Jeremy Dennis is Jeremy Day (cleanskies) wrote,
Jeremy Dennis is Jeremy Day

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mine is the law of mistaken understanding - what's yours?

The Edge asks pre-eminent thinkers (including Alan Alda) to come up with new "laws" with results that amuse, baffle, intrigue and stretch the vocabulary (doxastic? combinatorics?). Apart from the people pushing their own theory (forgivable, it is their job, after all), being tautologous (yes, it may be true, but are you saying anything new?) or presumptious ... and even they have their points of interest:

Helena Cronin illustrates how preconceptions shape debates about evolutionary biology:
"When it comes to environments, males perceive them as platforms for status games. Females most certainly do not." ... uh-huh. Riiight. (This isn't her rule, incidentally.)

Brian Eno explains why Science needs art: "Science wants to know what can be said about the world, what can be predicted about it. Art likes to see which other worlds are possible, to see how it would feel if it were this way instead of that way. As such art can give us the practice and agility to think and experience in new ways - preparing us for the new understandings of things that science supplies." Thereby proving prog rock and science fiction's social worth in one fell swoop. Whoosh.

Allan Snyder justifies plagiarism: "Everyone steals ideas from everyone else [...] It maximizes the innovative power of society." The dots are some guff about it being unconscious, therefore OK -- many rules were a bit longer than they needed to be.

Gregory Benford summarises product development philosophy: "Any technology that does not appear magical is insufficiently advanced." Indeed, everything *must* become more shiny.

Beatrice Golomb nervously hedges her law with an unnecessary "in biology": "Everything in biology is more complicated than you think it is, even taking into account Golomb's Law."

Izumi Aizu values usability over spectacle: "Using is believing." His second rule is interesting, too.

Stuart Kauffman puts a new light on everything expands to fill the space provided: "The adjacent possible, for a chemical reaction graph, is the set of novel molecules that can be created out of those existing now. The biosphere has advanced into the chemical adjacent possible over the history of life. The issue is, are there laws that govern this advance?"

Jordan Pollack eerily reflects some thoughts about capitalism I was having just the other day: "Progress can be sustained among self-interested agents when both competitiveness and informativeness are rewarded."

George Lakoff "Voters vote their identities, not their self-interest." ... interesting to me from a work perspective.

Nancy Etcoff should have worked harder on getting it into a shorter sentence: "Be wary of scientific dualisms. Approach them with caution, the way demolition experts regard bombs, likely to explode, in this case into unproductive argument and the obscuring of truth." though I wouldn't want to miss the bomb analogy.

Kai Krause is simply very neat: "A good analogy is like a diagonal frog."

Philip Campbell's Third Law: "The probability that a Powerpoint presentation will fail is proportional to the technical sophistication of the institution at which you are presenting it." comes with a corollary: "where the failure is total, your talk will be all the better for it."

Andy Clark's law: "Everything leaks." is meant philosophically, but universally applicable.

Alison Gopnik adds to the various people petulantly reinforcing sexual difference her terrifying gender curves. Eeek.

William H. Calvin gets it exactly wrong: "When things "all hang together," you have ... discovered a hidden pattern in nature." Er, no. You're usually drunk.

In fact, that's my law. If everything makes sense, you are probably drunk. (Teetotallers may substitute "mistaken" for "drunk"). Hey, Google makes my point (found while paraoidly checking that this isn't somebody else's law already).

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