Sunday, 1 March 2009

We Just Don't Talk That Way Anymore

I love reading old journals and am often struck by the precision and beauty of language in old math and science journals.

Many brighter than I have commented on the seemingly inevitable reduction in rigor as schools require all students to take more advanced math. I think the same thing has happened across the board to language as everyone is expected to complete a high school education. I recently read a note that had two quotes, both saying essentially the same thing. The first is from Leonhard Euler and dates around the American revolution; the second is from George Box and dated around 1987Empirical Model-Building and Response Surfaces. Both are incredibly literate and knowledgable people, and yet..

"Although to penetrate into the intimate mysteries of nature and thence
to learn the true causes of phenomena is not allowed to us, nevertheless
it can happen that a certain fictive hypothesis may suffice for
explaining many phenomena"

All models are wrong... some models are useful
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