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What is something you still don't understand, even after it was explained to you many times?

5 years ago by Chubros with 83 comments

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Conversation 15 comments by 9 users
  • oystein (edited 5 years ago)
    +10

    I had big issues understanding the Monty Hall problem. Someone even went as far as explaining it with a hundred doors, and 98 were opened. It didn't dawn on me until I was walking home later and I had an aha-moment.

    • picklefingers
      +5

      I've just given up on the Monty Hall problem. I get it, but I just don't get it. Sort of like a lot of physics concepts. I get that certain things happen and I get the reasons, but I couldn't work out on a board exactly why.

      • drunkenninja
        +5

        For those wondering, this is a great video highlighting the concept of the Monty Hall problem. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Lb-6rxZxx0

      • oystein
        +4

        The point lies in what Monty does when you choose a door. He deliberately opens a door that doesn't have anything behind it. Thus making sure that the 2/3-probability still lies with the door(s) you haven't chosen. I had my students try it out on eachother and it pays off to switch in two thirds of the cases.

        • ofest
          +5

          I had no idea what the Monty Hall problem was. Upon looking it up, I think I can explain it:

          Monty introduced NEW INFORMATION into the system once he exposed the door that was a zonk (he told the contestant which door NOT to choose). The contestant had NO new information on the door he/she chose, but new (and beneficial) information on the doors he/she didn't choose. To benefit from that new info, the logical choice was to switch.

          If that still doesn't make sense, i can try to explain it differently.

        • ColonBowel
          +2

          Why isn't the choice to stay or switch independent from the first choice to choose one of the 3?

          • redalastor
            +5

            Do you agree that when you choose your initial door, the probability of being right is 1/3? Baring a switcheroo behind the door, that probability cannot change. The car won't jump to or away from the door.

            The other doors also have 1/3 chances. Until Monty opens one, now that door has 0/3 chances of being right. You door is still 1/3, we already established it can't change. There's now 1/3 unaccounted for. Where did it go? To the remaining door which brings it to 2/3.

            • ColonBowel
              +4

              Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I got it now. Thanks!

    • double2
      +5

      I almost lost a friend trying to explain this to them. I usually turn to a pack of cards and the ace of spades. It's amazing the stubbornness of our minds!

      • oystein
        +3

        Is a friend truly a friend if he can't understand the Monty Hall problem? :-P

        • double2
          +3

          A dear acquaintance then ;)

    • spaceghoti
      +3

      For those who aren't familiar with it: the Monty Hall problem.

    • Colonial
      +2

      I know that a lot of people have big issues with the Monty Hall problem, and I believe it is because it is usually explained in a misleading way. In order for switching doors to be advantageous, we must assume

      1. That the host always opens a door that the contestant did not open, and

      2. That the door which the host opens always contains a goat.

      To me, these assumptions seem counterintuitive.

      If he is a game show host, couldn't he be trying to trick you, and only open a door when you first pick the door with the car? If this is the case, then the host opening a door means there is a 100% certainly that the original door you picked has the car.

      If he is trying to build suspense, wouldn't he open the door with the car behind it 1/3 of the time? If this is the case, then him opening a door with a goat means the remaining doors have equal chances.

      Maybe the host has some other set of rules that he follows that we don't know. Maybe he opens the door with the car if you have red hair and the door with a goat if you have blond. I just don't know why we should assume that he always opens a door and that his door always has a goat.

      If I were playing the Monte Hall game, I would flip a coin and on heads I would change doors, on tails I would not. This way, the host's strategy is irrelevant; I will always have a 1/2 chance of winning.

      • ColonBowel
        +2

        We need data.

        Try it our for yourself! http://onlinestatbook.com/2/probability/monty_hall_demo.html

        This quote is what got me to understand it.

        The results are very counterintuitive. For the three-door problem, if the contestant is correct on the first choice, then he or she will be incorrect after a switch. Or, if a contestant was incorrect on the first choice, he or she will be correct after a switch. Since the probability of being incorrect on the first choice is 0.667, then the probability of being correct after a switch is 0.6667.

