April 8, 2014

Krugman dovetails with David Deutsch

You know who Paul Krugman is -- but who's this David Deutsch guy? Well, he's one of the most intelligent physicists working right now to create a quantum computer. Deutsch is way up there in the stratosphere, but he's such an intellectually engaging guy that he takes the time to tell us about his mental adventures. I could go on and on about how much I enjoy Deutsch's writing, but I'd like to make a point.

Today on his blog, Krugman talked about the difference between the liberal and conservative mindset. Why is their approach to reality so different? Here's an excerpt:
One possible answer would be that liberals and conservatives are very different kinds of people — that liberalism goes along with a skeptical, doubting — even self-doubting — frame of mind; “a liberal is someone who won’t take his own side in an argument.”
Since I'm reading "The Beginning of Infinity" by Deutsch, I couldn't help but notice the concordance between this notion and one of Deutsch's primary premises in the book. Deutsch believes that the launching point for infinity -- the point beyond which humanity soars in soon-to-be-discovered ways -- is the willingness to call out untruths wherever and whenever we see them.

A society without error-correction will always go nowhere. Look toward faith for a great example of a tradition that is hidebound and calcifying. If you can't question the tenets of your religion, and update them in light of new discoveries, then your faith is worth nothing. It is unconnected to the coming "infinity".

Even our computers operate with the understanding that there will be errors. Error correction is built into the software that we use every day. And in countries where the populace can vote down an insane idea, there is also a form of error correction. Contrast this with the ruling ethos of Saudi Arabia, for instance. There, you can't question anything. This is a society that will fail. Staying the same is no guarantee of future viability -- quite the contrary. The world is always changing.

So I was happy to see Krugman hone in on this crucial difference between Democrats and Republicans. We (Democrats) see errors and want to correct them. They (Republicans) don't. The future belongs to those who are willing to question everything.

(And hey, wasn't that a popular hippie phrase back in the day? Question everything. Question authority. Yup, I remember seeing those phrases and they are indeed a form of error correction. Hippies got a lot of things right.)

1 comment:

Pool said...

Interesting take but David Deutsch is in no way Left wing. You might want to re-read that book.