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A New Kind of Science: The NKS Forum (http://forum.wolframscience.com/index.php)
- Applied NKS (http://forum.wolframscience.com/forumdisplay.php?forumid=4)
-- NKS Implications for Practical Applications (http://forum.wolframscience.com/showthread.php?threadid=1070)
Ok that's fair, I should have separated two issues I'm really interested in.
The first, which you've largely addressed quote well, is the question of where the meat of theory is and how its practicioners see it being applied. And I appreciate you've gone out of your way to explain it.
The second issue however is how NKS proponents and even employees view the nontraditional route through which this theory as been promoted, and _why_ that route was chosen. I'm honestly just curious about it; I didn't mean to cast aspersions so much as say, "look, here's what the critics are saying, what's your response?"
You didn't really respond at all to those questions, which perhaps is understandable since I mixed them up with my first line of questioning, but I'm still curious about the latter topic. In your collage of quotations from me you conveniently left out context, for example when I said "offers basically nothing," the whole phrase was, "offers basically nothing in the way of search." I was acknowledging that it has other intriguing aspects. "Smacks of arrogance" is just something I've heard critics say over and over again, and I was interested in your response to why you feel your approach to promoting "new science" is not unnecessarily arrogant. "Narrow and unproven direction" seems largely true. I'm not sure why that's a criticism. You've said we "should instead be ready to be surprised," which is in effect the same as saying it's unproven. "Narrow" may have been an unfair knock; I apologize for that. I'm not sure if it's narrow. Yet on your part it was unfair to use "alchemy" as an example of my "drivel" when I specifically said, "I do not wish to sink to such a level of ad hominem attack as to suggest it's alchemy." I was just pointing out that many have said that and giving you an opportunity to respond.
I'm genuinely curious about this stuff. You have to understand that as a sociological phenomenon watching you guys and the reactions of the scientific world to you is fascinating from the outside. I keep hearing these things from your critics, and sometimes I am sympathetic, but sometimes I wish I could hear more of the other side of the story. So that's why I'm putting it in front of you- not to be tiresome but to actually hear that other side that I am so intrigued about. Perhaps to you it feels like you are under a tiresome onslaught of drivel, but from the outside it doesn't really look that way. It looks more like you don't want to engage the scientific community in a normal way, and the scientific community is a bit peeved about that, perhaps arrogantly so. (Perhaps Wolfram is a kind of Gallileo of his time, or perhaps he is just the usual crank who thinks he's changing the world; the fact that it is unclear is a wonderful and deep story.) So it's really not drivel to bring up these questions, although I agree it is not itself "scientific." It is more sociological, but the sociology of science is fascinating in itself when a rebel tries to buck the establishment.
For example, why does Wolfram feel it's necessary to sidestep scientific review process? How does it feel to be in some sense demonized for doing so? Do you feel like rebels fighting the establishment, or are you perhaps just unaware how the scientific review process usually works? Is there within your group a view that scientists in general are too dogmatic and entrenched to accept or intelligently criticize something novel? Why not engage scientists at already-existing conferences in related fields instead of trying to start your own parallel conference on this one single research direction? Are you afraid that you will not be accepted at those conferences? Why would you be afraid of that? Is it because scientists are in your view ignorant like the church in Gallileo's time? Do you see the irony of a scientist declaring their own work to be a new kind of science when that is usually the job of the prism of history and not the scientist himself? Why do you think in this case it's ok to do that anyway?
If you think I'm attacking you, you are completely misunderstanding. These are fascinating questions. I'm all for going out in unpopular directions; I'm all for spending millions of dollars of your own money to fund work that no one else is willing to do that can potentially change the world. That is the spirit of innovation. Going your own way is cool stuff, sometimes it's the way the world changes, sometimes it's no more than a shot of passion for people looking for a cause. But even if it's only that, that's still a contribution to people's lives and aspirations.
So I have no problem with what you're doing. I just want to know your _side_, your perspective, how you view the critics. I hope you are not simply dismissive of the establishment so quickly that your only comment is to say it's drivel. It's deeper than that, let's face it. But that doesn't mean they're right. It just means it's worth addressing.
It might not be so easy to explain the answers to your questions in one forum post, or even one forum thread.
There are actually lots of opinions, and you can find many of the answers to these questions in various parts of this forum. Many are answered in the NKS book itself.
At the upcoming Wolfram science conference in DC, I along with a few others are giving a minicourse, where we will give a concise one day course on NKS. I've got some materials where I show some examples of how one applies NKS to practical and to scientific questions.
There are going to be many interesting talks at this conference, reflecting many of the pure abstract as well as the applied research going on.
Questions with answers
I think you are asking some great questions here.
... why does Wolfram feel it's necessary to sidestep scientific review process?
Wolfram discusses this question on the first page of text of the book, in the Preface on page ix.
Why not engage scientists at already-existing conferences in related fields instead of trying to start your own parallel conference on this one single research direction?
The name of the book states that this is a new science. Certainly as far as I know, there are no other existing fields or conferences dedicated to exploring and finding useful things in the computational universe. It makes sense to dedicate a conference to NKS, because that need isn't being addressed anywhere else.
Why not engage scientists at already-existing conferences in related fields ... assumes that isn't actually happening. There are a growing number of papers related to or directly building upon NKS. It seems likely that lots of those authors are presenting at conferences, and judging from the range of topics those papers address, in lots of different existing fields as well.
Other questions you are asking seem almost rhetorical to me:
How does it feel to be in some sense demonized for doing so? Do you feel like rebels fighting the establishment, or are you perhaps just unaware how the scientific review process usually works? Is there within your group a view that scientists in general are too dogmatic and entrenched to accept or intelligently criticize something novel?
It is really difficult to answer questions like this in a concrete way. For example:
How does it feel to be in some sense demonized for doing so?This is a personal question, and the answer depends on who you're talking to (and whether or not they even agree that the term "demonized" is appropriate).
Paul, thanks for the insights. Thanks to everyone else too for trying to answer my questions. I learned a lot here about this theory and what it's really about.
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