Certainty and Scientific Method

The nature of scientific experiment, as part of scientific method, has been and continues to aim at making testing as ‘pure’ as is possible.  This is to say that when an experiment is to be carried out, then as many extraneous items of circumstance and presence surrounding the setting of it up are attempted to be eliminated.

Any condition or item extraneous to the composition and nature of the theory that is being tested is attempted to be taken away from it making interference with the course of the experiment.

When things are not able easily to be taken away, and they are extraneous and so not useful or pertinent to the testing of the theory in question, they are attempted to be neutralised or isolated in some way so that their effects of being present do not influence or alter inconveniently the results (expected) of a test.

When such things are not able to be taken away and also are not able easily to be neutralised or else isolated, then their influences or interferences with the procedure of an experiment and so with its (expected) results is attempted to be allowed for in the anticipated results of a test.  This is done so that a result of a test is able to be evaluated and then adjusted by allowing for the disorder or the unbalancing of an initial result by the interference of extraneous items or conditions unable to be removed beforehand from the proceedings of a test.

And so the ‘ideal’ experiment is one which would take place making use only of the essential ingredients needed to run a bona fide authentic test – the sufficient and necessary items only, with all other items and conditions expelled from having an influence on the outcome.

The nearest scientists come to this ‘pure’ or ‘ideal’ situation for doing experiments is when they conduct what are known as ‘thought experiments’.  Thought experiments are done when scientists think-through a set of circumstances and the interactions of those circumstances, so as to try to find a logical or other valid outcome, but crucially without their using physical apparatus or materials.  Thought experimentation is done wholly in the head.

The general nature of doing experimentations in these ways then necessitates that tested and established theories of science are expected to align themselves most conformably with the results and outcomes of new experiments. They are to align as being the science and its precepts whose reliability supports the new tests’ probability and probity for success, as well as providing their likelihood in being selected for trial in the first place. But all new tests are attempted, as far as this is possible, within a pure and ‘sanitised vacuum’ so to speak.

There might be such things as complex theories to be tested, or experiments which involve more than one theory to be tried, or else one or more established theories might be included as given parts of the set up model so as to support the conditions for experiment on proposed theory to be tested.

But the basic proposal holds good always; that all else which is unnecessary and extraneous to a proposed test is to be removed, neutralised or taken account of so as to get a result from the test that is as far as possible a ‘pure’ result, unadulterated as if existing in an ‘sanitised vacuum’.

The first thing to make a note of about this methodology is that even in the most ‘pure’ environments of experimentation, in the ‘thought experiments’, there is much scope for interferences and for extraneous items to intervene regardless in a ‘proper’ procedure.

The historical case of is the postulation of a gas called phlogiston. This gas was assumed to be of negative mass, and being thought such was thought accountable for the loss of mass witnessed in burnt ashes when compared with the mass of the items which were burnt, before their burning. There was involved in this supposed solution phlogiston a thought experiment which took the results of a physical experiment and misconstrued them by creating the concept of phlogiston. The interpretation of the findings was flawed, and was flawed for two reasons.

Firstly there was most likely insufficient circumstantial understanding of science available to and surrounding the creator of the concept of phlogiston. Such a lack in great part allowed opportunity for the creator of that concept to postulate a gas which had properties unlike any other comparable material then known or understood.

Secondly the reasoning of the creator of the concept of phlogiston seems to have opted for ‘the glass half empty’ choice over and above the ‘glass half full’ choice.

Like in solving x in a quadratic equation there can be a negative answer and a positive one; only the positive one being of actual use in a practical application, to say an engineering project.  The concept of phlogiston seems to have arisen as if an engineer was working to apply negative loads or stresses to an idea for a building he was planning.

The conceptualiser of phlogiston had not supposed that materials had left the ash, and they were at one time part of its mass, but at a time beforehand, when they were part of the material before it burnt to ash.  Instead he had opted for the nearest best alternative; that a gas of negative mass had been added to the materials during combustion, thus making their ash measure less in mass.

The lack of sufficient basement scientific understanding was the open gate through which the conceptualiser of phlogiston was able to walk though into a fallacious belief.

