• "Adults have to deal with moral grey areas"
  • "I’m not liberal or conservative, I guess I’m somewhere in the middle"
  • "It may be helpful to think of data science and business intelligence as being on two ends of the same spectrum” (source)
  • "On a sliding scale from 1 to 10, how happy are you with life?"
  • "[S]cientific bias…is a model for separating plausible hypotheses from their opposite.” (source)
  • Please rate your attitude toward the following statements from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”.
  • How did you like that book, movie, play, album? Please answer anywhere between ★ and ★★★★★.
  • "The truth lies somewhere in between"

image

People talk about “grey areas” as if [0,1] is so much more sophisticated than {0,1}. I find such rhetoric limiting. After all, the convex combinations of black and white are totally ordered, completely linear, and only one-dimensional! A painting in B&W couldn’t display much variation. (Not that it couldn’t be interesting.) We deal everyday with things more complicated than “a grey area” because the world is 3-D and colour is Lab (3-D nonlinear). Add in texture and smell and you’ve increased the psychological dimensionality manyfold.

image

The metaphor is insufficiently rich. Adult situations don’t fall on a straight line. Political viewpoints don’t sit neatly next to each other in 1-D. Moral ambiguity is certainly more colourful and convoluted than the path from #000000 to #FFFFFF.

Me, I’m more interested in 2.7-dimensional hornspheres, quartz crystal spires, hot-air balloons with a row of golden rings piercing the spine, and quasi-polar negatively bent inside-out torii-cum-logcabins. Or even just something as “pedestrian” as a mountaintop pine forest, which is already much more intricate than, cough cough, the unit interval [0,1].

image

So—back to my original point—I think moral ambiguity resembles a cell complex more than a line segment. Real situations—the layered tragedies, ironies, comedies, and lengthy mediocrities that desirous, egocentric humans instinctively generate—have a much more interesting shape than “the span between 0 and 1.”

image

I guess I shouldn’t be so critical. The people using the grey-area metaphor probably don’t avail themselves of the whimsical thought-gardens in which more exciting shapes live. Sorry there, I was just feeling constricted.

image

I hope you’ve enjoyed these drawings by Robert Ghrist from his (free) notes on homotopy.

110 notes

  1. tawnya-i5-paganini979 reblogged this from isomorphismes
  2. wordythings reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  3. celestialeagle reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  4. cautionuseonlyasdirected reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  5. gempuque reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  6. upupandrighthere reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  7. mylifeisborromean reblogged this from isomorphismes
  8. staceyjk reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  9. isometries reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  10. dukelee23 reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  11. donsanchopanza reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  12. shades-of-toska reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  13. thexhrisgalli reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  14. kaleidoscopicchromatism reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  15. contemplatingmadness reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  16. bioness reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  17. minustheevan reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  18. azureauishou reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  19. cyclicalprocesses reblogged this from isomorphismes
  20. lunawarrior reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  21. bindingaffinity reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful and added:
    Human decisions should be measured in only the most complex and pathological of topologies. “On the scale of the...
  22. onequantaaway reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful
  23. logic-and-art reblogged this from proofmathisbeautiful