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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Socrates and Hume at Billiards

Category: Mind Change
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Old Comments

  • The Duck:  Quack. 

    Socrates:  What??

    The Duck:  I said, Quack.  You’re a… (“quack…excuse me!”)  quack! 

    Socrates:  I see.  However, I just don’t know what to say. In the first place, you’re a duck.

    The Duck:  See what I mean?

    Socrates:  And?

    The Duck:  See what I mean?

    Socrates:  Well, no, I don’t. 

    The Duck (pauses): So mainstream macroeconomics is just as hard as Newtonian Mechanics?

    Socrates: Harder.  Mainstream macroeconomics actually has a third equation, P = ?(A), and a
    third unknown quantity, P, the price level.

    The Duck: I definitely don’t remember seeing that equation, not even in grad school.

    Socrates:  So, are you, like, SURE that you want to follow this up?

    The Duck:  Well, yes.  I’m a duck. 

    Socrates:  Again, I still don’t know what to tell you.  You continue to be a duck.

    The Duck:  Quack. 

    Socrates:  What?

    The Duck:  WHAT???

    The Duck:  I thought you said just “quack”.

    Socrates:  I was just trying to bug you. Or duck you.  Or something like that.

    The Duck:  Quack.  Heh heh! Ha ha ha!

    Socrates:  Arghhh!

    Posted by julianyway  on  01/08  at  02:22 AM
  • Alright already.

    I have put some thought into the problem Victor is trying to solve.  No, not that one.  That one is obvious.  The subtler one, then one that hardly anyone sees, is that there are complicated things which can be understood, but since they are complicated, they are not understood my many.  Walking is a good example because it has a solution.  Walking is amazingly complicated, but we all learn it as children because… because… Well, that’s the point.  We learn it because we want to.

    So how does Victor make people want to learn the importance of… what was it now?  Choosing your axioms?  Something like that.  I haven’t understood it well enough yet, but I do remember thinking this:

    “But Euclid chose some axioms and created a model of geometry from them and then some other folks chose different axioms and created different models of geometry from them, and all the models are valid and useful.  Obviously, only one of the models is correct given a particular application, but for some applications, the incorrect ones are not yet distinguishable from the correct one because we don’t know how to test the axioms.  The whole point of picking an axiom is to say that IF this is the true THEN… and get people to agree.”

    Oh yes you do care about that, perhaps not enough to understand it explicitly, but you certainly accept the fact that A) it’s nice for people to agree and B) people don’t always see eye to eye.

    I don’t have a clue how you can get people to want to understand the fact that economics CAN be simple if you assume a set of axioms and work from that set alone.  Understanding the sentence I just wrote is difficult enough, no offense to the duck.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/05  at  03:02 AM
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