Other Thoughts

It occurred to me yesterday, and developed mentally overnight, that one of the main difficulties of communication between nerds and others – bogs and some geeks – is their view of information and knowledge.

Simply put, most of humanity expects “the right answer” to any question. Science nerds know that they can do no better than “less wrong.”

Our understanding of reality is that it is infinitely unknowable. So we will always be looking for a “less wrong” understanding of it. Bogs, and some geeks, think of reality as simple and largely unchanging.

This causes all sorts of problems: Schule teachers have an expectation of a right answer. Telling them you have a less wrong answer will result in a lowered grade and probably punishment. The legal system is worse. They have adopted the religionist idea of “truth” without its defining aspect of divine revelation. Hence any statement of “the less wrong” results in an accusation of perjury and further punishment. Elected politicians are similar but usually worse.

In the glory days of science – Whewellian era – science could be right. Reality was an absolute that only had to be mapped. Scientists became admired and respected. Some of that still carries over but the bogs now spurn science as unlearn-able by “normal” people.

And the fundamental problem is that those bogs, by demanding a simple, absolute answer are the most wrong of all. And that likely spells the doom of us all.