Sunday, January 10, 2010


JSH: When curiosity is not a motivator

It took me a while to figure out how people could ignore what I call a "core error" as I for a long time assumed that they wanted first and foremost to be right! But later realized that of course they did not, and it has taken me a while to try and understand the perspective of such a person.

But if you just want a nice life with maybe a little prestige, where you can talk proudly of what you do, say with friends and family, and have your society praising you, then why worry about whether you're actually correct if that is your real goal?

If such a person manages to become a physicist then the enjoyment they gain is from the social aspect of being able to say to people they are a physicist. Being right is irrelevant to them then.

I found a rather fascinating and devastating math error back in 2002, and got a paper published about it in 2003, in a mathematical journal which pulled my paper after some emails against it to the editor, and simplified the argument over the years until I can show it with some simple quadratics on the complex plane as I've done in posts recently.

No curious person established in math or science who knows of this error could hope that it not be addressed!

But a social person glad to have the title "mathematician" or "physicist" I suggest to you, could.

If you are not a curious person about reality you may say you're just practical. You may tell yourself that it's nice to have ideals and to supposedly believe in certain things like "truth", but to you "truth" is just a word. Who knows what's actually true?

What's here today may be reversed tomorrow, right? But your social needs are real today and real tomorrow. That pride you feel when your parents talk about their son the "rocket scientist" is REAL. You KNOW it's real. You feel it.

To you that can become the only "truth" that matters.

So you sneak to the depths of screwing up some technology. Why not? We live in the REAL WORLD, right? It's a "dog eat dog" world. Survival of the fittest—or the smartest, you may tell yourself. And isn't it smarter to preserve what's important? What really matters? Your own social position? Reality will go on regardless, but you have NEEDS.

So you screw with a little circuitry and the big bad machine goes down.

And you go to your classes, and teach eager students who call you professor and validate your choice.

You KNOW the reward for your behavior.

You get it everyday. You are a physicist. Why?

Because that's what people call you.

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