Friday, November 23, 2007

Blunders in our Modern Age?

Conceptual metaphors and analogies are wonderful tools for understanding the world. And same as with visual pattern detection, we are able to predict or draw conclusions by mapping statistical data and discovering a resulting pattern.
But because there is such a thing as optical illusion, could there be also such a thing as conceptual illusion? Could it be possible that a wrong analogies and metaphors applied to certain cases could produce wrong conclusions? Indeed! This has happened and been happening throughout the centuries. We used to think that the earth is the center of the universe because we "see" that the sun revolves around the earth. Now even in our modern age, the mistake in applying our mental models of analogies or similarities to observations can still occur. Today, even with the most sophisticated telescopes that see light-years in the past, or even when armed with the best compilation of statistical data ever, and even with highly advanced theories we could still commit conceptual blunders.
Only in the past 2 weeks I have come across two possible blunders that seem all too similar to declaring that the "earth is the center of the universe". The first could be about the possible error in the seed theory (see previous post) and the other is the alleged hastening of the universe's demise because of astronomers and cosmologists having observed dark matter. The error I can see in the latter is that perhaps, a theory that holds true in the realm of the very small, such as Quantum Mechanics (Schroedinger's Cat), may not hold true for the large scale macrocosm.
Lets hope the conceptual errors in history doesn't repeat itself in our time.

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