Fractal Wrongness

I just ran across a wonderful term that must be propagated further:

fractal wrongness

The state of being wrong at every conceivable scale of resolution. That is, from a distance, a fractally wrong person’s worldview is incorrect; and furthermore, if you zoom in on any small part of that person’s worldview, that part is just as wrong as the whole worldview.

Debating with a person who is fractally wrong leads to infinite regress, as every refutation you make of that person’s opinions will lead to a rejoinder, full of half-truths, leaps of logic, and outright lies, that requires just as much refutation to debunk as the first one. It is as impossible to convince a fractally wrong person of anything as it is to walk around the edge of the Mandelbrot set in finite time.

If you ever get embroiled in a discussion with a fractally wrong person on the Internet–in mailing lists, newsgroups, or website forums–your best bet is to say your piece once and ignore any replies, thus saving yourself time.

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2 Responses to Fractal Wrongness

  1. Troublesome Frog says:

    An interesting exercise: Which fields are most likely to experience fractal wrongness? I was initially tempted to suggest evolutionary biology, but I don’t think that’s the case. It usually doesn’t take too long to get down to the most basic levels of wrongness in those cases.

    My vote is either physics or economics. Physics attracts people who have read too many popularizations of physics to understand that words have real definitions and that sometimes physics involves math. I’ve had fascinating discussions of economics with people and gotten down to statements like “I don’t believe that comparative advantage exists.” Holy crap! Of course we disagree!

    I suppose that computer tech support might lend itself well to fractal wrongness given the cargo cult type tricks that people resort to in order to fix common problems, but those views tend to be held less firmly.

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  2. arensb says:

    It seems to me that creationists and religious nuts are most often fractally wrong, but so do a lot of political partisans. I haven’t gotten involved with too many arguments about physics or economics to be able to judge, though it seems both fields are plagued by vast hordes of woo-heads. coughDeepak Chopracough

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