The simple truth is that an experimenter has to be able to have foreknowledge of the presence and the nature of all extraneous items and conditions which could present themselves and so might have potential to interfere with an experiment he is proposing. In this way he hopes to obtain a ‘pure’ state for the test’s performance.  And the case with phlogiston implies to us that even were this first obstacle overcome and a ‘pure’ state was made possible in which to test a theory, there might still remain pitfalls in the mind and in the reasoning of men and women which might intervene to cause an interpretation made wrongly from any perceived empirical result.

The misinterpretation of observed phenomena is an accidental and incidental occurrence however, and as such is harder to guard against than safeguards made by using one’s sound basement understanding of all the science one feels assured of, and so before the case eliminate as far as possible from a test interferences . This second demand requires only diligence and application; the first demand, for correct interpretation of observed results, might truly be wholly unluckily mistaken in certain unfortunate cases.

Tickers and Feeds

We have been working lately for a Ticker LED Display Signs business, which offers various topical News Feeds, as content for the LED Display Sign hardware it markets.

It struck me that this business setup is a useful analogue to place in an article like this to say something about how human societies work and gel as units, in so far as they continue to gel as units in a world as we, the Developed Nations, know it today.

The Display Signs in this world are newspapers and journals, TV and cinema and The Web, plus the talk which we hear and pass around – as gossip or as discussion – and so forth.  The Feeds are the content of these Display Signs – shows, movies, news, comedy, drama, study, gossip, discussion, debate and so on.

There is, in the Ticker company’s business model a resource called Custom Messaging; which is where a person with a Display Sign is able to create her own Feeds of content on her own topics in her own words – like people do these days on The Web at Twitter, Facebook and blogs and forums and so on.

This analogue of Ticker LEDs is, then, OK to use for saying something about the methodology of how societies communicate and exchange ideas and thoughts and feelings.

Another analogue worth adding to the Ticker LED one is taken from the world of the New York, London and Paris Fashion Houses.  The idea about using this came to me today when I was looking in a Bridal wear shop window (the shop also sells second-hand books, which was why I was looking in).  There were female mannequins in the window which had been dressed up by shop assistants into some quite suave Bridesmaid dresses. The dresses were something very much out of the ordinary, compared with everyday dress, and in this way they were like The London Week and other high fashion shows wherein models wearing spring and summer collections parade catwalks doing the crazy walks they do.

The Fashion Designers in the Fashion Houses are the ultimate Feeds and their designs are the definitive Content of their Feeds – regarding women’s dress for the new season. The Fashion Houses, their buildings, catwalks, models are the Sign Displays whereon the content of the Feeds are displayed. The audiences, whether fashion writers and critics or rich people interested in a new look, are subsidiary Feeds (authors) of the definitive Content (their reviews) on their various sub Display Signs like magazines and society talk.

The first analogue concerning Ticker LEDs emphasises the complexity and diversity of social communications and the bewildering amount that goes on, much of it like clockwork, and all around us. (The custom message content is of course not like clockwork, and, if anywhere, this it the place where ‘spanners in the works’ are most likely to be deliberately dropped in.)

The Fashion House analogue on the other hand emphasises very well the almost exclusive Top Down nature and direction of societal Display Signs and of their Feeds and Feed Contents.   Only The Web is a powerful source whereon even Joe Soap and his wife might have a say or else rip someone up. The Web is then a Custom Message source. It is available to most of us ‘also-rans’ in today’s rich societies, and importantly, it is available also for the same purposes to many ‘also-rans’ in less affluent and more repressive parts of the globe.

Let’s now look at the dynamics of Feeds and Content, using Fashion Houses as our model.  The Fashion Designers set the pace. (They are more often than not men.) Theirs is a High Calling.  They are The Dukes, The Duchesses. What they say goes.

(How a person gets to such an eminence and to such a level of almost absolutist autocracy is hard to fathom in an age, allegedly, of democracy?  Where does such aggregation and arrogation of authority come from indeed?)

