Marco Fornaro

I am an engineer, a hypnotist, a coach, an intellectual, but above all I am a person who has always lived very intensely


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The Gaussian - The End - What I REALLY Learned at University

2023-08-18 18:39

Marco Fornaro


The Gaussian - The End - What I REALLY Learned at University

In the years after the University, I continued to reflect on what happened...and I guess I have actually learned something

(Continuing from: The Gaussian Episode 3)


In the years following university, I continued to reflect on what had happened from time to time, and the phrase of Jean Léon Jaurès "You don't teach what you know or what you think you know: you teach and can only teach what you are." It started playing louder and louder in my head.

The entire staff of the University of Padua had really, unconsciously in the collective, Jungian sense of the term, taught all of us students something, and I'm obviously not talking about the specific content of the Physics 1 exam or the rest of the course of study, NO I'm talking about something HUMAN , social , something profound, and in the following I will try to summarize the message that comes from their actions:


1) COMMUNITY: Human beings are very weak on their own and live within communities, such as scientific and academic ones, our success and personal satisfaction depend on our role in the community we live in, to be in "harmony" ” with our community we must respect, and enforce, the beliefs and values that guide them, this not only regardless of whether they are true or not, but even independently of the most elementary logic or evidence….and this is true EVEN in a community that claims to be scientific!


2) RULES: To comply with point 1) practically everything is admitted, including denying the most elementary evidence (such as pretending to see a Gaussian curve in a statistical distribution clearly shaped like a camel's hump!), the greater the determination with which we profess the beliefs of our community greater is in credit that in that community we acquire.


3) OMERTA' (Silence): Every community has contradictions in its system of beliefs and values, stubbornly denying these contradictions, adopting any stratagem, ethically licit or not, to cancel/weaken criticism of this system is an integral part of belonging to the community itself , a kind of pledge, an "entrance fee" to be part of it.


More "specific" message for the university/academic/scientific world (I mean what they DO NOT say, and which they will NEVER admit):


4) FORGERY: The ability to argue in defense of a certain thesis, if applied to the beliefs and values of a community, helps to acquire credit within the same, this concept applied to a technical-scientific world implies the ability to manipulate numbers and data for the support of a certain thesis.

In practice, the ability to falsify a set of data is not only NOT censored, but even encouraged, considered an integral part of the skills of a good technician, the more you are able to falsify in a plausible way, the more credit you acquire, this was particularly evident in the day of the delivery of the reports, as I explained who dared to show up with the numbers actually produced by the experiment was, at best, sent home to "correct" them, at worst REJECTED and STIGMATIZED.



About 25 years had to pass because (today as I write this is July 2021), I happened to read a wonderful book, "The Black Swan" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, which tells, among other things, the fallacy of the pervasive use of the gauss curve in the study of statistical phenomena.

In Taleb's description of the arrogant reactions of the academic and scientific world to his theories, also illustrated with detailed examples, I seemed to see the faces and attitudes of the laboratory assistants in the Physics I exam again, the only substantial difference the latter was the use of epithets in the Venetian dialect instead of the English “cockney” language.

Professional World Changer @ I do not mind about Rights, but will prosecute Liars 

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