the enlightenment of being wrong

the enlightenment of being wrong

So my last article tried to argue that genius implies madness based on the idea that being a genius means thinking ahead and thinking ahead means disconnecting from reality.

That ignited a long debate with my friend Tobi. While defending my idea I had to explain it more thoroughly and thus came to contradict (!) my own assertion, namely that thinking ahead means disconnecting from reality.

I was quite surprised, since it opened a horizon past an invisible mental stop gap that had loooong been in place and diverting my thoughts away in wrong directions:

Working with mental models of the reality can be though of as an optimization problem: the better your mental models get the more often they can predict the future, more and more correctly.

Thus only if one stops observing and ignores outcomes that don't match with ones own predictions, and thus if one stops adapting that model one becomes "crazy".

Which is again the well known and proven "scientific model" at work.

It's interesting to note that "eastern philosphy" seems to discard that proposition in favour of letting go of all thoughts and asserting that only then the true reality becomes visible. That seems to contradict the scientific method.

It's also interesting to note, that my experience that the most interesting things in software engineering are learned from hard debugging problems seems to be also apply here: the unexpected and sudden manifestation of that mental misconception in my mind was a forcefully enlightening moment. Mental debugging is nice!

Tomáš Pospíšek, 2011-07-21