        • Colonial
          +2

          Yes, I understand that if you make the assumptions that I laid out, then it is advantagous to switch. I'm not confused or bafffled by the problem. The simulation you linked to is predicated on those assupmtions.

          But I don't think those assuptions are intuitive based on how the problem is usually presented. At least they are not intuitive for me. Here is the famous Ask Marylin column that popularize the Monty Hall problem;

          Suppose you’re on a game show, and you’re given the choice of three doors. Behind one door is a car, behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say #1, and the host, who knows what’s behind the doors, opens another door, say #3, which has a goat. He says to you, "Do you want to pick door #2?" Is it to your advantage to switch your choice of doors?

          When I read this, I think that the host is potentially a trickster, or possibly he was waiting to see what I chose before he gave me the choice. I don't view him as a mechanical device that must always open a door that I did not open and that has a goat.

          If you think that it is intuitive to say that he always opens a door that the contestant did not open and that the door he opens must contains a goat, then I suppose the result would seem really cool. I don't share that intuition, and so the result seems cheap and misleading.

Conversation 13 comments by 7 users
  • double2 (edited 5 years ago)
    +10

    Why feminism isn't re-branded "Gender Equality". I am a man who considers himself a feminist. I completely accept that women are the gender marginalised in almost all cases, but it just seems like awful marketing for the cause as it makes men feel excluded from the movement. Many feminists will tell you that positive discrimination is just as damaging as bog-standard discrimination as it perpetuates a divide of equality - but surely that just shows why the name is flawed? I have talked about this so, so, so very many times with many feminists close to me and never been able to make the leap to endorsing the use of the term.

    Edit: just to clarify, I'm not looking to argue against it, I'm just frustrated I can't come to my own resonance with the wider view on the point. I wouldn't dare as a guy to take the view that it SHOULD be changed - I just still don't understand, as per the question I'm replying to! Eek. Please don't hate me anyone...

    • DiamondDragon
      +7

      Exactly. I believe that until the 'feminism' title is dropped they will be unable to achieve equality of the sexes simply because that is not their stated intent. The issues of gender equality are too complicated to only approach from half the participants on either side. Placing blame never solves problems in any case, it will be solved when individuals everywhere start asking what can I do.

    • Qukatt
      +5

      Its equality activism with a focus on how it affects women. In much the same way that #blacklivesmatter is eqaulity activism with a focus on the black community.

      None of it is intended to say "men don't matter" or "white lives don't matter" its just those subjects are the sections that currently need work.

      Like all the recent victories for the lbgb community doesn't mean its done, it means its now time to focus more on the trans community to lift them up alongside the progress being made in other areas.

      Of course there are utter fucking twods on all sides in all causes who ruin shit for everyone and act like its some zero sum game of caring.

      We should all care about total equality but that doesn't mean we cant identify particular problem areas and strongly target those with tailored actions. Horses for courses.

      • spaceghoti
        +5

        To provide some context to this, how many people know the name Aiyana Stanley-Jones? How many people know the name JonBenet Ramsey? Guess what they have in common, and what sets them apart?

        • Qukatt
          +1

          I wasn't familiar with that second name, it made for some grim morning reading.

      • double2
        +1

        OK. I can totally accept this if this is the definition of feminism. Thank you for the response!

    • BlankWindow
      +4

      Dated a woman who was baffled that I refused to consider myself a feminist while I agreed with most everything she would propose to me. Feminism specifies equality for females while I see many of the issues extending into sexuality, wealth, race, and other categories that aren't dependent on the persons sex. Feminism is a subset of equality.

    • Charlemagne
      +3

      See, I started feeling really uncomfortable calling myself a feminist when I started talking to people that call themselves one. I prefer to just say egalitarian or "for gender equality" since feminism is definitely centered on women. Which is fine, but there needs to stop being such a stigma against men's rights groups. Especially from so called "feminists" that are only looking out for themselves.

