The Murray Gell-Mann Minutiae

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by getbent, May 23, 2019.

  1. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    35,915
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2006
    Location:
    San Benito County, California
    I try to figure things out. I tend toward physicists for the things that impact my affective domain as I prefer the 'feeling' of data to just 'stands to reason'....

    If you have ever been interviewed or been in the news or had a story written or reported about you OR if you have seen stories about a topic that you have intimate knowledge about... it is a common experience to read the stories or see the piece on the television and experience a disconnect between what you know to be true and what is reported... the parts that the news thinks are the salient points and what you believe to be the salient points.

    For most people, they shake their heads or get mad and feel a certain degree of betrayal or frustration that the reporter could 'get it so wrong'... This was the experience of physicist Murray Gell-Mann when he saw a story regarding a 'physics' discovery... he was amazed at how wrong the story was and how much it missed the mark and was repeatedly misreported.

    Then, he watched the next story on a topic that he only possesses general knowledge of and was deeply troubled by the story and how awful a group of people were who were mistreating others.... and the light came on...

    Is it possible that if the reportage of 'his' story was so far afield, then it was likely that way for most stories? The insight he had was that we quickly recognize when something is wrong within a field we know about or a topic we know about and yet, once out of that sphere, we are equally quick to accept the story AS TOLD... he called it the Gell-Mann minutiae.

    I have experienced, multiple times, having a reported story be wildly outside reality and yet accepted by the general public... for me, it had the immediate impact of being careful to rush to believing stories when I heard them UNLESS they were from a set of conditions I have for putting trust in them.

    As an example, the recent departure of Magic Johnson from the Lakers organization... it is a curious story and as reported, it did not meet my requirements... curious enough, I did some calling and checking and I found out 'better' info and now I am satisfied as to the actual set of events that led to the 'breakup'...

    Have you experienced the Gell-Mann Minutiae?
     
    JL_LI, Sev112 and jondanger like this.
  2. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    48,471
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2009
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC, Canuckistan
    I have my own rule, the "Big Daddy Convergence Law": don't get your news from the same site you buy your Tactical Taint Wipes from.
     
    richiek65 and getbent like this.
  3. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    35,915
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2006
    Location:
    San Benito County, California
    I am pleased that you are paying attention to personal hygiene!
     
  4. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    48,471
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2009
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC, Canuckistan
    Mental hygiene even more so!
     
    getbent likes this.
  5. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    69
    Posts:
    3,073
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2015
    Location:
    Chicago
    I don't know, I'm an old man, and I've learned to trust no one, unless I've known them for a long time. And even then, to keep a critical eye on what I'm hearing and whether anything rings untrue.
     
  6. rangercaster

    rangercaster Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,643
    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    portland, or
    I don't believe a word you wrote ...
     
    blowtorch and getbent like this.
  7. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    18,396
    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    This is of no help in the current era.

    I think I am grasping exactly what you’re saying (and I just boned up on Murray and his beliefs/theories/Nobel Prize) but , it’s not going to be construed that way by some.

    An expected response in any accent you care to imagine :

    “***e ***s ! They-ats wut ah bin sighin’ fer yay-ers now !”
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
    getbent likes this.
  8. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    25,681
    Joined:
    May 2, 2003
    Location:
    Wisco
    Yep. Fake news is not news :cool:
     
  9. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    69
    Posts:
    2,302
    Joined:
    May 20, 2017
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    I live in the world of physics and engineering. IMO, physics is a special case. Most folks know nothing about physics but are interested in knowing “something” about developments in the field. The “something” part is different for everyone. I try to provide some clarification in some of my posts here, the challenge being that most folks don’t have the math or science background to make much sense of it. I think this is what Gell-Mann was reacting to.

    Is music that much different? We all like music, many of us without knowing anything about it. An intelligent person may understand a discussion of modes but may be completely lost in trying to identify modes in music he hears.

    Specialized knowledge is a human asset or limitation depending on the circumstances. For me, understanding the maximum likelihood algorithm used to create that black hole image is a lot easier than understanding how to use scales beyond major, minor, and pentatonic.
     
    getbent likes this.
  10. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    25,681
    Joined:
    May 2, 2003
    Location:
    Wisco
    music is easy.

    you just do what sounds good, and, if something sounds bad, do not do that thing
     
    rangercaster, don71 and thunderbyrd like this.
  11. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    48,471
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2009
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC, Canuckistan
    sloth.jpg
     
    getbent and JL_LI like this.
  12. Buckocaster51

    Buckocaster51 Super Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

    Age:
    67
    Posts:
    20,136
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    Iowa USA
    Admin Post
    For years I have called that the Esteban Effect. I guess Gell-Mann and I are independent co-discoverers.

    Every time I have been interviewed for print or television, the basic facts of the story have been lost in reporting or editing.

