Truth

“What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms – in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.”

Friedrich Nietzsche (1873), On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense

A more daring approach to writing theory

“What if we took a more daring, modernist, defamiliarizing approach to writing theory? What if we asked of theory as a genre that it be as interesting, as strange, as poetically or narratively rich as we ask our other kinds of literature to be? What if we treated it not as high theory, with pretentions to legislate or interpret other genres, but as low theory, as something vulgar, common, even a bit rude—having no greater or lesser claim to speak of the world than any other? It might be more fun to read. It might tell us something strange about the world. It might, just might, enable us to act in the world otherwise. A world in which the old faith in History is no more, but where there are histories that still might be made—in a pinch.”

—McKenzie Wark (2019). Capital is dead.

The limits of technoscientific capitalism

“I am not a man. I am not a woman. I am not heterosexual. I am not homosexual. I am not bisexual. I am a dissident of the genus-gender system. I am the multiplicity of the cosmos trapped in a binary political and epistemological system, shouting in front of you. I am a uranist confined inside the limits of technoscientific capitalism.”
– Paul B. Preciado (2020), An Apartment on Uranus

Power analysis for astronomers

Stephen Senn (2002) explains the need for statistical power analysis.

“An astronomer does not know the magnitude of new stars until he has found them, but the magnitude of star he is looking for determines how much he has to spend on a telescope.”

Senn, S. J. (2002). Power is indeed irrelevant in interpreting completed studies. BMJ, 325, 1304–1304

words, words, words

[…] there is no end to it, words, words, words. At best and most they are perhaps in memoriam, evocations, conjurations, incantations, emanations, shimmering, iridescent flares in the sky of darkness, a just still feasible tact, indiscretions, perhaps forgiveable….

City lights at night, from the air, receding, like these words, atoms each containing its own world and every other world. Each a fuse to set you off….

If I could turn you on, if I could drive you out of your wretched mind, If I could tell you I would let you know.

R. D. Laing (1967). The Bird of Paradise.

If I could tell you

If I could tell you
Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

W. H. Auden (1907 – 73)

Haverstock Hill

“Paul Zeal told me of how, one day, he and Laing had spotted me careering down Haverstock Hill on my bike: bobble-hat on the hawk-head, a Dr Who oversized overcoat flapping in the breeze, with my “Unfit to Plead” badge attached to the lapel, no doubt heading for another night at the Vortex, or the consoling disillusions of the White Heart Lane terraces. This sight(ing) had provoked Laing to casually share with Paul, “What a strange bunch we are!” And the strangeness, the incipient unreality, of the psychotic world is what Laing had a considerable capacity to acknowledge, whilst neither rejecting, nor reinforcing it.”

Chris Oakley (2012), Where did it all go wrong? In R.D. Laing 50 Years since The Divided Self, edited by Theodor Itten and Courtenay Young.

Mentally sloppy freethinkers…

Mentally sloppy freethinkers tend to be attracted to radical proposals, just because such proposals are radical. They don’t focus much on the detailed arguments, but instead substitute simple arguments based on broad crude analogies, more suited to their style of thinking. And they usually make sure to insinuate that opposition to the idea is mainly from excess conformity or entrenched interests. Others hear such sloppy arguments, reject them, and then reject the idea as well.

—Robin Hanson, in Overcoming Bias

“Mentally sloppy freethinkers tend to be attracted to radical proposals, just because such proposals are radical. They don’t focus much on the detailed arguments, but instead substitute simple arguments based on broad crude analogies, more suited to their style of thinking. And they usually make sure to insinuate that opposition to the idea is mainly from excess conformity or entrenched interests. Others hear such sloppy arguments, reject them, and then reject the idea as well.”

—Robin Hanson, in Overcoming Bias

Rising above methodology

“Cognitive science is all about rising above methodology and getting to a conceptual/theoretical level at which there is much more in common. Where there has been success, this ascension has been achieved. Where there has been failure it has been a failure to aspire to anything above methodology. Social science discipline divisions are dominated by methodology—that is why cognitive science happened. To adapt Dr. Johnson’s aphorism, methodology is the last refuge of scoundrels. A good servant may make a bad master.”

Stenning (2012)

“… no science, not even the most exact …

“… no science, not even the most exact, starts out with [clear and precisely defined basic] concepts. The true beginnings of scientific activity consist, rather, in the description of phenomena, which are then grouped, classified, and brought into relation with each other. Even when simply describing the material, we cannot avoid applying to it certain abstract ideas, acquired from somewhere or other but certainly not just from the new observations alone.”

—Freud, Drives and their Fates

“… no science, not even the most exact, starts out with [clear and precisely defined basic] concepts. The true beginnings of scientific activity consist, rather, in the description of phenomena, which are then grouped, classified, and brought into relation with each other. Even when simply describing the material, we cannot avoid applying to it certain abstract ideas, acquired from somewhere or other but certainly not just from the new observations alone.”

—Freud, Drives and their Fates

“We rarely recognize how…

“We rarely recognize how wonderful it is that a person can traverse an entire lifetime without making a single really serious mistake — like putting a fork in one’s eye or using a window instead of a door.”

—Marvin Minsky, The Society of Mind (1988)

“We rarely recognize how wonderful it is that a person can traverse an entire lifetime without making a single really serious mistake — like putting a fork in one’s eye or using a window instead of a door.”

—Marvin Minsky, The Society of Mind (1988)