On 07/12/2008, at 4:29 PM, Brent Meeker wrote:

(The Court Jester wrote):

>>>>  What you cannot say is what is determining the order
>>>> in
>>>> the chaos once it arrives. That's closer to what I mean.
>>>> 2 men start to dig a hole. They are instructed to make it reach a
>>>> depth of 5 feet. One of them murders the other with his shovel.
>>>> Nobody
>>>> predicted that would happen.
>>> How do you know that?  Maybe it was quite predictable.
>> Except nobody did predict it. That's my point. It was perfectly
>> obvious why only after the event. Police checks, medical checks etc.
>> revealed the pattern that pointed to the causation. Before the event,
>> this information was available too. Nobody saw anything tending or
>> pending in the information beforehand.
> Some people saw it.  For example W saw a report titled "Bin Laden to
> strike in U.S."  An FBI agent was told that some middle eastern guy  
> was
> taking lessons in flying an airliner but wasn't interested in learning
> to land it.  I'd say that in this case the difficulty is that while  
> the
> relevant information was available, so was irrelevant information and
> the irrelevant information was so much greater it swamped the  
> relevant.

Yessir!. So - we are surely in agreement that we MUST get some  
technique happening for looking at information with more effective  
starting concepts! If we just say - "give me all the data and I'll  
sort through it" we've got ten years of bloody work ahead of us.  
Meanwhile, the terrorists have struck and we haven't even left the  
starting gate. That's what I mean by "the evolving and accelerating  
universe". In fact, the guy who murdered his co-worker with the shovel  
was a fundamentalist Islamic. His co-worker said to him as they dug  
the trench "did you hear about that guy who stuck a copy of the Koran  
down a toilet in the USA and filmed it to post on YouTube? What a  

"ALLAHU AKHBAR!!!!"  - DOING!!!!!!!!!! (with the shovel)

The police knew this guy attended a dodgy, fundamentalist Madrassah  
when he was a kid, and even that he had pinups of Bin Laden in his  
bedroom. But then - so what? Lots of Islamics have pinups of Bin Laden  
in their bedroom.....are they all murderers?

The problem is that information arrives PIECE by PIECE - one item at a  
time. Even if it arrives as a tsunami of data on your computer, you  
can only successfully review it piece by piece (if you appreciate the  
limitations of how the brain works) and you are doing your job  
properly. The temptation to shove it all into some "wonder  
(Microsoft?) application" which will sort through all of it and find  
the patterns, becomes overwhelming, once the data reaches a critical  
volume. I mean - fuck!!! - what were computers invented for??????

One can only make the optimum use of the AVAILABLE information at any  
one moment. You have a massive problem here where you are drowning in  
the available information - as the 9/11 observers were.

There are TRILLIONS of web pages floating around in cyberspace. Which  
are the good ones and which are the dodgy ones? How can you tell? Do  
you actually have the TIME to sort through all this shit, dear Brent?  
Your boss wants an outcome and a decision by YESTERDAY

>> Schoolteachers have to do "Risk assessments" to evaluate the
>> possibility of harm to students on excursion. Studies have shown that
>> risk assessments do nothing to reduce the incidence of accidents or
>> misadventure.
> Of course predictions an analyses, however accurate, are useless if no
> one acts on them.  If the schoolteacher notes that sunburn is a likely
> hazard but she doesn't bring any sunblock is it an accident?

Yes, where the teacher was instructed to fill out a risk assessment  
accurately and that was the end of the matter (it usually is). NOBODY  
told her she actually had to READ the bloody Risk Assessment and ACT  
on what it suggests. Teachers aren't taught to THINK for themselves or  
to "join up the dots". They merely do what they are told in their  
Diploma of Education which is usually taught by over-superannuated  
academics with no experience of life or teaching ability themselves,  
lecturing off yellowing handwritten notes they slung together in the  
1960s. They then pass this servile, dickhead mentality on to the kids  
they teach. And the world goes down the toilet....but I can see from  
later on that you probably agree with me on this!

>  I'm very
> familiar with risk assessments and how worthless they are. I work at a
> major missile test range where risk assessments are required for every
> test.

I love people who get down and get their hands dirty - you are my hero  
Brent (truly - no condescension implied here)

>  The main reason they are worthless is that they *necessarily*
> include only risks we've thought of.

