8 Matching Annotations
  1. Jan 2023
    1. In particular Erwin Schrödinger is said (Wigner (1981)) to have spoken of the Gruppenpest (German for “plague of group theory”) which ought to be abandoned. In his autobiography John Slater, an MIT physicist, claimed: It was at this point that Wigner, Hund, Heitler, and Weyl entered the picture with their “Gruppenpest”: the pest of the group theory… The authors of the “Gruppenpest” wrote papers which were incomprehensible to those like me who had not studied group theory, in which they applied these theoretical results to the study of the many electron problem. The practical consequences appeared to be negligible, but everyone felt that to be in the mainstream one had to learn about it. Yet there were no good texts from which one could learn group theory. It was a frustrating experience, worthy of the name of a pest. I had what I can only describe as a feeling of outrage at the turn which the subject had taken… As soon as this [Slaters] paper became known, it was obvious that a great many other physicists were as disgusted as I had been with the group-theoretical approach to the problem. As I heard later, there were remarks made such as “Slater has slain the ‘Gruppenpest’”. I believe that no other piece of work I have done was so universally popular.

      Gruppenpest, a word of German origin, which has also entered into English to mean "the plague of group theory" and group theorists (mathematicians) who were applying abstract algebra to physics and quantum mechanics in the mid-twentieth century.

      via https://ncatlab.org/nlab/show/Gruppenpest

  2. Aug 2022
  3. Sep 2021
    1. This is the theory of the extended mind, introduced more than two decades ago by the philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers. A 1998 article of theirs published in the journal Analysis began by posing a question that would seem to have an obvious answer: “Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin?” They went on to offer an unconventional response. The mind does not stop at the usual “boundaries of skin and skull,” they maintained. Rather, the mind extends into the world and augments the capacities of the biological brain with outside-the-brain resources.


      Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin?

      There seems to be a parallel between this question and that between the gene and the body. Evolution is working at the level of the gene, but the body and the environment are part of the extended system as well. Link these to Richard Dawkins idea of the extended gene and ideas of group selection.

      Are there effects to be seen on the evolutionary scale of group selection ideas with respect to the same sorts of group dynamics like the minimal group paradigm? Can the sorts of unconscious bias that occur in groups be the result of individual genes? This seems a bit crazy, but potentially worth exploring if there are interlinked effects based on this analogy.

    2. One last resource for augmenting our minds can be found in other people’s minds. We are fundamentally social creatures, oriented toward thinking with others. Problems arise when we do our thinking alone — for example, the well-documented phenomenon of confirmation bias, which leads us to preferentially attend to information that supports the beliefs we already hold. According to the argumentative theory of reasoning, advanced by the cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber, this bias is accentuated when we reason in solitude. Humans’ evolved faculty for reasoning is not aimed at arriving at objective truth, Mercier and Sperber point out; it is aimed at defending our arguments and scrutinizing others’. It makes sense, they write, “for a cognitive mechanism aimed at justifying oneself and convincing others to be biased and lazy. The failures of the solitary reasoner follow from the use of reason in an ‘abnormal’ context’” — that is, a nonsocial one. Vigorous debates, engaged with an open mind, are the solution. “When people who disagree but have a common interest in finding the truth or the solution to a problem exchange arguments with each other, the best idea tends to win,” they write, citing evidence from studies of students, forecasters and jury members.

      Thinking in solitary can increase one's susceptibility to confirmation bias. Thinking in groups can mitigate this.

      How might keeping one's notes in public potentially help fight against these cognitive biases?

      Is having a "conversation in the margins" with an author using annotation tools like Hypothes.is a way to help mitigate this sort of cognitive bias?

      At the far end of the spectrum how do we prevent this social thinking from becoming groupthink, or the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility?

  4. May 2020
  5. Sep 2016
    1. First, according to Trumbull, Olson underestimates diffuse groups’ ability to develop compelling narratives about how they serve the public interest. In fact, weak, diffuse groups have a paradoxical political advantage: precisely because they are weak and diffuse, the public sees them as less self-interested and thus comparatively trustworthy. Second, Olson also underestimates the power of ideological motivation, rather than just money and concentration, to spur activism. Third, “diffuse interests can be represented without mobilization,” thanks to activism by politicians and government officials who take up their cause. (FDR started a federal pension program at a time when “retirees,” as a self-identified social class, did not yet exist. The program created the constituency, rather than the other way around.) Fourth, weak or diffuse interests can link up with concentrated groups to amplify their effectiveness, as when consumers align with exporters to oppose trade protections or when free-speech advocates join with political parties to oppose campaign-finance limits.