Sep. 4th, 2017

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Five people who don't know me whom I wish I were in conversation with:

Duncan J. Watts
Sean Carroll
Nate Cohn

Er, that's only three. But I'd like this to become a meme. And if I left you out, or your gender, race, class, and musical preference, that doesn't mean I don't want to talk to you.

Funny, I barely follow Cohn (as opposed to Matt Yglesias and Josh Barro, whom I read all the time), but he once did a tweet on the "total failure of comment sections" that I want to dispute. (I only half-jokingly sometimes claim to have invented the comment thread. In any event, I think it's not only still a viable form, but one of the most essential.) Anyway, not only could my three teach me loads but there are specific thoughts of mine I want them to challenge*; also, though, I think they could use some of what my brain produces, e.g., thoughts inspired by Wittgenstein and Kuhn, things that could untangle some of their thoughts or help them express themselves to the lay people like me that they covet and court; why they shouldn't be worrying about "post-Truth" (though they should and surely do worry about American-grown fascism); what they could wonder about instead.

*I wrote about Watts here and tried to channel him here and here as to my own guesses e.g. why the Sex Pistols and Crayon Pop etc. became famous (is there a way to figure out how much was owing to luck?). I mention Carroll here, my being unable to figure out what physicists mean by "information": if information is preserved then our ability to "read" and understand it would also be preserved, right? How could the latter not be information itself? But if so, then we ourselves are preserved — hurrah! — indefinitely even into the cold dead future. Except I'm sure what I just said is wrong. I just don't know why it's wrong, and I think it would take someone real work to demonstrate that it's wrong.

(I'm assuming there's no difference in kind between "physical information" (if that's a term) and other types of information; i.e., I assume all information must in some way be "physical." Of course I don't think the word "physical" in this paragraph explains itself, and not being a physicist I don't know what I'm saying with the word much less how to explain it. (Btw, this is something I believe I can offer people: a nose for when they fall into incorrectly thinking their words are explaining themselves.))


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