Saturday, December 30, 2017

Trust is the bridge between the known and the unknown

--- Rachel Botsman, Said Business School, University of Oxford, author of "Who can you trust," in "In what? we trust" by Douglas Heaven, New Scientist, issue 3149, 28 October 2017

Quote in context
Trust is a human instinct that is essential to our survival. It first evolved when we lived in small tribal groups, and probably provided benefits in times of conflict. Groups that were better at working together – more trusting – were more likely to survive than less cooperative rivals.
“All societies are based on trust because you can’t do everything yourself,” says Luciano Floridi, who studies online trust at the Oxford Internet Institute in the UK. “At some point you have to trust someone to keep the fire going.”
The trouble is, trusting groups can always be exploited by untrustworthy individuals. Putting your trust in someone puts you at risk, it makes you vulnerable. “Trust is the bridge between the known and the unknown,” says Rachel Botsman at the University of Oxford’s Said Business School.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

He had always wanted to be someone other than he was, but he didn’t want to change

--- Michael Ende, in The Neverending Story (1979), transl. Ralph Manheim (1983), p. 359 (in Ch. XXIV)

In context - the end of a story told by Dame Eyola:
“… Then at last he came to the House of Change, and there he would stay until he found out what he really and truly wanted. You see, it’s called the House of Change not only because it changes itself buat also because it changes anyone who lives in it. And that was very important to the little boy, because up until then he had always wanted to be someone other than he was, but he didn’t want to change.”

Monday, December 11, 2017

Knots were probably the earliest spell

--- T.H. White, quoted by Helen Macdonald in "H is for Hawk", Grove Press, 2014, p. 257. Macdonald gives the reference as "T. H. White, entry dated 22 August 1939 in unpublished manuscript 'Journal 1938--1939', Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin."

"The initiation ceremonies, the boodo hut of the falconer, the noises in the magic dark, the necromantic knots. Knots were probably the earliest spell. The two hawks consider themselves spell-bound to their blocks by my arts . . . I am convinced that if nobody had ever invented knots, nobody would ever have imagined magicians."

(I bought myself "The Handbook of Knots" by Des Pawson for my birthday this year, and have been practicing knots. There is certainly a magic between the steps and the resulting knot.)

(A nice story on knots, and Des Pawson, in the NY Times:

Sunday, December 03, 2017

The patient can have as many diseases / As the patient damn well pleases

-- Hickam's dictum, cited passim. According to Wikipedia

Hickam's dictum is a counterargument to the use of Occam's razor in the medical profession.[1] While Occam's razor suggests that the simplest explanation is the most likely (implying in medicine that diagnostician should assume a single cause for multiple symptoms), Hickam's dictum is commonly stated: "Patients can have as many diseases as they damn well please". The principle is attributed to John Hickam, MD. When he began saying this is uncertain.
 A key reason for using Hickam's dictum as a limiting principle to that of Occam's razor is that it is often statistically more likely that a patient has several common diseases rather than having a single, rarer disease that explains their myriad of symptoms. Another key reason is that, independent of statistical likelihood, some patients do in fact turn out to have multiple diseases. In such cases, multiple categories of diagnosis may indeed have independent causes rather than a single source, i.e., may be due to separate events or combinations of events to which the patient may have been subjected or exposed.

The rhymed version  is cited here, among others.