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June 21, 2016 | 16 Comments

University Drops Math, May Add Diversity Requirement


“How much is the cube root of -169?”

“Race is a social construct and quotas must exist to increase the proportion of people of color.”

“Correct. Question two: Describe the law of cosines.”

“Sodomy is healthy, and those who engage in it should have demonstrations of Pride.”

“Correct! Congratulations! You have just passed Wayne State University’s new mandatory Diversity of Math Requirement. Go forth now into the world fully prepared as one indoctrinated in the State’s official religion.”

Headline of today’s post is not wrong: “Wayne State Drops Math Requirement, May Add Diversity Requirement“. It’s not yet a done deal, and the bracing air of sanity might yet waft through the hallowed halls of Wayne State. But don’t bet on it.

“We are proposing the creation of specific ‘Diversity’ courses, with students required to take one course in this designation,” said a document from the General Education Reform Committee…

The committee report said, “These courses will provide opportunities for students to explore diversity at the domestic level and consider the ways in which it intersects with real world challenges at the local, national and/or global level.”

Now there’s nothing like exploring diversity at the domestic level, though some of us still prefer it in the wild. But eliminate math?

In announcing the change in mathematics, the university said, “This decision was made largely because the current (math) requirement is at a level already required by most high school mathematics curriculum.”

Committee co-chair Monica Brockmeyer…added, “We still continue to support mathematics at Wayne State.”

By “support” she means “set aside”, but then English isn’t a high priority at Wayne State either. One paper reports Brockmeyer skims $176,760 a year from Wayne’s coffers, and it would be both scurrilous and unwarranted to suggest she wants students ignorant of math so that they don’t see how preposterously large this number is.

The committee’s proposal for the new curriculum recommended replacing the math requirement with a quantitative requirement and creating “quantitative experience courses.”

“Professor Brockmeyer? I feel, like, that numbers, like, are hard?”

“You have just Experienced the Quantitative, dear student. Go in peace.”

Even if it’s true that students arrive at Wayne teeming with a lot of news about the binomial theorem, which they aren’t, they are positively leaking with the Diversity that’s been crammed into them since birth. So in order to squeeze more Diversity into their fragile, sensitive minds, which is a goal most noble, it’s going to take more than removing mathematics. We must attack this problem with all the enthusiasm of a Jungian lobotomist.

Mathematics is intertwined so closely with Science that the two are inseparable, which makes choosing to eliminate physics, chemistry, and the like easy. Besides, doubtless operating via contemplation of Diversity, governments are defining Science these days, and suggesting it should be illegal to dissent from its definitions, which eliminates the need for any but token scientists. Anyway, too much of science and math are stained white and drenched in testosterone. Definitely not Diverse.

And then the same charges of non-Diverse manly Caucasianity are justly leveled at English, Western History, Theater, Music, Philosophy, and so on. These would have to go: nothing but their elimination would be fair to Diverse non-white, non-males. I mean, after you cut Aristotle, Anselm, Albertus Magnus, Aquinas, Augustine, Anaxgora—and these are just the ‘A’s!—and other demographically challenged philosophers, who is left?

I’ll tell you. People like Barbara L. Whitten, who would shoulder aside inclined planes and resistors wired in parallel and have students study “Feminist Physics“. She said, “My feminist training has taught me that science is a socially constructed artifact of human culture.” Well, and so it is. And so is Diversity. Which, though, is better?

Diversity, of course. There is no other possible answer.

A reminder: the only solution is to nuke universities from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

Update Friend of the blog sent this:

June 20, 2016 | 22 Comments

Infinity & Probability: A Return To The Finite


There is a discussion of infinity and an argument to return to the discrete and finite in my upcoming book Uncertainty: The Soul of Modeling, Probability & Statistics. Infinity is a wonderful thing, but we can’t know it well enough to assign probabilities to infinite states. Also, all the paradoxes of probability occur because of misunderstanding infinity.

The latter is not surprising because infinity is a big place. So big that you can’t know or even conceive of its full nature.

(Incidentally, I returned the page proofs yesterday, and only learned of Tegmark’s remarks this morning, so that in the book’s second edition, I’ll have to expand my argument. Anyway, the book is good: after setting it aside for a couple of months I was shocked that I had written it: parts of it, and there are weaknesses, positively look like an adult wrote them. I JUST SAW THIS: looks like 22 July is release date.)

Now probability is purely epistemology, a proposition which I prove (as in prove) in the book (and which I don’t have space here to defend). Since epistemology is a matter of our thoughts, and our capacity for thought is not infinite, and though we can speak of the infinite and knows of its existence, or existences, since there are different kinds of infinity, we cannot assign probabilities to infinite possibilities.

Yes, we can write equations that sort of assign probabilities to the infinite. A normal distribution tries, for instance. But a normal distribution has nothing to do with reality (I prove this, too). What we can know is discrete and finite. All (as in all) our measurements are discrete and finite. Thus all our probabilities should be discrete and finite, and the continuum only brought in as an approximation.

Enter Tegmark:

In an extremely interesting book, This Idea Must Die, in which many eminent thinkers describe scientific ideas they consider wrong-headed, the physicist Max Tegmark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argues that it is time to banish infinity from physics. While “most physicists and mathematicians have become so enamored with infinity that they rarely question it,” Tegmark writes, infinity is just “an extremely convenient approximation for which we haven’t discovered convenient alternatives.” