The Autodidacts

Exploring the universe from the inside out

Everything is a Rabbit Hole

Everything is connected. It’s a truism because it’s true. To move a physical thing, everything touching it must move also … and then the neighbours of the neighbours must make way … and the neighbours of the neighbours of the neighbours. It goes on.

(Thus, reductive science is at best an approximation of the truth; at worst, actively misleading.)

Newtonian physics is useful, but it isn’t true in all cases. Einsteinian physics is less useful day-to-day, but more true (as far as we can tell).

Ideas behave a bit like matter. You can’t really think or write about one idea without, to some degree, thinking or writing about all ideas. (See Opinions are Optional for more on this theme.)

A good scientific paper is like Einsteinian physics, or quantum theory: a more accurate, but less useful, description of reality.

Blog posts and essays are more like Newtonian physics. They’re effective because they don’t try to cover every edge-case. Which means, they’re not always absolutely so.

Often, what was once considered the more true, more complex representation of reality turn out, as we learn more, to be itself only an approximate, simplified version.

Both approaches, useful and true, have their merits — and it’s good to know which kind of knowledge one is aiming for. Sometimes, we need to know something exactly. But sometimes we just want to fire a cannon and hit the target, without spending all day doing math.