Friday, July 22, 2005

The shortest day of my life so far

I realized this morning that this will actually be the shortest day in my life so far - at least formally, since I'm flying in the "right" direction (from US to Sweden). The 7-hour time difference will essentially eat one night's sleep, and I'll arrive around biological-clock-midnight but formal-time-breakfast in Sweden. That will be interesting. Jetlag the other way around wasn't that dramatical, but I assume that this will be different. Looking at it from a scientific perspective will hopefully make me feel less miserable...

And talking about science, there is an interesting discussion at 3 Quarks Daily about science and esthetics - how scientists sometimes search for "beautiful" theories rather than correct ones, and the implications of that. Of course, scientists' notions of beauty are not always those of the general public - I'd say they are often more centered around usefulness and function, or theoretical clarity.

And he mentions Dawkins, building a quite a large part of his discussion around memes. I am strongly ambivalent about Dawkins' work - surely, he has some interesting ideas. But I think that misconceptions and/or misapplications of Dawkins' ideas have done some real damage to the general thinking (especially this "selfish gene" thinking, that combined with the general public's unknowing lack of knowledge about biology/genetics/evolution has given us quite a few really bad "in the stoneage, where people did this and that" arguments - often used by scientists in other fields).

Anyway, it is pointed out that there are very few people that know both science and philosophy and that this means that there are few discussions about the philosophy of science. Might be true. But I think that it is also a case of trying to mix oil and water - scientific thinkers find philosophy fuzzy and badly underbuilt by facts, while philosophers find scientific thinking rigid and limited (of course I'm generalizing). On the other hand, when you do mix oil and water, you tend to end up with really interesting things. :)

And by the way, I hope this one-post-per-month thing isn't going to last forever. But since Other Blog Project is going well, that has kind of taken most of my time (usually, time that would otherwise be reserved for sleeping) and might continue to do so for a while.