20210614 The place of unthought thoughts.: Page 5 of 15

20210614 The place of unthought thoughts.

Nigel Morris-Cotterill


Today I'm writing about white holes, "The Place of Unthought Thoughts."

This is not unknown unknowns, it's about the things we know about but don't want to know more about, where our quest for understanding reaches the end of our willingness to enquire.

If books, etc. can have "out-takes" this is one of mine, a section that ended up on the cutting room floor, so to speak.

This BLOG/cast includes part of my research into suspicion but didn’t find its way into the book or the courses. It is highly relevant as it explains some of the background to the research and some of the thinking that went into the final (for now) product.

The next puzzle is x+4=x. What is the value of x.
This is a lesson in observation. It’s making sure you notice that it’s a plus not a times, an addition not a multiplication.

But here’s the thing: I really had no idea how to solve this and after three guesses (zero, 1, -4) I gave up. So when I did, I felt a sense of deja vu, back to the crowded schoolroom when everyone else got it (or claimed to) while I sat thinking I was thick. So imagine my reaction when, after my failure, up pops a message saying ″There doesn’t seem to be any solution to this equation.

It’s worth a few minutes to look at the lesson at https://schoolyourself.org/learn/algebra/no-solution

Far from being cross and seeing my time as wasted, I take this as the reason for the white hole. We need somewhere to put things that we cannot answer.

It was especially not wasted when I got to the page that says ″for which of these equations are all numbers solutions.″ The lesson here, for me, was not in the maths: it was in the English and, in particular, the fact that a) I didn’t read it properly and b) there’s a buzzword that I didn’t realise was a buzzword. Also, the narrator emphasises the wrong word: ″numbers″ when the emphasis should be on ″all″ if it’s to make sense.

I assumed that the solution would be all numbers and therefore I had to solve it by removing the letters. Zero success. Get hint. That’s when I discovered that what was intended was that I would find a solution where the equation was solved no matter what value I gave to the variable. In short, all numbers, not all numbers, solve it.

We’ll get back to that later, too, in the conclusion to this piece.

But here’s a hint: there is far more connectivity and dependence between maths and language than we might imagine. And if you want to get the right answers, you have to have information in a form that makes sense – and doesn’t undermine comprehension.