      • Qukatt
        +3

        the problem with MRAs is the same problem that people have with feminist elements.

        that is to say any sane person would and should agree there are many areas where men have a really shitty deal, mostly in the areas of child care, emotional response and stuff.

        Fathers should absolutely get paid paternity allowance on par with maternity cover. Why feminists support this? It makes parental leave equal, it brings the excuse of women having a hard time getting employment due to the cost of their time off to have babies out of the equation if men have that same cost risk to businesses. It encourages men into early bonding with their babies and helps reduce post partum symptoms in women and will certainly help catch symptoms of Post partum psychosis which can be fatal to the baby and allow the mothers to get medical help.

        Men should absolutely be encouraged to have feelings, we have shitty amounts of male suicide based around inadequacy in the "provider" department. Feminists absolutely should support this, it's in our interest to encourage stay at home dads and house husbands and make that really not a big deal. If women earned the same as men for the same work that frees up men to follow passions and home businesses like we've had the luxury of for the last while. without the pressure of earning and normalcy of having the same freedom of choice between home and career as we've fought for so hard I think we'd see a huge reduction of unhappy 9-5 wage slave men who would be much better off being able to speak up and take time to figure life out cause their wife is cool to do the bills for a few years.

        it's totally in the interest of MRAs to support equal pay for women, to support women in the armed forces, to support pro-choice and birthcontrol agendas (and for feminists to support male birth control and support men's choice to procreate or not) even though those are seen as a women's issue and men's custody inequality seen as a man's issue there's honestly the best interest in both groups supporting each other as much as possible.

        Don't get me wrong, MRA and feminists should be separate groups because each group can work on it's own campaigns and it's far more effective not to generalise. It's a good way of preventing activism burnout as well if you're working on just one or two projects at once and focusing on one area.

        But you're right, it's hard to call yourself a feminist these days with all the crazy 3rd wave bullshit, it's hard to say you support MRA without sounding like a crazy women hating pick up artist. But you should. Stand up, say you believe in both these things, recognise that you have it good in some areas and horrible in others no matter who you are (that's what people are on about when they talk about privilege) Don't just wait until it's you that has the problem.

        The more rational people supporting anything the easier it is to say "hey those extreme haters are not the normal" and we can stop writing off the need to do something as not needed because only the loud twods are shouting about it.

  • PushPull
    +18

    According to my wife, nearly anything she says.

    • idlethreat
      +6

      winner winner, chicken dinner!

    • ColonBowel
      +1

      If a man says something in the middle of the woods, and there isn't a woman around to hear him, is he still wrong?

  • FrootLoops
    +14

    Please this is a serious post and i am just answering what i was asked.

    I still don't understand how someone can believe in a god without having evidence.

    • double2 (edited 5 years ago)
      +8

      God, in most cases, is by definition unprovable (the cases in which it could possibly be provable is where the God lives in the physical realm as in with the Greeks - if you wanted to prove Zeus lived on top of a mountain you could go check). The core motivation for having belief in a deity is to propose some kind of solid explanation for what is otherwise inexplicable. The concept of God serves a purpose, which simply would not be in need of being met if evidence for it existed. Now, what is of course preposterous is the idea that you can attribute conscious traits to this deity...if you can say they have trait a or b, you are claiming to have evidence of their existence. But if it's just a case of believing in a God, as it is by definition impossible to determine the existence of God, it isn't necessarily illogical to "believe" in some kind of God - or perhaps just use it as an extended metaphor; it's just the expression of a philosophy towards the existing sum of human experience.

      • ColonBowel
        +5

        So you're saying that God is like a varying constant. You use it to make the equation work when you can't figure it out?

        • spaceghoti
          +6

          It's also known as the god of the gaps.

          • double2 (edited 5 years ago)
            +1

            That sounds a lot like the basis of the cartesian circle, which I don't really mean. I'm referring to something that is fundamentally semantic i.e. God is these things on this paper here that we can't understand; but perhaps most people do not recognise as a semantic term and almost think of it as being a scientific observation. From my perspective this is the rational gap in religion - observe, celebrate and revere the greater unknown, but don't assign it a consciousness with motivations! That's just weird.

