Saturday, January 18, 2014
The problem with pattern recognition
Posted by Ugo Bardi
The news is spreading about the shutting down of "Pattern Recognition in Physics" by the publisher, Copernicus. In the message announcing the demise of the journal, they say that it was closed, among other things, because of " the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis"
That, however, is just a part of the story and most of it had to do with the denialist stance of the editors on the matter of climate. But the problem with this journal was even deeper. What is exactly to be intended as "pattern recognition in physics"? I mean, when you studied physics, did they teach you about "pattern recognition?" If you are doing research in physics, you detect signals, apply theories, build models and things like that. But when do you do "pattern recognition? It is, at best, the "curve fitting" approach to physics which may be a lot of fun, but if it is not based on a good physical model is just normally an exercise in irrelevance.
So, the very concept of a physics journal dedicated to pattern recognition, alone, is very doubtful, to say the least. Then, it is no wonder that a (so-called) physics purely based on pattern recognition in physics results arrives in the denial of the physical basis of climate change.
To understand what's wrong with pattern recognition as intended in this journal, you may look at look to this comment. However, you can find an even better comment on pattern recognition in Shakespeare.
Hamlet. Do you see yonder cloud that ’s almost in shape of a camel?
Polonius. By the mass, and ’t is like a camel, indeed.
Ham. Methinks it is like a weasel.
Pol. It is backed like a weasel.
Ham. Or like a whale?
Pol. Very like a whale.