Friday, March 25, 2005

Megalomania about Evidence and Information

Judging by curricular offerings, law journal publications, endowed chairs, and similar matters, evidence and the law of evidence have relatively low standing in the elite sectors of the legal academic hierarchy in the US.

Evidence workers of the world unite and throw off your chains!
  • I am definitely not referring to your chains of inference or your inference networks.
  • Speak evidential (and uncertain) truth to power!

    Tell certain academic bosses:

    Bit is It!

    Alternatively, tell the benighted but lawful powers-that-be:

    Here is how [John Archibald Wheeler] explains it in one of his essays: every it [every particle, every field of force, even the space-time continuum itself] derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely even if in some contexts indirectly from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits. He nicely sums this all up in a colorful little expression: It from bit. (Heather Wax, Information technology raises new questions about everything: Information is everything and it is everywhere, Science & Technology News (archives))

    Alternatively, tell those authoritative and authoritarian dummies:

    Stapp states: "...I propose to break away from the cautious stance of the founders of quantum theory, and build a theory of reality by taking seriously what the incredible accuracy of the predictions of the formalism seems to proclaim, namely that nature is best understood as being built around knowings that enjoy the mathematical properties ascribed to them by quantum theory." According to Stapp, reality should be "recognized to be knowledge, rather than substantive matter.... (" Ph. Blanchard & A. JadczykA Way Out of the Quantum Trap, Introduction: Is Quantum Theory the Last Word?
    If such inflammatory proclamations are too dangerous or too venturesome for your tastes, try saying instead:
    The age of uncertainty is upon us -- and information and evidence are crucial players on the new world stage.
    Also tell them that in this age of computer science it is increasingly apparent that although intuition is indispensable for dealing with uncertainty, intuition alone cannot unravel the mysteries of inconclusive evidence and uncertain inference and that thinking carefully about evidence and inference sometimes pays big dividends. (If you don't think so, consult the fuzzy logic that runs your camera.)

    Speaking of fuzzy logic: Was Wheeler wrong to equate the problem (or process) of knowledge with the problem (or process) of making binary choices? If quantum processes are the paradigm of all uncertain knowledge, should we not think of the problem or process of knowledge as the problem or process of making choices among a continuum of possibilities? Isn't part of the allure of quantum computing the fact that quanta can assume not just two states but a multiplicity -- i.e., more than two (2) -- states? Quantum theorists, speak!

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