Re: Performance vs. Mind

From: Reed Konsler (
Date: Fri 16 May 2003 - 07:43:17 GMT

  • Next message: Reed Konsler: "Re: Where's Meme?"

    > I find memes in the mind to be a more intuitive
    >way of thinking about memes. It's easier to explain to people. It's not
    >TRUE. But then, no model is true.


    "In science, thinking in terms of black and white is usually not very expedient."

    I get the feeling you are patting me on the head while saying this. I agree with your sentiment entirely. I'm a pretty well educated and introspective scientist. So, yes, yes, and yes.

    I can't help, though, the Devil's advocate...

    First, qualitative bi-polar analysis is "very expedient." I think what you mean to say is "not very effective."

    Second, qualitative bi-polar analysis is often very effective *becuase* it's very expedient. For instance: As a chemist I would do all kinds of "spot tests". Does my pH indicator turn red or blue? Does my Anisaldehyde indicate the presence of a free amine on my TLC plate? Does the NMR of my sample show the presence of an aromatic hydrogen? Does the GC trace of my product show contamination with residual solvent?

    In every case I could have quantified or expanded the analysis from (either/or). But, it would have been a waste of time given the information I needed.

    Simple models are not necessarily bad models. Intuitive models are not neccesarily bad models. The problem with models in not in them, but in the flexibility of choice. Each model is a meme-complex and there is a meta-meme-complex [model-choice] that chooses between them. I would say that it is a well developed [model-choice] that allows the most effective and efficient descisions.

    As you point out below, you don't invoke calculus to make change for a dollar.


    "...while no model really is true in the purely black and white sense some models are more true than others if you are willing to allow all those glorious shades of gray. The trick, or art if you like, relevant in science is to find models that give you maximum amounts of truth content (in the least amount of effort)."

    Sure. But I would add:

    1) Models can only be evaluated within a certian context.

    2) Good models in one context can be quite poor in others.

    3) Sometimes, a good model in one context contradicts a good model in another.

    4) It's not the best strategy to throw away a good model becuase it is inconsistent with another good model.

    5) Often effective models are not "true". If my wife asks me "does this make me look fat?" I choose my response based on what outcome I desire, not some abstract concept of what is "true."

    5) Context includes the other ideas, knowlwedge, and models in a persons mind and the actual physical substrate of the brain, not just environment (perhaps it would be better to say these things are part of the environement).

    So (whew!) to quote:

    > I find memes in the mind to be a more intuitive
    > way of thinking about memes. It's easier to explain to people. It's not
    > TRUE. But then, no model is true.

    I don't think saying that that makes me sound like a simpleton.



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