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Posted by Aurino Souza on July 12, 2002 13:36:04 UTC

Hi Dick,

" Strange, I always thought I was a fairly good programmer! Maybe I am not; give me an idea of what you have on your mind! "

Well, for one thing, if you were a good programmer you would know what :-) means.

I'm not saying your conclusions are based on faulty logic, not at all. It's only that now and then you say things which don't seem to make sense when put together, like the four quotes in my previous post, but I know from experience that it's a problem of communication rather than thinking. And since what's 'communication' for me is 'thinking' for you, when the communication of an idea appears illogical it's too tempting to assume so is the thinking. Which is basically what most people do here, and that is what I was criticizing.

Basically what I'm saying is, the algorithm you have in your mind is great, except sometimes you disregard the rules of the programming language and the compiler craps out. As any good programmer knows, computers can be very stupid sometimes.

" Yes, I can see how you might think that; however, that is not the issue I have in mind. "

I think I understand the issue you have in mind, but I also think you sometimes fail to understand the issues other people have in mind. What I have in mind (what a mess!) goes along this:

Some brilliant thinker (say, Einstein) comes up with a clever solution to a problem. Being brilliant, the man is fully aware of what he's talking about; he understands where he is coming from, why things need to be that way, and, above all, the real meaning of his clever solution. But the world is full of mediocres, and the first thing those mediocres will do is start making claims based on a misunderstanding of the concepts involved in the clever solution. I include myself among those mediocres, most of the time anyway.

So I gather that your message is, "look you mediocres, that stuff doesn't mean what you think it means". I think it's an extremely important point, not only for scientists but for everyone else as science has become the main provider of wisdom (aka religion) of our times. However, and here's the thing you might be missing, you are a brilliant thinker and you have come up with a clever solution to a problem. Your paper will inevitably fall in the hands of mediocres who will make all sorts of stupid claims based on a misunderstanding of its concepts. It's already happened as you are fully aware of, and again I'm including myself in the bunch.

And that brings me to my point. A brilliant thinker has the responsibility of translating his clever solutions so that the mediocres who can't understand the solution can at least understand the implications, so they'll refrain from trying to do it themselves.

I told you this story before but it bears repeating here. I always thought Sigmund Freud's ideas about the human psyche were stupid. His premises didn't seem to be valid, and neither did his conclusions. It was only a few years ago that I learned that Freud himself thought the same! He was fully aware that his theories were "just a story", and he only took them seriously to the extent that his story helped him do his work. He hated the people who followed his ideas blindly, and I quote (from memory):

"I'm not a Freudian myself! Those ideas of mine are just tools of my trade. Any idiot knows that the only thing that heals the mind is love"

It's not easy being a mediocre. The temptation to become a Freudian, an Einstenian, a Staffordian, is too great.

" But only idiots argue about what is true! "

C:\Forums\\Dick\message19746.shtml(99) : error C2065: 'true' : undeclared identifier

Have fun,


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