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::: center home >> being here >> last donut? >> survey


The Survey
February and March, 2015

The Center’s experiment with its glassboards outside each office is now maturing. The boards are there to encourage the thoughts that fill each office to spill out its door into the hallways. When you walk down the hallways, if all goes well, you should get the impression that this is a place of intense intellectual activity.

Some of the glass boards convey that idea well.

Some were put to uses I did not expect. They externalize deeper thoughts that might otherwise remain hidden:

Others, well…

For my part, I’ve been experimenting with the best way of using a glass board.

Recently, I tried a survey. My latest research project is a proof of the incompleteness of calculi of inductive inference. There’s a draft here if you are interested.

In that context, I had always assumed that Bayesians believe that all inductive facts are probabilistic facts. That is, every fact about what inductively supports what and to which degree is ultimately a fact expressible with probabilities. Bayesians certainly write as if they think this. But it proved hard for me to find a citation that said exactly that. So I put up this survey:

The way it worked is that someone would wander past and pause for a moment, reading the board. I would then launch myself out of my office, like a predatory raptor upon a hesitant mouse, and demand “So what do you think…?” Well, I was probably a little gentler in the approach. It just felt predatory to me and perhaps also to my new subject.

The result would almost always be awkward and hesitant. That is what the “huh” option is for. I then needed to add “Philosopher’s weasel” for the case in which someone avoids the question by the familiar philosopher’s obsfucation. “Well, it all depends on just what you mean by …”


The idea of using the boards for a survey seemed to take off. I notice another glass board with one.

This one was better prepared than mine.

There was a felt tip pen ready for use right at the board!

John D. Norton



Revised 3/10/15 - Copyright 2012