Who we are

We are three Finns who maintain this site as a showcase on how to think differently. The site may appear unfocused, but in fact it has a surgically clear focus. We write about things which interest us, and which we feel should also interest other people.

Note that we say “should” rather than “might”. People who are not interested or curious about anything are leading a sad life. If we manage to make someone curious about something, we have done our job.

Zygomatica is a collection of essays rather than a traditional current-events blog. We use either English or Finnish, depending on the subject matter.  Whenever a theme seems to interest us for a longer time, we tend to set up a page around that theme.

  • Jakke Mäkelä: Google+ pageLinkedIn page. Physicist, but not ideologically — it’s the methods that matter. Training: PhD, physics (University of Helsinki, Finland).  Interests: anything that can be twisted into numbers;  hazards and warnings; invisible risks. Worries: Copyright, IPR, and net neutrality (it’s complicated). Happiness: family, dry humor, and thinking about things. Email: click here. List of posts by Jakke.
  • Niko Porjo: LinkedIn pageGoogle+ page. Joys: comedy, cycling and spotting argumentation errors in live speech. Physicist and thinker, a little bit of an amateur philosopher. I like to build things but when they work that’s enough, no polishing. List of posts by Niko.
  • Timo Tokkonen: LinkedIn page. Thinking, understanding and discovering (surprisingly) new things make me tick.  I search for the questions not asked and make happen. Keeping the mind and eyes open and photographing the surprising beauty. Once an astronomer, always an astronomer. I try to understand the world and mankind through Philosophy of Technology, Seinfeld and Jacques Tati among others. Cleverness beats force. Cover is nothing without content and content is nothing without structure. There is always an alternative. List of posts by Timo.

OUR VALUES

  • On this site, rationality is king. This is not site to teach “rational thinking”. Off-site, members believe what they want. On-site, rationality and skepticism are strictly enforced.
  • Corollary: Rationality always fails in the end. That is how life works. Rationality too easily turns into hubris. Thus, it is best to start with the assumption that we will fail.
  • Anything can be a source of information, if properly interpreted. We mean this literally, and hope to show it by examples.
  • Numbers are good, but only if you are skeptical of them. If it can be put into numbers, it should be put into numbers. But don’t trust the numbers.
  • Crowdsourcing is good, but responsibility is individual. We hope to make all projects collaborative, with multiple outside participants. But one person always has to stand by the end result, risking any reputation he might have.
  • Open access is good, open science is good.  This site operates with a Creative Commons license.
  • Like them or not, patents can be an interesting source of information. Patents  serve a purpose that is underutilized in the open community: they are information about something that someone has considered to be important.
  • What we do, we do throroughly.  We document. “Open science” easily becomes “sloppy science”. We don’t produce peer-reviewable material, but want to retain high standards.
  • All opinions and ideas on this site are personal. We represent no one except ourselves.
STATEMENTS WE DISAGREE WITH
“A solution in search of a problem is a bad thing.”  No!  It may be helpful to start from the solution and work backwards. A failure in one area may be useful in another. We practice divergent-convergent thinking to an extreme.  Four outcomes are perfectly possible. A) A pointless solution to an irrelevant problem. B) An important problem, but no solution. C) A fine solution, but the problem is irrelevant. D) An excellent solution to an important problem
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Not necessarily! It can be useful as long as it is combined with extreme humility. Non-experts should never pose as experts.  But a little knowledge is a starting point for gaining real knowledge, and deep knowledge in one area may be useful in another area.  We run the risk of making fools of ourselves trying to talk about issues we do not understand; we are willing to take that risk.
“Only important issues should be researched”. No they shouldn’t!  We specifically like to choose issues that seem irrelevant, because surprises are possible. We like the attitude of the Ig Nobel prizes (http://improbable.com/ig/): bring up ideas that make people laugh, and then make them think. Problems we choose may border on the ridiculous; but the analysis is serious and rigorous
“Patents are evil and useless.” No they aren’t!   We take no stance for or against IPR. But patents have an underappreciated value as a  source of interesting information. Patents are free of copyright, and can be used without restriction.  We only care about technical content, not legal issues. Thus, any comments we may make  are completely irrelevant for any legal purposes.
“English is the language of the Internet.” Ei ole! Me olemme suomalaisia, ja ylpeitä kielestämme kaikkine koukeroineen. Jos aiheesta kannattaa kirjoittaa suomeksi, me teemme niin. [Translation: We are Finns, and proud of our strange language.When we find a subject for which Finnish is appropriate, we use Finnish.]
WHY “ZYGOMATICA”?
“Zygomatica”, because the zygomaticus muscle determines whether we smile or frown. Our ideas may make you smile or frown, but hopefully they will make you think.


2 thoughts on “Who we are”

    1. Tänks. :) Tichy lisättiin heti Zygon linkkilistaan, näyttää olevan samanhenkisellä asenteella liikkeellä. (“Why do you blog?” “Because I can.”).

Leave a Reply

Solutions in search of a problem / Ratkaisuihin ongelmia

%d bloggers like this: