Sunday, October 01, 2006

More on smart people causing more trouble

When I ponder whether smart people cause more trouble, the question of how you define "smart" comes up. A related question is what constitutes "real science". Some suggest that "math" ability is an indicator for being "smart". I would suggest that a commitment to true scientific process is a better indicator for being "smart." You can come up with all manner of wonderful ideas and prove them in your head, but analysis of real-world data is a more powerful metaphor.

To me, science is supposed to be all about experimentation and analyzing results, and most importantly refraining from drawing conclusions which are not fully supported by the data. Unfortunately, real science has gotten watered down with far too much posturing and rhetoric and pandering to political interests (on both sides of the fence).

Take global warming. Sure, it is intuitively obvious that modifying the composition of the atmosphere will result in changes in weather and climate. That said, real scientists aren't even close to have a validated model of how the atmosphere, weather, and climate work over extended periods of time. Thus, the wild claims of some "scientists" (e.g., that the polar ice caps and Greenland will completely melt in the coming decades) simply aren't supported by "real" science. Extrapolation from sketchy data is not science.

It is one thing to come up with a "brilliant" theory that seems to be supported by fragmentary data, but it takes decades and even numerous generations of real scientists to fully test a theory and to eliminate biases that may have poisoned the science. The power of a true theory is that it accurately forecasts outcomes over an extended period of time.

If a scientist really follows the data and faithfully pursues the experimental process, their religious (or political or cultural) beliefs matter not one wit. The problem is that a lot of so-called scientists have a lot of trouble focusing on that "real", experiment and data-driven science.

Maybe that's why I would modify a faith in math as an indicator for "smart" to a faith in real science.

So, the problem with the guys in Washington, D.C. (the "other" Washington!) is not that they aren't "smart" in a math and intellect sense, but that they don't use enough real science in their decision-making.

A big part of the problem is that politicians and those who are at their mercy have no room for patience. The political process of frequent elections simply doesn't square with scientific process that depends on excruciating patience.

Whether it is Iraq (or Iran) or terrorism or global warming, the rhetoric of "smart" people is a poor substitute for real science.

A "real scientist" would have said to wait and see how Afghanistan holds up over five, ten, or even twenty years and then decide whether the experimental results support a conclusion that radical democratization really works.

BTW, Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the infamous Iraqi National Congress (INC) which was a big part of the lobbying for the "liberation" of Iraq is... a math guy! He got a BS from MIT and a PhD in mathematics from the University of Chicago. His dissertation was On the Jacobson Radical of a Group Algebra. Would anybody suggest that he's not a smart guy?

Although the truth may be that if the administration had actually listened to and followed his literal advice, Iraq might be in much better shape.

Maybe that's one limit for even the smartest and best advice: if you start cherry-picking it and combining it with other "advice", the "proof" of the original advice is likely no longer valid.

Chalabi was originally part of one of the coup attempts in Iraq back in the early 1990's that the CIA promoted and then the higher-ups refused to support, back under the first Bush administration. That's covered in the book See No Evil which was credited as the basis for the movie Syriana which starred George Clooney, but that portion of the book did not find its way into the movie.

-- Jack Krupansky


At 1:57 PM , Blogger Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Jack and all,

The time has arrived to think outside of the box, or else...

I know that many have chosen to write me off as some sort of a quack over the last three years. Now that this country and world have sunk to new lows and many of the things I've warned about have occurred, perhaps fewer will be so quick to scoff at what you don't understand. Neither religious followers nor secularists have been 100% correct and most have been dead wrong. Perhaps now you'll seek true wisdom and cooperate for the good of all before the Bush-Cheney-Vatican cabal revives the dark ages and puts you all in theological torture camps. Remember that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

Understanding and fixing the failings of politics and democracy for the benefit of everyone, everywhere

Politics is little more than greed, arrogance, falsehood, hero-worship, and injustice taken to extremes and organized into teams (nations, parties, interest groups, etc). It is the struggle for your group, hero, and viewpoint so you can profit at the expense of others. This forces others to do the same in self-defense, causing an endless loop, downward spiral, and no-gain effect. When money, religion, and politics are intermingled, they form a true inescapable trap or bottomless pit. It is the opposite of compassion, cooperation, justice, and wisdom and causes you to expend dramatically more effort, time, and resources than necessary to achieve lesser results than are possible when you simply cooperate and have compassion, empathy, and charity for each other. Harmony and cooperation are on the perfect path, while politics, religion and money are ignorance, strong lies, strong delusion, and utter folly.

The primary, though hidden, purpose of politics is to effectively divide and conquer populations who support and participate in these great delusions. Politics serves to dramatically slow and confound progress towards common and common-sense goals that most people want to achieve. This is one of the reasons why major problems persist for centuries. When people finally cooperate to solve problems for the good of all, problems will finally be solved and stay solved. On the other hand, participating in and supporting politics causes problems to persist and even to reappear later, though they were apparently solved previously. Because of the ability of those who also control money and religion to reverse past progress and prevent true cooperation, politics is a great deception and a trap and the opposite of truth, wisdom, and justice.

There is no true freedom nor freewill in the presence of such pervasive and institutionalized deception and exploitation. People have struggled for millennia trying to form working societies based on these three great follies. Those efforts always eventually fail because the inherent injustice and deception at the root of these concepts always leads to chaos and destruction. How long must it take before verifiable wisdom is finally valued over such long-term and self-evident folly? How much longer will it take for good people to grow tired of such obvious lies and turn away from deceptive leaders and their deceptions?

Remember the saying:
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good [people] do nothing."

We are all trapped in a web of deception woven with money, religion, and politics. The great evils that bedevil us all will never cease until humanity finally awakens, shakes off these strong delusions, and forges a path... to the future.


...and here...

Here is Wisdom!!



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