Losing Touch With Reality

We have two big political events coming up the next two weeks.

Next week, in the U.S., the Republicans will have their convention in New York.

The week after that, Futuremark will release its 3DMark 2005.

You might say, “Has Ed lost his mind?” That’s the problem, I haven’t.

The sad reality is that the release of a video card benchmark has become as much a political event as any political convention. Only the names are different, and the campaigning never ends.

Let’s face, when this benchmark comes out, many people are going to run this subroutine in their heads:

10 INPUT “Does my side win?”; R$
20 IF INPUT (R$) = “Yes” THEN PRINT “This is a great benchmark!!!”
30 ELSE PRINT “This biased benchmark sucks!!!”
40 GOTO 20

The value of a benchmark is to determine which of the competitors is better/best at what is being tested. Its value is not determined by whether your side wins or not.

If you cannot conceive that your side can lose a competition, you have no business looking at a benchmark or commenting on it. You have lost touch with reality (if indeed you ever were in touch) and your opinion is worthless. You are terminally biased.

This does not mean a benchmark cannot actually be biased, it certainly can. However, if you think it’s impossible for your side to fairly lose, ever, you are not capable of judging this, since there can be only one correct answer for you, regardless of reality.

Someone like that can only be correct sometimes in the same way a broken clock is correct twice a day.

I have no idea what 3DMark 2005 is like. I have no idea whether or not someone rational and impartial might find it biased or unfair.

However, practically speaking, it won’t matter because it’s going to be turned into a political football no matter what it says or does.

Truth will not matter at all because it will be swamped by a flood of political rantings and ravings.

At the first political convention mentioned above, there will be some protests about the influence of corporations on politics.

Well, if you really want to see corporate politics in action, see what happens when this benchmark comes out. This is corporate politics. The corporations aren’t backing a political party, they ARE the political parties.

I don’t see how someone can damn corporate political influence on Republicans or Democrats, then turn right and morph into a nVidiot or ATIdroid, a volunteer corporate footsoldier if ever there was one, with a fervor that jihadists would envy.

I just don’t understand fanaticism, no matter what the cause: Intel or bin Laden. The best explanations I’ve ever been able to come up with for this behavior is that fanatics for whatever reason need to find something, anything to be fanatical about.

Which sounds awfully close to obsessive-compulsiveness to me. Fanaticism is fanaticism, and that’s a problem, whether it’s about Compaq or Iraq.

The tidal wave will come no matter what I say, but for those saner ones in the trenches on the beach, those who want to discover the truth rather than already knowing it by faith, it may be helpful to consider that much of the torrent you’re dealing with is psychological rather than technical in origin, and it might help to point that out.

If we as a community give up on the notion that the performance of a video card can possibly be measured objectively, that something like that is a matter of politicized opinion, what hope do we have of keeping anything in the realm of objective reality?


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