EXACTLY dear boy! So - how can we do the "quantum leap " (love that  
term) in our thinking and simulate alternative pending futures????  
GUARANTEED:  ONE of them is going to grab our present like a bloody  
Star Wars tractor beam and haul us toward it...there is no guarantee  
that the one that wins the gravitational tug-of-war is the one we  
would want - (from our present perspective) to win it.

"If you don't create your future, you will end up somewhere  
else" (Somebody or Other)

The conclusions reached from of all of our data analyses can never be  
more correct than our starting concepts. No logical processing, no  
matter how technologically miraculous, can justify an arbitrary set of  
starting premises. All starting premises are dodgy or arbitrary. Why?  
They are based on WHAT WE BELIEVE.

People choose their starting premises based on how they feel when they  
get up in the morning. Nobody should EVER ask me to solve a problem in  
the morning before I have downed at least one cup of strong coffee

>  Any risk we've thought of has
> already been the object of efforts to reduce it's probability to a  
> very
> low level, typically 0.001.

Go on

>  Of course the probability there is some
> risk we haven't thought of is greater than 0.001 - so it's almost  
> always
> the risk we hadn't thought of that bites us.

Like when the school teacher falls under a bus and the class has to  
find their own way home on public transport  ;-)
>> Accidents simply happen. Accidents are still determined
>> by something. We call it an accident only because we have no way
>> before it happens of knowing that the cotter pin in the driving arm
>> was about to shear off leaving the train without an effective brake
>> system. Once the plane crashes, the black box reveals most of what we
>> wish we had known beforehand.
>> The problem is TIME - the sequence of the arrival of information
>> determines how we look at it
> The problem is also TIME as in the man hours it takes to know about
> things.

Already commented on this syndrome, above. You "have my deepest  

>  We have a way to knowing whether that cotter pin was about to
> shear off - but it's expensive and time consuming to implement; so we
> don't go around x-raying cotter pins for micro-cracks.

Why not? Do you think you have something more important to do or  
something? Next time I get on a bloody Qantas jet and the bloody wing  
falls off I'll give you a call, Meeker!!! (that's if I survive the  
bloody flight)

Get a good lawyer, engineer man!!!!

>  We may require
> replacing the periodically, but that can be expensive to.  So a some
> level we decide things are *good enough*.

All it takes is one well-fought litigation and you will be spending  
your bloody Sundays doing quadruple-checks on aircraft maintenance  

>  For example, do you know how
> many people were killed in accidents, hijackings, and terrorist events
> on U.S. airlines and airliners flying in U.S. airspace between Nov  
> 2001
> and Oct 2005?   The answer is zero.

Good point. Analogy: every time some idiot jumps into the Pacific  
Ocean and gets their leg bitten off by a fish, people go out in boats  
and try to find and kill the poor fish. Well - I've never seen a shark  
walking down Main Street biting people's heads off. The sea is the  
fish's domain. You jump into it at your own risk, surely
>>>> We can 'determine' the reasons for this
>>>> event only AFTER it happens, even though it was determined by
>>>> something that we might have noticed prior to the event if only we
>>>> had
>>>> been able to. All action can be seen as logically determined in
>>>> hindsight.
>>> You must not have heard of quantum mechanics.
>> I have. I am clearly speaking about the macro world where time  
>> travels
>> (apparently) in one direction only and there is this tendency for an
>> action to be followed by an effect or another action. 'Action' in  
>> this
>> context refers mainly to the activity of conscious agents, humans. It
>> may yet be shown that protons and quarks have 'agency' but that is  
>> not
>> really at issue here
> It may also be that random atomic events may be amplified by chaotic
> dynamics, in the weather or in brains, to have macro consequences.

This is truly an exciting thought, Brent. You have just raised my  
blood-pressure pleasingly

>>> And how can you know the
>>> causes seen in hindsight are correct.
>> Not causes - merely that there existed a logical pattern of
>> connections that led from A through to D that we were blind to at the
>> time. If, in hindsight we do not spot the logical connections then we
>> have no way of understanding the event at all. I guess there may well
>> be examples of that, too
> The "logical pattern" may just be our rationalization of what  
> happened.
> Humans are good a seeing patterns in activities and also in clouds.

That is so true. Why we need to study this thing more. I just saw the  
Virgin Mary in the pattern created by my cat's vomit on the living  
room rug...

