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Old 12-28-2017, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by LSLGuy View Post
Sam, what follows is a serious suggestion ...

... Some years ago I stumbled on this blog.

Turns out the guy is real famous in his field as the elder statesman of bloggers who've got something smart to say about a pretty deep topic. He's a medicinal chemist, a guy who searches for and perfects medicines. I've read every post of his for the last 8 years. Along the way I've learned a great deal about the big picture of chemistry, biochemistry, cellular biology and organism biology.

He has slowly taught me that our current understanding of cellular & organism-level biology is on a par with primitive tribes' understanding of physics. It's not dead wrong, but there's vast tracts of pure guesswork and areas where we can't tell first order effects from 4th order effects. As well as vast areas we don't even know exist.

What makes him magic is that beyond his PhD and his 30+ years in the industry doing cutting edge stuff there's a deep-seated humility and a total absence of boosterism and hucksterism. We know more than did the witch doctors baying at the Moon. But not that much more versus how deep this stuff really is. We've barely scratched the surface of understanding how any of this stuff really works.

... Dunning-Kruger is real. The greater one's expertise, the more they recognize the limitations to their knowledge and skill. Their awareness of those unknown unknowns grows ever larger. There is wisdom in the intellectual humility that flows from that understanding.
An excellent and thoughtful post as usual, LSLGuy (last paragraph bolding mine). I was going to respond to it when I saw it last night, but I was too tired. What I wanted to say at the time was that, as insightful and well-intentioned as your post is, you were unfortunately probably wasting your time, considering the subject to whom your observations were directed.

My prediction would have been that SamuelA would not only totally miss the point, but he would start arguing with you. And so it has proved. In the intervening hours that's exactly what happened. At least, I think he was arguing; perhaps someone could translate this into English:
You realize that what you are talking about there are terms where some of them nearly infinitely times harder than others.
This is, incidentally, the same post in which SamuelA succinctly summarizes artificial intelligence for us: "just big mathematical algorithms that explore a solution space". There you go. But I would expect no less from the same genius who also brilliantly summarized for us the architecture of the brain and explained for us how cognition and consciousness works, as I cited over here.

The point here, of course, is that although the greatest minds of our times struggle with understanding these things and pushing forward the bounds of discovery, SamuelA struggles with nothing. The point, in other words, is the one that Qadgop made here about Dunning-Kruger -- as you did, too -- and SamuelA's unique place on that curve.

I've had the privilege of knowing a number of world-class experts in their fields of research, and you're absolutely right about intellectual humility. They may be impatient with obvious fools and some are masters of sarcastic barbs, but they know the limitations of their own knowledge and in the face of it are often humble and even self-effacing. Yet when they do have something to say they're usually both insightful and correct. The bloviating moron who is the subject of our observations here is the antithesis of all of those things. He would argue with these people and tell them why they're wrong -- it would be, dontcha know, because the principles are really quite simple and they just don't get it. But SamuelA does. The only thing that might ever change that -- maybe -- is the passage of a great deal of time and the onset of maturity and, hopefully, some measure of actual competence in something.
Originally Posted by SamuelA View Post
And it's ok for you to not realize that the definitions of both words are so similar (your new word of the day!) that my answer was still correct. It's also ok for you to feel superior that because you know a rarely used English word and I didn't, that must mean you are smarter than me. Why, if you're smarter than me, that must mean you're right about everything and I'm not.
"Obdurate" is not an obscure word. But even if it was, "tenet" certainly is not, as it's not only a common word but one with special significance in science and philosophy. You didn't know that one, either. And few would consider the expression "per se" to be obscure, even in everyday writing. You got that wrong, too. And of course, in all these cases you must insist that "my answer was still correct" and, most remarkably of all, "I'm using tenet correctly" despite hilariously thinking it was a homonym of "tenant"! Because, of course, you can never be wrong.

That you knew none of these things yet lay claim to genius is consistent with all your asinine techno-babble and is yet another testament to your full participation on the left-hand side of the Dunning-Kruger distribution.