Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Comments by AndrewC

Showing 4 of 4 comments.

  • Indeed they have and the longer they carry on the more trouble they will be in. I believe it’s commercial interests now. Marketing to the mass public goes that way, as per the basest notion is the one that is understood by the most. I think it was Jung that pointed this out. With crowd psychology the larger the group the less intelligence it has. Not so of course if the scientific method is followed in peer review, but 1930s Germany certainly saw it. Anyway, great to chat. It gives me some hope in seeing others with similar views.

  • I’ve had about 20 years of experience in trying to model reality with a computer model in order to get the computer to do useful real life things. It is by no means an easy task, as as you change your model you have to alter everything which sits on top of it, hence mistakes are very costly. There is no textbook method really, as you need all of your human intelligence to get it about right, and then at some point you feel you are homing in on a stable model as the changes become more superficial, i.e. towards the leaves of the tree structure.

    A top tip here, is when you are choosing your categories, you want to know which categories are going to work in the most general and efficient sense. You do a lot of what is known as “rebalancing” the tree as well as the things that use it have different requirements. The key to it is to make it absolutely as simple as possible whilst retaining all of its capability to describe as much as possible. One tiny simplification near the root can save huge amounts of complexity as the complexity multiplies like a beast. The other thing is real world natural categories. For example, for a word processor you would want one grouping to deal with paragraphs, and perhaps another that pertains to the word, and you know that words go into paragraphs and not the other way around. You can be absolutely sure this will always be the case. It’s not an abstract category, hence it is stable, since some real world things remain very fixed.

    So lets say all the different problems that are lumped together as autism were all attributed to a common cause, like lets say a previously undiscovered virus. Then you have a natural category. It’s safe. It is a fact or nature. That’s how I see the way forward with anyone who has the jobs of building psychiatric models.

    Vague abstraction will cause your model to be full of bugs.
    Value for money in psychiatry would go down, and the consumer would lose confidence in “science”(sic). The unscientific “alternatives” like homeopathy would then flourish.

  • If you think about it, the normal function of the human brain is this grouping that you are opposed to. People are inclined to do it because it increases their intelligence, and they are rewarded for it. It’s more technically referred to as a classification system. ‘Is this person friend of foe’, as one of the most basic uses for it. As we move on through the centuries our abilities to classify have become ever-more refined. Language reflects this. The idea is we learn how to classify optimally. We do it by successive approximation. We pass the knowledge on in books, so we don’t have to start from zero.

    So I’m trying not to throw the baby out with the bathwater here. Successive approximation is the clue. Most problems you can not solve without this method. Each approximation either sees the error increasing or decreasing, and if it decreases it will home in on the answer. We know the goal. We can tell if a patient is improving with the help they get, but then what does not figure at all is how such a classification has seen such a radical mutation, from one in 5000 to less than one in 100 in its definition. This seems like going backwards in time where the profession is getting stupider as time progresses and less capable (i.e. adopting a cruder model) . A proper classification system is stable. It gets tweaked to improve it, but never radically alters unless it is describing a changing phenomenon, e.g. consumer classification in a changing market.

    Are we changing that much though? Perhaps it is environmental to a degree, but the way it is going, the classification will be the new word for mental illness, where it once was a specific type.

    The other warning is how the word is being adopted as a kind of brand. If we analyse it in this way, then bringing in all the services on offer under one brand is good for business as per corporate-think. I see this as the more likely explanation. It’s a money raising device. It’s a buzzword and so we see a science degrade into unethical commerce and exploitation.

  • I’m a little unhappy about this positivism thing as well, but it is not to say I would invent woolly unproven theories to replace the positivism which is viewed with such disgust.

    Perhaps we are not quite understanding things properly. I tend to go the other way and take the Bertrand Russell approach, where he thought the logic used in our thinking was built on imprecise foundations, and so it is not the logic which is wrong, but just people have made mistakes. They have made assumptions where they shouldn’t have done. He was digging deeper into the foundations of mathematics.

    So anyway, what we have is a human brain and it has 100 billion neurons in it. Question: how many different states can these 100 billion neurons be in? Now perhaps we are getting a grip on the problem. The brain may well work in a totally positivist way, but we do not have the intelligence to understand it. We are getting there though, since we can run simulations on super computers. I believe this is a very fertile area of research and it is getting somewhere. It’s a kind of experimental maths, and it could revolutionise psychology. By using computers we will be able to experiment to a far greater degree than a human brain. We can reset it and run it again.

    One day the mist will clear, and we will see how we have these macroscopic conditions out of the vast complexity which we can not understand. Also we can derive general principles which are solid in saying things about the system that are mathematically true. If you would like to read up a bit more on this then I would recommend Stephen Wolfram. He’s an expert in AI simulations and has found out some fascinating phenomena. It could help understand how the human brain evolved in a whole new paradigm. There’s a branch of mathematics evolving known as complexity theory. This might get a handle on the problem. It’s the art of getting something intelligible out of an unsolvable problem.

    By the way, good luck with your research. I’m with you all the way on this.