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Author Topic: "To Err is Human"....why ?  (Read 8089 times)

Offline neilep

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« on: 01/02/2008 19:48:30 »
"To Err is Human"............ said some wise person......

..I think they were mistaken !! ;)







WHY do we make mistakes ?



 

Offline opus

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #1 on: 01/02/2008 20:21:09 »
  ....to learn?
 

Offline neilep

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #2 on: 01/02/2008 20:25:54 »
  ....to learn?

Could not learning be achieved without making mistakes ?
 

another_someone

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #3 on: 01/02/2008 20:46:21 »
Because nature makes mistake, because if nature did not make mistakes, we could not evolve.

Evolution (in any context, not merely biological) is about trying things out, and not being sure which ones will work.  When you have tried them out, you keep the one's that work, and discard the one's that don't work.  You regard the one's that don't work as mistakes, but you could never have found the one's that did work without also having made lots of mistakes as well (not only for humans, but for nature in general - which is why birth deformities, and genetic weaknesses, are totally  natural, and necessary, otherwise we could never have evolutionary progression - this is what those who favour eugenics do not understand).
 

Offline neilep

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #4 on: 01/02/2008 20:55:47 »
So, as a species we are still making mistakes for two fundamental reasons.....to learn and to evolve ?

Is evolving a good thing ?....does it mean that we are forever imperfect..ad infinitum  ?
 

another_someone

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #5 on: 01/02/2008 21:00:51 »
So, as a species we are still making mistakes for two fundamental reasons.....to learn and to evolve ?

Is evolving a good thing ?....does it mean that we are forever imperfect..ad infinitum  ?

Perfection is a meaningless term in a real world - one cannot even define how one would judge something to be perfect.

Evolution is about survival, not about perfection.

But since the environment we exist in is constantly changing (some of the change being of our own making, and some of it despite us), thus we must continually evolve to adapt to it.
 

Offline neilep

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #6 on: 01/02/2008 21:15:58 »
So, as a species we are still making mistakes for two fundamental reasons.....to learn and to evolve ?

Is evolving a good thing ?....does it mean that we are forever imperfect..ad infinitum  ?

Perfection is a meaningless term in a real world - one cannot even define how one would judge something to be perfect.

Evolution is about survival, not about perfection.

But since the environment we exist in is constantly changing (some of the change being of our own making, and some of it despite us), thus we must continually evolve to adapt to it.

yes yes.."perfection" is meaningless in this context.....but I don't think "imperfect" is......

Surely...nature evolves then because of imperfections....in that a more feasible appropriate efficient way is always best yes ?

Though ,we must adapt our human made environment to accommodate our flaws....the fact then, that we are products of nature must still mean that it's a natural process.....perhaps ?

Can you envisage a time where "mistakes" are defunct ?


If there is a natural law of evolution.....does this mean that this law can be seized and diagnosed ? analysed ?......Could it be that in the future we will be able to do this ?


It seems we make mistakes because Nature says we must.....

 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #7 on: 01/02/2008 21:28:16 »
WHY do we make mistakes ?

What do you mean "we"?  >:(
 

another_someone

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #8 on: 01/02/2008 21:43:30 »
yes yes.."perfection" is meaningless in this context.....but I don't think "imperfect" is......


But if nothing is perfect, then does it not follow that all things are imperfect, and so nothing can be distinguished by its imperfection, since its imperfection merely makes it the same as everything else.

Surely...nature evolves then because of imperfections....in that a more feasible appropriate efficient way is always best yes ?

Generally, the answer is no.  Nature does not evolve because there is a better way of doing things, it evolves because if you keep on doing things the way you are you are going to get yourself killed, so either you change the way you do things, or you will be replaced by something that does (and more commonly it is the latter).

Though ,we must adapt our human made environment to accommodate our flaws....the fact then, that we are products of nature must still mean that it's a natural process.....perhaps ?

Do you mean 'flaws' or 'limitations'?  I suspect the latter.

Yes, ofcourse it is a natural process; but our changes to our environment are as much about the law of unintended consequences as it is about adapting things to suite our own limitations (although that is ofcourse the driving force, but not always the only outcome).

But changes in our environment are not just about what we do to the environment - we don't yet have control over volcanoes, plate tectonics, solar radiation levels, cosmic radiation levels, and numerous other factors that can influence the environment.

Can you envisage a time where "mistakes" are defunct ?

There are only two ways we can cease to make mistakes:

1) the most likely is we cease to exist - dead things don't make mistakes, but they don't make anything else either.

