M P Tale

A phiosophical journey exploring topics in science, philosophy and society at large.


M P Tale (pronounced “Empty Ale”)s document my journey as an amateur learner, hobbyist and explorer of the nature life, the universe, and everything.  No, it is not related to the third book of the book series “hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.  But it may wander into topics as far reaching.  The blog started with a focus on, or all things, theoretical physics.  But it is really an outsider’s viewpoint that rejects the notion that the best ideas come from establishment authority figures, whether in science, education, government, or even business. Anyone can have the right ideas.  What we do with those ideas is what matters.

The title of the blog is meant to convey several meanings.  The initials M and P originally were chosen to represent Math and Physics, the topics I was most interested in blogging about at the time.  I had recently stumbled upon a realization that could disrupt the prevailing theories of general and special relativity, if anyone would ever consider the ideas of an outsider.  But M and P could be Modern Philosophy, Malthusian Progressivism, or any of myriad other topics in which establishment authoritarians dictate the rules of the game and who is allowed to play.

Tale was chosen for two reasons.  First, a Tale is a story.  Over time, my writings on this blog will convey the story of my part time journey of learning, thought, and discovery about the unnatural order of centralized control over thoughts and ideas throughout many aspects of our lives.  That journey, like many, is certain to take many twists and turns, sometimes seemingly randomly.  But as in any system that can be characterized via the mathematics of Chaos Theory, the journey will not truly be random.  It may simply seem that way because of the many different forces that will affect the direction and rate at which my thoughts progress.  Things I read, thoughts and ponderings I have, day to day events, and any comments posted by those with an interest in reading this blog will all influence what direction my exploration takes at the next moment.

The second reason for choosing “Tale” is because it is a homonym of “tail”. So an alternate reading of this blog name is “M P Tail”. Whatever the M P topic of the day, the field will be one where so often the Tail wags the dog.  Consider my original blogging interest of Math and Physics.  As I learn more about the physical universe, I find that sometimes mathematics becomes to physics as the proverbial tail wagging the dog.  Indeed, in the application of mathematics to models of the universe, when the math suddenly fails to work out in some small way that is greater than the derived maximum error in our observations, the reaction is sometimes to add more mathematical complexity describing some heretofore unknown particle or property of the universe that makes the math for the original model still “work out”, rather than questioning whether perhaps the model has built into it an unproven assumption that could be false.  The math becomes more and more complex requiring the physical model to do likewise.  I am not suggesting that the complexities in any or all such adjusted models do not exist.  Sometimes we really did just “miss something” that we need to add into the model.  But I am suggesting a very cautious attitude towards adding complexity to any model that has as part of its basis assumptions that cannot be definitively proven without the use of circular reasoning.  Occam’s Razor implies to me that when dealing with models, most should not be highly convoluted and complex.  So while some may be, I prefer to be wary about how easily we allow the math tail to grow so great in complexity that it wags the physics dog. This same guidance applies to model of human behavior in Modern Philosophy, economic models used to justify laws and tax policies, etc.

An additional play on words is associated with the pronunciation of the site URL and the fact that I have much to learn.  This site is not generally about things I can prove, though occasionally I may succeed in doing so.  It is about my journey, my learnings, my insights, and inevitably my mistakes.  Some of those mistakes will be dousies.  In those case, it may seem my writings reflect a state of Emoty Ale, having succumbed to the influence of at least one too many.  My friends would find that particularly amusing since I seldom drink.  But I do not intend to take myself so seriously that I would be afraid to blog ideas that to an an establishment authority would seem to reflect a drunken stupor.  I expect to learn more from my mistakes than my successes and am happy to allow others to help me discover those mistakes.

That said, I may frequently show some skepticism or ask questions about results or theories that seem convoluted and are not truly proven, even though the theories may be widely accepted as the best known model for a phenomenon.  In my high school days many years ago, I was taught that after doing a complex calculation, the first thing to do was to look at the result and see if it intuitively appeared to make sense.  If not, that did not prove the answer was wrong, but it did suggest a very careful examination of the assumptions and steps made to see if something was wrong.  This is different than assuming it was right if it did match our intuitive expectations.  The latter would be confirmation bias, which is a great danger in any field of human endeavor where decisions and judgment come into play.  We were also taught to take other steps to check our results.  But results that seemed implausible deserved the most heightened scrutiny.  My geometry teacher used a great example of proving that all triangles are isosceles.  The proof seemed perfect, yet of course we all knew the result did not make sense. As we walked through his proof, we were asked by the teacher to look for what might be wrong.  None of  the students in the class found it.  The problem when he revealed it was a simple assumption early in the proof regarding between-ness of points.  By wrongly assuming a particular point was between two other points in an arbitrary triangle, we were able to wrongly “prove” that all triangles are isosceles.  The analogy in my “tail” of learning is that we did not react by inventing a concept that all triangles exist in an infinite set of closed curved reference planes such that in at least one such closed curved reference plane any given triangle would be isosceles.  I am not learned enough as I start this blog to want to do the math to test such a claim to find out if we would have discovered it to be true or false.  Instead, we examined the steps taken, found one with a flaw in it, and corrected our work.  We did not prove that the premise is false in all closed curved reference planes.  We simply showed that the steps we had taken were incorrect and if we wish to continue to pursue the hypothesis that all triangles are isosceles, we needed to first go back to an earlier stage in our thinking and start again.




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