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Annual Increase in Human Knowledge

What have we learned this year that is really new?
  (+8, -1)
(+8, -1)
  [vote for,

It seems to me that a lot of academic disciplines nowadays don‘t actually create or discover new knowledge or information, they merely recycle stuff that's already known. Also we were listening to the audio recording of Virginia Woolf's radio broadcast on “Words”, and she was complaining the same thing in the 1930s.

So, there should be an international list of the things that are newly known each year.

Because people disagree about what is real penguin knowledge and what is not, I suggest having a two-stage system for producing such a list. I think this system would be useful for other such lists as well but that’s by the bye.

One stage would be a big committee of scientists and academics drawn from the world’s top universities, who would do their peer-reviewed committee thing and produce a ranked list of items.

The other stage would be a collaborative wikipedia-style setup open to all comers equally, which would do its chaotic evolutionalry algorithm consensus thing and would also produce a ranked list of items.

These lists would be combined by adding scores for items on both list, and then ranking the combined list. This would be published as this year's official list of new knowledge.

pocmloc, Feb 20 2011

Words http://shop.bl.uk/m.../isbn_9780712305419
Woolf‘s “Words”, no longer free to listen to though... [pocmloc, Feb 20 2011]

An Inconvenient Truth http://en.wikipedia..._inconvenient_truth
.... or just a matter of opinion ? [8th of 7, Feb 20 2011]

Harvie Krumpet http://www.youtube....watch?v=ouyVS6HOFeo
About a man who accumulated facts. [mouseposture, Feb 21 2011]


       //One stage would be a big committee of scientists and academics drawn from the world’s top universities, //   

       I think they might be busy. If they're not, then they're probably not very good.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2011

       // drawn from the world’s top universities, //   

       They could be drawn from a photograph, if you had a competent artist, shirley ?
8th of 7, Feb 20 2011

       Df. "knowledge" = "justified true belief".   

       |- (x)(x is a year) (^(knowledge)=0)
nineteenthly, Feb 20 2011

       //Df. "knowledge" = "justified true belief". //   

       Ah - here we go again.   

       A relativist might argue that there was no such thing as "truth", and it would be difficult to persuade him otherwise (although I would try my best, using heavy implements and reason). However, if you admit the phrase "true" as a valid concept, then it's not a belief.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2011

       That rather depends on the observer's view of the Copenhagen Interpretation. Since there is no deep reality, and "reality" is merely an artefact of observation, the notional value of "true" is only valid for the individual observer. Since the wave function can only be collapsed once, no subsequent observation is possible (Wigner's Friend), and therefore another observer can never have direct access to the information contained in the original wave function.   

       Thus any subsequent observer must of necessity accept the True/False data of the Primary Observer as a matter of "faith" since it can never be rigorously proved.   

8th of 7, Feb 20 2011

       Yeah, that. However, your discussion appears to refer to instance, rather than truth.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2011

       It may appear like that to you, but to a different observer it may appear as something else. There is no way of knowing.   

       Which kind of proves the point.
8th of 7, Feb 20 2011

       //"reality" is merely an artefact of observation, the notional value of "true" is only valid for the individual observer// - except in mathematics, which is either true or not and doesn't care about 'observers'.
hippo, Feb 20 2011

MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2011

       To create it, or to learn or understand it?
pocmloc, Feb 20 2011

       What's needed is a paper-based bit-bucket system. Every time something is learned, however elementary, you write it on a standardised card. Complex things like genome sequences would need lots of cards. Throw them all into a big bucket, and weigh it annually.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2011

       Can we just stop all this? Honestly. For goodness' sake.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2011

       [MaxwellBuchannan] //here we go again// You said it, bub.   

       [8th] is that still canon? I had a notion quantum decoherance did away with the special status of the Observer. Even under the Copenhagen interpretation, isn't the description of the system pre-collapse, by the wave function "true" in an observer-independent way?   

