Analytics Strategist

March 22, 2007

Stupidity in theories

Filed under: Random Thoughts — Tags: — Huayin Wang @ 3:01 pm

There is a funny Chan story about an erudite ancient Chinese scholar/poet, Su Dongpo, of Song Dynasty:

One day, Su Dongpo went to see his friend Foyin, a Chan master at Golden Mountain Temple. Feeling so good after a total relaxing mediation, Su asked Foyin, “What do you think of my sitting posture?”, “Very magnificent. Like a Buddha!” Su Dongpo felt even better. Foyin then asked the same question to Su Dongpo, he answered, he answered, teasingly, “like a pile of bullsh**”. Foyin smiled and did not utter a single word.

Su Dongpo thought he had beaten the Chan Master Foyin because the Chan Master was wordless while being compared to a pile of bullsh**. He was so proud of himself that he told everyone he met, “Today I won.”

When his little sister heard about this, she said “Brother, you just proved you are in an inferior state of the mind! It is because Chan Master’s mind is actually that of a Buddha that he could see you as a Buddha. As your mind is like a pile of bullsh**, you, of course, saw him as a pile of bullsh**.” Su Dongpo was speechless upon hearing this.

The self-reflective nature of “That” always amaze me. It is not that if I see bad people, I am bad; but at a higher level, the content of your mind reflect upon itself and limiting itself when looked at from a higher perspective. “People can’t understand this because they are stupid” — well this could prevent you from discovering how to make your better understood by people.

During the many years working in data mining and predictive modeling business, I have heard people constantly talking about how “you have to dummy down” things, and compromise the power of your models if you want to sell it to clients or marketing or none technical people or any of those “not smart” people. It is unsettling and uncomfortable to me. If I can’t make sense of the “other minds” in my world, I can label them as “stupid”; unless the stupidity label disappears, I am likely unable to make sense of those minds.

You maybe surprised if I told you that this post is triggered by a nice blog by dave kellog, in which he was speculating how some business trends can be explained by the single reason that “people do not like to buy products with magic components”. One of those thing happens to be the never taking-off field of “data mining”.

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