Quotes 2017

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it,” wrote the American activist and novelist Upton Sinclair. Just so, it is difficult to get a scholar to understand something when his entire scholarly enterprise depends on his not understanding it.

Mathematicians, like other scientists, rejoice in unexpected new discoveries and delight when new ideas produce new methods to solve old problems and create new ones. Melvyn B. Nathanson

misinformation and fake news is war   Ferrari

“Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.” — Thomas Henry Huxley

The fractal complexity of the law might be more than an evocative metaphor. Samuel Arbesman.  Overcomplicated

Nautilus Feb 2 What Quantum Gravity Needs Is More Experiments, Math won’t solve quantum gravity. Experimentation will. BY SABINE HOSSENFELDER
Mathematics is a tool to carry through deductions, but no mathematical conclusion is better than its assumptions. So, logic isn’t enough to decide among physical theories. The only way to find out which theory describes nature is experimental test.
Those working on different approaches rarely if ever speak with one another; and, if they do, they never agree.

In the end, mental gymnastics, no matter how sophisticated, always come down to aesthetic or philosophical preferences in the choice of assumptions.

The light obtained by setting straw men on fire is not what we mean by illumination.
Getting out to make good things happen beats sitting down and thinking big things up.
The narrating self doesn’t replace sense with story; it makes a story that makes its own ...sense.happiness is where you find it, and you find it first by making it yourself. book review by Adam Gopnik New Yorker March 20, 2017 Issue

Quotes 2016       and some references

סוכה נג א   הלל הזקן כשהיה שמח בשמחת בית השואבה אמר כן אם אני כאן הכל כאן ואם איני כאן מי כאן הוא היה אומר כן למקום שאני אוהב שם רגלי מוליכות אותי אם תבא אל ביתי אני אבא אל ביתך אם אתה לא תבא אל ביתי אני לא אבא אל ביתך
He [Hillel the elder] used to say to the place that I love there my feet lead me.

No one can become an expert at anything overnight. Expertise requires experience, and experience is more about time than tools. M York Gear vs. Skill Videomaker 1/2017

The question of whether "in the begining" was the word [John 1:1] or the pictureis a facinating topic best discussed elsewhere.  Mandelbrot
MK Genesis -- the words are to form a picture.

Mandelbrot's Noah and Joseph Effects

The main use of a model is the pleasure derived in making it.  Cundy & Rollett   Mathemaical Models  Page 14

 a nerdy bumper sticker reading, “Don’t Believe Everything You Think”—

Scratch for kids for dummies by Derek Breen
You know what is more valuable than money? Time!

Modernity is the Size of an Olive    raphaelmagarik
The historian cannot avoid plot; without it, information lacks order and meaning.

Old Man’s War  by John Scalzi
It's much easier to figure out how something works when you've got something to work from than
it is to figure it out on your own.

while failure is a part of taking risks, it is also a tool for learning and a foundation on which to build the next idea.

We seek novelty, but not too much.

Learning includes copying

WSJ article
...the sort of idea so absurd only an intellectual could believe it. 

Yuval Noah Harari Ted Talk Yuval Noah Harari: What explains the rise of humans?
We alone of all the animals on the planet can create and believe fictional stories. And as long as everone believes in the same fiction everyone obeys and follows the same rules, the same norms, the same values. 
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind   Harari, Yuval Noah

Fictional reality

"If you think that science is certain--well that's just an error on your part" Richard Feynman
the joy of learning for its own sake

... it is usually difficult to understand {such} general principles before you have seen specific examples. 
Stephen Wolfram The Mathematica Book, Fifth Edition

Ḥazal   teach us that “  ein adam lomed Torah ella mi-makom she-libbo  ḥafeẓ  ” (  Avodah Zarah  19a)—“a person learns best from a place that his heart desires.” 
Psalm 1 But whose desire is in the law of the Lord.  Said Rabbi: A man can learn [well] only that part of the Torah which is his heart's desire, for it is said, But whose desire is in the law of the Lord.
כי אם בתורת ה' חפצו פריש רבי ואמר אין אדם לומד תורה אלא ממקום שלבו חפץ
   דף יט, א    מסכת עבודה זרה פרק א

Decoding the Rabbis: A Thirteenth-Century Commentary on the Aggadah  Marc Saperstein
p 159 ...sacred rabbinic texts were not only interpreted and explicated but also reinterpreted and and transmuted in accordance with intellectual and spiritual needs arising from a world view radically different from that of the sages.

