Re: virus: Tools of the trade
Wed, 18 Sep 1996 22:30:03 -0500 (CDT)

On Wed, 18 Sep 1996, Wade T. Smith wrote:

> >So, maybe there are scientists addressing problems one way and
> >'witch doctors' another - given time, the witch doctors will probably
> >become obsolete, but at any given point in time, for some given
> >problem, they may be significantly ahead of the scientists.
> >
> >ken
> Well, the only reason the 'witch doctors' can be said to be ahead is
> because _their_ hand-waving has pumped up their sails, and is much more
> dramatic and impressive. But none of it is an answer, and none of it has
> required unimaginable tools.
> The act of supplying an answer to a question which hasn't got one yet is
> fraud. And _that_ is the tool of the 'witch doctor'.
> Philosophy is a form of discourse, a method of arriving at the questions.
> Science is that discipline which endeavors to find the answers.
> Theology is fraud from both camps, although it dangles as a branch of
> philosophy, apparently with permission, and without bearing fruit.

Careful. I regret that some programs in current production use algorithms
whose accuracy is unknown, and their unknown accuracy IS known. [I don't
have details, sorry. That's a statement tossed out on the first day of a
numerical analysis class I'm taking.] Such algorithms would qualify as
being created by modern analogs of 'witch-doctors'.

As another example [from physics], Feynman diagrams, when properly
computed, are known to give predictions for subatomic experiments that are
indistinguishable from measurement--but it is a theorem [Haag's(?)
theorem] that these predictions are INCORRECT at a sufficient level of
precision, which is not masked by the uncertainity principle limit.

/ Kenneth Boyd