Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Numbers and Words

We are verbal or a word related society. Things would be so much clearer if instead, we were a mathematical or numbers society. Words can have many interpretations, but mathematical equations generally only have one right answer and there are no grey areas. The answers to math problems are generally right or wrong. But my interpretation of a book, play, or the constitution can be vastly different than others. In fact, if everyone in the United States read the constitution you would get 315 million different interpretations. Here is one of Bohan’s Laws: “Political statements without corroboration of facts, data, and solutions are merely divisive opinions and propaganda whose purpose is to find fault and contort public opinion with misinformation.”

Our convoluted judicial system is a prime example of a vastly different interpretation of words or the law. A person can be put on trial in the same district, but the outcome can vary by changing a single variable: the judge, the jury, or the lawyers. This is a travesty of justice. It simply does not make sense that people committing the same crime are given different sentences. What if the sentence of all criminals (across the United States) was carried out by a single computer program instead of a judge? Criminals committing the same crime would receive the same sentence (given their prior offenses were also identical). A computer program and numbers do not discriminate and eliminate human error. Numbers do not see ethnicity, race, religion, or political ideology and are therefore unbiased. A computer program can also be devised to find guilt or innocence. I will not go into the details here, but it would not be very difficult to create a point system for credible evidence. And yes, this can be done without violating a person’s right to due process in the constitution.

Words are never a good solution to any complex problem. We would have no technology – no TVs, no cell phones, no computers, no cars etc. – if we used words to innovate, create, and invent. Words do not build society – numbers do. To solve complex technical problems we use numbers and equations. Numbers are precise and accurate whereas words can have multiple meanings, different spellings, and can be written and spoken in 100 different languages (can anyone say lost in translation). Think about it, there are only 10 unique numbers and they are universally defined around the globe – the true universal language. On the other hand, there are thousands of different letters from hundreds of different languages. The definition of logic suggests the use of science and methods or principles of reason. One may deduce that a statement of words can be a method of reason. Maybe, but that is debatable, whereas a system of equations is clearly a logical process. If a statement, word, book, movie, or document can be interpreted hundreds of different ways, then how is that logical? Logical or illogical by definition mean that something is true or false, period. In the digital world true or false is defined as a 1 or 0, respectively. All statements in a program or flow chart must be true or false (yes or no; 1 or 0). There is no maybe or some irrelevant explanation. Numbers are as simple as that. There is no question that the art of language is more complex than numbers. But language experts would tell you differently. Even mathematical models using chaos theory (like predicting the weather) have some semblance of order or trends that can be somewhat predicable. Words are never predictable. I certainly cannot predict what people are going say or write (I may guess correctly for instance, I can predict Obama may blame Bush in his next speech). I think less than one in every 1000 people visualize problems and solutions in numerical formats - the rest use words. This is the big reason why we are polarized as a society. Words may not seem confusing, but when each person can have a unique interpretation of the constitution, this is a problem. Interpretations are merely biased opinions and nothing good can come from that because opinions are not solutions. Think about it, when was the last time you had a failure in communication, I bet it was over words and not numbers (because your computer or phone was broke).

A numbered base society could eliminate grey areas created by the opinions of lawyers and judges. In fact, it could eliminate the need for lawyers and judges all together. Besides, anyone can be a lawyer since the only prerequisite appears to be having a diverse opinion. Yes, the laws of localities, states, and of the nation can be computerized. Yes, a program can be written to interpret the constitution, but that would be an ugly fight. Imagine (my take on John Lennon’s song) a country without politicians, lobbyists, lawyers, and even a president. It sounds good to me, but I know the 99.9% of our verbal society would disagree (they will take exception using the technology that numbers, not words created – computers and phones). It is not that far-fetched of an idea; sporting events are now using technology to eliminate judging or human errors made by umpires and referees during professional hockey, baseball, basketball, and football games. I am not suggesting eliminating language and words, I merely suggesting that numbers should play a bigger role in society decisions – not just words.

My Book: Is America Dying? (Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble)


  1. Fascinating concept, Patrick. While I am not a numbers-based thinker I do respect the role that numbers play. Seems to me that in addition to what you have already stated, we also need to teach the young how to actively listen. This would eliminate at least some of the word-based issues.

  2. Mrs AL, as usual you bring up a great point - communication is a two way street and listening is a lost art. That is probably a lot of my problem - I have never been a good listener. It is a problem I am aware of and have been trying to correct.

  3. Not just listening, Patrick, active listening and to an extent you do indeed engage in that behavior. No one call all the time, gotta' be selective.

    BTW ... given your post you are probably going to like CW's latest.