Monday, 24 August 2009

"Art is the lie that reveals the truth." -Picasso

I've been fascinated by Ramachandran, both the scientist and the man, for a while now. His current fMRI experiments are an attempt to find out what exactly it is that visual art does to the brain, that kitsch doesn't. On the other hand, he cannot remember his wife's birthday after 22 years of marriage (according to an article from The New Yorker).

A great overview of directions of inquiry in neuroaesthetics can be found here.

In summary, this group of neuroscientists believe that great visual art both condenses and exaggerates visual stimuli in a way which mimics how neurons naturally pre-process this stimuli. It seems plausible that the auditory cortex does something similar to the auditory stimuli.
Now why is it the case that the olfactory stimuli never really reached an artform status? The olfactory detection is more complex (structurally) than both visual or auditory detection. What about the part of the brain that processes the olfactory stimuli, is it less important and less integrated than the visual cortex, say? Does this mean that if dogs were creating art, it would be displayed in dining halls and not in galleries?


  1. Cool stuff.

    In my theory of art, which i intend to expand upon at some point, I think that the distinction between art and kitsch is that art allows you to signal desirable traits whereas kitsch doesn't.

    This leads to a prediction relating to the fMRI's - art and kitsch will both stimulate the same visual centres. Unfortunately my (or perhaps anyones) knowledge of the brain isn't good enough to know exactly how the 'signalling circuits' work but I would predict that there would be extra activity in the case of admiring art in some sort of story telling regions of the brain.

    I'm trying to think of a situation where we could simply observe someone signalling - then my theory would predict that it was those areas of the brain, in addition to the visual areas, that would light up in the case of art. Maybe it would be possible to put a hetrosexual person in a room, get them to tell a story to a computer then get them to tell the same story to an attractive member of the opposite sex. No doubt the second story would contain more signalling.

  2. Very interesting. It's a strong predicton. They should hurry up with publishing the results in any case, it's no good to leave it in the hands of graduate students.

    As an aside, what is the "story telling region" of the brain?

    Perhaps it's not a region as such, but an emergent phenomenon that arises when centres for emotions, memories, empathy and logic are resonating in an appropriate way. Much like consciousness is an emergent property of many processes across the whole of the brain.
    Perhaps that could hint at why story telling is so powerful, it's able to grip the brain by several hands, so to speak.

    There is a Jewish saying (which I heard from Isabel Allende).
    "-What is truer than truth?
    - A story."

    A nice example of ancient wisdom cracking down on cognitive biases, and in the spirit of Picasso's quote in the title.

  3. “It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.” - Mark Twain

  4. I like both those quotes a lot. Perfectly in keeping with the theme.

    As for the 'story telling area' of the brain, I have literally no idea. Anything I say would be fairly wild speculation. It's something that I might start looking into though, as the gap between psychology and neuroscience closes.

  5. Interesting post, great comments!

    If we take this concept to it's conclusion where science understands what parts of the brain are active when appreciating art, and what best causes this to happen, it seems like the next step is to generate the "perfect" piece of art. Is this possible?

    I think so, and am very interested to see what it would look like. However, for it to be appreciated by the general population in the same way as a Monet or Picasso, I think it would have to be created under the condition where know one knew that it was generated by scientific understanding rather than the expression of a lonely and depressed artist. I appreciate this is a rather cynical attitude, but to me there are (at least) two elements that make a piece of art great. First whether it looks good (fires the correct neurons in our brains) and second does it make me look good (not necessarily just to the opposite sex, but to society in general). This raises the question what is it about a piece of art that signals desirable traits?

  6. Exactly. Kitsch looks good but doesn't allow you to signal.

    Consuming the right kind of art can signal individuality (or group membership), intellectual prowess, social status and probably a whole host of other things. Really we need to sit down and think about what are the most important signals and how they interact.

    I think the fact that there's this signalling component to art is the reason why you'll never get a perfect piece of art. A particular painting might stimulate neurones in the absolutely optimum way but, if that makes it popular, you won't be able to signal your individuality by admiring it. So you'll find a way to criticise it no matter how good (for those in the know - Shawshank Redemption).

  7. "Is it possible to have a perfect piece of art?"

    I think that a piece of art generated (exclusively) by scientific understanding is a contradiction in terms.

    Art (sort of by definition) assumes an experience of the world from within a human being, expressed on some medium, such as a canvas, or a guitar.

