Imagination Without Knowledge Is Ignorance Waiting To Happen - Comments

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Zapper,

You're going to a lot of unnecessary trouble here. Evolution doesn't compete with the Second Law. This is simply because the Second Law is about closed systems, or about the Uni/Multiverse as a whole, while evolution always takes place in systems with external energy sources.

Heat has anti-gravity effects, as does any other source of energy, if it is harnessed in a direction opposed to gravity. What's the question?

On imagination and knowledge the point is that both are heterogeneous. All knowledge is approximate. I.e. some of what we think is knowledge is wrong. Duh!

As a general proposition, my imagination and knowledge are both excellent, yours are not bad, but those fools can't get anything right with either. As above, this is obvious. Shurely?

-dlj.
 
I used to post to a science forum which had a contributor whose favourite saying was the one quoted. My retort, which used to really annoy him, was that imagination without knowledge is just dreaming.
 
kreil
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I've watched several Christopher Hitchens debates recently and the entropy argument comes up all the time from creationists (pretty sure William Lane Craig is a repeat offender). Seeing how popular scientific arguments have fared with the general public, this type of adoption has been popping up more and more. The current trend is for creationists to start with a scientific theory (like the 2nd law, or evolution, or the big bang, etc...) and then "show" why these theories do not conflict with creationism. This puts a scientific-sounding mask on their frequent leaps of faith and logic, and puts the scientist on defense to clean up the mess. It's a shame, but also a brilliant technique of persuasion in a debate setting.

The first website I thought of after reading your article was LinkedIn. Most of the groups on LinkedIn are completely unusable because of people spouting off their own personal physics theories. Some of them are just pages and pages long after making incorrect assumptions in the first few sentences. So the message you presented here is an important one for folks to hear.
 
Borek
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What I always find funny about the first argument is the fact that it is used without a second thought (not that I am surprised). If it is not possible to come out with an ordered structure how was your car built? Or your house? How come you grew up to the moment you can ask stupid questions?
 
ZapperZ
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Zapper,

You're going to a lot of unnecessary trouble here. Evolution doesn't compete with the Second Law. This is simply because the Second Law is about closed systems, or about the Uni/Multiverse as a whole, while evolution always takes place in systems with external energy sources.
Unnecessary trouble? This type of argument has been made, and continue to be made by those who have no clue why it is wrong. And they are still made to the ignorant masses.

Heat has anti-gravity effects, as does any other source of energy, if it is harnessed in a direction opposed to gravity. What's the question?
Sorry, but this has nothing to do with the example that I gave. This is not "convection"!

On imagination and knowledge the point is that both are heterogeneous. All knowledge is approximate. I.e. some of what we think is knowledge is wrong. Duh!

As a general proposition, my imagination and knowledge are both excellent, yours are not bad, but those fools can't get anything right with either. As above, this is obvious. Shurely?

-dlj.
No, it is not not obvious. The fact that there are still people making such claims and the fact that I was giving you actual examples are proof that to some people, it is not obvious. And you got it all wrong on the purpose of all this. It isn't to argue about the nature of knowledge or the nature of imagination, or that they are unnecessary. It is to argue that people who simply use their imagination without any foundation in knowledge are more susceptible to making erroneous conclusions, simply because they don't already know what has already been established. This may be obvious to a lot of people here, but to many others, it is not. And worse still, they do not see anything wrong with making conclusions without any solid knowledge of what they are talking about.

Zz.
 
stevendaryl
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Zapper,

You're going to a lot of unnecessary trouble here. Evolution doesn't compete with the Second Law. This is simply because the Second Law is about closed systems, or about the Uni/Multiverse as a whole, while evolution always takes place in systems with external energy sources.

Heat has anti-gravity effects, as does any other source of energy, if it is harnessed in a direction opposed to gravity. What's the question?

On imagination and knowledge the point is that both are heterogeneous. All knowledge is approximate. I.e. some of what we think is knowledge is wrong. Duh!

As a general proposition, my imagination and knowledge are both excellent, yours are not bad, but those fools can't get anything right with either. As above, this is obvious. Shurely?

-dlj.
"Evolution doesn't compete with the Second Law. This is simply because the Second Law is about closed systems, or about the Uni/Multiverse as a whole, while evolution always takes place in systems with external energy sources."

Uh, isn't that what ZapperZ said? He said: " The 2nd Law clearly states that in an ISOLATED SYSTEM (no energy or any kind going in and out), entropy cannot decrease. The earth is certainly NOT an isolated system."
 
stevendaryl
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Zapper,

You're going to a lot of unnecessary trouble here. Evolution doesn't compete with the Second Law. This is simply because the Second Law is about closed systems, or about the Uni/Multiverse as a whole, while evolution always takes place in systems with external energy sources.

