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I think qualitative and quantitative happen later. The key point is really that it's about how you feel, and creative types tend to use their feelings as a guide for making sense of reality.

In my experience creative types approach a problem by asking themselves how they feel and making connections between things, and it's the process of finding things that look like other things and assuming they're connected that keeps them interested.

Scientific types systematise. They like numbers and abstractions, and algorithms to glue them all together.

It's very hard to do both at the same time, and individually both are partial and incomplete.

If you just do the algorithms you can lose the plot and spend time building a system that either doesn't work or doesn't answer the question that really matters to people. If you just do the intuitive feeling stuff you can mistake feeling for understanding - because feeling isn't really a useful model or system, it's a fleeting experience.

What makes science and maths hard is that sooner or later you have to stop relying on trying to experience what you're trying to understand. When the maths gets really hard, you can't do that any more. You start from somewhere familiar, blunder around a maze of twisty little equations bumping into things and feeling blind, and - ideally - fall out the other end into somewhere that makes sense again.

I've always had problems at that point. I suffered through maths A Level making very little sense of mechanics because the teacher hadn't bothered to make a simple connection to things I'd learned earlier. Once I got that, it became easier.

The more advanced the science, the harder it is to be physically intuitive about it. Some rare people seem to have a kind of mathematical intution which is a substitute, kinda sorta.

But I don't, and a lot of professional scientists don't seem to either.

And therefore - hard. Sometimes hard maths is abstracted to make it simpler and more intuitive to work with again.

But you can still end up with:

Which is not necessarily intuitive to most people. ;)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Mar 14th, 2008 at 12:16:08 PM EST
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