e-Market e-Madness, e-Nough.
There are, they say, hard and soft sciences, not to be confused with difficult vs. easy, but more related to claims of objective, measurable, repeatable precision (we stout hardies) versus subjective, hand-waving, proofs-by-assertion (you big softies). The spectrum of fuzziness typically ranges from pure mathematics and physics at the diamond-tipped top, then descends via chemistry and biology (almost converging to synonyms), ending with a series of “life” and “social” sciences. The latter at least co-opt the intentions and vocabulary of the scientific method and rightly escape the “beyond-the-soggy-pale” category of pseudo-science (astrology, UFOlogy, pyramidiotology, hidden-Bible cryptology ... ad astra, ad nauseam). Honest “theology” wriggles through the colander by rejecting the “scientific” model.
Of course, science, life and society being what they are (send me a $1,000 check for this month's definitions), the hard/soft debate is doomed to waffle on. The paradox is that comparing the hardnesses of any two disciplines requires a valid metric—and that metric will depend on the hardness of the hardest involved domain. You can hear the magic predicate meta creeping into the equation. It reminds us that the very foundations of the purest of pure mathematics (formal set theory) were softened (nay, Osterized and Cuisinarted) by Gödel's meta-mathematical shocks in 1931.
It's still difficult to accept that the hardest queen of the sciences proved so brittle after millennia of complacency. Harder still to note that everyday mathematics and all the dependent sciences rumbled on, regardless. However, there was a clear dent in the traditional hierarchy.
We may avoid an arithmetical operator>> with a sort of “diamond-scratches-glass” ordering, but that moves us to unprovable, contentious, domain-dependent, metaphorical comparisons (e.g., in Political Science, we readily declare that Lincoln was a better president than Clinton).
There are other parameters available for comparing sciences. Some, such as “usefulness”, are possibly more determinable and worthy of discussion. Thus, cosmology (already disputed in the hard/soft science ratings since we can't, as yet or ever, repeat the “big bang” experiment, do a tachyon glide into the local wormhole, or contact our nearest parallel universe) seems to offer useless theories and predictions: whether the cosmos expands forever or collapses after 10 billion years is, to most readers of Angela's Ashes, hardly even worth mentioning.
What of our provably most useful sciences: economics and computer science? Demi-soft economics has been dubbed the “dismal” science, while semi-hard computer science must surely be the most boring (most of its formal results, dated 1935, are proofs that “this is impossible—don't bother!”) Yet hand-in-hand, both sciences have triggered the most undismal, unboring IPO stock-market episodes since the South Sea bubble. What is anything really worth? Forget the Marxian cosource-sweat-value-added axioms. If dazed bidders offer $1 million for a single Yahoo Japan share, then that is, by definition, its current “worth”. Next question? Red Hat may or may not fairly distribute its IPO gains, but they missed out 500% by not calling themselves e-Red e-Hat e-Linux. And just wait until I launch e-skb-gnu-e-free-hardware.com.
|Android Candy: Copay—the Next-Generation Bitcoin Wallet||Sep 03, 2015|
|The True Internet of Things||Sep 02, 2015|
|September 2015 Issue of Linux Journal: HOW-TOs||Sep 01, 2015|
|September 2015 Video Preview||Sep 01, 2015|
|Using tshark to Watch and Inspect Network Traffic||Aug 31, 2015|
|Where's That Pesky Hidden Word?||Aug 28, 2015|
- The True Internet of Things
- Using tshark to Watch and Inspect Network Traffic
- Android Candy: Copay—the Next-Generation Bitcoin Wallet
- Problems with Ubuntu's Software Center and How Canonical Plans to Fix Them
- September 2015 Issue of Linux Journal: HOW-TOs
- Firefox Security Exploit Targets Linux Users and Web Developers
- Concerning Containers' Connections: on Docker Networking
- Where's That Pesky Hidden Word?
- A Project to Guarantee Better Security for Open-Source Projects
- My Network Go-Bag