    I'd think that computer algorithms can generate pretty pleasing sounds. In theory, even if a computer comes up with the score for a Chopin Nocturne, it will still not have generated art. Because art is a bit like language, a medium of communication between human beings.

    Suppose a bunch of birds on a sandy beach by chance leave traces in the sand that read "Hola". Would you take it to mean the birds are greeting you in Spanish? This "Hola" assumes its real meaning only when it's passing between people.

    (With Artifical Intelligence, perhaps it will be handy to define some kind of AI art.)

    As machines eventually outcompete humans in all sort of aesthetic expression, maybe our culture will become comfortable with this machine-art and enjoy it for what it is.

    But I don't think art (as traditionally understood) will ever be threatened into extinction, it will simply keep redefining itself.

    "Scientists describe our brain in terms of its physical details; they say we are nothing but a loom of electrical cells and synaptic spaces. What science forgets is that this isn't how we EXPERIENCE the world. It is ironic, but true: The one reality science cannot reduce is the only reality we will ever know. That is why we need art. By expressing our actual experience, the artist reminds us that our science is incomplete, that no map of matter will ever explain the immateriality of our consciousness." (from Proust was a Neuroscientist)

  8. I don't think I understand the description of art as "expressing our actual experience".

    The two forms of art that I can think of that this might apply to are movies and books. But I don't see how it's particularly relevant to music, painting, to modern art or to less conventional forms of art like amazing food.

    I think a more general definition would be that art causes us to feel emotion.

  9. I think Marc is right that art is what makes you feel.

    By the way, Aida: olfactory input not great art? What about cordon bleu cookery (I refer to the olfactory system doing the tasting, not merely the smelling)? What about perfumes?

    I do feel cynicism whenever I read the overwrought words of people saying that art simply can't be made by computers, darling, they have no souls. I think that in due course a functional simulation will be made of the sensory centres of the brain, when the neuroscience is ready and Moore's Law has brought about enough computing power. Then it will be possible to generate art (with whatever algorithm, and don't forget that for now only humans can make algorithms) automatically with a sieve that will remove all the non-sense-stimulating attempts removed.

  10. really interesting stuff...

    slightly off topic... but what I really want to know is why we, as humans appreciate art in the first place? (why doesn't a dog wiggle its tail when it hears chopin??) I guess what I'm trying to say is, why is that "great visual art would both condense and exaggerate visual stimuli in a way which mimics how neurons naturally pre-process this stimuli,", why does art "cause us to feel emotions?". I know this is a very typical discussion in philosophy which often raises the question of god's exisitence etc but seeing as you're all scientists, I was wondering if anyone has any interesting points to say on the matter?

  11. Yes. I believe (with a fair but not conclusive amount of evidence) that art is essentially a mating ritual. It is an exceeding complex task that allows a potential suitor to determine the genetic quality of the artist.

    Think of a peacocks tail. The quality of the tail is an indicator, for the peahen, of the genetic fitness of the peacock. I see art as one of a few similar indicators for humans.

    This is part of the reason why I believe that an essential component to art is the ability to signal positive attributes by either making or liking it.

    I realise that this isn't anywhere near convincing enough to ask anyone to completely change their view of art but I intend to expand on it in further posts. For the record all my thinking on this subject is hugely influenced by the book "the mating mind".

  12. Also it's actually already possible to generate poetry by machines. There's some excellent examples detailed in either 'fooled by randomness' or 'the black swan'.

  13. @Marc
    I'm impatient to see the upcoming posts!

    What about our need for transcendence (e.g.Maslow's pyramid
    )? Art often evokes emotions that play to this need, and art and spirituality (and religion) are quite often intertwined to some degree. How is that related to mating? Isn't it simpler to discuss it in view of our fear of mortality?

  14. I think we should explore both and see if we can find any predictions that differ between the views.

    Off the top of my head - if art was related to mortality you might expect artists to be most productive during their later years. If art was related to mating you might expect the production to be concentrated during their younger years (obviously to study this properly you'd have to normalise for health, wealth etc).

    Of course the truth could lie somewhere between both, art having started out as one and been co-opted by the other.

    I definitely don't rule the 'art as attempted* transcendence' theory out. I'm somewhat naturally suspicious of poetic, feel good theories. Also I currently suspect that the evolutionary theory has more explanatory power but this might be because I'm more familiar with the evidence so I'm unfairly biased that way (see confirmation bias).

    What reading material would you suggest to get an overview of art as attempted* transcendence?

    Here's an unfair, leading question; Is the appeal of Britney Spears sexual or transcendent?

