Cognitive Dissonance : A Parable

          On 2 Dec 2016, one of my colleagues presented a planetarium show, "Black Holes Everywhere". This got me thinking about the hierarchy problem. I started writing "Black Holes Everywhere : A First Person Account" and immediately encountered an impenetrable barrier. Let me try to provide a context.

          Up until about two hundred years ago Classical Philosophers {think Democrats} could not agree upon a proper description of "a quantity of motion" for objects like pebbles. Some thought the correct description should be proportional to the square of the pebble's velocity. Others thought the correct description should be proportional to the velocity of the pebble.
          They reached a consensus after much argument, and (more importantly) experimentation. They discovered that both descriptions were correct, and that the two were related. The first description of motion they called Kinetic Energy. The second, they called Momentum.


          And these two descriptions were intimately related:


          And everyone lived happily ever after · · · until about one hundred years ago a new crowd emerged. The Conventional Philosophers {think Neo-Liberals}, using the same tools as the Classical Philosophers {think Democrats}, discovered that those equations above were not correct. What they found was still manageable but a bit weird:




          Together these philosophers finagled an interpretation that was satisfactory (well sort of, anyway). The hard core Classical Philosophers {think Democrats} took over Department's of Philosophy while Conventional Philosophers {think Neo-Liberals} dominated Department's of Physics, Chemistry, et cetera.
          The Conventional Philosophers {think Neo-Liberals} did a wonderful job describing Reality using their various interpretations even as they struggled to reconciles the above with the emerging nightmare known as Quantum Mechanics. This incomprehensible "elephant in the corner" was just one facet of the problems they faced.
          These philosophers' desire to maintain philosophical continuity produced so many examples of being not only not correct, they are so not correct as to be not even wrong. The emergence of Modern Philosophers {think Progressives} was inevitable. I, for one, began that journey in 1954 as I entered kindergarten. We are characterized by not having been integrated into the ranks of Conventional Philosophers {think Neo-Liberals}, even marginally. Very early in our educational experience we knew there was something foul in our textbooks. We know the notions of "Relativistic Mass", and the many other attempts to Classical-ize relativity and quantum mechanics are futile at best.
          We, Modern Philosophers {think Progressives}, know that "understanding" not "knowledge" is the key to groking the subject of Natural Philosophy, Reality. The physical sciences are not grounded in experimentalism.

The Impenetrable Barrier

          I have tried to discuss a modern understanding of physics at www.dailykos.com, and www.reddit.com only to discover such discussions are impossible.
          In real life (from Sept 1954 through Aug 2014) I seldom experienced any difficulty engaging others in discussing these concepts. The majority of failures to communicate involved older educators, steeped in the Classical frame of mind. But in an interactive environment, I found, even these people could be reached.

However, online, the barriers seem insurmountable.
Share
up
0 users have voted.

Comments

PriceRip's picture

up
0 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

jwa13's picture

... probably can be explained by a simple phrase, which also applies to many other aspects of life (and "reality", such as it is) --

"How things look depends upon where you're standing" --

up
0 users have voted.

When Cicero had finished speaking, the people said “How well he spoke”.
When Demosthenes had finished speaking, the people said “Let us march”.

PriceRip's picture

          I am certain you are correct. Just like we take negative numbers to be the logical consequence of the subtraction process my granddaughter loves to play with today. I am not good enough (yet?) to do that same thing for Quantum Mechanics.

          Issac Asimov and his ilk did it for me in the 1960s. I understood a fundimental truth about the electron and an important aspect of the nature of Quantum Mechanics by reading science fiction. Classical as well as Conventional Philosophers are not pleased when I point out:

          An electron is an entity than is simultaneously a particle and a not-particle. Or, if you wish it is simultaneously a wave and a not-wave.

          This simple language (according to Classical as well as Conventional Philosophers, and virtually everyone else on the planet) is complete nonsense. The problem is: Nothing can be both included as a member of a set and simultaneously not a member of that same set. That is just not allowed, but yet here we are · · · I present the "lowly" electron. Classical as well as Conventional Philosophers insist an electron be thought of as a blended thing that exhibits the properties of a wave as well as the properties of a particle. This notion "is not only not right; it is not even wrong" or "Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig; es ist nicht einmal falsch!" as Wolfgang Pauli might say.
          The problem is, Classical, and Conventional philosophy just are not up to the task. And, the stuff of Reality, Quantum Mechanics requires thinking outside the box. (He said while winking at Erwin Schrödinger.)
          I have been cavorting with Elementary Particles too long and have lost touch with the classical world, I prefer the Reality from which the classical emerges. And, so I (the jester) quietly exit stage left.

up
0 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

asterisk's picture

They 'are' also, simultaneously, wave forms.
In clear English--we do not exactly understand what photons really are.

