Category Archives: Adages

Quote of the day from Freeman Dyson

I might have posted this before – but it stands true –

Progress in science is often built on wrong theories that are later corrected. It is better to be wrong than to be vague.

The logic being that if wrong you’ve at least eliminated one possibility in the process of figuring things out – if you’re vague you haven’t.

Grandma’s Lamp

From a slack conversation

Say you have a grandmother, who has lived in her house for sixty years and you accidentally break a lamp of hers – you go to replace it run into the following problem: The lamp itself is 60 years old and they don’t make it anymore.
No problem you say the world of lamps is diverse and varied – however her house has evolved over the past sixty years as things have worn out and been replaced. Nothing is in any way “Standard” (like it would be for a 19 year old’s first apartment where anything is fine). You find that they don’t really make a lamp that “goes” anywhere near as well as the original lamp. The varieties of lamp have increased arithmetically, whereas the complexities of Grandma’s house have increased exponentially – and finding a replacement is more tied to that – so, therefore

Time Spent Finding Perfect Lamp = 1/Number of Lamps Available * Complexity of Grandmas’s house,
where complexity of grandma’s house is a function of age (cognitive decline), wealth, and time spent in house

The comparisons would be existing interest groups, the perception of Pareto optimality as “fair”, all of the existing public and private programs, etc

You need some degree of Pareto optimality since everyone has some degree of veto power, “log rolling” used to be the solution to these sorts of things. That becomes less possible with more complex interest group relations

Insight and adage from Joe Rogan

From this interview – in a discussion about an astronaut who went full bore conspiracy theorist about UFOs

You go where the love is

The point being that here was this lonely old man, and a bunch of conspiracy theorist more or less “adopted” him, and showed him friendship, companionship and affection. In turn, he probably told them the most interesting stories, then emphasized other parts of others, and slowly went off the deep end as he lent this his authority.

Actually that makes you want to question famous members of all subcultures…

The relativity of wrong

A perfect essay by Asimov on the right way to view the world

Another way of looking at it is to ask what is the “curvature” of the earth’s surface Over a considerable length, how much does the surface deviate (on the average) from perfect flatness. The flat-earth theory would make it seem that the surface doesn’t deviate from flatness at all, that its curvature is 0 to the mile.

Nowadays, of course, we are taught that the flat-earth theory is wrong; that it is all wrong, terribly wrong, absolutely. But it isn’t. The curvature of the earth is nearly 0 per mile, so that although the flat-earth theory is wrong, it happens to be nearly right. That’s why the theory lasted so long.

Two from Williamson

From this article

Partly that is a matter of pure economics, but partly it is also a result of the fact that policy decisions are dominated by the people who are most comfortable with a more entrepreneurial and less predictable model of work. That is a big part of what has populists of the Left and Right riled up at the moment, even though many of them cannot quite articulate their complaint. The critics have a point, but what they do not have is an alternative

The great songwriter Steve Earle, who involves himself in a lot of silly left-wing political activism, says that he is a “romantic,” that he is interested in “the way the world should be, not the way the world is.” That is a lovely and poetical sentiment, and, like most poetical sentiments, it offers a good reminder of why it is better that we are not governed by poets.