    *I say attempted because I want to make the, perhaps petty, distinction between an emotional reaction that feels good (which i could support) and any sort of universal significance that people with romantic souls might ascribe to that feeling.

  15. I'm at a loss. Miss Spears an artist?

  16. Presumably...?

    Personal taste aside, how would you define art so as to rule her out?

  17. (Part 1)

    Dear all,

    You don't know me and I don't know you; except I have met Aida through a really nice set of coincidences this afternoon which somewhat extend into our share of common history and language (to a degree).

    Just a brief word of who I am and what I do so you will understand I am by no means a scientist. I am Slovenian and am a multi-disciplinary 'artist' (read thinker), and have finished my masters at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL. My practice is questioning the present state of the culture and society. In my work I am aiming to encourage people to constantly question and think. More you can see/read at my web


    However, Aida spoke briefly about your conversation on neuroscience and art, and curious as I am we got into conversation about computer generated art. First I would like to comment that the conversation you are having interests me very much and I suppose this is the reason why I am commenting. (By the way I apologize about the length of my 2 part comment up front.)

    I am reading your thoughts and am really interested what art means to you. Because it is clear that you are predominately talking about the 'image' under the name art. Or the end product of the creative process to put it more plainly. The end product (the 'image') which is presented in the gallery context, or on stage, or in the concert hall (to mention a few).

    Of course there are many notions of what art is, and whoever you ask you will get a somewhat different answer, or view, or understanding of it. And this is the first clue into what I want to say. Multitude of personal understandings is what constitutes the society generally and art is part of this condition.

    The popular view of the 'art' would normally constitute of an 'art product' in relation to a process this artwork has been conditioned by or created under. This does not mean that only the image would be pigeonholed to bare the classification art. Art generally means the whole thing, from idea, to conceptualization, contextual frames, and in the end the end product. Much closer definition to what you are talking about has art market because they see the surplus value in the end product. In effect reducing 'art' to mere furniture.

    Now let me describe an (extreme) alternative to the popular view of art or the art market. And this is my (critical) understanding of what art means. Art is the process which enables progress. The sort of 'art', or 'image', you are discussing is in effect only a tool, a symbol. Let me clarify what I mean by this through this example: I am going to the gallery to see work (as in the 'work of art') of a particular artist. When I stand in front of the work I will engage my experience, knowledge and preconditions to allow my reading of the work, perceive it, and understand it personally. If through this process the creative thought is initiated then I will be able to extend the thinking into creative device which will allow me to conceive ideas and further concepts that will effectively result in another end product, allowing the whole process to repeat. So understanding art as an object, song, performance, play will not stand ground today in the art world, and in fact it wouldn't have for centuries. So to simplify art happens within oneself and not in front of oneself! This leads me to Joseph Beyus who said: "Everybody is an artist," meaning everybody is capable of creative thinking which leads into a myriad of possibilities for end products (whether being in art, creative industries, humanities, science, political sciences etc.).

  18. (Part 2)

    To answer the question, no it is 'impossible' (term is subject to dispute I am sure) to create 'perfect art'. It is interesting to hear the term being mentioned as it has almost no place, or for that matter value, in artist's vocabulary. Just like inability to travel at the speed of light, there is no such thing as 'perfect art'. Although many would like to believe there is such existence, there is not. Art is ultimately subjective and cannot be coined within objective or measurable terms. Hypothetically speaking even if you may be able to create a machine with all possible algorithms the perfection would become absolutely subjective and would thus disintegrate under its own meaning. It is a paradox. A clear example is Monet. I am sure you all know his Water Lilies. In fact one may think they are just about perfect paintings from Expressionism era, but the reason why they are a rather bluish colours is because Monet suffered of an eye disease for which medical science devices correctional surgery to treat it at the turn of the 20th century. When Monet had his surgery and got to see his blue paintings he destroyed dozens of them. Now there may be perfect for many, however for one (in this case the author) they were worthless because they were not exact representation of what he thought he painted.

    What I would suggest is rather than thinking of 'art' (or 'perfect art') is to think of creative process. This will be much harder to obtain than to devise a machine that would make pleasing 'images'. And this leads me to a sort of conclusion. And here comes into equation the unpredictability of emotions, perception, experiences and knowledge which are constantly changing, flowing or upgrading.

    The best example of computer generated (pleasing) images is fractal geometry and the Mandelbrot set. In a way this is one of the devices that started creating computer generated visual images. They are really fascinating, but does that make them art? This would be a subject for a panel discussion that should involve many different experts...

