Monday, April 8, 2013

Stochastic twaddle and pluralistic ignorance

I must confess. I wrote a bit of gobbledy gook last week.  My paper about improving neural networks? It was all bullshit. It was actually a product of SCIgen, a program from MIT that uses random word generation to create bogus academic papers. Read more about psuedoacademia here.

If you got nailed by it, don't feel bad, I did too. We as thinking humans want to understand and the human mind creates false nexus's where none actually exist (unless you are a Jungian of course and want to talk about synchronicity and we can do that some other time.) This is the one that got me, part of my online course in behavioral economics.

What is Behavioral Economics? from Advanced Hindsight on Vimeo.

What is SCIgen? From their website:
SCIgen is a program that generates random Computer Science research papers, including graphs, figures, and citations. It uses a hand-written context-free grammar to form all elements of the papers. Our aim here is to maximize amusement, rather than coherence.One useful purpose for such a program is to auto-generate submissions to conferences that you suspect might have very low submission standards. A prime example, which you may recognize from spam in your inbox, is SCI/IIIS and its dozens of co-located conferences (check out the very broad conference description on the WMSCI 2005 website). There's also a list of known bogus conferences. Using SCIgen to generate submissions for conferences like this gives us pleasure to no end. In fact, one of our papers was accepted to SCI 2005! 
There are many random word generators.  The idea is not new. It is said that one of the dadaists, possibly Andre Breton, don't make me look it up, caused a riot in the 1930's on a Paris street corner by creating poems from words that he pulled out of a hat.

Gertrude Stein, and later Burroughs and Gysin, used a similar method with their cut up work. Random, yes, but at times quite powerful.

Here is a poem I created this morning on the random poem generator. Obviously, I have quite a knack!

Wow, love!
All moons pull misty, dead winds.

Edna St. Vincent Sommers


NYSTAN said...

Between this and the passing of Maggie Thatcher, gonna be a BIG this info and going to blast the poem app all over Facebook. Thanks Bob, From back East, Stan

WildBill said...

Reminiscent of the Random Deepak Chopra Quote Generator

Blue Heron said...

Love the Deepak Chopra generator - thanks Bill!