       [pocmloc] a good idea, but short on implementation details. The peer-reviewed committee thing, unlike the chaotic evolutionary algorithm consensus thing is laborious and time consuming. How would you induce the scientists and academics to participate? (This idea already exists within academic disciplines, and, in that case, the inducement is prestige, and a chance to influence the direction of one's field.)
mouseposture, Feb 20 2011

       // How would you induce the scientists and academics to participate? //   

       Offering them money seems to work just as well as with other humans.
8th of 7, Feb 20 2011

       Ah, but scientists and academics are motivated only by lofty ideals. They're unworldly and care nothing for material gain.
mouseposture, Feb 20 2011

       We'll get Watson working on it right away.
RayfordSteele, Feb 21 2011

       One journal to rule them all
One journal to find them all.
One journal to bring them all,
and in the darkness, bind them.

       //How would you induce the scientists and academics to participate?//   

       Here's how you could try to get this idea to work: you make it beneficial for the research community to get published in it. In other words - Will it publicise the work? Will the content truly be top work? Will it provide lots of citations from the work? Will it have high "Impact"?   

       So - this would only have to supplant the top journals in every field. Not much to ask.   

       {Never mind that this 'publication' would have to cast the net so wide that the review process would be unfeasible and that the ultimate product would be so general that it would be of no collective use to any specialist - like a researcher - who would be the type to cite it}
Jinbish, Feb 21 2011

       [Jinbish]//Here's how you could try to get this idea to work...// Good point. In fact if you cast the net about this wide: "All of the physical sciences" then you could say that system actually already operates, for the journals _Science_ and _Nature_ They sort of supplant the top journals in every sub-field, so maybe not so much to ask after all.   

       But re: //one journal to rule them all// I disagree. A good journal differs from this idea in two ways (if I understand the idea correctly). First, to be published in a good journal, the work must be not only new, but also interesting and important. Second, there is competition for space in a journal, whereas this idea would publish anything really new -- however trivial or boring -- and it would aim to be comprehensive, publishing everything that satisfied that criterion.
mouseposture, Feb 21 2011

       There was an amazing book that I used to buy when I was a kid called something like "Science Year In Review". It was about an inch + thick, had glossy beautifully illustrated pages and was very well written. I think I managed to get maybe 3 or 4 yearly issues before it was discontinued or I discovered girls or something.
doctorremulac3, Feb 21 2011

       I've been wrestling with a problem here for a long, long time. There's knowledge in the sense of a body of information which people believe and may be true, e.g. how to make papier mache or connections between nitrosamine exposure and the development of co-called "Type I Diabetes", and there's knowledge in the sense of certainty. I wonder if certainty might increase in fact because of new discoveries in mathematics, for example. However, the first sense of the word "knowledge" seems to be intended here, but are there connections between the two? Increase in knowledge of the first type seems to be a kind of unfolding, but if increase of knowledge is like reverse origami, how can you tell when you've gotten to the flat sheet of paper? Are you allowed to tear the paper? Can you turn it into papier mache? So, what i'm saying is, it's all provisional so you could only measure it at best with hindsight.
nineteenthly, Feb 21 2011

       //It seems to me that a lot of academic disciplines nowadays don‘t actually create or discover new knowledge or information, they merely recycle stuff that's already known. Also we were listening to the audio recording of Virginia Woolf's radio broadcast on “Words”, and she was complaining the same thing in the 1930s.//   

       It seems, in fact, that you did not create this idea but you recycled what Virginia Woolf had said about this very matter, which is somehow appropriate enough for a bun.   