    Although I have not seen fMRI scans in person and relating visuals that are causing the lighting of specific areas in the brain. But I would believe (and I a may be very wrong) you are seeing the (creative) thinking process, which involves, I am lead to believe, a combination of areas in the brain, and this could be tentatively called 'Art'.

  19. Metod,

    I believe that you are referring to ideas from philosophy, particularly Plato's ideas of the ideal: Platonic art. I believe that many if not most philosophical ideas that cannot be applied to reality in a falsifiable way (falsifiability having been invented by a philosopher) are at best idly interesting and at worst useless.

    I believe I can summarise your words into this: what is art will always be subjective. Did I miss anything?

  20. Welcome to the blog Metod! I'm very happy that we have a representative from the art world on this thread.

    Let me throw in a quick afterthought. Some evolutionary psychologists (John Tooby, Leda Cosmides, Brian Boyd) think the drive to seek out aesthetic experiences could have evolved to push us to learn about different aspects of the world - those that our brain's hardwiring has not equipped us with at birth. Or that art is a form of intellectual play, allowing us to explore new horizons in a safe environment (Metod, your Poll Booth comes to mind).

    Edxter, if this is true to some degree, then putting a value judgment on artistic activity as marginal or useless might be missing something important. A toddler's game is useless, but it helps the child rewire its young developing brain. By analogy, if art is a creative process by which we explore some unchartered territory (as good art implies a degree of originality, whether in form, in the way the associations are made, etc), perhaps engaging with it makes our brains more agile and alert. Now, I'm not sure of a definitive objective measure of brain agility, but both scientists and artists speak about moments of inspiration, epiphanies, creative energy, etc.

  21. Aida, as a keen evolutionary psychology fan, I think that curiosity and playfulness are part of what makes us able to learn and develop skills. I don't think toddler's games are useless: they're training themselves in coordination, problem-solving, etc., and they're doing it because it's FUN. Desmond Morris identified that humans are neotenous apes (keeping infantile characteristics later: large heads, hairless, playful). Those who retain this childlike curiosity and playfulness into adulthood are more neotenous, and are creative. Typically they will be more intelligent as they will constantly be exercising their problem-solving as they find it fun; also because the neoteny is what made our species intelligent in the first place. They will be the ones who become scientists, artists, engineers, etc.

  22. Art has been and will remain subjective. No algorithm can effectively change this notion, as there won't be an absolute and thus objective 'ideal' that can be measured and graded. The 'ideal', I suppose, is the fabrication of the consciousness and/or subconscious activity. Without it, I am speculating, there would be no progress or advance (or at least not in the sense we know it today). Evolution is heavily leaning on this pillar. For instance we are intelligibly discussing the matter only not knowing whether it will bare any concrete fruit in the long run. But would that make it a waste of time and energy? And if I use a toddle example. Toddler's games are not designed to have the same result over and over again. He or she would simply get bored if they were. (Of course there are many factors that can push one off and quit 'playing'.) But this model goes for every aspect of life. A sportsman is a clear example. I guess we have evolved to strive to go 'faster', 'higher', 'further' ... of course in each respective discipline. But what is pushing this so called curiosity further might the ideal (idea). A mental fabrication of of our desires, aims and effectively strive for achievements.

    In regard to the theory of the Platonic art. It could perhaps work, except that Plato supposed the art (lets say) as being a copy of a copy of 'beauty' itself ('beauty' being another metaphysical notion only applicable to subjectively). What this theory does not take into account is that these are not really copies of the real 'beauty'. Because the 'copy' in this case is not a copy, but actual original. You can think of 'my model of art' as a Perpetuum Mobile if you like. Energy gained is given further only to gain again.

    But when we speak of moments of inspiration, epiphanies, creative energy, etc., as you suggest Aida, we cannot dismiss the fact that most of those inspirations often comes from a constant exercise of the brain. And here we are faced with another all favorite chestnut and that is 'talent' or 'gift'. And further is talent part of nature or nurture?

  23. Do you really think that art is completely subjective i.e. there's no absolute scale of good or bad?

  24. There are scales in art Marc. But such scales are personal - or subjective. Of course the work of art can be disputed and dismissed at many levels, but that goes for any artist, for any work of art. There is no real hierarchy in this regard. And this is possible only because the interpretation is individual. If science functions on experimentation, evidence, observation and analogy; art, music, theater, creative industries (etc) function on the opposite merit. I guess some would say that it functions on uniqueness, originality, newness, message, ideas, to a some extend also experimentation (but that would usually be in regard of the 'artistic' process). All that, however, depends on what your perception of art really is, and where you (personally) stand towards it.

