Sunday, May 6, 2018

Truth is Multidimensional

Nasreddin Hoca is a 13th century Turkish wise-man / populist-philosopher, known for his funny stories and anecdotes.

In one story, he was judging between two men over a conflict. He listened to the first man, and told him, he was right about the issue. Then he listened to the second man, and also found him reasonable, and told him he was right about the issue. Hoca's wife was listening and she intervened: How is that possible, how can both sides be right about the issue?

Hoca thought some more about this, and said: "Dear, you are right, too."

Murat Hoca

I often find myself in the same position. For example most recently, I read Sinofski's tweets pro blockchain, and Jackson Palmer's tweets rebuking those, and I find both sides right.

How can both sides in an argument be right?

This is possible when the issue is multidimensional.

Being a researcher

I had written this earlier:
"I am OK with being confused, and I am capable of holding ambivalent thoughts in my brain. These are minimal (necessary but not sufficient) requirements for being a researcher. I would rather have unanswered questions than unquestioned answers. (Aha, of course, that was a Feynman quote. "I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned." --Richard Feynman)"
When I am working on a new problem/area at the cutting edge, I find that I have to make several hypotheses/guesses and take positions. As a result I have to keep several ambiguous/conflicting positions in my mind for a long time. I let them simmer in my brain until the situation is resolved. Often, I eliminate some conflicting positions and settle on one that is more accurate. And sometimes this is resolved with the frame shifting (or paradigm shifting) and we go above the plane and find a position that accommodates these two conflicting positions.

Do these sound like Zen koans for the academics?

Ok, here is another one: I like being wrong and I also don't like being wrong.

I like being wrong because it gives me a learning opportunity.

I also don't like being wrong, so as soon as I learn I am wrong, I change my position so I am not wrong any more.

MAD questions

1. If you are mindful about it, you find that you are faced with a lot false dichotomies every day. What are your favorite examples?

2. What have you changed your mind about recently?

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