They are, they would say, judged on their performance and by the fashion critics and other mediators in their audiences, Lady so and so and Dame this and that, who have the power to make or break them. But the fashion critics and the Ladies and dames would need to work in relative unison were they to want to bring down a Fashion Designer for any reason

The word ‘performance’ is a descriptor of note. The fashion show, it is called a show, is performed as a stylised ritual of catwalks, clapping, sequences, collections, silly walks and swishes aiming to be a female equivalent of courtship display. The names of the Fashion Houses, of the models who model for them, and their images, the set times of year for shows, and their seasonal frequency; all take the form of hallowed and revered ceremony; as if something else, situated elsewhere, than ‘in the real world’ were going on.

This is the hype; the nine-tenths hype which these things are in essence.  (I am not denigrating female life; I could have easily have chosen The NLA or The Premier League, or Grand Opera Houses, as equally powerful analogues).

The audiences of titled Ladies and Fashion Critics have it wholly in their interest to ‘take home with them’ the requisite high praise and the ‘shock and awe’ glamour of hype necessary for a good sales promotion of new clothes in the exclusive Knightsbridge shops over the following months. They all muck-in together to help set the trend and establish the standard.  In this way, and by these means, a complete wardrobe which would have had at best a certain artistic value only, and which is hardly ever very practical or greatly commercial in itself, is raised via hype to iconic heights which are necessary as a prerequisite and perquisite for launching with a splash the new fashions into the high-end retail sectors.

Glossy clothes magazines in large variety gradated variously in the marketplace to suit any social standing are published monthly. These carry pitches, in registers at various levels, and in a very clearly demarcated pecking order, so that they are fanning downwards through the social classes to the bottom. At the bottom is the type of the girl who would have worked on a till at a Woolworths.  As the images of the clothes, and the clothes themselves also, slide down the societal pecking order their opulence diminishes as do their prices. Their practicality is gradually enhanced as they trend down the line towards wholly practical at the bottom, and their levels of outlandishness reciprocally decrease. The Dime shop serving girls cannot afford the bucks to look ‘funny’ and would not understand clothes as kitsch ‘art’ either.

This sequencing in a societally downwards trend is planned and done deliberately so as to get maximum cash returns from a Season’s clothes.  It follows fairly predictable sets of patterns which oddly enough work by themselves in society automatically, more or less.

‘Everyone in their place and a place for everyone’

The Web is of course The Place, if any, where this rigidly constraining, in part self-incarcerating, systematisation in the shape and direction of our societies, is best to be challenged and broken down.  It is the single place in modern life where Custom Messages are able to ‘get through’; where ‘spanners can be thrown into the works’. The Place where people of any rank or class are able to say what they feel and speak their own thoughts for themselves. The Web is where new and better organisations can be and where they are being established and nurtured (Bitcoin, Crowd sourcing, Creative Commons).

And this is why the law  – and the governments and businesses behind it – are trying to close The Web down – I don’t mean shut it – I mean grab control – shanghai us – put us back in our box – whatever you call it – put the lid back on.

So along with the criminals the politicals were rounded up also and sent to slave labour camps in the USSR (see Solzhenitsyn’s ‘The Gulag Archipelago’).  Likewise the same tactic is being used by our masters to load into one big bag labelled ‘Wreckers: Beware!’ the guys who scam, and who hack to rob cash, who slander in malice, and plant viruses with schadenfreude – to bag up all these criminals up in the very same bag, and under the same label, as you and me; who want merely justice, love, peace, truth, concord, happiness and kindness to one another.

And who want a better life than the ones facades of hype and falsity feed like foison to people as though beasts; and which entrap us in our dependencies on a convinced need to emulate where we are led to understand real life is played out

Money as Debt: The Sway of Property Possession

Ownership of an item seems to me only to be able to occur once the item in question has dropped out of circulation in the marketplace as it being a value-counter within the system of the means of exchange.  In other words, only when an item is on the market for sale or to buy does it take part as a good of value in the monetary system of exchange.  When it is not for sale or is unable to be bought it is of no value in the system of means of exchange. But possession of, as opposed to ownership, of property is nonetheless able to act as a token, a latent call, upon the goods and services of another in redemption of a debt owed. What the Americans call ‘collateral’ and ‘leverage’

I guess the words ‘possession’ and ‘latent’ are crucial here. They say: I have the power and I am able to exert it – at will. The worst form of tyrannical oppression.

