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Categorical statements

Categorical statements

Posted Jul 28, 2010 2:15 UTC (Wed) by fuhchee (guest, #40059)
In reply to: Categorical statements by jejb
Parent article: Realtime Linux: academia v. reality

I don't think your analogy works the way you intended. My comment is equivalent to cautioning those who told Stevenson about seizures, or Max Planck for his accusations of "heresy", or Einstein about his vehemence. One should be more humble.

"The corollary to this is that if no-one lays down the "facts" to be challenged, the human instinct for contrariness doesn't get aroused as much"

Now this "corollary" needs somewhat more evidence to convince that naysayers are a necessary (or necessarily positive) factor in innovation.


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Categorical statements

Posted Jul 28, 2010 15:29 UTC (Wed) by jejb (subscriber, #6654) [Link]

> I don't think your analogy works the way you intended. My comment is equivalent to cautioning those who told Stevenson about seizures, or Max Planck for his accusations of "heresy", or Einstein about his vehemence. One should be more humble.

I'm failing to see your point. I gave Einstein and Planck as examples of people who made categorical negative but wrong statements and later admitted they were wrong (without, incidentally, incurring a "credibility cloud"). You seem to now be saying that it's OK for the likes of Einstein and Planck to do this, but everyone else should be humble?

> Now this "corollary" needs somewhat more evidence to convince that naysayers are a necessary (or necessarily positive) factor in innovation.

A corollary is a logical deduction from a proposition. If there's enough evidence to support the proposition then, ipso facto, there's enough to support the corollary.

If you think the proposition needs more evidence, there's enough in google to supply virtually any amount of it going back to the beginnings of recorded history.

Categorical statements

Posted Jul 28, 2010 15:46 UTC (Wed) by fuhchee (guest, #40059) [Link]

> You seem to now be saying that it's OK for the likes of Einstein and
> Planck to do this, but everyone else should be humble?

You misread. "cautioning" is not saying "it's OK".

> A corollary is a logical deduction from a proposition.

Well, thanks for the lesson, but it doesn't quite work here. This "corollary" is your main point, and it is supported by exactly three historical anecdotes. By the way, in none of those stories has there been any indication that the "should-have-been-humbler" people performed a useful service in naysaying. IOW, there has been no argument that without those "laid-down-wrong-facts", the discoveries would not have been made.

If you can't make that argument stick, perhaps your original argument/corollary is not quite as logically sound as you believe it is.

Categorical statements

Posted Jul 28, 2010 15:50 UTC (Wed) by egk (subscriber, #50799) [Link]

Although this does not have much bearing on the general discussion, it should be said that the story about Einstein seems very doubtful. He died in 1955 and Bell's paper only appeared in 1964. Moreover, Bell's work is theoretical: it could not "prove" anything about the real world, except the fact that something was testable, in principle. Einstein, if he had been alive, could very well have said that he expected experiments to go one way instead of another. And the actual experiments came quite a bit later.


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