WFF ‘N Proof, a mathematical-logic game

“WFF ‘N Proof, the Game of Modern Logic”, is a game that I had had in my childhood, though I now only have its rulebook. A WFF (“woof”) is a well-formed formula, one that is syntactically correct, and in the game, one creates proofs with inference rules. The game has dice with operation and variable names on them, and one tries to find WFF’s and proofs that fit what is on the dice. The game also includes an hourglass for timed play.

It was created by Layman Allen in 1962, and he has also created On-Sets, on set theory, and Equations, on arithmetic, both played much like WFF ‘N Proof.

I wish that I could recommend WFF ‘N Proof, but it has several deficiencies.

  • It uses a prefix representation for its binary operators, (and) p q, with no attempt to relate it to the more usual infix form, p (and) q.
  • It does not use the logical constants (true) and (false), and it does not have truth tables, tables of output values for input values (arguments).
  • It does not name the operator properties that it has proofs of, like (and) and (or) being commutative and associative.

After the fold, I will describe the formalism in WFF ‘N Proof in more detail.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Transcendental Future Orientation

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo has proposed that much of our attitudes can be explained by our time orientation. Are we oriented to the past? The present? The future? Is our orientation positive? Or negative? That is, do we think about good things or bad things? He explains what he means at his site, The Time Paradox.

That site has an odd time orientation: Transcendental Future. He even has a quiz about it: Transcendental-future Time Perspective Inventory (TTPI). Continue reading

Time Orientation by Philip Zimbardo

Philip Zimbardo is a psychologist who has worked on what can make “normal” people turn bad (the Stanford Prison Experiment and his book “The Lucifer Effect”), and he has an interesting proposal of how much of our attitudes can be explained as time orientation. I first found out about it from his talk at the 2008 Beyond Belief conference; he shows some slides that give correlations of his time orientations with various personality factors.

Continue reading

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Around World War II, psychologist Abraham Maslow decided to consider mentally healthy people, to balance out study of mental pathologies. In 1943, he published his conclusions in “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review. He proposed that we have a hierarchy of needs, from the physiological to the transcendent: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – Wikipedia, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs | Simply Psychology, Abraham Maslow and Happiness, What Is Maslow’s Needs Hierarchy?

This hierarchy is often depicted as layers of a pyramid. From bottom to top:

  1. Physiological: breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion
  2. Safety: security of body, employment, resources, morality, family, health, property
  3. Love and Belonging: friendship, family, sexual intimacy
  4. Esteem: self-esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others
  5. Self-actualization: morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts

Continue reading

Isaac Asimov on Searching for Information

In my earlier post, “Books: The Ancient and Ultimate Document Viewer?”, I had commented on Isaac Asimov’s belief that that’s what physical books are, and I had pointed out some important deficiencies of them. One of them is searchability. But IA himself had written on this problem.

n 1955, he wrote “The Sound of Panting” (in “Only a Trillion”). The panting that he described was for him as he tried to keep up with the biochemistry literature.

In 1964, he wrote Asimov Suggests Science of Data | News | The Harvard Crimson

Science’s rapid accumulation of data, Asimov said, has created the need for a new branch of science, information retrieval. The new field, he said, should attempt to make the data scientists need available to them simply “by pushing the right button.”

Regaling his audience with a Jackie Masonesque style, Asimov then launched into a lengthy example of how Mendel’s theories of heredity were overlooked for a generation, the delay producing misconceptions that may ultimately have led to two world wars.

He also wrote about that in one of his science essays.

Continue reading

Books: The Ancient and Ultimate Document Viewer?

Isaac Asimov once wrote an essay called “The Ancient and the Ultimate” (collected in “The Tragedy of the Moon” and “Asimov on Science”). He wrote it in response to the notion that some high-tech document viewer like video cassettes might someday replace books. He considers what might be the ultimate document viewer. One that is totally powered by its user, that does not need any external energy source, that is very portable, and that is very unobtrusive. He asks when we might get such a viewer.

I have an answer for that, too, and a quite definite one. We will have it in minus five thousand years–because what I have been describing… is a book!

Or is it?

Continue reading

The Big Five: In the Professional Literature

Counting search-engine hits is a rather crude way of estimating the interest that the scientific community has in various theories, but it is a rather simple one.

I find with it that the Big Five personality model has by far the most hits among the personality models that I surveyed. Myers-Briggs got only 1/10 of its hits, HEXACO (Big Five + Honesty/Humility) 2%, and the enneagram (nine personality types) 1%.

So if you want to take an online personality quiz, take a Big Five one. If anything, I find it easier to interpret than Myers-Briggs. But if you want to take a Myers-Briggs one, look for one that returns continuous values. Binary ones, ones like extrovert or introvert with nothing in between, are pretty much worthless.

Continue reading