From PR for ACM Learning Webinar titled    Computational Thinking
The underlying assertion of science is that the world is understandable: fueled by human curiosity and need, this has led us on a journey that has pulled away the veil of mystery surrounding the cosmos and in turn has shaped our very existence. The underlying assertion of computing is that the world is computable: this also has led us on a journey that has irreversibly changed humanity. It was once the case that developing software-intensive systems was the domain of a relative few, but as computing has woven its way into the interstitial spaces of civilization, development is no longer just the domain of professionally trained computer scientists and engineers, for now there has grown a much larger community of amateur and incidental developers, people who must build computational systems as part of their primary focus.

Ruth Calderon "A Bride for the Night"
"The editors, depending on their positions on particular issues, sometimes follow the intuition of the original sages and other times turn it on its head".

 In 2015 I collected miscellaneous quotes that struck my fancy.
For now here they are.
 Quotes 15

Temptations, unlike opportunities, will always give you many second chances."

Sean B. Carroll in Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom  page 138 "Like many events in the deep past, it has been easier to conjure up ideas than to test them.
Page 299 I can't pretend to understand the psychological mechanisms that allow humans to deny reality.

Nautilus article. December 2015 issue What I Learned from Losing $200 Million
The 2008 financial crisis taught me about the illusion of control, and how to give it up
. By Bob Henderson
even history requires a model to interpret it.
you always come to data with a structural model behind”—meaning some preconception of causes and effects, and therefore some prejudice for how to interpret the data.

Nobody can predict the future—but it's still important to plan ahead.  Vanguard investment

words from Hollywood blockbuster Batman Begins: 'It's not who you are on the inside, it's what you do that defines you.'

As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use.--William James

Science is not just a career or a body of facts, but, more important, a set of cognitive and practical tools designed to understand brute reality while overcoming the human desire to believe what we like or find emotionally satisfying.
-Jerry A. Coyne, in Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible (2015)

 I don’t think one can truly prove anything in philosophy; I think one can merely try to convince, and probably one will wind up convincing only those people who started out fairly close to the position one is advocating.
Page 28 I am a strange loop Douglas R. Hofstadter

maybe students are also excited to take courses in which knowing and making are part of the same learning process. Those tech courses are hands-on, collaborative, materials-based (well, virtual materials), and experimental—  By Louis Menand

Of knowledge naught remained I did not know,
Of secrets, scarcely any, high or low;
All day and night for three score and twelve years,
I pondered, just to learn that naught I know.
(Rubā‘iyyāt, Sa‘idī 1991, p. 125)

 "Commitment to a lifelong program of Bible study must be a priority of every educated Jew" 
In The State and Direction of Orthodox Bible Study by Barry Levy in    
Modern scholarship in the study of Torah : contributions and limitations by Shalom Carmy"

from Steve Stern the Frozen Rabbi p8,9

whether it was permitted to pee in the snow on Shabbos (which was tantamount to plowing, which was work, and so forbidden)
Since they refused to acknowledge the Prodigy as officially deceased, the Chasidim were unable to elect a successor and thus came to be know for their veneration of the refrigerated rebbe as the Frozen Chasidim.

separating the gems from the detritus

You don’t have to be Jewish to be a compulsive interpreter, but, of course, it helps. —Harold Bloom

from The Serpent's promise by Steve Jones   about dark matter "We do not know; and the explanations, when they emerge, will be at an intellectual pole that most of us will never reach."

from The Rebbe, the Messiah, and the Scandal of Orthodox Indifference David Berger Littman Library
page140 "An outside observer is, of course, free to argue that belief in the resurrection of the dead,or in a personal Messiah,or, for that matter, in God, is itself irrational. By that criterion, however, all serious Orthodox Jews, myself included, are crazy. "

בתלמוד הבבלי (מסכת פסחים דף קיב עמוד א): "תנו רבנן: שבעה דברים צוה רבי עקיבא את רבי יהושע בנו: בני, ... ואל תדור בעיר שראשיה תלמידי חכמים..

All history is created  Brettler
Philip R.Davies, In Search of “Ancient Israel,”
JSOTSup 148 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1992), 13, “All story is fiction, and that  must include historiography.”

A disease is nothing more then a theoretical model applied to a cluster of symptoms. Campbell, Whole        Click    the Cognitive Revolution
Human language has enabled us to create a "fictive reality" — an imagined realm that makes it possible for very large numbers of people (who do not necessarily inhabit the same time or space) to cooperate and share common ideas. This is the basic condition that allowed for the shaping of religions and the creation of beliefs.

Meyer Katzper,
Dec 30, 2015, 12:16 AM