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.
|PostgreSQL, the NoSQL Database||Jan 29, 2015|
|HPC Cluster Grant Accepting Applications!||Jan 28, 2015|
|Sharing Admin Privileges for Many Hosts Securely||Jan 28, 2015|
|Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 beta available on IBM Power Platform||Jan 23, 2015|
|Designing with Linux||Jan 22, 2015|
|Wondershaper—QOS in a Pinch||Jan 21, 2015|
- PostgreSQL, the NoSQL Database
- Sharing Admin Privileges for Many Hosts Securely
- HPC Cluster Grant Accepting Applications!
- Internet of Things Blows Away CES, and it May Be Hunting for YOU Next
- Designing with Linux
- Wondershaper—QOS in a Pinch
- Ideal Backups with zbackup
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 beta available on IBM Power Platform
- Slow System? iotop Is Your Friend
- January 2015 Issue of Linux Journal: Security
Editorial Advisory Panel
Thank you to our 2014 Editorial Advisors!
- Jeff Parent
- Brad Baillio
- Nick Baronian
- Steve Case
- Chadalavada Kalyana
- Caleb Cullen
- Keir Davis
- Michael Eager
- Nick Faltys
- Dennis Frey
- Philip Jacob
- Jay Kruizenga
- Steve Marquez
- Dave McAllister
- Craig Oda
- Mike Roberts
- Chris Stark
- Patrick Swartz
- David Lynch
- Alicia Gibb
- Thomas Quinlan
- Carson McDonald
- Kristen Shoemaker
- Charnell Luchich
- James Walker
- Victor Gregorio
- Hari Boukis
- Brian Conner
- David Lane