Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Model Based Learning

Reality in the strictest sense is described as reality “as it is” or in the most absolute sense is “how something exists”. Human kind has been making models of things or a reflection of reality from the day it began to reason. In each era the assumptions on which the whole of civilization choose to see things changed. For example at the time of Galileo it was believed by people that the Sun revolved around the Earth. In fact there were giants of human kind like Socrates and Aristotle whose contributions date a long time before the period of Galileo who must have believed on the same assumption.

Now as each era evolved human kind was able to control nature to a better degree and it did this by revisiting the models that it had made of nature. I say models here because they were not reality in the strictest sense. But by revisiting these models and bringing them closer to reality "as is" their ability to predict and thus control improved.

Even today we have millions of models through whose lens we view the world and many of these models might become obsolete in the next era of human kind.

When a student goes to Harvard or MIT they study many models and know them better then most other institutions could have taught them and so they can predict and control things that are in the purview of their expertise better than most other people. They do this by working hard to learn the right models and in the process “empty their mind” of wrong models that they had carried. That said they can still only go as far as has been discovered by any man who has ever lived to date. As I said in the next era even these models would change and enable experts in those eras to have “greater control” than experts in the present one.

Note that one has to sometimes remove wrong models to be able to get to the right models i.e. you have to “undo” before you can “rebuild”. It is said that the way the intellect of man works is that it mixes some element of fallacy with truth i.e. a person may have an understanding of truth to some degree, and this is what allows him to have any influence in the matter, but the set of fallacies that is mixed with it limits that person from reaching an even more powerful model. These set of fallacies or untruth have been described by somebody as “a donkey carrying a burden of books on its back” which goes to show that this untruth becomes more of a “liability” then an “asset”.

I understand that in order to avoid untruth it is best to have as few assumptions as possible.

I would go as far as to say to that maybe one should not even trust one’s own empirical perception at all times. Let’s say for example that one is feeling depressed or scared about something. Why should we not question ourselves: “Why am I feeling depressed? Is the reason that I understand enough for me to feel depressed? Should I continue to feel depressed? Why should I accept that I am depressed just because I am feeling depressed!”

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