Monday, April 21, 2014

2 + 2 = 4

The MOST disturbing thing about this Wikipedia article is that it does not describe the Indiana Pi Bill as the only attempt to establish mathematical truth by legislative fiat, nor does it describe it as an attempt, but rather as one of many, and not just one of many but as one of the most famous of such attempts!

That means not only have there have been other such attempts, which should be chilling enough, but that notoriety of such attempts has not sufficed to deter other such notorious tries by legislators to establish mathematics by decree.   Any notion of progress must pre-suppose the human ability to learn from past mistakes, and the first sentence of this Wikipedia Entry pretty much bludgeons that notion to a very bloody pulp.

Plato tried to moderate the tyrant of Sicily by teaching him geometry. I have not yet read the Seventh Letter, but I'd like to think that Plato tried by teaching him geometry to show the tyrant that there are truths that are true independent of his fiat and thereby lead him to the conclusion that because he cannot control everything, he should not try to rule everything.

Winston Smith had it right: The most threatening thing to any tyranny is the declaration of the freedom to say two and two make four.

You got that, Glen Carbon Police Department?!

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