Re: What's the alternative to "snarling"?

Keith Moore <> Mon, 19 April 2021 16:57 UTC

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Subject: Re: What's the alternative to "snarling"?
To: Dave Cridland <>
Cc: " Discussion" <>
References: <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <433863C0CD9449636063CDE3@PSB> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>
From: Keith Moore <>
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Date: Mon, 19 Apr 2021 12:57:22 -0400
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On 4/19/21 12:35 PM, Dave Cridland wrote:

> Radical thought: What if explaining in detail why a proposal is a Bad 
> Idea *is* useful work?
> What if it might bring new people in to provide new insight? That 
> strikes me as very useful work indeed.

Under some conditions, it certainly can be useful work.   That's why, 
for example, refuting proofs of how to square circles might have made a 
good exercise for math graduate students, who are basically indentured 
servants anyway so they're not free to resist, and maybe could use a 
better grounding in the math that underlies such arguments.

But there's a limit to how much of this is useful, and when writing the 
Nth explanation for why (for example) assigning IP addresses 
geographically isn't as good an idea as it might initially seem, the 
point of diminishing returns is probably around N=1.

I also suspect there are better ways to generate new insights than to 
endlessly try to refute Bad Ideas.   For instance, try to approach a 
problem from a completely different angle than has been proposed before.