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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on December 22, 2004 21:02:20 UTC

I appreciate your response. You did one very important service to the issue of understanding: you quit when what I was saying didn't make sense. Too many people just proceed with an erroneous picture of what I am trying to do. I justs makes clearing things up that more difficult. Thank you very much.

Paragraph 1. Information is to be explained

I don't understand your complaint #1. Can you give me an example of something which can be explained where the thing being explained cannot be thought of as information? If the thing itself is not information, at least the definition of what you are talking about is! Please explain to me why one cannot regard the thing and it's abstract representation (its definition) as logically equivalent when it comes to the issue of explanation?

2.Suddenly all information is known. What does that mean? And understanding of information is needed. What does that mean? So far it sounds like a model of poll sampling.

I apparently do not put things very clearly. The extent to which people misinterpret what I am trying to say is both interesting and astounding to me. The only reason I inserted that paragraph at all was that I was trying to clarify what I was proposing to do. The comment about knowing all information was there because I wished to dispense with the issue of infinite amounts of information. I suppose the second sentence should have been written, "it seems to me that if all the information is known, then any questions about the information can be answered (that could be regarded as the definition of 'all-knowing')". In that case, the idea of "expectations" becomes relatively meaningless concept as one has no new information on which to use an explanation. The rest of the paragraph is no more than my interpretation of the difference in meaning of the two concepts “to know” and "to understand".

Lastly, no model has yet been presented. You might have said, "it sounds like you are preparing to model poll sampling": i.e., an opinion of my intentions, not an opinion on my progress in the model as there is not yet any. I can not model that which has not been defined! The first two paragraphs are nothing more than a preamble to my definition of "an explanation" which I provide in paragraph three.


3.I presume A is all the available info whether we know it, and B is what we actually know.

Close but a little askew of my intentions. A is all information relevant to what is to be explained, available or not (what the individual thinks is to be explained): i.e. the information from which B (which I often refer to as an observation) is obtained. B is an intermediate logical construct used to define C. C is what we actually know: i.e., the entirety of the information our explanation has to be based on.

4. Now C is not defined to be an expectation value, which is what you called the explanation in the preceding paragraphs. So it would appear that as is, C could not be a model of an explanation. In fact, there are no constraints on C except that it only contain elements of B. I do not see how you can define a model on this basis.

No, C is not defined to be an expectation value and, as you say, C can not be a model of an explanation; however, it is an important aspect of an explanation. And, I did not define an explanation to be "an expectation value" either. To repeat myself, I defined "an explanation to be a method of obtaining expectations from given known information".

This is why I say that an explanation must possess two components: first, there must be information to be explained (which is what C is all about) and, second, the actual mechanism used to generate expectations. Paragraph 4 only concerns itself with the need for an abstract (and completely general) way of representing any body of information.

I hope I have made some headway in resolving what you see as discrepancies.

I would further comment that actual construction of the model does not begin for several more paragraphs. Note the section begun by the comment, "Construction of a model:"

Meanwhile, I strongly suspect you will misinterpret some of my comments and constructs between where you left off and my actual model construction. All the comments between definition of C and actual model construction are there for a very specific reason. If that reason eludes you, please let me know as it probably pertains to specific problems in the total generality of the model and is worth understanding.

Looking forward to hearing from you -- Dick

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