Humanity’s thinking through the ages is of low quality, I keep looking for explanations.
Just found another one, an explanation for my observation ‘there is no natural rate of coincidence’. That is true because ‘coincidence’ is produced by minds, and the coincidences detected in a situation are necessarily different mind to mind. Until we have a standard mind to do the detection of coincidences, there is no way to measure the rate. So ‘coincidence’ is meaningful, but the rate cannot be.
That thought just now collided with another in a discussion with my son.
The thought was The Birthday Paradox. This flash is that coincidences are just like the birthday paradox : neither end is tied down and the sum of the odds of the combinations in any relationship is a much higher probability than you would expect.
So not only is there no natural rate of coincidence, but it also must be much higher than you could expect, the sum of all of the probabilities of connections or similarities your mind could apply to not just two entities or events in one dimension, but the sum of all such that your mind can generate between any two objects in the area of investigation. ‘Shared birthday’ is only one such dimension of similarity, others could be born the same day of the week (not so startling), height, eye color, initials, parents names, ancestors names, birth city and hospital. If I can make the list of dimensions long enough, any 2 of us will be as startlingly-coincident as sharing our birthday.
That connected in my mind to the problem of estimating the connections between ‘dimensions’ in that great external reality we explore. My favorite example of late is the probable connection between Sun Spots and Earth Quakes. Unknown unknown linkages like that certainly are a source of error in designs or anticipations.
The problem is knowing where to look for such and how many we should expect, when the ROI for the search is likely to go too low, are their likely to be low-hanging fruit? Generally, are hidden linkages, unknown unknowns, the major problem in dealing with the future, meaning that whatever the cost this is the only way of improving anticipations, or just one of many equally large conceptually separate problems, so give up all hope of rational approaches to economically using science to grasp reality?
A ‘dimension’ in our models of reality, is something we can measure about some aspect of things. Conceptually in this model (mental pause here to group that phrase before continuing) of that reality, we do something analogous to cleaving the crystal along a plane, and then being able to see and measure something on the exposed surface.
An example is defining Force, Mass, Time and position in space of objects. From position and time, we can derive speed, acceleration, jerk and jounce and snap. Those are each dimensions, measures we can plot in graphs. It took a lot of experimenting to find the crystal planes displaying the dimensions.
That is where dimensions come from, from our concepts, our thinking as theorists, and from our actions as measuring scientists and engineers. If we can’t define something or measure it in any way, that means it is not a normal part of science. In that example, measures are tied in fundamental nature, nature supplies the relationships that are observed in our measures.
That is what makes dimension thinking useful, it allows isolating those relationships. It took about 2000 years from the development of the geometric knowledge needed to do that analysis into Force, mass, distance, time dimensions until philosophy actually accomplished it, a measure of how easy exploring nature is. There is a reason the smartest people become scientists, it is the greatest game for minds that has ever existed, although I think engineers have more fun, given the reality of universities and labs and funding mechanisms.
What can we know about dimensions’ links in nature? The history of their discovery is easy, the timing and people, their points of view, changes in the society’s wealth, many aspects of invention and discovery seem relevant.
We see that many of them come from people doing other things, as an accidental result. Most come from intentional search for something new, sometimes even the thing found, and a few are the result of insight of a theorist. A surprising number of those insights are from outside the professions.**
There has been no systematic search for deep links, yet we find quite surprising links surprisingly often, e.g. cold fusion and physical environment affecting spontaneous fission rates.
Therefore, from those few examples, there must be many more deep linkages in reality than we expect. Those are natures’ coincidences, waiting for us to recognize them. Systematic search is likely to be profitable for careers and investment.
I wonder if there could be a deep laws of physics that determines that natural rate?. We won’t know until we discover enough new deep linkages to be able to categorize them. So science has frontiers beyond frontiers, and the people who say science has discovered everything and that is why the rate of new discoveries is slowing are very wrong, as they always have been.
We can’t say if these deep links are the major source of uncertainties in the physical world, but certainly they offer a good ROI in controlling aspects of it.
Plausible wisdom about the most non-specific handwaving you have run into in a long time.
**Google ‘discoveries by amateurs’ and such, no summary is possible.
No question, 10,000 blogger’s opinion will be better than the opinions of one mainstream journalist, especially when weighed by their history of predictions in a particular area. The problem is how to aggregate those opinions? Google says pagerank, whatever that has been modified to do this year. Certainly the older, more established and more active blogs are linked more places, and more popular single posts have their own in comments and are passed around in ‘dark media’.
Matt Ridley is someone to read if you are interested in this kind of thing. The Evolution Of Everything is good, I am reading it now.
Theoretical constructs can be real enough, for example dark matter and dark energy. Large research institutions have been built on looking for those theoretical constructs, entirely artifacts of the theory, having no physical reality that has ever been detected.
Can’t judge much from history, the period we are in could be a coincidence-enriched environment for many reasons.
Added later : I just finished “Design in Nature” by Adrian Bejan and Andreas Wagner’s “Arrival of the Fittest”. Both deal with the existence of deep links. ‘Design’ shows there is a law governing the evolution of physical systems like river drainage patterns. ‘Arrival’ shows that there is an underlying simplicity in biochemistry, DNA, RNA that makes biological evolution inevitable rather than the improbable event it is often calculated to be.