Notable Links and Miscellanea - Oct 31, 2023
Quanta Magazine — Why Mathematical Proof Is a Social Compact
An excellent interview with the number theorist Andrew Granville about the social processes by which we arrive at truths in mathematics:
“We often think of a proof as a mathematical argument. Through a series of logical steps, it demonstrates that a given statement is true. But you write that this shouldn’t be mistaken for pure, objective truth. What do you mean by that?
The main point of a proof is to persuade the reader of the truth of an assertion. That means verification is key. The best verification system we have in mathematics is that lots of people look at a proof from different perspectives, and it fits well in a context that they know and believe. In some sense, we’re not saying we know it’s true. We’re saying we hope it’s correct, because lots of people have tried it from different perspectives. Proofs are accepted by these community standards.
Then there’s this notion of objectivity — of being sure that what is claimed is right, of feeling like you have an ultimate truth. But how can we know we’re being objective? It’s hard to take yourself out of the context in which you’ve made a statement — to have a perspective outside of the paradigm that has been put in place by society. This is just as true for scientific ideas as it is for anything else.”
- interviewed me for his Substack — you can see the Q&A here:
Randomized trial of ketamine masked by surgical anesthesia in patients with depression by Lii et al. has now been published in Nature Mental Health. You can see my earlier discussion of the preprint here.
Ethan Ludwin-Peery —— Alchemy is ok
“Psychology today is about where alchemy was in the year 1661. Like the alchemists, we do sometimes produce true and important findings, but we have no way of making sense of them or fitting them together. We need a paradigm to give us shape and turn us into a mature science. No number of discoveries, however robust or interesting to non-specialists, can make that happen.”
Chaos in the Brickyard — A memorable 1963 letter in Science (hat-tip Nicole Rust)
Sean Carroll’s Mindscape — David Deutsch on Science, Complexity, and Explanation
Nature — Reproducibility trial: 246 biologists get different results from same data sets. Wide distribution of findings shows how analytical choices drive conclusions.
You’ve been framed — Richard Gipps offers a critique of the concept of the frame as applied in social-scientific critiques of psychiatric nosology.
“We analyzed questionnaire data from 410 individuals with moderate-severe TBI, covering 57 homogenous symptom components and maladaptive traits within HiTOP. Using a top-down, exploratory latent variable approach, we constructed a hierarchical model of psychopathology tailored to TBI… The empirical structure of psychopathology after TBI largely corresponded with the established HiTOP model”
Nature Reviews Neuroscience — How deep is the brain? The shallow brain hypothesis
In this Perspective, we present the shallow brain hypothesis: hierarchical cortical processing is integrated with a massively parallel process to which subcortical areas substantially contribute. This shallow architecture exploits the computational capacity of cortical microcircuits and thalamo-cortical loops that are not included in typical hierarchical deep learning and predictive coding networks. We argue that the shallow brain architecture provides several critical benefits over deep hierarchical structures and a more complete depiction of how mammalian brains achieve fast and flexible computational capabilities.