            • double2 (edited 5 years ago)
              +1
              @spaceghoti -

              Haha, I totally agree. Just to make a quick distinction between what Neil is discussing - that which we don't understand but conceivably could; and what I am drawing upon - that which we potentially can't understand in strict scientific terms. I'm talking about the metaphysical really, things that lie at the base of identity, linear time, subjective perception etc.

            • spaceghoti
              +2
              @double2 -

              So basically, all the things we don't yet know how to explain? Which brings us back to the god of the gaps, whether or not you consider it either divine or even sentient. What part of "I don't know" leads you to "therefore I believe"?

            • double2
              +2
              @spaceghoti -

              My response got a little long and I really want to get what I'm trying to say right (which I don't think I have been doing above haha), so I'll hold off for now. Thanks for discussing this with me seriously rather than just treating me as an idiot. I think I'm going to write this as an actual philosophical essay. I'll post here or tag you in the post when I'm done. Thanks for inspiring me to put some effort in haha :D

            • spaceghoti
              +2
              @double2 -

              I look forward to seeing what you write. :)

        • double2 (edited 5 years ago)
          +2

          Like dark matter of the philosophical realm, yes. This is why religious leaders worth their salt have said that they await science to change how they think about their religion. The more we actually know about the world, the more accurate we can make our philosophies of the metaphysical.

    • xg549
      +5

      Ex-christian here from a heavily religious background, had a lot of time to ponder my beliefs after leaving the church. My personal philosophy as of now is that I believe there is a god merely for the sake of creation. I do not believe that it is mathematically sound enough that as science suggest everything could have happened just perfectly so. The probability is not too low for life to form, no, but for everything to then develop into such to coherent ecosystem where its such a perfect intertwined puzzle? I think something had to dictate what happened there and why.

      That said, that's the only credibility I give towards a deity. I don't think that such a god has any interest in interacting with humanity. I don't think the god that may exist under my belief has been accurately depicted by christians or any other human religion that ever has or ever will exist. I don't think that understanding gods is something we are capable of, which why a lot of people end up like you, it doesn't make sense and it's not supposed to. But to come back around to your point, I suppose my "evidence" would be the creation of the universe and of life on earth. Not out of any benevolent purpose like christians might believe, perhaps out of no purpose at all, but I don't see any other way that it could happen other than intentionally.

    • Victarion
      +4

      I believe there is a God or some other type of higher being because I just don't think that the universe could just be made on its own. I still believe the big bang theory and evolution and stuff, but I think that something had to have aided it. Just my opinion though.

      • StarmanSuper
        +2

        But then what made the thing that aided it?

        • Victarion
          +3

          Well I think the higher being has existed for ever, but I don't really want to debate. Internet debates are annoying.

    • SevenTales
      +4

      First of all, I am not saying I believe. I'm answering the question.
      The idea of a god isn't that far-fetched when dealing with the appropriate questions. Really, in philosophy of Religion and metaphysics, the kind of questions that "god" could be an easy answer for is mindbogglingly huge. The case against pure physicalism has plenty of weird but powerful arguments, and god is an easy way out in most cases. I see the idea of an omnipotent and ever present all that always was as a powerful symbol of our ridiculously small understanding of the gigantic Reality that we face. It's easy then to succumb to cynicism or absurdism, but equally easy to just chalk it up to an ever-knowing and unprovable god.
      The lack of empirical evidence shouldn't make you not believe, it should make you doubt both answers. And empirical evidence is not the only way to look at a problem, as it has problems of it's own.

    • double2
      +1

      Answer 2 (this time with smaller scope) - the existence or non existence of God is unverifiable, therefore opinion on the subject is an expression of preference. When an otherwise rational person believes in God, what they really mean is "I like to believe in God". The only evidence you need for an opinion is a knowledge of your own attitudes.

