Friday, November 11, 2016

Magical Mystery Tour

The scientific method ..
... where it begins

Through the looking glass
("Starry night" - by Alice)

Have you ever noticed,  .. you know, .. when you get a flyer through the door selling something, ..and there's bullet points, and you want to see what it is they're actually saying, .. how you have to skip to the bottom line to see what it's all about  .. and then you wonder why they made you wade through all that crap to get there and why didn't they just put it right up the top and say it - like, .. "The Earth is getting bigger".  Maybe in bold if they wanted to catch your attention.  And just leave it at that.  Why do they have to hype it up when there's nothing in it but the obvious?  ... Or why don't they start off with the bottom line and then go blonk blonk blonk with all the bullets, to tell you why it's good for you to know, and then just leave it to you?  Why do they have to turn it upside down and make such a meal of it into the bargain?

Well, it's true is it not?  And what's more, the difference in the way you read it is exactly that between the S.M. ( sado-masochistic) Scientific Method way of doing science and the unscientific (no-probs) Natural Philosophical  way of doing it here.

In the scientific method (as Feynman says) you make a guess and then see if you can back it up with support.  And if there's a 'Hey Presto' in it you think you can sell, then you turn it all around and make it look like a respectable conclusion that follows from those blonks.  It's a kind of short-cut way of looking at things.

For example, you might pick up a grain of sand and say, "A-hah, this is a beach," and set about trying to prove it according to rules about beaches.  So you see if it is round, and of a certain size, .. at which point you decide you might need a bit more data, so, you go out, and you look, and you find another one and hey, .. now you have *two* grains of sand, .. and they're both just exactly round, .. and so on.  (Pretty smart, huh?)  Then with a straight face you can say with confidence, "This is a beach", and hope everybody will buy one.  Doesn't matter about the water.  That's different and can be dealt with later, .. this is about science, sand and beaches, right?  (Reductive.)  ["Elemental,  my dear Watson."]

The No-Probs method is different.  In this one you get in your tardis and zoom out and look at everything else but, .. and once you've got the framework right then Bob's your Uncle.  You can check out the sand and the boulders and the other flotsam lying around if you like. No guessing needed.  In fact you might not even bother that much, about 'beach'; because a beach is a beach.  Seen one you've seen 'em all.  Go a bit further and you might find something quite interesting - like a whale, .. lying on top of a grain of sand.   And what do we do about that then, .. on the beach? .. Well, we get in the tardis again and ... ..  .

See what I mean?  No guessing, .. no 'science' (of the guessing /hypothesising /theorising /methodical sort) needed, .. things just are, .. in their natural rightful order, when you look at them the right way, .. which is in context.  And how do you do context right?

Well, ... as the Time Lord says, you just go forth, .. get in the Tardis ..  and, ... look through the glass.

Easy.  You don't have to molecate everything to be scientific.  Alice's No-Probs Tardis is just fine. In fact it's where science begins. Or should begin -with the considered life and the contemplated observation.  All sorts of problems arise if the 'molecules' are not in the right order. And that's where the tardis comes in handy, .. it gets you up there so you can see them in the right order, when they are bright, .. and shiny, .. and speak for themselves.


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