latent

Humans seem to be unable to understand the world without splitting it into two: liberals vs conservatives, yes vs no, 1 vs 0, the visible vs invisible, smart vs not, attractive vs not - the list goes on. And we have to fight hard against ourselves to not dichotomize things because we're taught that there are more gradations and nuances than we think there are. Still though for topics that we come to understand better over time, we recursively binarize as the depth of our knowledge tree grows.

One binarization that I think is safe to assert as a legitimate split is backed by a biological fact about humans that most reasonable people tend to believe about our species - the presence of our eyes. Our eyes do really exist, because if they didn't hold some form of reality, how would you even be reading this in the first place? And because they exist we can say that they have some sort of function, which is to let you see things. And because you can see things hopefully we can come to agreement that yes there are possibly things that you won't be able to see.

Descartes asked about the reality of the things he could see because if a God were to exist he could be or not be benevolent enough to trick him into seeing things that didn't actually exist. This is in fact a valid concern - the things that you do see may or may not really exist. And of the things that you can see, some things might not actually be real. Unfortunately there's no way to empirically verifying the existence of things that you cannot see.

The fact though that we are cognizant the things that you cannot see is some nod to the existence of it. And by existence I'm not just talking about its physical manifestation but even the idea of it could be its existence. We actually say "although I cannot see something, that thing that I cannot see might actually have been related to what I saw." People have actually created models around this thing. They call the things that they cannot see latent and they give a nod to its existence with the word variable and you combine the two with "models" to give latent variable models.

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