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Re: [ontolog-forum] Axiomatic ontology

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 11:28:33 -0400
Message-id: <48C93921.3060900@xxxxxxxx>
John F. Sowa wrote:    (01)

> There's nothing new in that article:
> http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/16-07/pb_theory
> The End of Theory:  The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete
> Ibn Taymiyya said it earlier and better.  ...
> It all depends on how general your generalizations are, and how many
> exceptions there are.  If the exceptions outnumber the generalizations,
> it's far better to go back to raw data and use analogical reasoning.
> Taymiyya said that, and he was right.      (02)

But there is a host of difficulties with that, and the internet has made 
them manifest.  The "data deluge" doesn't often come with clear 
"provenance metadata" -- who collected this data, and what were the 
circumstances and method of collection.  It is easy to draw erroneous 
analytical conclusions, or find numerous fake exceptions to a 
theoretical result, by considering "inappropriate" data to be relevant. 
  The internet is replete with data that is "inappropriate" by being 
outright false, but even with data that was validly captured and 
reported, it is not often easy to find out the values of the context 
variables.    (03)

The advantage of legal precedent is that you have a well-known and 
reliable set of records that contains all of the contextual information 
that was available to the judges at the time the decision was made.  So 
one can argue not only for precedent, but also about the relevance of a 
particular decision to the issue at hand, based on other elements in the 
context of that decision.    (04)

[You have to realize that NIST is a scientific institution that prides 
itself on scientific conservatism.  We publish a lot of data, and a lot 
of analytical and theoretical results.  But when we generalize beyond 
what we have observed and can prove, we call it 'hypothesis'.  Good 
science will always survive the deluge of undocumented data. 
Credibility is more important than visibility.]    (05)

-Ed    (06)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694    (07)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
  and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (08)

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