Showing posts from January, 2020

Making science too simple

At LSE, one of my lectures remarked, “The problem with Popper and Hempel is they try to make things too simple.” In particular, the idea of a decisive experiment that conclusively falsifies a theory does not do justice to the complexity of what actually goes on in scientific research. There are almost always multiple ways that one can sensibly take some experimental result. For instance, I am reading The Eighth Day of Creation at present. The author describes how, in 1944, Oswald Avery and colleagues published a paper that offered evidence that the carrier of genetic information was a nucleic acid. The author himself considers the paper to of offered “rigorous proof“ that this was the case, but when he talks to other scientists, it becomes clear that the author is mistaken. at the time of the experiment, the reigning theory held that nucleic acid‘s were too simple to carry the genetic information. Given this, Max Delbrück tells him there were at least three reasonable ways to interpre

Walker Percy and me

I had been told to read Walker Percy, by people I respect, for some time. Well, I just finished Lost in the Cosmos , which contains a 40-page semiotic interlude. And what do you know? He lists his main influences as Susanne Langer , Ernst Cassirer , C.S. Peirce , and Ferdinand de Saussure , by whom I have, respectively, 6, 4, 4, and 1 book(s) on my shelves. And twice in the book he mentions the Grateful Dead. Curious, I wondered was there some known connection between Percy and the Dead? I googled and came up with this . Hmm, so Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter read a lot of Percy. Well, all of this should prove to be interesting!

Perpetuating economic nonsense

Somebody produces YouTube videos examining medieval weapons and armor. You can easily find the link yourself. This fellow was discussing cross bows versus long bows with some historian. Their puzzle was why crossbow archers were paid more than longbow archers, despite the (supposedly) better performance of the longbow archers. The video producer concluded “it’s because the crossbow archers’ equipment was more expensive.” Sigh. This fellow produces videos for Internet consumption. Would he really pay me more to host his videos, with the exact same quality, reach, download speed, etc., simply because I told him that the computer I was using to host his videos was way more expensive than the one that YouTube uses?