20210614 The place of unthought thoughts.: Page 10 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.

This is directly related to the data-matching that the financial sector and others are required to do.

And here’s why I peer into the white hole and sometimes throw in my own ideas.

This problem was first posed in 1971. Here is the full statement of the problem:


That was four years before I was failing to come to terms with advanced maths at a-level and would be perplexed by why the room-filling computer at the local Polytechnic refused to accept simple instructions from its keyboard (another thing that hasn’t been solved).

I have learned in the meantime that there is almost always more than one way to approach a problem.

This brings us to the second issue: the problem assumes a specific starting point but what if we didn’t start there?

What if, instead of starting with 400 students and 50 rooms, we started with the list of incompatible students and as many rooms as they needed? What if we took the list, and put one student out of that list into a room of his own and then filled the remaining beds with people who were not on the list, using whatever criteria would have been applied if we started with the 400. Some might say that this defeats the first stage of selection but why is that so? The students have already proved themselves worthy of being there by the university’s own selection process.