The mind acts to create patterns, to receive patterns, to recognize  
patterns and to use patterns but NEVER to CHANGE patterns. Why we all  
need to learn Japanese in our 80s to keep our neurons healthy.

Lateral Thinking is the ONLY tool man has ever invented to swap patterns

NO idea can make the best use of available information; an idea arises  
from a sequential patterning system

To change petterns (or de-wire neuronal connections) you need  
DISCONTINUITY which is what Lateral Thinking offers

HUMOUR is an act of discontinuity. Laughter is the natural human  
response to a pattern switch in the brain

Bob Hope had a bad Christmas. He received 6 golf clubs, only one of  
which had swimming pools

> Hitler, in his bunker a few days before he killed himself,  
> complained to
> Speer, "You know, Albert. This is all the Jews' fault. They  
> deliberately
> started this war just so they could destroy the German people."

In his own logic bubble he was perfectly right. If you were Hitler,  
you would have understood his logic. He had this EMOTIONAL NEED to  
make the Jews responsible for his egregious actions. Hitler was a  
solipsist. He was also a one-testicle fuckwit who happened to be  
running Germany

Hitler was the victim of the patterns of recognition installed in his  
mental software. So too Saddam. So too Mugabe, So too W. So too  
(insert name of favourite despot)


>>> Modeling the past is hard too.
>>> In what sense do we know why the terrorists flew planes in the WTC?
>> Because everything we already knew about them before the event was
>> still available to us after the event. After the event, everyone  
>> could
>> see the powerful pattern in the data that they were blind to before
>> the event. In a sense we knew this COULD happen. We simply could not
>> predict that they would make the decision to act on what everybody
>> (intelligence agancies, CIA etc.) already were aware of.
> None of that answers the "why" question.  What motivated them?  Did  
> they
> "hate our freedom"?  Or did they act out of revenge for something we  
> did
> or the imagined we did?

They are simply JEALOUS

How dare we rule the world with our non-existent Christian deity???!!!

The Islamic non-existent deity is much more deserving than the  
Christian one!!!!
>>>> Before something happens is where we would like to be more
>>>> on top of things. Intelligence exists on terrorism but usually this
>>>> usually fails to determine our actions to prevent terrorist acts,
>>>> interestingly enough. If you look closely at what I am saying, it  
>>>> is
>>>> the rather messy human consciousness part of the equation that  
>>>> the mathematical modelling in most cases.
>>> Sure.  Humans and even most animals are extremely complicated.  Even
>>> things like weather and viscous flow over an aircraft are to
>>> complicated
>>> to model except approximately over a limited range.
>>>> I am saying that a full
>>>> perceptual scan of the situation often takes us way beyond what the
>>>> data suggests. Just like the Mumbai massacre - intelligence WAS
>>>> available that suggested it could happen. Yet the massacre was
>>>> "allowed" to happen, because nobody could see the looming pattern  
>>>> in
>>>> the data until after it happened by which time it was bleeding
>>>> obvious
>>>> to one and all. It seems that in many situations the sheer volume  
>>>> of
>>>> information available is as much a part of the problem as the
>>>> decision-
>>>> making process.
> Right.  The "obvious" pattern is picked out in hindsight and some
> "obvious" pattern would have been picked out in hindsight no matter  
> what
> had happened.  I don't see how lateral thinking is going to do  
> anything
> to solve the problem of too much data.

The paradox of the human mind is that because it has such a poor  
memory for data, it has an excellent processor. The absence of hard  
information has never been an obstacle to the human mind to having a  
good story or theory about what is going on. Hence myth, hence  
story=telling, hence the Bible, hence astrology. The patterns of  
recognition really DO work. We could not get by without them. If the  
mind was unable to make the optimum use of the available data at any  
given moment we would be annihilated whenever we crossed the road. We  
have to have an understanding, or at least a theory about what is  
going on at any given instant. That is how we live from moment to  
moment. The bummer about all of this is that we cannot CHANGE patterns  
easily, as Johnny Mikes mentions. We are unable to adapt to the  
evolving universe easily. We are mired in our own history. It is as  
though we were constantly driving the car with our eyes fastened on  
the rear view mirror.

Something new is only ever understood in the light of something  
already known and filed away. Lateral Thinking is the solution.  
Lateral thinking jumps off the rails and shows us the sidetrack that  
leads straight to the desirable outcome that we missed because we were  
being oh so logical.