    • DiamondDragon (edited 5 years ago)
      +1

      On the contrary, I don't understand how someone can be alive without believing in God. To me it comes down to mathematics in an abstract form. In our concious evolution, can there ever be an end? If not, which is what I am attempting to rhetorically state, then won't there always be some form of conciousness superior to our own? And won't there also be a conciousness higher than that conciousness if we assume all entities are on a continuum of enlightenment? To me God is simply the idea that learning and evolution are infinite processes and God is the ultimate goal to which we can never reach, never comprehend, but will always, for eternity, be getting closer to.

  • spaceghoti
    +12

    I have yet to understand how the "right to starve" is a moral virtue in spite of many, many libertarians and anarcho-capitalists attempting to explain it to me.

    • Charlemagne
      +6

      I've always considered libertarians to be almost my exact antithesis politically. Everything they believe in just absolutely baffles me. The beliefs are extremely self-centric with no consideration for anyone else's well being. I'm not sure if they just have a lack of empathy or what.

    • SevenTales
      +5

      If I may, I'm curious. What's your opinion on the subject? I get you're against, but I want to know why :)

      • spaceghoti
        +15

        I hold with the claim that history judges a society by how it treats its least fortunate citizens. For example, Greece and Rome are credited with remarkable advances in human progress but both societies are described as particularly brutal to its least fortunate citizens. History doesn't ignore the brutality when it makes its assessments.

        I don't hold with comforting the comfortable. The United States was built on the premise that we're stronger collectively than we are individually, and I absolutely agree with FDR when he reminded us that necessitous men are not free men. So I support things like a Universal Basic Income, universal healthcare and all those socialist principles that free market advocates abhor. If you're not free to contribute to society according to your talents rather than how according to the dollar value of your skills, then you're not really free.

  • ColonBowel
    +10

    Quantum entanglement. All I've ever heard is "The pair the particles." What does that mean?!

    • spaceghoti
      +9

      Don't feel bad. We don't really understand it either, we just know it works. Einstein called it "spooky interaction at a distance."

    • SevenTales (edited 5 years ago)
      +7

      /u/spaceghoti hit the nail on the head. We know that it happens, and we're able to reproduce it. I'll try to explain what happens simply:
      Imagine the two particles have switches, which can be in the on and off position, and start both at off. What happens to the "paired particles" is that, even if you separate them by great distances (I think the record is something like 25 km) when you switch one in the on position, and observe the other 25 km away, it swtiched on as well... instantly. No information was sent and received by these two particles. It happened instantly. If it was a normal physical phenomenon, They should've communicated together, and it would have happened slower than the speed of light, because it cannot go faster. But this is instant.

      Problem is, we have no idea how they do that. It's one of the mysteries of quantum physics!

      • ColonBowel
        +5

        Thank you, but I'm even more behind than that. My trouble is with the paring. What does paired mean? How do we know they're paired? What do we do to pair them?

        • double2 (edited 5 years ago)
          +6

          How about this as a description - please someone correct me if I'm wrong here as I am very much an amateur on these things:

          Entanglement is when some object (a particle), which is considered one discrete whole object, has different parts of it in different actual locations whilst retaining its properties of being a whole present object. The parts still affect each other as they were physically attached to each other i.e. in the same observable physical location. The entanglement is the intrinsic link between the parts of the whole which keeps them associated with each-other on the quantum level.

          --HIDES FROM SCIENTISTS--

          EDIT: moved from below EDIT 2: May I recommend the following book - How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog - it won't please everyone, but as long as you don't take the fun way the book is written as condescending, it's a great ELI5 explanation of a lot of the concepts of quantum physics.

          • SevenTales
            +3

            Heh, it's not a bad way to put it simply by the way. :D

          • ColonBowel
            +3

            Thanks! I put that book on my wish list to pick up when I'm done with the ones I'm currently reading.

        • spaceghoti
          +6

          What does paired mean? How do we know they're paired? What do we do to pair them?