2) we are able to predict the outcome of every action we take, and will refrain from taking any risks that may lead to unpredictable outcomes.  I am very happy to say I cannot envision such a world, for if it were ever to come about, it would be an incredibly boring world, and I'd just as soon choose option 1 above.

If there is a natural law of evolution.....does this mean that this law can be seized and diagnosed ? analysed ?......Could it be that in the future we will be able to do this ?


To know why something happens is not the same as saying you can alter its happening, or even that you can predict the exact outcome of its happening (chaos theory is a good example of why things can be explained without being able to precisely predict the outcome).

It seems we make mistakes because Nature says we must.....

Indeed so.
 

Offline neilep

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #9 on: 01/02/2008 22:06:54 »
WHY do we make mistakes ?




What do you mean "we"?  >:(

Sorry esteemed unblemished one !
 

Offline opus

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #10 on: 01/02/2008 22:17:20 »
 saying something's perfect is like saying something's normal- it's subjective surely...?
 

Offline neilep

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« Reply #11 on: 01/02/2008 22:18:17 »
yes yes.."perfection" is meaningless in this context.....but I don't think "imperfect" is......


But if nothing is perfect, then does it not follow that all things are imperfect, and so nothing can be distinguished by its imperfection, since its imperfection merely makes it the same as everything else.

Surely...nature evolves then because of imperfections....in that a more feasible appropriate efficient way is always best yes ?

Quote
Generally, the answer is no.  Nature does not evolve because there is a better way of doing things, it evolves because if you keep on doing things the way you are you are going to get yourself killed, so either you change the way you do things, or you will be replaced by something that does (and more commonly it is the latter).
Why will I get myself killed ?.....do you mean in the 'grand scheme ' of things over an epoch or a far more local timescale ?

Though ,we must adapt our human made environment to accommodate our flaws....the fact then, that we are products of nature must still mean that it's a natural process.....perhaps ?

Do you mean 'flaws' or 'limitations'?  I suspect the latter.

Couldn't a limitation also be a flaw ?


Yes, ofcourse it is a natural process; but our changes to our environment are as much about the law of unintended consequences as it is about adapting things to suite our own limitations (although that is ofcourse the driving force, but not always the only outcome).

But changes in our environment are not just about what we do to the environment - we don't yet have control over volcanoes, plate tectonics, solar radiation levels, cosmic radiation levels, and numerous other factors that can influence the environment.

Can you envisage a time where "mistakes" are defunct ?

There are only two ways we can cease to make mistakes:

1) the most likely is we cease to exist - dead things don't make mistakes, but they don't make anything else either.

Perhaps ceasing to exist is a mistake !
:)

2) we are able to predict the outcome of every action we take, and will refrain from taking any risks that may lead to unpredictable outcomes.  I am very happy to say I cannot envision such a world, for if it were ever to come about, it would be an incredibly boring world, and I'd just as soon choose option 1 above.

Why do we need to make predictions to avoid mistakes ?...why can't every thing we do be the right thing to do ?

If there is a natural law of evolution.....does this mean that this law can be seized and diagnosed ? analysed ?......Could it be that in the future we will be able to do this ?


To know why something happens is not the same as saying you can alter its happening, or even that you can predict the exact outcome of its happening (chaos theory is a good example of why things can be explained without being able to precisely predict the outcome).

Chaos theory (until proven)is a theory though yes ?...and Natural Law is what then ?

It seems we make mistakes because Nature says we must.....

Indeed so.

Was it a mistake of me to ask why we make mistakes ?

sorry..I know the above looks messy !!
 

another_someone

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #12 on: 01/02/2008 22:20:10 »
saying something's perfect is like saying something's normal- it's subjective surely...?

Yes, this goes back to my earlier statement that one cannot make an objective assessment of perfection.

The problem is that most people's idea of perfection, as I have come across, has been internally inconsistent anyway, so unattainable.
 

Offline neilep

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #13 on: 01/02/2008 22:23:40 »
saying something's perfect is like saying something's normal- it's subjective surely...?

Yes, this goes back to my earlier statement that one cannot make an objective assessment of perfection.

The problem is that most people's idea of perfection, as I have come across, has been internally inconsistent anyway, so unattainable.


But perfection DOES exist....in other conditions outside the human equation......like maths for example..!?

So...is "perfection" and ideology, a philosophy,  ?
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #14 on: 01/02/2008 22:29:58 »

So...is "perfection" and ideology, a philosophy,  ?

No... A BEAVER!  :D
 

another_someone

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #15 on: 01/02/2008 22:49:33 »
Why will I get myself killed ?.....do you mean in the 'grand scheme ' of things over an epoch or a far more local timescale ?

