Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Problems in Understanding the Validity of Reality

Learning from Science: 75% anomalous results represents a huge information stream in information-theoretic terms. But it’s mostly noise. So scientists have filters in their minds to deal with it — as do we all (read the rest of the article for a little neuroscience about that). The filters explain why “normal science” can proceed so long in the face of anomalies before a Kuhnian paradigm shift occurs. It’s a perfectly reasonable bias to assume that your existing theory, that has worked in the past, is right and the contradictory evidence is noise. It usually is.

But if the bias of your filters somehow gets set by something else — a political belief, for example — the fact that the filters control so much of what you see can steer you wrong a lot faster than you think.