          Would it help if we described it as "mirroring"? It's when one particle mirrors the behavior of another even though they're physically separated (not part of the same molecular bond). We know they're paired when they exhibit the same behavior at the same time in spite of not being joined in any way that we know how to measure.

          This article does a pretty good job of explaining how we do it.

          • SevenTales
            +4

            that is a way better answer than anything I came up with! thanks for the link :)

          • double2 (edited 5 years ago)
            +2

            moved

            EDIT: replied to wrong comment, oops!

            • spaceghoti
              +3

              I think that's an accurate description, but if he's having as much difficulty as he says I don't know if that will help.

              Full disclosure: I'm a layman at best, myself.

            • double2 (edited 5 years ago)
              +3
              @spaceghoti -

              I guess what I was trying to add is that it's like an object is still one piece, but it's component parts are not connected in a static visual sense, only in a behavioural sense. Oh, that's a much simpler explanation in itself... the particle is not visually together in one piece but it is behaviourally so.

            • spaceghoti
              +3
              @double2 -

              I think that works much better. :) Well done!

        • SevenTales
          +3

          Oh! That's an easier and at the same time harder question to answer. There's a lot of ways to make them "pair", which just mean that their states are identical. Entanglement just mean exactly what I described. The two particles, instead of having separate "quantum states", really only have one, which makes them behave like they do. As to how, the most used way is, and prepare for the fancy title, Spontaneous parametric down-conversion. It's more than a little complicated, but can be boiled down to this: We shoot a high powered laser at a special crystal (made out of barium borate). Most of the time, the photons go through normally, but then something happens: Sometimes, a photon is split, and instead of going straight, goes in 2 opposite directions (in the shape of a cone), and you get two entangled photons.

          • ColonBowel
            +3

            So it's the same photon in 2 different places? If so, did we just create something?

            • SevenTales
              +2

              We didn't create anything, as the 2 photons's energies are equal to the original photon. So it's not the same photon, and we did not create anything either.

  • Vandertoolen
    +9

    Bitcoin.

    • double2
      +5

      What level of detail? The functional or the technical?

    • ColonBowel
      +4

      What I find interesting about it is that people accept it as currency? Why? How did that even begin and catch on?

      • double2 (edited 5 years ago)
        +3

        Because the total quantity/scarcity of the "resource" is publicly verifiable, therefore each transaction reflects upon the value of the resource. After that, it just takes a somewhat arbitrary psychological leap to decide that you are happy to give things to others in exchange for the scarce resource. As long as there are a few people accepting the resource in exchange for things other than the resource, it takes on real world value due to it's representative relationship with other things. In the case of bitcoin, the main other thing is drugs. Drugs keep bitcoin valuable.

    • DiamondDragon
      +4

      If you seriously want to learn about Bitcoin I would suggest reading a book I came across called 'Bitcoin: The Future of Money by Dominic Frisby'. It explains clearly in layman's terms all about bitcoin. It's very engaging and not dry at all and also goes into some theories about what bitcoin could do for the world. I can now say I have at least a non-technical grasp on the subject.

      • rawlings
        +3

        Thanks I'm curious about bitcoin as well.

  • BlueOracle
    +3

    Music theory. I don't know what my problem is, but I just don't get it. I play guitar and wanted to learn a bit of music theory because I thought it would be helpful, but every time I look into it or ask someone to explain I get lost very quickly. It's frustrating and makes me feel stupid. If anyone has a simple video or something like that to share maybe I'll try again. I hate it when I can't grasp something that interests me.

    • DiamondDragon
      +1

      Were you good at math in school? musical theory is usually easy for those with a mathematically oriented mind.

  • jenjen1352
    +3

    Quadratic equations. Bane of my school and college years.

    • [Deleted Profile]

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  • NotWearingPants
    +3

    Double-entry book keeping. Who came up with the idea that debiting an asset means you have more of it?

  • shiftcomma3
    +2

    The citric acid cycle, OOP, Bayesian stats.