#shanghai #urban #demolition
One so often hears those moaning about the stresses and ridiculousness of social and professional life, especially as the ability to call oneself a teenager disappears. It easily seems like some of the most petty complaining as is humanly possible, in the face of the oft-cited “grand scheme of things”. And one would find it hard pressed to argue with that. Yet caught up in the moment of such things, reality (or perceived reality, at the very least) seems anything but trivial.
I have found:
One finds it far more difficult to judge someone’s “content of their character”, indeed much harder than one would initially think. Yes I realize the virtually insulting nature of quoting Dr. Martin Luther King in reference to such utterly pointless matters, but I will let that sentence stand.
One finds it far more difficult to decipher what is genuine and what is insincere, what is worthwhile and what is superfluous, what has real depth and what is superficial. This by far can be the most frustrating thing of all.
Lastly, one finds it far more difficult to see into the future – of course, I do not mean in some sort of Nostradamus or ‘I can predict tomorrow’s equity markets’ type fashion. Instead, I refer to a) on a personal level, understanding what tomorrow (and next year, etc.) will bring from those around you, and b) on a professional level, what goals lie ahead and what must be done to achieve them.
I won’t be so bold or indeed so arrogant as to claim any of these were at one point easy. To deny they were once, at a very minimum, far easier however would be lying. In the extreme, they at least once seemed possible, though perhaps no longer. I submit that in a mere couple of years, the most ridiculous thing of all may be this post and its contained complaints. But right now, sitting in this not-so-comfortable chair at 3 AM before finals period of second-year undergraduate university, I truly question whether that day will ever be while paradoxically hoping for its speedy arrival.
A catchy, energetic, “I’m feeling fricken awesome” song is always much appreciated, and this more than fits the bill.
#symmetrical #mirror #subway #station #ttc #waiting
R: Religious faith is only a delusion if you can't distinguish between faith and reason. The two are different. Peter Hitchens, the religious brother of Christopher, happily concedes that he doesn't "know" God exists--he believes it. That's an intellectually coherent position.
T: From the DSM-IV-TR: "A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary." Granted the almost everybody else believes hasn't happened just yet, but the rest seems to fit the bill quite well. There is no evidence to suggest a god exists and huge portions of what is asserted in the texts is utterly contradictory and doesn't stack to any form of reasonable analysis
R: You don't understand what I'm saying. Intelligent religious people aren't trying to prove any of what they believe, so the fact that there's no evidence for it is irrelevant. The problem is the standard that you're trying to apply. More broadly, let's not be too dismissive of belief. If you convince yourself that everything is either true or false, you're well on your way to any number of totalitarian ideologies. Economics, for example, isn't a science. There are no answers, just opinions.
J: Matt Saccaro is one of the few tc writers worth reading.
J: T, that DSM reference was a joke, right?
R: Not likely.
R: T pretends to be a Sam Harris-style totalitarian on Facebook.
J: Yes, but I do like to give people the option of plausible deniability.
Me: I absolutely hate getting into these sorts of conversations but I must defend economics, it being one of my majors. It's hardly just a bunch of opinions, for it applies the scientific method far more than religious believers do – it still relies on hypotheses tested by observations. How accurate the tests are is another story, but the principle is there.
Me: Whereas religion fundamentally rests on untestable premises (which by the way I'm not trying to cast judgement on one way or another), and so can hardly be equated to economics.
J: No need to feign hatred for Facebook debates. It's not like it's TLC (which I lie about never watching). I won't make any comparisons between religion and economics, but do you think economics is a science?
Me: I don't think it has to be a binary choice. But I will say it's as much a science as any other social science is, if not more.
J: Which is to say "not at all"?
Me: Which is to say it like other social sciences tries to apply scientific methods to explain social phenomena.
Me: And economics even more so, being a discipline where so much is actually quantifiable and not just qualitative.
J: I suppose we will have to agree to disagree, as it appears this rests on the definition of "science".
Me: I suppose we do. But with that statement, I cannot help but to say you clearly have a very contrived understanding of what science is and tellingly are not bothering to elaborate. Economics satisfies science's most basic criterion of testable hypotheses, as anyone with even a basic understanding of the subject could tell you.
R: I was the one who brought up economics, so I'll elaborate. Let's take something very basic, like stimulus spending. Does it work or not? I don't know, and neither do economists. They have beliefs based on data, but for every case of success there's a case of failure. I like economics quite a lot, but it doesn't provide the same level of certainty as a hard science (nor do any of the social sciences).