This is because any saleable item can change from it being not for sale to it being for sale, and in doing so it will add to the sum total of value in the system of the means of exchange as that sum of value stands at any given time. Since there are items coming and going, on and off the market, in a scale of billions of items all day every day, the market left to itself fluctuates and is never able to be wholly stable.

There exists an element of risk though. To nominate that one’s good is in the market (for sale or as collateral or leverage) means that one has to engage to sell it when a buyer arises.  Of course one might withdraw from selling it at the last moment without penalty; once or twice, or when withdrawal is common practice in the field of the goods sector marketplace one’s good is being withdrawn from. But when it is not normal or acceptable one will get two or three waivers before buyers begin to shun you and seek goods elsewhere.

But as collateral or as leverage; neither of these uses of goods on the marketplace can be effectively made without the actual possibility of the goods in question having to be sold or used as validation or as realisation of an obligation incurred.  This then is the risk – a person eventually might have to sell or realise as cash an item which s/he had no intention of selling and was hoping not to have to sell.

When the collateral or leverage are not in fact able to act as such and are not of substantive value once they are forced to be realised as money; then you get the situation we all know the implications of so well.

This is because the market is exposed to manipulations by big holders of property and goods; provided they have a store enough of items of value sufficient to work the market in their favour, by adding them to the market for sale or by taking them off the market for sale.

This is the case with banks and money. When one holds a monopoly in creating debts for others, and in being able to incur debt to oneself without owing to a creditor, the way seems paved for you to go into the marketplace and work the market in your favour. Maybe, whence the old saying? ‘Money comes to money.’

There is indeed bias in the system which looks to remain certain and in place whichever way you turn the penny; and it displays itself in the phenomenon of there being a Top Layer of wealthy entities (the crème de la crème or the scum- both rise to the top?) which holds the cords and pulls the strings regarding the marketplace and the value and means of exchange.

This bias tends towards this Top Layer never being placed in a position where it can be seriously challenged or superseded by an opposition element which has been established on the same terms, as the Top Laver’s operations and in its own image. No-one with the same approach as that of the Top Layer is able to supplant this layer – to join it maybe – but unlike a Mafia boss a person or entity is not able to wipe out all trace of rival families.

The Top Layer is secured permanent in this way because the system is ever preloaded (in great measure by the Top Layer itself) towards its benefit. Normally only weakness, incompetence or an accident of apocalyptic proportions from within; an implosion, is able to topple any entity from this Top Layer into penury or perdition.

So unless humans wipe out the planet wholesale by wars and depredations, the risk of there being an Epic Fall from grace out of the Top Layer, in every way will come from internal endogenous dysfunctionality only, or else from a revolutionary radical grass roots systemic change (a people-led apocalypse)

Now you might see where I’m heading? Because in truth the banks did nearly top themselves in the years that ran up to 2008 and after, selling to one another this and that great parcel of garbage and so in the final instance incurring massive debts on these sales because there came a point at which the parcels could no longer be passed on again and again in the ‘normal’ way of commerce.

The garbage they sold on to one another in their sectors was garbage in that no-one in their marketplaces to whom they sold it, in the final instance would or could acknowledge it any more as being authentic, sincere and genuinely transactable security upon that level of debt which ostensibly it had been marketed represented as being.

It collateral value, its value as leverage, was exposed publicly to be zero.

Thus the inevitable event of the Great Crash came, people stopped buying the garbage; and those left with parcels of it on their hands took the massive hits. It is generally agreed (after the event and on hindsight) that the banks’ own folly and greed, in performance comprising the whole nine yards of the Seven Deadly Sins, were their instruments of violence and destruction against themselves in their self-inflicted near fatal self-harm.

Everyone Sank

In 2008

Everyone was spending like there was no Gomorrah

Then the barrel fell over

And the edge of it ran down the hill to the bottom

And stopped

 

We all got laid off, got back on the road, played hell,

Dusted ourselves down

The dealers joshed and jostled at the heads of the queues

 

That day

God rolled up the rainbow like a fancy cotton carpet

Put it in his back pocket

Drove down to El Dorado’s to the beach

 

Gaming the slots, soliciting dancing girls:

Now there’s no-one to square, pick up the party pieces