The Half Life of Facts by Samuel Arbesman
Facts are like radioactivity, new facts are created & decay predictably. Knowledge also
spreads with recognizable characteristics. This is important because facts do not stand
indepedent of each other, they interelate and how they do that goes a long way in which
we interpret the order of our environment.
Facts can be defined as "individual states of knowledge awareness".
As such each fact is also inherently uncertain. Learning about how facts are created,
spread and are finally destroyed will help us manage this uncertainty.
Facts can be organised by how quickly they are subject to change. Imagine if you will
- Very Slow
Like Mathematical Facts
- Middle or Mesofacts
Like the Population of the World
- Very Fast
Like the latest stock prices
- The Creation of Facts
Rate of technological growth is also correlated population growth. The
tribes found in Tasmania and Flinders Island
in comparison to Aboriginals on mainland Austrial are a
good example of how isolation can affect techonological prowess.
We often think of change happening linearly, however there is good reason to keep in
mind at least a few other types, namely, exponential, cyclical, logarithmic,
logistic, S-Curves or Linked logistic.
Exponential growth is characterised by its doubling time and it is found that many
many fields of knowledge exhibit characteristic doubling times for the rate of growth
of facts within their realm.
This field of study is called Scientometrics. H-index,
Discoveries follow a logarithmic curve as new discoveries get harder
and harder. An easy heuristic to understand this is thinking about how much harder
it is too discover smaller and smaller things. The equipment you need etc...
Henry Petroski -
"Science is about understanding the origins, nature, and behaviour of the Universe
and all it contains;
Engineering is about solving problems by rearranging the stuff of the world to make
Science modifies the facts of what we know about the world, while technology modifies
the facts of what we can do in the world.
Hawthorne Effect is a type of reactivity
in which individuals modify or improve an aspect of their behavior in response to
their awareness of being observed.
- Spreading Facts
- Hidden Knowledge
- Fact Phase Transition
- Discovering Error
- Human Side of Facts
- The Edge of What We Know