Goal Oriented Accuracy vs Maximal Accuracy
Let’s start by roping you into the framework that my mind is operating within so that this concept can make sense rather than sounding like meandering, late-night, “laying in bed but mind is racing” thoughts triggered by reading Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” (which is what this is to a degree).
To put it simply, words aren’t a thing in and of themselves. They are symbolic/verbal representations of intellectually accessible “concepts”. That’s why words in some languages don’t have formal equivalences in other languages. It’s not that the language can’t express the same thing, it’s that the language doesn’t have a “one-stop-shop” word to leverage like the native language might. The word itself may be a combination of concepts that may, or may not, have other words with their own definitions contained within a singular symbol (ie: word), or what we might informally call a “container”. A word is intended to “contain” a concept or concepts, with agreed upon meanings, so that we can verbalize the manner and intention of our participation within the intellectual realm of concepts, and thereby share our minds with those around us. We use a particular word because we believe it accurately conveys the representation of the intellectually accessible concept that we are trying to give you relatable access to in our context.
As a simple example: using the word “word” in English vs using the word “palabra” in Spanish both indicate that you’re talking about the symbol for the concept of “symbols that represent concepts”. Whereas, you would never use the word “bicycle” to represent the concept of the word “word” because it would wildly inaccurately convey what you mean internally.
For example, which is what this entire piece will be about, there is a word: accuracy.
That word has a definition. While the word doesn’t have to maintain that same definition over time, that doesn’t change the conceptual object, the “old” meaning of “accuracy” that was as accessible then as it is now in this analogy, despite the alteration of the definition of the word. You may simply have to add a modifier to the current word to now represent the old concept. That’s what this entire piece is about. It’s about recognizing that if you don’t use a word in correspondence to its conceptual intention, thereby cheapening or misdirecting the point that the sentence may be trying to imply, communication becomes impossible and wildly inaccurate.
Accuracy: The quality or state of being correct or precise.
To show interdependency, as well as what the concept “accuracy” is really intending to represent, we will also define “precise”/”precision”.
Precise: Used to emphasize that one is referring to an exact and particular thing.
The “container” (ie: the “word”) accuracy is something that has a “maximal” quality in mind. A conceivable intent of: “precise, exact, or correct to the highest degree possible”. If something does not possess the maximal amount of those 3 attributes, a modifying word must be added to “accuracy” to show the level to which you’re holding your application of the word (accuracy) to its conceivable intention.
Now for the meat and potatoes:
A goal of a measurement, as well as the acceptable allowance of “inaccuracy” while still using the word “accurate”, is inextricably bound to the arbitrary and subjective definition one holds a concept like “accuracy” to it’s maximal conceivability.
In actuality, we trade a maximally conceivable standard of accuracy, as in a measurement, constant, or a calculation such as pi, Avogadro’s number, or a value in physics, for what should better be described as “practically accurate” or a “compromised accuracy that meets the intention or aim of an unsubstantiated goal”. In what way is that not both a delusion and a dilution of the effective conceptual standard set by the very concept itself.
We can conceive of something maximally accurate, which meets the fully intended definition of the word, but can not attain it in actuality. So we dilute the concept to a lower form, an imitation, for convenience sake and a sense of authority and government over that which we have no power. It is a trick; a slight of hand. Quite literally it is showmanship designed to bewilder ourselves into self-absorbed wonderment.
In what capacity can we claim that something like pi, a calculation in quantum physics, or the leveraging of gravitational theory is “accurate” in a way that we can formally declare as possessing the quality of “accuracy”? How can we say the theorem is “accurate knowledge”? Knowledge in it’s purest sense has the intention, in and of itself, of accuracy also. In what way can you say, “I know this and that,” when you are, in all likelihood, infinitely far from being complete in your knowledge claim. The only way to justify these kinds of claims are with caveats, contingencies, and limitations upon the conceptual actual that “knowledge” can be in regards to accuracy, settling for a cheap substitute. I haven’t justified this yet, but bear with me.
As a perfect example, if a constant is accurate to within 100 decimal places that generates profound precision within a machine leveraging the laws of combustion or any other process, is it not only possible, if not obvious, that even to extend the decimal to infinity would always yield a degree of inaccuracy? Incompleteness? If you are accurate to 100 decimals but infinite more could be tacked on to the end without being truly “accurate”, in what way are you not infinitely “inaccurate”? You have simply asserted that a lesser, knockoff knowledge is as good as the real thing because it meets an unsubstantiated, subjective criteria detached from the true essence of the word being attributed.
Suppose for a moment, that the macro-level (the movement of a hand rather than the arrangement and relation of the atoms that make it up) is the governing force that decides the rules of the micro, rather than the other way round. The reason physical objects have inaccuracy within their governing micro rules is because the macro accuracy and production IS the governing purpose, but we have it inverted. Even then, with all the accuracy within the definition of that minute data point of knowledge, it is all for not because macro governs and micro is simply tangential. Or worse, infinitely unknowable without infinite compromise and a lesser and lesser adherence to the true essence of the very concept itself. We have traded the maximal possible, which is inherently the actual, for a lesser substitute and have come to accept it by simply adding a caveat to the claim, diminishing the value of all parts involved.
Humans have a tendency to place on a pedestal “the compromise”, the “creation over the Creator”, and all it does is delude and dilute ourselves and our understanding of the qualities we ascribe. Accepting compromised knowledge, and claiming to be wise, is what a fool does. All signs point to maximal conceivability and yet we pursue and idolize, almost exclusively, that which is lesser. The idols of our own making.