Oh, and we are all just walking piles of wavy things with a lot of space in between.
What is space, anyway?

up
0 users have voted.
PriceRip's picture

          The wave-particle patch for photons is just as bad as the wave-particle patch for electrons. Wave-particle dualism is just a cheap patch by Contemporary Philosophers trying to accommodate the inability of Classical philosophy to deal with Quantum Mechanics (read Reality).

          We need to drop any pretense that classical logic is able to deal with Reality while avoiding the pitfalls of Deepak Chopra and his ilk.

up
0 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

Bisbonian's picture

For me, that something was negative numbers. I refused to believe in them. I was condemned by my teacher, Mrs. Capps, thusly; " you will never amount to more than a ditch digger." She was right...I became an airline pilot and a banjo player, which average out to nothing more than a ditch digger.

Bottom line, I am afraid that most everything I have read from you is over my head. But I keep trying. I think if you keep trying, too, you will reach some of us.

up
0 users have voted.

"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

PriceRip's picture

          How can there be less than nothing? I love this as an example of how crazy it can get. This concept is a recent development yet somehow, now, most humans can grasp this concept relativity early in their development. My granddaughter (kindergarten) is already functioning at the second grade level w.r.t. mathematics. As my daughter outdid me, I suspect my granddaughter will outdo her in the coming years.

up
0 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

Bisbonian's picture

Ours lives with us, for now...giving us the opportunity to go through 4th grade math again.

I put negative three apples into her lunch the other day.

up
0 users have voted.

"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

mimi's picture

postivie three apples you should have put into her lunch ? You all crack me up and I understand definitely something in the negative number range. Smile

up
0 users have voted.

who are net negatives. I certainly don't see a lot of positivity among the ruling elite.

up
0 users have voted.

Beware the bullshit factories.

but here goes.

Whether one uses the classical (pre-DLC) philosophy/method or the conventional (DLC) philosophy/method in describing the results of a high energy, high momentum impact with an impenetrable barrier (non-Hillary voters) you would best be served by throwing out the old calculations and giving the freaking barrier some freaking understanding!.

It will take time to more fully digest your essay PR, my math skills are primarily intuitive and the light bulb in my head has to switch on before I 'get it'.

Edit add: There aren't that many people who love mathematics compared with those to whom it gives a headache.
I don't know how you solve that problem.

up
0 users have voted.

With their hearts they turned to each others heart for refuge
In troubled years that came before the deluge
*Jackson Browne, 1974, Before the Deluge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SX-HFcSIoU

PriceRip's picture

          The most exciting aspect of teaching is watching students figuring out how to "think different" id est create their own way and pacing. Too much standardization (particularly at the college and graduate level) is strangling creativity in all disciplines.

          As for math skills, when I "think math" I see "the code" as geometrical relationships, so some mathematicians think I am weird.

          · · · there's way too much information to decode the Matrix. You get used to it, though. Your brain does the translating. I don't even see the code. All I see is blonde, brunette, redhead.

- - Cypher

up
0 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

riverlover's picture

Used to be good at it. Square roots were worse than calculus. That is what good science calculators were good for. Shortcuts. All of mine have died. I guess from that I am pushed to exit but no to that.

Raining on the roof. No summer showers Winter half-inchers, my culverts are all blocked and overflow runs down the drive. Slowly it may be reset in cobble.

up
0 users have voted.

Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

PriceRip's picture

          One of the best teachers I ever knew taught my fifth grade class. During my my second year in his class he presented an excellent description of how to extract square roots to as many digits as desired. Then he mentioned that we could create the same sort of routine to extract cube roots to as many digits as desired. It took me a lot of time but working out that algorithm on my own was the greatest gift he ever gave me. I think making me repeat the fifth grade gave him enough time to know how to get me motivated.

          A few years later I found a copy of Frederick Winsor's book and I had to laugh:




A Space Child's Mother Goose by Frederick Winsor included the following:

Little Jack Horner
Sits in a corner
Extracting cube roots to infinity,
An assignment for boys
That will minimize noise
And produce a more peaceful vicinity.

up
0 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

MsGrin's picture

Cognitive dissonance and I are very old friends at this point.

up
0 users have voted.

