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《“多重事实”的迷思》(One event / incident, multiple facts?)

(2023-11-27 09:36:52) 下一个

【“多重事实”的迷思】(One event / incident, multiple facts?)

很多年前,在我做第二期博士后的时候,碰到了一个有些“特别”的老板。他算是学界大佬,是我们这个方向知名学术刊物的主编,手上经费很充足。他让我带两个人,负责他的一个项目。几百万美元的基金已经拿到手,但需要出数据、发文章。

In the past, when I was on my second postdoc stint, my advisor was quite "special". He was a big shot in academia, the editor-in-chief of a well-known academic journal in our field, and had ample funding. He asked me to lead a team of a couple of assistants, responsible for one of his projects. We had already secured grants of several million dollars, but we needed to produce data and publish articles.

我在他的实验室每周至少干70个小时,然而一年以后进展甚微。大约在2007年冬天的一个傍晚,在他的巨型办公室,我俩有一段不长的交谈。我们分坐在对角线的位置,相隔10米不止。黄昏天色黑下来,他不开灯,暗得脸都看不清。那气氛真是几分肃杀。我告诉他,他想要的data不可能得到。我详细地向他论证、说明,告诉他谁也做不到。

I worked at least 70 hours per week in his lab, but couldn’t achieve much after a whole year.  On a winter evening around 2007, in his massive office, we had a brief conversation. We sat diagonally across from each other, more than 10 meters apart. The dusk settled in, and he didn't turn on the lights, making the room so dim that faces couldn't be clearly seen. The atmosphere was somewhat oppressive. I told him that the data he wanted was impossible to obtain. I elaborated and explained in detail, telling him that it was an unattainable task for anyone.

然而他却说,你那么聪明的人是应该能得到的。我争辩说,他提出模型有问题,不可能得到预期的东西 — That’s the fact.

However, he insisted, saying that someone as intelligent as me should be able to get it. I argued that the model he proposed was flawed, and it was impossible to achieve the expected results—that's the fact.

屋子的那一端传来他的笑声。no, no, no,他说,假如马路上出了一个交通事故,你站在马路的一边,我站在马路的另一边 – Then, we are seeing two different facts.

Laughter emanated from his end of the room. "No, no, no," he said, "Imagine there's a traffic accident on the road. You're standing on one side, and I'm on the other – then, we are seeing two different facts."

我目瞪口呆……几个月以后,我离开了他的实验室去了公司。

I was shocked… A few months later, I left his lab and joined the industry.

那一年半,从某种意义上讲是不堪回首的。但他那句振聋发聩的话,却在后来的日子里对我颇有帮助 — 在看人和想事、做事诸方面都有难以言状的启发。而且,近距离观察大佬和他的左膀右臂们组成的shady圈子,也是难得的人生经历。

That year and a half, in some ways, was not something I would want to revisit. But his stunning words actually have been helpful to me in the days that followed—making me in understanding people, thinking about things, and approaching tasks from a different angle that are hard to put into words. Additionally, witnessing the shady circler of the big shot and his right-hand people up close was a rare life experience.

由于这样一个经历,我后来也经常思考one event/incident,multiple facts 是否合理的问题。我了解到,在英语里,fact与reality是有些不同的(我暂把truth,belief等放在一边)。Reality是一个总体,一个比较抽象的概念。记得有一次在一个博览会上,我跟一个公司的业务员说你们公司的口号“Help scientists to do science“ 挺好,他马上说这不是slogan,这是reality。我想他是要强调的是这是公司的总体定位,不需要具体的例子。而fact是构成reality的具体方面,它经常是可观察、可测量的,也是可以根据某些标准作结论的。比如从科学实验的结果看,尼古丁具有很强的成瘾性,这是fact;但从社会现实和社会规则来看,吸烟并不等同于吸毒,这又是另一个fact。

Due to this experience, I often pondered the question of whether "one event / incident, multiple facts" is reasonable. I learned that in English, "fact" and "reality" are somewhat different (I put aside other concepts, such as "truth" and "belief"). Reality is a general concept, a more abstract idea. I remember once at an expo, I told a company's salesperson that their slogan "Help scientists to do science" was good, and he immediately said it's not a slogan; it's reality. I think he wanted to emphasize that it's the overall positioning of the company, not needing specific examples. A fact is a specific aspect that makes up reality; it is often observable, measurable, and can be concluded based on certain standards. For example, from the results of a scientific experiment, nicotine is highly addictive—that's a fact. But from the perspective of societal norms and rules, smoking is not equivalent to drug use—that's another fact.