There is a great logic in being illogical at critical moments.

The 9/11 bombers did precisely that. In some respects 9/11 was a  
grandiose display of Lateral Thinking.

When is a jetliner not a jetliner? When it's a bomb....

>>>> How do we decide? Data alone are incapable of making
>>>> decisions. You still need a wet, messy human brain with a
>>>> perceptually
>>>> skilled mind to do that
>>> And apparently that doesn't work all that well either.
>> No it doesn't, if we only feed information and data into computers  
>> and
>> expect the computer to do our thinking for us.
> That's a strawman.  Nobody was feeding data to a computer and  
> expecting
> it to anticipate the 9/11 or Mumbai attacks. Those oversights were  
> made
> by wet, messy human brains.

You seem to love begging the question, but that's OK. This whole  
discussion is about the problems caused by wet, messy human brains  
(WMHB) in the face of genius mathematical analyses and solutions

Better get used to the WMHB amigo, you cannot leave home without it

>> Creativity is not a matter of whether a particular idea is right or
>> wrong. Creativity is not a matter of finding the best way of putting
>> certain things together. Creativity is a matter of trying to get at
>> what has been left out of the original way of looking at the
>> situation.
> But you don't know that anything significant has been left out until  
> you
> are surprised by events.

The greatest of life's tragedies, surely. What I have been saying all  

>  There's nothing creative in just pointing to
> things that have been left out - there are always an infinite number  
> of
> things that are left out.

Well, if there are an infinite number of omissions, we might as well  
stay in bed and refuse to go to work.

Surely we can work out how to process data more efficiently than just  
throwing our hands into the air and saying "It's too hard" like this

>  In calculating flow over an aircraft I can
> leave out ionization of the air because it's not going to fly Mach  
> 7.  I
> can leave out the gravitational pull of the Moon because it's too  
> weak.
> Are there other things I've left out?  Sure.  The question is are they
> significant.

The effort you make in looking at all these things is worth it, in the  
long run. Don't judge prematurely the value of things. Maybe the  
moon's gravitational pull is negligent, but there will be other  
"negligent" things like this that stack up. Try to separate  
information gathering from information processing. A hundred negligent  
things will, in total, add up to one big fat effect. We are in too big  
a hurry - but then, the boss is breathing down our necks

I'm trying to help, not hinder, Brent. I know you are deeply concerned  
by the efficacy of your information processing. My life depends on  
your information processing ability every time I get on a flight.

>> One can never get at this simply by judging the
>> effectiveness of a particular way of looking at the situation. All of
>> our mathematical formalities of calculating and predicting things are
>> marvellous, wonderful and highly effective methods. I would be a fool
>> to suggest otherwise. I in no sense advocate that we get rid of them.
>> I suggest though, that we supplement them with creative thinking
>> because this allows us to avoid or at best sidestep the traps of
>> purely logical, vertical thinking. It is not a question of stopping
>> doing something we are already doing. It is not a question of  
>> changing
>> something we are already doing. It is a question of starting to do
>> something we are not yet doing - or doing at best, only half- 
>> heartedly.
> Maybe you do it half-heartedly, the test engineers I know make a  
> career
> of it.  Nothing makes them happier than to discover a potential  
> problem
> nobody else thought of.

See my last comment, above

>>>  Calculations about what humans will do is hard
>>> both
>>> because knowing what's in their brains is hard and because there are
>>> no
>>> good models
>> So it appears then that we are in perfect agreement. Don't try and
>> MINIMISE the problem, Brent! The "wet, messy, human brain/mind
>> problem" is THE problem!
> A few paragraphs above, it was the solution: "You still need a wet,
> messy human brain with a perceptually skilled mind to do that." and
> computers and calculation was the problem.

We are simply STUCK with the WMHB. It is the problem AND the solution.  
If you can get anything happening without a WMHB then I want you to  
stop holding back and tell us how you do it!!!

(Big snip follows where we seem to agree with each other)

Love talking to you Mr Get Down and Get Dirty Engineer Man. Where  
would civilisation be without hunks like you!!!

You have my deepest respect


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to [EMAIL PROTECTED]
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to [EMAIL PROTECTED]
For more options, visit this group at 

Reply via email to