“Data quality and quantity is inversely related to advocacy certainty and ferocity.”
-David Dilworth, 2008
Hyper-certainty is a cognitive bias which arises when less or weaker data inspires stronger advocacy than more or stronger data. This is dramatically illustrated when zero data, such as opinions or beliefs (dare I say – as in religion), inspires the most powerful certainty and advocacy; massively more passion than facts.
Sometimes it appears that entire fields of interest are controlled by this concept, when alternative ideas with solid evidence are systematically suppressed or censored by actual acts, or threats, to limit or halt employment, careers, reputations, research or grants.
The concept is dramatized with this maxim from the legal field:
Cubic miles of blood have been spilled over religious beliefs, contrasting sharply with the defacto silence over whether gravity exists. (None of this should not imply that I’m immune from this cognitive bias. While I’ve not yet been accused of hypercertainty I do recall defending a mis-spelled word.)
Since some mathematicians would prefer that you believe science (indeed physical reality) can’t exist without without math, here is a simple equation to describe Hypercertainty.
Dq1 * Dq2 = 1/A
Dq1 is data quality
Dq2 is data quantity, and
“A” is for Advocacy Intensity (flux) – measured in Joules*.
For those truth-seeking souls who have read this far and remain skeptical, consider these events –
Nobel Prize winner Physicist Brian Josephson was prohibited from placing articles in certain sections of ArXiv.org. (ArXiv is the largest repository of scientific article electronic pre-prints. It serves as the source of news for many scientific disciplines.)
Esteemed Cosmologist Halton Arp was forced to “retire” from Hale observatory due to his objections to the popular “Big Bang” paradigm.
Cosmologist Hilton Ratcliffe (co-discoverer of the Solar CNO cycle) was blacklisted from ArXiv. (Note how a person was Blacklisted, not his ideas.)
Otherwise legitimate physics papers which question popular “science” ideas are regularly rejected from publication on ArXiv by secret moderators using secret criteria.
Censorship (suppression of ideas) on ArXiv is so prevalent, an alternative Pre-print site for physics papers has sprung up called Vixra. “… the time has come to start an alternative archive which will be open to the whole scientific community.”
Update 2015: Apparently the relationship is more powerful than I first calculated as merely linear (and reciprocal). After careful measurement* and data analysis, it appears the relationship almost precisely fits an inverse cube – meaning the intensity of the advocacy multiplies in a cubic manner as the evidence shrinks.
So my improved fit hypothesis for the Hypercertainty function is —
Dq1 * Dq2 = 1/A 3
Described as :
“Data quality and quantity is inversely related to advocacy certainty and ferocity cubed.”
-David Dilworth, 2015
Note 1: The Hypercertainty principle is unrelated to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle.
Note 2: * If you weren’t adequately warned – parts of this may be slightly tongue in cheek.
Note 3: To deeply appreciate the extreme silliness this principle invoke, you might peruse the harsh arguments of those who believe Superpowers of Cartoon X are greater than Cartoon Y’s Superpowers; say “Toonforce vs Omnipotent.” (I wish I was kidding. But I point it out purely for your edification, because the arguments get me laughing so hard my eyes water.)