R: The mathematician Stanislaw Ulam once asked the economist Paul Samuelson to name one thing in all of economics that's both incontrovertibly true and non-trivial. Samuelson came up with the law of comparative advantage, which was clever, but the question says a great deal more than the answer.
Me: Stimulus spending is a red herring, as tools used like quantitative easing are widely understood as experimental (and thus with inherent uncertainty) – this says nothing about the validity of the discipline in general, as there is easily as much uncertainty in the experimental sciences. Which is of course fine, because science never has been strictly about certainty.
R: And no, economics isn't the same as religion. I was making a point about the value of belief.
Me: Karl Popper, a widely respected philosopher of science, describing science as "... not the search for certainty ... All human knowledge is fallible and therefore uncertain."
Me: Sure and I take your point about belief, *with respect to religion*.
Me: To believe science to be the search for certainty, speaks to a fundamental misunderstanding of science.
R: I agree, and I just wish scientists of all stripes would acknowledge the truth of Popper's statement. The same goes for economists and other social scientists.
Me: Any scientist or economist worth his or her salt does on a daily basis. Hence repetition, peer review, etc. Denying fallibility immediately strips one of any scientific credibility. There's a difference between confidence and certainty, remember.
J: You're quoting Popper out of context. For reference, look up "principle of falsification".
Me: Yeah since when did economics ever deny falsifiability. It was hardly quoted out of context.
R: I'm on my phone, hence the delayed receipt of your comments. Anyway, whenever economists get into public disagreements, it's natural to wonder which one is right. I'm proposing that neither need be absolutely correct. There's room for disagreement even when hard data is involved.
Me: Of course. Which I presume is why they're getting into the public disagreement in the first place right?
R: A few years ago, the president of the Royal Society said outright that science shouldn't be questioned because all necessary questioning happens internally. I couldn't decide if that was more like Leninism or papal infallibility.
R: And yes. I'm not worried about the economists; I'm worried about the people who think one economist has to be right.
J: I am not saying that economists shun falsifiability. I am questioning how the Popper quote supports your position of "economics = science". But it's a trivial matter.
Me: It never was supposed to be.... I was elaborating on what *I* understood science to mean.
J: The danger of applying the science label to economics is that it gives people the idea that economic theories have the same weight as, say, a physics theory. I would rather make a clear distinction.
R: The cynic in me wonders if the desire of every discipline to be recognised as a science is mostly about funding.
Me: ^ Or recognition. That's probably the practical reasoning, yes.
R: And yes, there's nothing in any social science that's as certain as, say, gravity.
J: Yeah, funding and intellectual pride.
Me: But again the test never has been about how certain one is, but whether your hypothesis is testable through observation and experimentation. There certainly are theories within economics that are equally as supported by observational evidence as any scientific theory. Just because gravity is immediately visible, as opposed to say price fluctuations, doesn't discount the validity of any conclusions on the latter.
Me: If you want to disprove that, you have to give an example of an economic theory widely held to be certain, and make a case that it isn't. Otherwise speaking in generalities isn't going to work.
J: A million instances do not prove a hypothesis. One negative instance does. Perhaps it's my ignorance, but I can't think of an economic theory that is negatively falsifiable.
J: (I hope I am not giving you the impression that I think economics is worthless, which is not the case.)
Me: If you show one negative instance, while making sure you can make a case for the applicability of that instance with respect to the *entire body of knowledge* around the hypothesis, then of course you disprove it. Try the law of supply and demand – you might even get a Nobel prize if you manage to do so! The invocation of gravity as some sort of measure of certainty is a classic error – Einstein's work with relativity is an entirely different understanding of the universe from Newtonian physics. They are both still scientific theories, despite Newton's gravity being in a certain sense "wrong". Seriously guys, this was high school physics! Don't you remember the two different formulae for velocity, for example? (as an illustration of the gap between Newtonian physics and relativity)
A: Go to sleep. All of you.
R: Then we're no longer talking about science; we're talking about truth. Aristarchus proposed heliocentricity in antiquity, but, as my HPS professor explained, his theory was scientifically wrong despite being right.
Me: My point is and always has been that economics is scientific, nothing more and nothing less.
R: Alright, I'm leaving. Good night, A. Thanks for the use of your wall.
J: Yes, I have no trouble admitting that economics is scientific. We may disagree on whether it is a science, which is semantical. The intervening conversation was fun though.
#fancy #architecture #legislature #victoria #bc #ceiling #dome
#street #posts #vancouver #urban #stills #random #daily #walk