CHAPTER10UNCERTAIN HONESTY

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Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.

VOLTAIRE, 1770

Certain. Probable. Confident. Reliable. Meaningful. Significant. These are some of the words we use to talk about how trustworthy a picture's messages are. Each one of these qualifiers is an abstract and non-visual concept. Sometimes, these words are coupled with numeric precision. They are often left naked. You do not see these qualifiers directly in the real world. For us, they are non-visual checks against our visual perception.

Philosopher of science Karl Popper expressed that “observation can give us ‘knowledge concerning facts' but does not justify or establish truth.” Qualifiers, like significance and confidence, characterize how truthful observations are. They are defined by abstract narratives that fill pages with verbal arithmetic. Cultural norms litter their history. Recall the model of time that Ilya Prigogine inspired; time is a stage where every instant calculates reality. The calculator takes inputs from that last moment in order to spit ...

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