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Art-Books-Music / Theory of Aces - Fermi or Groves?
« Last post by mtgradwell on May 16, 2010, 01:17:43 PM »
'Groves replied that any general who had won five battles in a row might safely be called great. Fermi then asked how many generals are great. Groves said about three out of every hundred. Fermi conjectured that if the chance of winning one battle is 1/2 then the chance of winning five battles in a row is (1/2)5 = 1/32. “So you are right, General, about three out of every hundred. Mathematical probability, not genius.”'

(1/2)^5 = 1/32, yes, and this is very close to three out of a hundred. But is Fermi entitled to derive from this his conclusion, "Mathematical probability, not genius"? I think not. Not with any degree of certainty, anyway. The most he is entitled to say is that there is a distinct *possibility* that it is probability which is at work, and not genius.

Suppose that Groves was right, not just in his figures, but also in his assumption that there is something "great" about certain generals, which is reflected in their track record. To be specific, suppose that a "great" general will always beat one who is "non-great", regardless of any other factors such as superiority of numbers. Then suppose that we have a tournament to discover who is great and who isn't.

For a tournament the maths is easiest if the number of contestants is a power of two, so suppose that there are 128 generals, of whom four are great. 4 out of 128 is the same as 1/32, which we have already established is very close to three out of a hundred. Let's also assume that the great generals are astute enough not to face each other in battle unless absolutely necessary.

In the first round there are 64 battles, resulting in 64 victors, of which 4 are great and 60 won by chance.

The 64 defeated generals can be assumed to be removed from any further action, having been killed in battle, exiled to Elba, kicked upstairs to the House of Lords, or otherwise retired to somewhere where they can do little further damage.

In the second round there are 32 battles, resulting in 32 victors, of which 4 are great and 28 won by chance.
In the fifth round there are 4 battles, resulting in 4 victors, all of whom are great.

Note that if we have no means of discerning greatness other than track record, this whole scenario is indistinguishable from the one in which there is no such thing as greatness, only chance. The elaborate tournament, which might have been expected to decide the issue, actually tells us nothing one way or the other. The unresolved question remains unresolved.

It would have been an entirely different matter if, prior to the tournament, those judges best equipped to assess the aptitude of the untried generals had reliably pointed out the four eventual fifth-round victors, and only those four, as being destined for greatness. And it would have been yet another matter if the best judges of military aptitude had a track record of picking out the best generals in advance which was no better than chance.
Art-Books-Music / Re: [Dickens or Bulwer?] The difference is fairly obvious.
« Last post by mtgradwell on May 16, 2010, 12:15:56 PM »
It's a couple of days since I took the quiz, so my recollection may not be perfect, but I think my score was 50%.

If it's hard to tell them apart, it's because they were both members of the same "school", or genre. Bulwer-Lytton founded the Newgate School of writing, which Dickens later joined. In essence, Bulwer-Lytton was the master and Dickens his apprentice. Bulwer-Lytton exhibited great influence over Dickens, e.g. persuading him to alter the ending of "Great Expectations".

As "Bulwer Lytton: the rise and fall of a Victorian man of letters" puts it: "An author with a European reputation, outselling Dickens, Edward Bulwer Lytton was ennobled and, on his death, buried in Westminster Abbey."

Wikipedia will tell you that he was the author of 26 novels as well as several plays and works of poetry. These were successful enough to finance an extravagant lifestyle, and it wasn't just "the great unwashed" (a phrase Bulwer-Lytton coined) which read him. Mary Shelley wrote in her journal in 1831: "What will Bulwer become? The first author of the age? I do not doubt it. He is a magnificent writer."