    It has resulted in always running information through my filters as it comes in.


    I, of course, have never been guilty of that when I report or edit!
     
    getbent and Torren61 like this.
  13. Snfoilhat

    Snfoilhat Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    38
    Posts:
    1,036
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2016
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    I read his The Quark and the Jaguar years ago. I remember liking it. But I think this argument may hang far too much on 'possibly' and 'likely' and the inexactness of different folks' use and understanding of probabilistic language and the underlying ideas.

    If you change all of it out for "sometimes" many statements are probably more true and less interesting (more common-sensical), and so less likely to be commented on.

    To the best of my knowledge, the vast majority of stories reported as factual are never corrected and the retraction rate of major news organizations is very low. I would say this is not driven exclusively by journalistic integrity but instead, using Gell-Mann's own framework, that most factual stories are concerned with subject matter that is simple, and virtually all adults are passably good at understanding even if they fall short of expertise. Physics would sit at the other end of the spectrum. So in a collective effort that leads to reporting news (observing, writing, reporting, editing, production, dissemination, etc) contrasted with some isolated, unaccountable crank saying anything, there is a high likelihood that the group gets it mostly right.

    How high an error rate is acceptable? I don't know. But the logic that errors happen therefore deploy unreasonable skepticism about any new information that doesn't make you feel good is problematic. You can tell unreasonable skepticism when the person in question clearly doesn't want to check a second or third source, but is content to signal their skepticism as some virtue, or bask in the glow of confirmation bias ('I knew the main stream media would get something wrong eventually!')


    *Edited for increased kindness

    tl;dr the error rate may positively correlate with the rarity of subject matter expertise, leaving the more universally understood subject matter which makes up the bulk of reporting relatively more reliable.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  14. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,419
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    Location:
    Branson, Mo
    I have known a few people who had the skill to speak to reporters in a manner that would lead to accurate reporting. I’ve also learned that having a written statement to give to reporters will encourage accurate reporting, though it needs to be written very simply.

    The power of the media is immense and travels fast. I got a call out of the blue one day from a reporter from St Louis. Three hours later my son called me from England to say he saw my quote (“Missouri doesn’t have a ‘stand-your-gravel-bar’ law,”) on the web version of a London newspaper.
     
    william tele likes this.
  15. Bill

    Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    6,629
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Location:
    London
    Yes, as teens, my best friend and I went to the first showing of a Star Trek movie on opening day. We got in line early and got great seats. The place was of course packed.

    Then, the movie didn’t start. A few minutes later a theater manager came in and announced that the projector was broken and we should go to the theatre next door in the cinema complex, where they’d show the movie for us.

    Folks grumbled, got up, and of course the folks in the back row ended up with the best seats when we finished filing in to the other theater.

    The next morning the San Jose Mercury news reported it had caused a riot and windows and doors were smashed during the resulting melee.

    I asked my friend, “Were we in a riot?” Because neither of us recalled being in one.
     
    getbent likes this.
  16. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    35,915
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2006
    Location:
    San Benito County, California

    The term I use for that is 'parallel development'.... like pireogyis for dumplings for dim sum etc etc etc...
     
  17. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    35,915
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2006
    Location:
    San Benito County, California

    In my wayward youth, I was in the Frankfort State Journal and Lexington Herald Leader several times a year. I knew some of the writers and was pretty good friends with two of them. I would say there were at least 20 stories where I was quoted or covered or featured blah blah...

    I would read the articles and frequently be both upset and baffled that what had been said was turned into the article I was reading. How on earth could they turn that into that? But they did. And I'd be furious and we'd go for a beer and I'd confront them and they'd be... well, either bemused or amused depending..... in EVERY case they'd say "I got it right" and refuse to discuss the facts they'd gotten wrong or the bias they put into the story.

    It was then that I realized... you should read EVERYTHING knowing it is the kid who probably cheated off you in geometry class that is writing the story...

    I think what Gell-Mann is on about is that... It isn't physics that is hard.. nor is it physics stories that get mangled. It is just any story about anything... it gets mangled because writers don't listen and we don't pay attention to what is said, the context clues, the context, the content much less the nuances...

    Reporters even have shorthand descriptions for the types of stories...

    My latest 'what is the point' when watching the news is the constant, nightly barrage of breathless stories about the weather... I have some suspicions but, either way, ol murray is on to something.
     
  18. Snfoilhat

    Snfoilhat Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    38
    Posts:
    1,036
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2016
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    :lol::lol::lol:
    I have to report that this feels true
     
    getbent likes this.
  19. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    23,729
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Location:
    Osaka, Japan
    All I know is that this too confirms my preconceived notions.
     
    getbent likes this.
  20. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    23,729
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Location:
    Osaka, Japan
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.