       //I discovered girls or something.//
I too have discovered the distracting and arousing powers of somethings.
rcarty, Feb 21 2011

       I would say that knowledge of how to make papier maché is undeniably true, since you end up with paper maché. Of course, paper maché may, itself, be untrue, but that is more of an eintscheülling-gechkt problem, is it not?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 21 2011

       //the process of acquiring knowledge is successive and better approximations to the equations that define the universe in an exact manner i.e. better approximations to the truth.//   

       You've never had much contact with administration, have you, [bigsleep]?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 21 2011

       If you incrementally accumulate new facts, you eventually approach Truth? <link>
mouseposture, Feb 21 2011

       //In fact if you cast the net about this wide://   

       All of physical sciences, huh? Not wide enough. I was actually thinking of Nature as one of the journals to 'beat' when I wrote the anno. {Up until recently, I didn't know that it was a publication that researchers actively aim for - I had aways thought that it had a more 'journalistic' approach, if that makes sense}   

       //re: //one journal //   

       I actually agree with you - the idea isn't a journal. I don't think it can be. It is "an international list"... {which I am struggling to visualise}.
Jinbish, Feb 21 2011

       //So, there should be an international list of the things that are newly known each year.//   

       The Nobel Prize is supposed to do this in the sciences, though is generally awarded years after the fact. As there's no way to know real time what is truly new (and important), not until it is tested and verified.
ldischler, Feb 21 2011

       Isn't this only half of the equation though, pocmloc? What about knowledge that is lost? Worse, what if there is an overall net loss of knowledge? How would we know? Is it possible to publish a list of things that have been forgotten? And anyway, how long do you wait until you declare something as being 'new' knowledge? (I notice that there's a sudden spate of doubt going on in the media about the Higgs Boson; must be a slow news week in Western Europe now that Berlusconi's gone to ground - North Africa seems to be a much more exciting place).

[Notes that ldischler's more concise style meant he got to slip his anno in first whilst I was still typing. Must be a life lesson in that somewhere.]
DrBob, Feb 21 2011

       [pocmloc], how close to realising this idea is the possibility of listing all the papers in the top journals? Of course, this doesn't necessarily give us the delta (amount of advancement) from last year, but it would give an at-a-glance in state of the art.   

       "Global Literature Review" {inc. abstracts from the papers of Nature, Science, Proceedings of the IEEE, Electronics Letters, the Lancet,...   

       I'd be guessing if I started to name-check other fields' journals but you get the idea.
Jinbish, Feb 21 2011

       Well the peer-reviewed part was only one half of the proposed mechanism; the wiki half was the other. I thought the possibility of competitive ranking between these two colleges would provide for some amusement.   

       As regards the loss of knowledge, this would obviously become apparent after a few years of publishing this index, when people could look back and see things listed that would now be mysteries. For completeness you would also want a complete list of everything that is known at the start of this annual project, but that might unduly delay the launch of this programme.
pocmloc, Feb 21 2011

       We really need a halfbakery philosophy page, somewhere else far, far away, preferrably.
RayfordSteele, Feb 21 2011

       Can you mark up leather binding with HTML?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 21 2011

       HTML5 will have <leatherbound>, <vellum>, <goldembossing> and <handwrittenmanuscript> tags.
hippo, Feb 21 2011

MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 21 2011

       As it happens, oh never mind, i'll post it as an idea but it's not terribly new.
nineteenthly, Feb 21 2011

       If it's the one about printing lists of endangered species on human-derived vellum as an ironic comment on post- modernist theories of climate change, I think it's been done <link>.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 21 2011

       I'll vote for holding steady. How many of us know the proper knot to tie a bowstring, or the tracks a jackelope make during mating season?
RayfordSteele, Feb 21 2011

       [+] bun for inducing the above awfully loud collapse of the philosophical wave function.
sqeaketh the wheel, Feb 22 2011

       Hmm, have you been reading my Y!A questions, [qeak]?   

       // Actually, human knowledge is probably annually decreasing, if anything. //   

       Is it dumbing down or overspecialisation? Or, is it just "hell in a handcart" curmudgeonliness?
nineteenthly, Feb 22 2011

       I'm still reading annos here, but quite like the intent of the idea. [+]
xandram, Feb 22 2011


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