Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Maybe I Was Too Hard On Sohail

Background: Sohail tried to contradict an article of mine on comp.lang.lisp in which I compared Arc unfavorably to Common Lisp with some code proving CL was almost as good as Arc. Think about that for a second. I ripped him a new one for poor reading comprehension and guessed correctly (he confirmed) that his understanding was blinded by another mistake, misconstruing my impatience with Arc's detractors as meaning somehow a preference of Arc over CL.

Great Lisp-NYC chug-a-lug last night. But... everyone who came up to me to talk about Arc said, "So you like Arc, eh?" Every last one. And most of those who did are smarter than I.

Each time I responded, "No, I never said that. I just rag on people for ragging on Arc without trying it."

It gets worse. Half the people responded they were in fact aware that I had merely ragged on naysayers for their unreasoned opining. And they still thought I liked Arc.

Meanwhile over on Reddit someone wants to know if I am gay because I whined publicly about Turing being persecuted for being gay. Sure and I am also black, Comanche, Jewish, Palestinian, Mexican, an Iraqi civilian, and I died in the plane that hit the South Tower of the WTC.

We all know everyone sees the world differently. What I realized last night is that the differences go beyond the differences in the observers themselves, their different tastes, upbringings, cultures, and DNA. People just plain get things wrong.

We get things wrong all the time. As a matter of course. Our world views form a scatter plot around the bullseye of reality.

Not because of lack of intellect or through lack of attention, though those explain the worst misses. Just because the brain registers new information using a sloppy indexing scheme that settles for bad matches because they are the closest matches and because those matches are affected by what we had for lunch.

We need a new song. Maybe "I say potato, you say Hunh? More day-glo?".

One of my favorite lines to deliver upon completing a task: "That's close enough for government work." I think the brain's ethic is "That's close enough for this bozo carrying me around."

Super. Billions of us walking around trying to deal with each other while each of us is working from more or less faulty copies of reality. Explains a lot.

I realize now I never bought having conflict and injustice explained as the natural consequence of different tastes and life experiences. Nope. We are all just more or less wrong about more or less everything, each of us in different ways, and so no, Rodney, we can never just get along. We will always be in conflict because we will never agree because we are all carrying around different broken realities and broken realities will clash more violently than realities varying merely by taste.

Why do I find this so comforting?


Anonymous said...

I think that it's actually worse than that: most of what we understand to be sensory perception is really the effect of our senses failing to disprove our prediction of what is about to happen around us. There are some pretty amusing papers/videos/audio files on the net that show that people just plain don't see things that they weren't in some way pre-disposed to see. It's why eyewitnesses can be very unreliable. Communication is a problem.


Sohail Somani said...

Funnily enough, I had similar immature reactions to my comments about Turing's persecution in real life.

So why do you like Arc so much anyway?

Kenny Tilton said...

the effect of our senses failing to disprove our prediction of what is about to happen around us

Yep, and you remind me that it is even worse than that! I love it when people say "I saw you at the show" and then I say I was not at the show and they but I saw you and I laugh and I show them my receipt from where I was and they stand there still not satisfied even though their belief has been disproved. I once heard about people who recover from delusional episodes who still believe the delusion happened that their perception system was not working but their memory was.

Sohail Somani said...

----> Joke

[30,000 feet]

\|/ You
/ \

Kenny Tilton said...

Funnily enough, I had similar immature reactions to my comments about Turing's persecution in real life.

Well, my initial reaction was the same and the guy had been modded down to -5, but I realized I had anticipated the reaction as I wrote what I did and the point of my blog entry was that it might not have been immaturity, it might have been a classic case of people taking away misinformation with no ill intent at all.

ie, Mankid is doomed.

So why do you like Arc so much anyway?

Anything Guy Steele does is good enough for me.

Slobodan Blazeski said...

Great to see you changed your picture laughing, you looked like bitter old man, now everything if Ok. Just keep them coming but don't forget what you promised about delivering theoryalgebra .

Rock said...

I agree completely. Beautiful post.

Gracewanderer said...

Mankind isn't doomed. We just need to start teaching people from a young age that everything they know is probably wrong, so when someone disagrees, stop and carefully consider that they may be right.

And then bludgeon them to death with the nearest rock. No wait, that's not right...