peteg's blog - noise - quotes

Don Marquis on thinking.

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If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; But if you really make them think, they'll hate you.

The McNamara Fallacy.

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Gernot has had this quote on his homepage for as long as I remember:

The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can't be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that what can't be measured easily really isn't important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what can't be easily measured really doesn't exist. This is suicide.

I've tried to source it. Of course "McNamara" is Robert S. McNamara, famous for his attempts to run the Vietnam War on "rational" grounds by, for example, seeking advice from game theorists. As for the words themselves, I can only find them expressed in Charles Handy's The Age of Paradox (p221, 1994, first published as The Empty Raincoat in Britain).

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From an article by Paul Krugman on Milton Friedman:

"Everything reminds Milton of the money supply. Well, everything reminds me of sex, but I keep it out of the paper," wrote MIT's Robert Solow in 1966.

Cathy Wilcox, from the archive.

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Sifting through the dregs of the blog from my time in Sweden I came across these classics from Cathy Wilcox. Enjoy.

"Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."

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Gilles Kahn, French Computer Scientist of some renown, ends his seminal paper The Semantics of a Simple Language for Parallel Programming (Information Processing 74, Proceedings of IFIP Congress 74) with the following:

Our last conclusion is to recall a principle that has been so often fruitful in Computer Science and that is central to Scott's theory of computation: a good concept is one that is closed

  1. under arbitrary composition
  2. under recursion.