11 December 2009

2+2 is NOT 4. . .unless The Party says it is. (UPDATED)

Mathematician discovers that the laws of physics, the truths of math, and the non-existence of God are all determined by a majority vote of tenured faculty of the relevant academic departments.

And here we thought "2 + 2 = 4" was settled math. 

My 5th grade math teacher, Ms Baker owes me an apology!  And a better grade!!

This sort of nonsense is what happens when otherwise intelligent people drink the postmodernist Kool-aid of anti-realism.  In my days working in a psych hospital, we called this "delusional hallucinations of grandeur brought on by narcissistic psychosis."

UPDATE:  You can read about the violence done to the pursuit of scientific truth by PoMo theory in Fashionable Nonsense:  Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science.

The book recounts the following:  "In 1996, an article entitled 'Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity' was published in the cultural studies journal Social Text. Packed with recherch√© quotations from 'postmodern' literary theorists and sociologists of science, and bristling with imposing theorems of mathematical physics, the article addressed the cultural and political implications of the theory of quantum gravity. Later, to the embarrassment of the editors, the author revealed that the essay was a hoax, interweaving absurd pronouncements from eminent intellectuals about mathematics and physics with laudatory--but fatuous--prose."


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. 2 + 2 = 4, but Frank J. Tipler is a purveyor of crackpot theories, according to which theology is a branch of physics.

  3. Oh yea, he wrote The Physics of Christianity...I had forgotten about that...oh well.

  4. Andy P.6:40 PM

    I think that the "Fashionable Nonsense" bit was more a black mark on the humanities than on the sciences. I'm an academic mathematician, and most of my colleagues absolutely sneer at the pomo nonsense that comes from the humanities departments.

  5. Andy, though scientists are right to sneer to the pomo junk that poisons the humanities, scientists have a tendency--IMHO--of seeing the world through decidedly narrow lenses...at all, of course, but some the followers of Scientism are notorious fundamentalists!

    Fortunately, just as scientists are finding a nice working balance between the theoretical and the experimental in scientific realism, a lot of humanities folks are finding a balance in hermeneutics.

  6. 2+2 = whatever my calculator says it is!! I paid a LOT of money for this TI 85 (back in 1993) and dammit it'd better be right!!

  7. Mom, under a certain oppressive hierarchical regime of objective rhetoric that demands black/white "answer" to complex questions, it is "right." "Right" for you, anyway.

  8. Just a question only slightly related, there is a lot of talk about this quantum theory. I feel a bit embarrest saying that I am an engeneer and don't know anything about it.

    Is there anything concise which gives the important back bones so at least I can judge I'd people throw in the term if they know what they are talking about? It has to be concise enough though as it should distract me too much from my Philosophical studies....


  9. Br. Luuk, Polkinghorne has a book on QT titled, "The Quantum World." There is a book titled, "A Very Short Introduction to Quantum Physics."

    Good luck!