但我依然有无解的困惑:用我前老板的例子,马路的两侧假如看到的(或者录像中显示的)是相互矛盾的facts,那么法律上怎么判定呢?或者,这种矛盾其实根本不应该存在?

Yet, I still have unsolved puzzles: in the example of my former boss, if the facts seen (or shown in videos) on both sides of the road are contradictory, how does the law make a judgment? Or, such a contradiction actually shouldn’t exist?

【英文根据ChatGPT版编辑、修改】

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【老同学聚会“13点”公约 】( A Goofy Convention for Schoolmate Reunion) 唐宋韵 - ♂ 给 唐宋韵 发送悄悄话 唐宋韵 的博客首页 (8625 bytes) (5759 reads) 11/22/2023  12:47:15 (3)

《“多重事实”的迷思》(One event / incident, multiple facts?) 唐宋韵 - ♂ 给 唐宋韵 发送悄悄话 唐宋韵 的博客首页 (7965 bytes) (141 reads) 11/29/2023  09:54:19 (1)

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唐宋韵 回复 悄悄话 回复 '新林院' 的评论 :
您后面关于Hawk-eye vs. video的问题很有趣。赛场上对明确的结论(yes or no)的需要,导致机器测算的结果成了不容置疑的事实(我们能否说这时候就一个“fact”?)。针对现实生活中的法律问题无法这么做。
新林院 回复 悄悄话 回复 '唐宋韵' 的评论 :【那么,如果是一场体育比赛,您认为有不同的fact吗?】
一场体育比赛,可以说有不同的 observations 吧。
比如,网球发球,落在界内还是界外,司线员肉眼观察到的结果有时候会和电子设备(如 Hawk-Eye 系统)观察到的结果不一样。如果运动员对司线员的结论有异议,以电子设备观察到的结果为准。
但是,电子设备观察到的结果是不是就是“事实”呢?大概任何人都无法知道。
它既用摄像机,又用统计学计算,来做出界内界外的决定。可以看看这条 quora 的讨论。
Why is automated line calling in pro tennis based on a statistical model (Hawk-Eye) instead of just straight photography (w/ high capability cameras)?
唐宋韵 回复 悄悄话 回复 '新林院' 的评论 :
谢谢您的灼见。
那么,如果是一场体育比赛,您认为有不同的fact吗?
假如体操和跳水比赛可以有不同的fact,那么赛跑和跳高呢?
新林院 回复 悄悄话 "Imagine there's a traffic accident on the road. You're standing on one side, and I'm on the other – then, we are seeing two different facts."
这100%是对的。
根据侠义相对论,一个观察者可以看到事件A先发生,事件B后发生;另一个观察者可以看到事件B先发生,事件A后发生。这两个人哪个对呢?根据侠义相对论,两人都对。
根据侠义相对论,这两个观察者的观察结果有同等权威。
而且,宇宙里没有一个最最权威的观察者。
在爱因斯坦之前,人们认为宇宙中有一个叫“以太”的静止的东西,它是最有权威的观察者,比任何在“以太”中移动的人都更权威。爱因斯坦以后,人们知道没有这个东西。这让人们难过的好一阵。在人们的意识深处,相信有一个比芸芸众生更高的权威。
忠实地写下自己所观察到的,并没有问题。
但不要坚持说别人不同的观察都是错的。
当然了,如果那个教授让雇员写下与观察结果不一样叙述,那又当别论。
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