  25. The second half of your post i can agree with (although you may not agree with my paraphrasing):

    Science attempts to reach an understanding of reality. Art attempts to communicate that which is emotionally stimulating.*

    However the first half doesn't seem to be consistent.

    "There are scales in art Marc. But such scales are personal - or subjective. Of course the work of art can be disputed and dismissed at many levels, but that goes for any artist, for any work of art. There is no real hierarchy in this regard. And this is possible only because the interpretation is individual."

    This isn't really a criticism of your comment because what you say is how society in general thinks.

    But if art was truly subjective then there wouldn't be any point in art critics. Critiquing a truly subjective experience, like the experience of being me, doesn't have any meaning because you can't ever know how it feels. You might guess, but i could simply tell you that you're wrong and that would be the end of the discussion.

    It strikes me as avoiding an extremely interesting question to say that art is subjective and to leave it at that. It's the easy answer but it's not an answer that is true to our experience of the world. Art isn't completely subjective because we all would say that Mozart wrote better music than me. That's a value judgement. If there's value judgements that aren't based purely on popularity then there's something else going on behind the scenes that isn't being understood by the 'art as a subjective experience' theory.

    *for those that know me you'll know how hard it was for me keep that neutral and not to tack on various value judgements to the end of each of those sentences :)

  26. Marc being wrong or not is not important. Clearly you are approaching art too 'rationally', too logically, perhaps too analytically. Or you attempt to apply science model to art. I am not implying that there is no rationality in the art world of course there is (sometimes too much!!). However, it is certainly not applied by art criticism. Art criticism does not operate under any defined scale. Do not forget we are not talking about science. In art there is a pool of art history and theory that critics usually source from, but historical facts and theory aren't enough to make a roule or scale from good to bad art. Tracy Emin has been described as great British artist in 90s, but my critical view on her work is utterly negative. She does crap work for me period. And this is why art criticism in reality is irrelevant. The reason why it is around is because the machinery of the art world demands it and makes the place for it. But they will not give your work any more substance than already has. And essentially art critics can only view it through one set of eyes - their own!

    My friend once said "there are no bad (art) concepts". There are individuals who appreciate, source, inspire (etc) from certain ideas, and there are others who resent them. And everything in-between if you do not mind me adding. After all there isn't just black and white in the world.

    In regard to "the truth". We are getting into really touchy subject here. I am wondering what truth are you implying to; your truth or mine? Or perhaps the universal, absolute truth? Towards which I have many many reservations. In fact such metaphysical notions in the 21st century amuse me immensely to say the least. But I feel I am seeing things much differently from you. (Or would it be fair to say from scientists???)

    What really interests me in your comment is your * note. As this is exactly what is missing from your view of how art world functions. Value judgment! (Of course 'vale' taken in the widest possible way.) Postmodernism obliterated modernistic notion of universal truth. One truth that was divine and absolute. The truth, the ideal, that is singular and is used collectively. Postmodernism defined that there are multiple truths operating on multiple levels. So we cannot talk about truth in the sense of enlightenment and further of modernism any more. In fact everyone has his/her own truth. And for instance that is why aristocracy has its own truth (and applys it against majority's will), and working class has its own and so on layer after layer.

    You are also talking about neutrality. I wonder what is neutral?? I am afraid there is no neutrality in my vocabulary. We always had predispositions which form individual perception and is effectively subjective.

    Your analogy: "Science attempts to reach an understanding of reality. Art attempts to communicate that which is emotionally stimulating." But here is the trick. You are attempting defining art where it clearly means millions of things. In art there is no 'attempts' it simply is in one way or another. It is reaching whatever you get from your interpretation. That is why Beuys said "everybody is an artist" because everybody has the capacity, in their own terms of course, to do art or view it, and thus understand it.

  27. There's a lot of different threads threads here.

    Let's start with whether art is rational. Do you accept that simply positing art is never amenable to the scientific method is just an assumption*?

    There's certainly no proof that we won't be able to understand it through the process rational analysis. In fact it would be astonishing if we couldn't as, to the best of our knowledge, the universe is comprehensible.

    The interesting thing is that it's a much more radical theory to assume that art can be explained scientifically.

