“We are blind to our blindspots.”
Does this quotation have a name? I couldn’t find, but let’s call it the “blindspot dilemma”.
From the view point of dominant scientific paradigms [and in fact several of them] this statement amounts to bullshit!
When you mention it and you start to expand on it, mainstream routine scientists start to laugh at you.
– It is a logical tautology.
– It does not add anything to our knowledge.
– It doesn’t give us any new fact about our environment and how it works.
– It is not testable.
– It is unfalsifiable. (If they think Popper)
– It is unscientific. (If they think Feynman)
– It contains zero amount of information.
– It can’t predict.
– It has no value.
– At best it’s just a definition.
– “We can’t see what we can’t see.”
If you come from science, philosophy, business or what not, the dominant mindsets of your field may be expressed in different forms, but they all – perhaps wrongfully – mean the same thing:
The blindspot dilemma is worthless.
Yet, quite surprisingly, when I think about it, when I apply it to different domains, when I keep it – constantly – in the back of my mind, the conclusions I get are drastically different from before: New things emerge and old things get a different set of explanations. Observations make a better sense in a broader range, and a recursive sense of clarity starts to form.
How can that be worthless?
A month ago I applied this simple recipe to “the range of empathy in humans”. As a result, I was taken by a long trip and came back much more insightful. A whole new world of meanings and insights about morality, empathy, psychopathy started to hit me. I got a different vision of our collective civilization. My relationships with the people improved. Social behaviors made more sense. Everything was shed in an irreversible light!
I applied it to human behavior and I learned new things about politics, conflicts, societies. The way the world works and how it could be dealt with it.
I applied it to data, and I got new approaches, new models, new charts and shapes and values.
I applied it to cognition, and I learned new things about conciousness, and even geometry, math and topology.
Someone please tell me how can such a simple yet useful statement be so worthless?
I think the dominant scientific epistemology that is ruling the way science works is incompetent here. And the harm that is causing us comes exactly from that rigid inadequecy.
From Popper’s “falsificationism” to the statistical null hypothetical testing that is dominating the logic with which we do science, have failed to reflect a sense of recursion that may be more profound to our nature than we think.
The late Feyerabend who eventually went against Popper with refusing to accept the existence of universal methodologies in science was on to something. His anarchistic views of science in his against the method lost the battle of history to the falsificationism of Popper.
Science is so blind to its blindspots that Feyerabend’s “sociology of scientific knowledge” where he started to study science as a man-made cultural product made by the society of scientists (my wording) never took off the way it deserved to.
I don’t have a clear formulation to introduce a paradigm here. But I am sure, as much as Popper was sure of his unfalsifiable theory, that we can and we should formulate the blindness dilemma into scientific paradims in an elegant and ground-breaking way.
Me and myself have a recursive faith that beyond the incompetent tools of our current science and our profound blindness to other potential ways of finding the truth, there must be a formal way to adress the so-called “blindspot dillema”. We must nicely and regretfully invite it back to our toolbox of making sense of the world!
I can only hope we see a paradigm shift before our extinction.
P.S. In a looser reading, one can interprete the two “we”s differently by inviting two different perspectives. Then it is no longer a tautology. There is a model (an interpretation/semantics), for which you get something similar to Dunning-Kruger effect. That is not a tautology either. This is probably where I “cheated” in this passage. But I don’t think of it as cheating and that is the point here.
I am not defending this quick text as a well-thought and accurate post. But hear the idea:
Such a fuzzy freedom of interpretations (such as moving between perspectives) is missing in falsifiablity paradigm.
Even the way the dominant paradigms include uncertainty (e.g. statistical hypothesis testing) is so deterministic that they push uncertainty all the way to a statistical parameter or a random variable.
Such freedoms are in the blindspots of the falsifiability approach without originally being excluded them for a good reason. They are only not included, yet, due to a lack of solid and rigorous formalization.