The universal perception that Bulwer-Lytton was an execrable writer is a testament to the power of meme, nothing more. The running gag in Peanuts of Snoopy starting his novels with "it was a dark and stormy night" has a lot to do with it; as does the annual Bulwer-Lytton competition. But the fact of the populace getting it's literary opinions from cartoon strips should tell us more about the nature of modern pop culture than it does about the merits or demerits of Victorian authors.
Art-Books-Music / Re: "Great" v commercial
« Last post by mtgradwell on May 16, 2010, 11:06:53 AM »
I may be looking in the wrong places, but I don't recall ever seeing an instance of a serious mainstream reviewer calling Stephen King a hack. Perhaps you should provide links? His Amazon home page biography states that he is "the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters". He has also written "on writing: a memoir", half of which I gather is advice for aspiring writers (the other half being autobiographical). I understand that this has been critically acclaimed, which would hardly be the case if he was considered a hack.

Googling for references to Stephen King and hack, there are instances of him being called one, but they seem to be mostly ironic, made with tongue firmly in cheek, or they are in anonymous or pseudonymous replies to blog posts. There are also many references to him calling Stephanie Meyer a hack. I only looked at the first three pages of Google's output, though. Maybe the serious accusations of hackery start on the fourth page.

If you really want examples of authors who have sold many books but are widely seen as hacks by those who consider themselves to have some literary taste, you could take your cue from Stephen King and go for Stephanie Meyer; or Dan Brown would be another excellent choice.
Art-Books-Music / Re: Ape or artist
« Last post by mtgradwell on May 13, 2010, 04:47:50 AM »
100%. The only marginal one was #5 - nice use of colour, and it could be interpreted e.g. as two standing figures - an abstract version of Millet's Angelus, say - flanked by ghostly trees. But the elements were so few in number and so roughly constructed that it was obvious any apparent structure could have arisen by chance. That's not to say that the chimp isn't an artist, but chimps take a different approach to art than humans do.

If the aim is to criticise modern art, then a better approach would be to take the works of deliberately anti-art "artists" - those who slap the label "art" or random objects and don't make even the slightest attempt at composition - and compare their work with that of a chimp; not asking people if they can tell the difference, but rather asking them which one they prefer.
Art-Books-Music / Re: I don't understand the art in abstract
« Last post by Russell123 on April 13, 2010, 04:09:12 AM »
Anonymous i totally agreed with you and your comment. it was nice
Art-Books-Music / Re: great art quiz
« Last post by clareak on April 10, 2010, 12:41:01 AM »
Well at least I know my Vermeer from my creepy smiling meergeren. Phew.
Art-Books-Music / Re: great art quiz
« Last post by clareak on April 10, 2010, 12:25:01 AM »
Ah, only got 67% - but then I was too willing to give Churchill a thumbs up on the art scene! I also thought that the Cezanne was by an unrecognised but brilliant amateur (in other words I thought you were too clever by half!)
Art-Books-Music / Re: Ape or artist
« Last post by feo takahari on April 04, 2010, 10:09:11 PM »
I found an alternate way of getting 100%. I marked anything with solely blotches and near-straight lines as "ape," and anything with curved lines as "artist." Apparently, apes don't draw angles very well.
Art-Books-Music / Re: Art Test
« Last post by Mikhail Simkin on April 04, 2010, 12:57:29 PM »
I think it's very unusual that when I looked at the article about the results, and It said an art critic got a lower score than I did. I got a 100%. Did I mention I'm not out of MIDDLE SCHOOL yet?
There is nothing unusual here. Check out the video where unsuspecting advanced art critics are praising a painting produced by children even younger than yourself:

It was really quite easy to tell what was art and what wasn't. The fake art lacked any fluidity or meaning, more like it was an optical illusion thrown on paper..
Lacked what fluidity? Perhaps you mean what other people call pixelated (because generated using a computer)? Anyway, there is a quiz where you are not going to get a 100% : Bremen Artists.
Art-Books-Music / Re: :-)
« Last post by artangel134 on April 02, 2010, 05:09:01 PM »
I scored 50%.
I would like to note that I dont believe in the existence of art in the way most people see it.

This test proves that. The only people who could "see" the real thing from yours were those who knew the art pieces from before.

I would like to point out that I indeed scored a 100% on this quiz. I knew NONE of the pieces before me, and I don't really have much art experience except for a few art classes at school.
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