Heat has anti-gravity effects, as does any other source of energy, if it is harnessed in a direction opposed to gravity. What's the question?

On imagination and knowledge the point is that both are heterogeneous. All knowledge is approximate. I.e. some of what we think is knowledge is wrong. Duh!

As a general proposition, my imagination and knowledge are both excellent, yours are not bad, but those fools can't get anything right with either. As above, this is obvious. Shurely?

-dlj.
"Evolution doesn't compete with the Second Law. This is simply because the Second Law is about closed systems, or about the Uni/Multiverse as a whole, while evolution always takes place in systems with external energy sources."

Uh, isn't that what ZapperZ said? He said: " The 2nd Law clearly states that in an ISOLATED SYSTEM (no energy or any kind going in and out), entropy cannot decrease. The earth is certainly NOT an isolated system."
There is something very broken about the reply system. It doesn't distinguish between what is quoted and what is new.
 
stevendaryl
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This is the worst comment system I've ever used.
 
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Can you put the case statements in quotes? They are highlighted so prominently that a quick glance could give a completely wrong impression...
 
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Probably one of the best article you've written, Zapper.
 
Andrew Mason
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Zapperz said:
“My feelings on people who think that imagination is more important than knowledge is well-known. These people simply are parroting Einstein’s phrase without understanding the context and implications.”
Perhaps we should have an article about this "quote" of Einstein’s.

The quote attributed to Einstein was first published in 1929 in an article in Saturday Evening Post by George Sylvester Viereck based on an interview conducted with Einstein at his home in Germany (“What Life Means to Einstein”, Sat. Evg. Post, Oct. 26, 1929). Here is the quote that was attributed to him:

"I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."


First of all, one should point out that Mr. Viereck may not have made an accurate quote. He was not recording it, obviously. And he was not even taking very good notes. It appears that the author relied on his memory:

"I tried to secure an explanation of the fifth dimension. I regret to say that I do not remember the answer clearly. Einstein said something about a ball being thrown, which could disappear in one of two holes. One of these holes was the fifth, the other the sixth dimension."

The author, Viereck, also quoted Einstein as saying:

"No man," as Einstein said to me, sitting comfortably on the couch of the sitting room of his Berlin home, “can visualize four dimensions, except mathematically. We cannot visualize even three dimensions."

I am betting that there was something lost in the translation of that last sentence.

Since Einstein was interviewed while he was living in Germany he probably never saw a copy of the article. He may never have seen the quote that had been attributed to him. The article was published in the same week as the stock market crashed (which began Oct 24, 1929) so there may have been some distractions.

If Einstein did say something like the words that were attributed to him, what could he have been saying?

If he was using the word “knowledge” in the sense of physical facts or experimental data, and “imagination” in the sense of theory, then his statement is a bit bewildering. Both are important and he certainly knew that. Theory has to fit the experimental data. Experimental data can destroy a theory. How can an imaginative but wrong theory be more important than real physical data?

The only sense that I can make of a general statement that imagination is more important than knowledge would be the distinction between knowing facts and understanding what they mean. Example: as Feynman noted, the Mayans had amassed a great deal of very accurate data tracking the positions of Venus in the morning and night skies and could relate the time between those appearances to the length of a year. They could predict the appearance of Venus with this data. But they did not understand why these events occurred. They had no idea that Venus and Earth are planets orbiting the sun with Venus having an orbital periods roughly 5/8th that of the earth.

If it is accurate (and it likely is not), it is possible that Einstein wanted to say that understanding of the physical world is more important than just knowing facts about the physical world. If so he chose a poor way to express himself.

AM
 
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Chronos
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Einstein was not condemning knowledge, merely pointing out that knowledge without imagnination lacks relevance. Without those 'what if?' moments knowledge has little more utility than a map without coordinates or a compass.
 
Drakkith
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I hate to bring up one cliche to address another: " a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/a-little-knowledge-is-a-dangerous-thing.html , maybe we should also consider contemporary philosophers like Rumsfeld and his unknown unknowns. But at the end of the day, the truth is just not a very high priority for many.
 
Andrew Mason
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...maybe we should also consider contemporary philosophers like Rumsfeld and his unknown unknowns. But at the end of the day, the truth is just not a very high priority for many.
It didn't seem to be for Rumsfeld.

One should be careful not to equate "knowledge" and "truth", however. We have a lot of very useful scientific knowledge based on theories or laws that have already been disproved or that may yet be disproved. Knowledge is practical. Truth is more of an elusive an ideal.

AM
 

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