Proof and Vision

You Can’t See the One Without the Other

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The next time I submit a paper to a scientific journal and it is rejected for lack of supporting data I’m gonna use that line. Even better the next time I run an experiment and the data makes no sense (basically 95% of the time) I am going to interpret that data in a way that does make sense. At least it will make sense to me. Hell Yes. And if I’m questioned about it by my colleagues. Fuck em! They lack vision. I’m the one who spent two days setting up all the equipment, writing up the design, carefully considering all the variables and trying to account for them, not those assholes. How dare they question me? If only they could see things as I do. Alas, they cannot as their feeble minds have been warped by this so called reality. I am no longer constrained by such irritating details. The laws of thermodynamics are but suggestions to me. Logic, math, I laugh at them now. What have they ever done for me, better yet what have they ever done for the world? You disagree do you? You think they have done something great? well prove it! Oh wait, sorry, I meant, share with me your vision.

The people who claim to have vision are usually the same ones who don’t know how to prove. That is not the same as saying that proof is a requirement in all or even most things. As far as I can tell there are only two systems of thought that demand it, logic and math. Nothing is proven in science, some things are disproven, and then gradually more and more are, until finally the remaining things are accepted as the correct things, the real things. I cannot accept that mathematicians and logicians lack vision. I doubt you will find many who would agree that Wittgenstein lacked vision, or Russell, or Frege, or I could go on an on. They were the very example of visionaries by any accepted definition of the term.

The question of the reality of our existence, simulation or not, glitches, or smooth as silk, will not be answered by the people who only demand proof or by the people who claim to have vision. Instead it will be answered by visionaries in science who set out to pursue a vision, their version of the way things are or should be. They may even try to prove it at first. Prove that they are correct, that their vision is the “right”one. In this they will ultimately fail, not because the method of science is the wrong way, or the weak way, but because it is the strong way, and the only way we can use to approach the truth. But we are destined to only ever approach it, approximate it, at least if we only follow the way of science, for the scientific method does not allow for proof of anything. Is there a way to get past that last tiny fraction of uncertainty that remains when all scientific routes to the truth have been exhausted? Perhaps, and that is where the visionaries can and should step up step forward. They can fill that void with speculation and imagination but, like the scientists, they can never be found to be ultimately correct or totally in error. Unlike the scientist who has a method for checking his concordance with the truth (the scientific method), there is no method to check the visionary of the imagination, except perhaps with our own.

Author’s note: Thanks to all who clapped for this old post. When I went to re-read it I noticed it had not been completed. I really liked it (warts and all) so went ahead and filled out the rest in the spirit of the original. The new stuff starts right after “Prove they are correct….” about a quarter of the way down the last paragraph. Not sure I agree with it but I do like it much better now. 07/18/18.

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Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/mol biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

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