    In your answer about critics you don't really offer an explanation. The 'machinery of the art world' is not really enough to justify something that completely contradicts the understanding that art is subjective. How can these two things coexist comfortably?

    *the opposite viewpoint, that art is rational, is an assumption as well but there's good reasons why it's a better one.

  28. One of the reasons why it's difficult to imagine we can comprehend art in a rational manner is that throughout history it has been presented as an irrational, subjective entity. Whether it is in the study of beauty by philosophers like Immanuel Kant or David Humes or personal experiences of art.

    Would you agree that the appreciation of a particular art piece is determined by factors such as the location where you see the piece, the people with whom you see it with, your childhood memories, other people’s opinion, the weather of the day, the critics and many others? And by subjective, it means that the combination of those factors may be “unique” to a specific individual. So in that sense, with a large amount of different variables, it would be very difficult (but not necessarily impossible) to analysis effect of an art piece to an individual rationally.

    However, it is very achievable with current technology to study the mechanism of which an art piece gives rise to appreciation. Perhaps this is already being done? So instead of defining an abstruse term like beauty in a ambiguous way, we give it a new definition, e.g. “beauty is when x part of the brain reach y level.” This is extremely simplistic but you see where I am heading to. This is somewhat similar to how happiness, a state of mind which has been thought to be subjective and impossible to study for centuries, is being studied nowadays.

  29. I came across an article in Nature this morning which reports a technique for assessing art objectively.

  30. Art can be digested in whatever manner one wants. There are no rules. If that means one wants to rationally analyze it, it is by no means forbidden. The "results", however, would be doubtful, as in order to rationalize subjective perception one has to draw the line and lay down rules. Moreover it is paradoxical to limit the scope of perception as it is its unpredictability that makes it exciting and perhaps unique.

    No there is no proof that we won't be able to understand art through rational analysis I agree. But there is no proof we will either. (Not even by assuming the 'progress'.) This is a sort of agnosticism in terms. We want to believe something exists (or can be done), but we need a proof for its existence first we commit our beliefs to it. But belief like yours Marc: " the best of our knowledge, the universe is comprehensible," is irrational. It is closer to religious conviction, i.e. I believe in God (because I want it there), than scientific justification by evidence. I would give a huge emphasis "to the best of our knowledge..." though. To the best of their knowledge people believed up until 15th century that the earth is the center of the universe and that the sun (and thus everything else in the universe) is rotating around it. Until they have been shown wrong by Galileo. "To the best of our knowledge" is a very sketchy notion to say the least. (Some would say this is wishful thinking.)

    But if achieved by whatever margin this would certainly make this theory radical. I would like to believe in it, but unfortunately I am a radical agnostic if not an atheist.

    The remark on critics was meant to offer no answers. Let me repeat, critics are subjects who through their own eyes, knowledge and experience analyze someone else's work. They "to the best of their knowledge" compare one's work against someone else's. But to put two critics together reviewing the same work you would most likely get a completely different observation and analysis. This is to say, it is unlike science reviews, where experiments need to be repeatable with exactly the same results.

    IceQueen yes I agree by your observation of perceiving art. Well put. It is hundreds if not thousands of parameters that determine specific viewing of some art work (object) going on every moment of 'reading' that art. I would like with all my passion say I have been wrong all these years and start thinking differently with new evidence if there was new scientific development on how art is seen. But I would say one thing: unpredictability of unpredictable. I am wondering if there's been any research done on unpredictability of thought process. A sort of 'butterfly effect' in the mental process, which determines the end results different by every 'calculation'. Effectively this is why many weather computer models never exactly fit previous one, and sometimes differ by a large margin even though the parameters are exactly the same every time.

  31. It's not the case that "to the best of our knowledge" is a belief. It's simply a statement of fact.

    I agree that in the 15th century they would have said "to the best of our knowledge" the universe is not scientific. And that was entirely true then - to the best of their knowledge it wasn't.

    What you forget is that science doesn't work like anything else. I, and every other PhD student in physics, can truly claim to know orders of magnitude more physics than Newton and obviously not because we're smarter. Science builds upon it's earlier successes - that's what makes it powerful.

    The detailed explanation of why it's not a belief is going to be my next post so i won't duplicate it here.

    I would ask you, for now, to imagine that what I'm saying is correct. These theories aren't widely known - even among scientists not directly related to the specific fields of study. I wonder whether it offers an opportunity to interpret these ideas for a general audience. Could there be a genuinely new artistic viewpoint in these ideas?