TNQ | Today’s Noontide Query

A quote is attributed to Albert Einstein, as follows: “Intellectual growth should begin at birth, and end only at death.”

I try to live by this quote as I pursue my education, each day learning something really interesting, hopefully useful, and if I can, disabuse myself of at least one myth and/or misconception, which is always a good thing for a skeptic.

It’s never a good idea to believe you know something when in fact you don’t — confusing ignorance for knowledge, “I don’t know something, therefore I do!” — a common logical fallacy that anyone can make when they aren’t careful.

My intellectual journey takes me through a lot of twists and turns, around a lot of corners, and each leading to another, often leaving me in places I didn’t expect. There’s also the occasional dead end when I pursue leads that turn out not to be true. — But isn’t that always the case when you discover something previously unknown to you?

Whether discarding erroneous beliefs or acquiring real knowledge, this whole enterprise keeps me sane, active, open to new ideas, ameliorates my enjoyment of life, and prevents or mitigates a whole host of cognitive problems and errors down the road. This is a good thing.

So, tell me, or else I’ll have my inquisitors bring out the comfy-chair and the soft pillows…

What is the coolest thing you’ve learned this week?

TNQ is a daily question that I pose to you, my readers, and please, do feel free to comment — I’m not an ogre. As per the title, TNQ is published each weekday at 12:00 PM

About Troy Loy

I seek to learn through this site and others how to better my ability as a person and my skill at using my reason and understanding to best effect. I do fractal artwork as a hobby, and I'm working to develop it to professional levels, though I've a bit to go till I reach that degree of skill! This is a crazy world we're in, but maybe I can do a little, if only that, to make it a bit more sane than it otherwise would be.

Posted on Friday, 12:00, May 28, 2010, in Queries & Inquiry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Exactly how long an Atasecond is.

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  2. Correction: Attosecond

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  3. No, not the soft pillows! NOOO! Not the comfy chair!! I confess the heinous crime of heresy on three counts (…FOUR counts…)…

    The coolest thing I’ve learned this week (on Michio Kaku’s blog) is that mainstream physics agrees EVEN MORE than I realized that vacuous actualities (Whitehead’s term) are NOT the fundamental entities of the universe. This is great news for process philosophy. The more time passes, the more physical science is coming into alignment with Whitehead’s cosmological theories. But this was his own prediction, that metaphysics paves the way for science by setting out the logical possibilities which are currently beyond science, so as science progresses it can investigate them and either empirically deny or affirm them.


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    • Neat! I was reading one of my older books, my surviving copy of The Art of Scientific Investigation, by W.I.B. Beveridge, in the chapter dealing with hypotheses. I had an Ah ha! moment when I finally got what you had mentioned in an earlier comment about it being more important if a claim is interesting (the terms the author used were interesting and useful) than whether it is true in itself.

      I might want to go over my older post on criteria of adequacy and amend the section on the concept of fruitfulness as it applies to ideas that prove to be wrong, but still useful because they can lead unpredictably to new discoveries.

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  4. There was just a good example of that recently in ScienceNews. In a study on MS and the effects of vitamin D levels, they proved that there is no statistical change in the rate or progression of MS in mice with differing blood borne levels of vitamin D up to safe limits. This was the point of their study. However, they did find a strong relationship between the results of MS and the amount of UV the mice were exposed to as a control. Their conclusion, and a good one from the way it reads, is that they have NOT found a new miracle cure for MS, but rather good science that “…here are our results, they are solid, but we have no clue how or what the mechanics of this result are…. . By the way, our study otherwise was a failure for its proposed outcome.” (Yes, I have GREATLY paraphrased their actual writing here….) :-)

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  5. Troy, your ability to keep your entire blog in perspective and context such that you can amend and edit relevant posts and passages is AMAZING! Aloha

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