'What we are left with is an agency mandated to ensure transparency and disclosure that is actually working to keep the public in the dark' - Ann M. Ravel, former FEC member

PriceRip's picture

          I doubt there is a Gaussian distribution at this site. So, I am thinking the median and mean are not even close to each other. Therefore, cognitive dissonance is probably the norm.

          It is a real hoot watching my granddaughter experience cognitive dissonance on a regular basis. This is the stuff of the real fountain of youth. It is so sad that Ponce de León didn't know this simple truth.

up
0 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

therefore
there is actually little cognitive dissonance occurring in the adult world.
And even less online at political blogs. (ESPECIALLY at one site we all know well)
And none at all for that sites leader.

Quite honestly I think we should stop using this term to describe what's occurring in those who vote against their own interests.
They experience no stress or discomfort whatsoever.
We've been giving them more than is their due,

up
0 users have voted.

With their hearts they turned to each others heart for refuge
In troubled years that came before the deluge
*Jackson Browne, 1974, Before the Deluge https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SX-HFcSIoU

PriceRip's picture

          My perceptions of the world around me are defined by millions of years of evolution. That is, I am the product of an evolutionary history that has produced a constellation of executive functions that allow for a rational interpretation of inputs (sight, sound, et cetera), and a rational response to those inputs. These interactions can be described by the use of classical terms. That is it is understandable in terms that would not be incomprehensible (for the most part) to someone from about two hundred years ago.

          But what I know to be true is that all things relevant to the stuff of the previous paragraph emerge from quantum mechanical processes. Our very thoughts derive from stochastic processes at the molecular level. The (more of less) standard definition of "stochastic" involving the word "random" does not even come close to capturing the true nature of these stochastic processes. The ability to form coherent thoughts and effect smooth control of our actions is astounding given the reality "beneath the surface" that is the source of all thought and action.

          While this does not bother me in the slightest, it does fire my obsession. And, every experiment I conduct, every measurement I contemplate, and every thought I have highlights this fundimental dissonance inherent to Reality. So, I do not consider it hyperbole to state, "I am in a perpetual state of cognitive dissonance."

          And, barring the nonsense of "thoughts controlling wavefunctions" and other stupid stuff, I will continue to work on producing materials attempting to understand how this all really works.

up
0 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

riverlover's picture

I happen to think that is not true. Flat is my QWERTY keyboard, even when raised. A medium. Yes there could be emoticons, I find those crude.

up
0 users have voted.

Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

PriceRip's picture

          And don't forget A Wrinkle in Time. I think I have smoothed out some of the lanquage I needed to fix so, as soon as I get my computer back from my tech guy, I will complete my "Black Holes Everywhere : A First Person Account" and (click) publish.

up
0 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

Carol Joy's picture

Disproven? Or shaken up? Or completely ostracized from the rest of everything?

up
0 users have voted.

Believing in the improbable can make your life a miracle.

PriceRip's picture

          I would really be interested to find any such article or announcement.

          However you may be thinking about this: A rather large subset of physicists think that gravity should be just like the other forces of nature. The Electromagnetic, Weak, and Strong interactions are mediated by quantum mechanical processes. If this is to be true of gravity, a graviton (a point-like process) must exist to mediate the gravitational interaction. Recently, a very important experiment failed to detect a graviton and I posted a comment (I just tried but could not find it) about that being a "win" for my team. If experiments clearly show gravitons cannot exist then a whole lot of textbooks will need to be rewritten. And my life will get a bit more interesting.

up
0 users have voted.

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
Robert J. McCloskey, U.S. State Department spokesman. From a press briefing during the Vietnam war.

riverlover's picture

does not cause us all the fly off the spinning globe because we only learned we could stand on it, I am fine. I accept the cell theory because I have seen cells under a microscope and believing that, could fractionate many. Hmm. Spellcheck does not like that word. I will use it repeatedly today.

An interesting article about three-human offspring. To get around mitochondrial diseases. Mitos are bacterial endosymbionts. So are chloroplasts, for our semi-green friends. Turns out that diseased mitos could win out because they can replicate faster. So now we should be typed for mito DNA as well as blood type and haplotype for cellular transplant. It's great to be alive right now!

up
0 users have voted.

Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.