Maybe not technically over an epoch, but yes, in the grand scheme of things rather than the specific.

The fact is  you (me, and everybody else) will die.  Evolution is about tweaking the probabilities rather than the ability to avoid death altogether.

It is rather like learning to look before crossing the road - not doing so does not guarantee immediate death, but significantly increases the likelihood of an earlier death.

OK, in evolutionary terms, we are taking about the death of a genetic trait, rather than the death of individuals.  As such, from the evolutionary point of view, it is really the likelihood of your living long enough to pass on the gene to your offspring, and they to their offspring; after which, from an evolutionary perspective, your further survival is redundant.  There are complexities with regard to the possibility of the gene surviving through your siblings passing on the gene.

Ofcourse, you then get on to the issues regarding memetic inheritance as well as genetic inheritance - and this is where the evolution of ideas comes into it, rather than simply the evolution of species.


Though ,we must adapt our human made environment to accommodate our flaws....the fact then, that we are products of nature must still mean that it's a natural process.....perhaps ?

Do you mean 'flaws' or 'limitations'?  I suspect the latter.

Couldn't a limitation also be a flaw ?

Does that not depend on the design criteria - so unless you can show me the design specification that states what the design criteria are for human beings, I'm afraid you cannot get your money back due to a flawed design or manufacture of the human product.  You just have to accept it is a limitation of the product, since there is no known design documentation which can be said to specify what the proper function of the human being should be.


Why do we need to make predictions to avoid mistakes ?...why can't every thing we do be the right thing to do ?

I suppose we do not actually need to make predictions to avoid mistakes.  The absence of making predictions is probably a very good way of avoiding mistakes - although it is a rather too laid back approach - and approach life as a devil may care, I wont worry or think about tomorrow, so I wont make predictions about outcome, so we cannot make any mistakes, although we also cannot get anything right, since we are simply not trying to affect the future at all.

The point is, the only way not to make a mistake is not to try and make a difference.  The moment you try to make a difference, then you must seek to predict the outcome of the difference you seek to make, and thus will make mistakes.

Chaos theory (until proven)is a theory though yes ?...and Natural Law is what then ?

The difference between a law and a theory is largely semantics.  In modern times, the more we know, the less we are certain about, so we apply the term 'theory' when in the past people would have been far more confident to use the term 'law'.  Hence we talk of Newtons laws of motion, and the theory of Relativity, yet both are in their own way no more or less certain than each other.

Was it a mistake of me to ask why we make mistakes ?

Questions are never mistakes, even if the answers are maybe not what you expected.  On the contrary, the more unexpected the answer, the more valuable the question.
« Last Edit: 02/02/2008 14:12:43 by another_someone »
 

another_someone

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #16 on: 01/02/2008 22:52:31 »
But perfection DOES exist....in other conditions outside the human equation......like maths for example..!?

So...is "perfection" and ideology, a philosophy,  ?

But mathematics is not a physical reality - it is merely an abstract concept.
 

Offline neilep

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #17 on: 01/02/2008 23:36:15 »
But perfection DOES exist....in other conditions outside the human equation......like maths for example..!?

So...is "perfection" and ideology, a philosophy,  ?

But mathematics is not a physical reality - it is merely an abstract concept.

So 'Perfection' is an illusion ?..

.......but when you write that maths on a sheet of paper...or create a graph...or make an octagon out of cardboard.....doesn't that make it tangible ?
 

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #18 on: 01/02/2008 23:49:18 »
.......but when you write that maths on a sheet of paper...or create a graph...or make an octagon out of cardboard.....doesn't that make it tangible ?

Have you ever tried to make a 'perfect' graph?  Mine always seem remarkably imperfect.  As for my cardboard octagons, the mind boggles.
 

Offline neilep

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #19 on: 02/02/2008 00:00:01 »
I'm sure you make lovely octagons George !

.......mistakes are perquisite for evolution of Nature.....Evolution is not correcting flaws but weeding out the weak....so that Nature can continue...

..So......To err is human !.....is THAT a perfect statement ?...
 

Offline techmind

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #20 on: 02/02/2008 00:16:49 »
"To Err is Human"............

...but to really foul things up requires a computer!  :-)
 

Offline RenRen

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #21 on: 02/02/2008 04:56:33 »
What is a mistake but just an outcome that doesn't live out to the expectations of the actor or the viewing audience? I am a strict believer that things work out the way they're supposed to, and it's up to us to accept the result. Whoa! I just got all philosophical on that one!
 

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"To Err is Human"....why ?
« Reply #21 on: 02/02/2008 04:56:33 »

 

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