Archive for modeling

Theory of Conspiracy

Posted in Revolution, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 29, 2016 by rgwallace

20130619_G8leaders02In life it is never a mathematical proposition which we need, but we use mathematical propositions only in order to infer from propositions which do not belong to mathematics to others which equally do not belong to mathematics. –Ludwig Wittgenstein (1922)

David Grimes, a physicist, calculates large-scale conspiracies are impossible. Someone somewhere–a whistleblower or bungler–will leak the goods.

The issue missed here, however, as Stephen Colbert–channeling Slavoj Žižek–put it to Donald Rumsfeld the other night, are the unknown knowns, the crimes the brigades of ideological shock troops among us pretend ignorance of in the service of expediency.

That is, in a reading of the WikiLeaks cables ironically enough, is the business of empire really something other than an albeit open conspiracy? And who, then, are the more dangerous conspirators now dining in our best restaurants–the true believers or the manipulative cynics?

Continue reading

The Parallax Pig

Posted in Organic agriculture, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2011 by farmingpathogens

Slavoj Žižek on the historical linguistics of  food production and consumption:

“‘Pig” refers to animals whom farmers deal, while “pork” is the meat we consume–and the class dimension is clear here: “pig” is the old Saxon word, since Saxons were the underprivileged farmers, while “pork” comes from French “porque,” used by the privileged Norman conquerors who mostly consumed the pigs raised by farmers.

Such a parallax–dual or dueling perspectives–can be found along other dimensions.  The kinds of social histories symbols and what they represent share can also be found in the mathematical modeling used to characterize these little piggies, their roast beef, and their wee pathogens all the way home.

The epidemiological formalisms deployed grew out of historical trajectories of their own, with all manner of interests–personal and political–shaping their inputs and  outcomes. We’re not talking here about acts of blatant corruption–how gauche!–but the way social presuppositions are built into modeling as ethically practiced.

Setting aside the obvious complications we are likely to encounter, in the interests of bringing the issue to a head, if you’ll excuse the hog pun, let me ask, Is there such a thing as a Norman modeling and its Saxon counterpart? Can we find Robin Hood in Sherwood Formalism?

Heart of Modeling

Posted in Evolution with tags , , , , , , , on September 15, 2009 by rgwallace

Joseph-CampbellGreed is often mistaken for humanity’s heart of darkness. Look instead to the rationalization that transforms the most rapacious pillaging into an act of benevolence. A one-ton bomb dropped on a peasant wedding party is dissembled into regret without responsibility or, baser yet, a tough love offered with warning enough its victims, until then on their happiest day, ignored at their own risk.

Massacring the poorest–by the pen or the sword–is abstracted into an industrial deduction no rough facts can peel back. In its desperate flight free, what evidence flutters out from between the secret policeman’s gloves serves in this framework as its own denunciation: the editor who publishes it loses his job, the journalist her access, and the whistleblower his freedom. Barbarism, backed by Ivy League pedigrees and the strategic brick of cash, can excuse itself with the right mix of red tape and inert banality.

The shock for some will be that even evolutionary biology plays its part. Set aside its more blatant frauds writing how the dead were inherently dumber than those who designed the bomb that killed them. As if even true it was alibi enough. In their unrequited loyalties the likes of Phil Rushton and Charles Murray speak as if they are somehow affiliated with the physics that went into the ordnance. No Einsteins these, the hangers-on refute themselves as soon as they open their mouths.

Continue reading