a lamp and shine it toward the wall, a bright spot will appear on the wall. The lamp is our search for truth, for understanding. Too often, we assume that the light on the wall is God, but the light is not the goal of the search, it is the result of the search. The more intense the search, the brighter the light on the wall. The brighter the light on the wall, the greater the sense of revelation upon seeing it. Similarly, someone who does not search – who does not bring a lantern – sees nothing. What we perceive as God is the by-product of our search for God. It may simply be an appreciation of the light… pure and unblemished… not understanding that it comes from us. Sometimes we stand in front of the light and assume that we are the center of the universe – God looks astonishingly like we do – or we turn to look at our shadow and assume that all is darkness. If we allow ourselves to get in the way, we defeat the purpose, which is to use the light of our search to illuminate the wall in all its beauty and in all its flaws; and in so doing, better understand the world around us.

 

Accepting that we don't know is more important than what we know.

 

The search for understanding drives the 'intuition' that guides scientific research. That said, the focus of that search is dependent on the focus of the intuition. The more sure we are of ourselves, the more focused this 'hunch' will be. As mentioned in the quote, the wall is pretty big, and filled with alternate possibilities that will never get exposed if our focus is too narrow.

 

Notice that the quote doesn't talk about 'God' as the religious being. Its more like the feeling of revelation when we get to expose a tiny gear from the hidden machine that drives the universe.

 

Reason and Logic are more important than ever in our society today, because we've moved past the primitive science of physical and direct observation. We need to approach things from an open, yet logical mind, because we can't use our senses to detect what we wish to see. There's a fundamental bias our senses impose on us, and that bias can only be removed by reason and logic because they're objective. Sensors objectively measure phenomenon the human senses can't even get the slightest hint of. For instance, a science relying on the senses could never, in a million years, reveal the Higgs boson.

 

Seeing the current state of the world saddens me. I hope we can get rid of our reptilian brain soon.

 

Which brings up the topic of cables. Enough said.


Edited by proton007 - 9/27/13 at 1:02am
post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 

May be the human senses are not meant for revealing the Higgs boson.  We have to pick the right tool for the right job.  :D

post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio-Omega View Post
 

May be the human senses are not meant for revealing the Higgs boson.  We have to pick the right tool for the right job.  :D

 

The boson is an excitation in the Higgs field...you need a whole lot of energy to get this excitation to propagate itself as a boson as witnessed in the LHC. So for accuracy sake, I'd say revealing the "Higgs field".:o 

 

Here are a three brilliant videos wrt to the Higgs Field and corresponding boson:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Uh5mTxRQcg

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASRpIym_jFM

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6guXMfg88Z8


Edited by MacedonianHero - 9/28/13 at 5:06pm
post #10 of 28

Similarly, the eye is not the right tool for detecting differences in oscillating air pressure (sound).

 

... despite that some people will tell you that they can only hear a difference if they can see what they are listening to. It is ironic that I've seen the same people use words like "cloth-eared" when others couldn't hear differences in proper, bias-free listening tests.

post #11 of 28

could it be that human beings are clueless robots - about what they are, where they are, what they are doing, and where they are going? 

 

intelligent enough so to interact within the environment they find themselves in, but other than that completely oblivious, and probably even incapable of understanding, the bigger picture.

 

and that's probably how it's designed to be.

 

carry on...:biggrin:

post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenni View Post
 

could it be that human beings are clueless robots - about what they are, where they are, what they are doing, and where they are going? 

 

intelligent enough so to interact within the environment they find themselves in, but other than that completely oblivious, and probably even incapable of understanding, the bigger picture.

 

and that's probably how it's designed to be.

 

carry on...:biggrin:

 

Well, there's a difference between not being able to know, and not wanting to know.

 

Most of us fall in the latter category. The problem is that the enlightened ones rarely hold office, and leave the ignorant a**holes to make decisions.

 

After the government shutdown, I'm losing hope. Fast. Maybe we're just meant to kill each other to extinction.


Edited by proton007 - 10/1/13 at 5:49pm
post #13 of 28

Well yeah, everyone is ignorant in some way or areas. Being ignorant just means being unaware of something, so the word per se is not pejorative even if it is commonly used as such (as a short for "willfully ignorant").

 

But there's a difference between not being interested in an area and rejecting evidence in an area because it conflicts with personal belief - true willful ignorance.

Willful ignorance is most certainly driven by confirmation bias and we know that one is strong in audio circles.

 

There's also this uncomfortable feeling we all know - cognitive dissonance. You buy something, think it's great, but then you stumble upon a lot of negative reviews or measurements.

The problem is that the brain prefers to choose the way of least resistance, so you might actually come up with simple excuses instead of accepting the evidence, reality. What follows is this: "If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one's belief, the dissonance can result in restoring consonance through misperception, rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade others." That's why you can find forums (groups of people) for many crazy beliefs.

 

And there's also this double standard: on the one hand measurements or listening tests need to be prepared, executed, documented very thoroughly and detailed and even then there are people dismissing them. If, on the other hand, some random guy sat down, took a listen, and think he heard some difference even a simple review is wholeheartedly accepted. Of course, it fits in so greatly with confirmation bias, especially if you already own the same or a similar components.

 

 

Luckily, most people are open-minded and eventually accept the evidence.


Edited by xnor - 10/1/13 at 6:57pm
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post
 

Luckily, most people are open-minded and eventually accept the evidence.

 

I wouldn't jump to the conclusion so easily.  Accepting evidence and changing belief has less to do with the people themselves, its the repercussion of uprooting established belief systems that scares them the most.

The issue at hand is that most of us are comfortable with the notion that we know. It can be anything that fills that gap, there are many contenders in this arena.

 

Our mind is a dangerous (yet wonderous) amalgam of imagination and rationality.  Ideas spurt from imagination and and accepting them doesn't necessarily involve a rationality check. Thats an ability we need to cultivate.


Edited by proton007 - 10/1/13 at 8:16pm
post #15 of 28

Well, I'm optimistic. ;)

 

On the realistic side, it may take a few generations until reason prevails, sure. The question is whether new woo woo claims are being accepted faster than being rejected.

 

 

For example, there are more and more cable manufacturers that make use of quantum woo woo to try to justify their inability to back up the claims they make. The claims are getting more ridiculous so they also need more ridiculous justifications.

That should shy away pretty much anyone who possesses even just a tiny bit of reason.


Edited by xnor - 10/2/13 at 5:20am
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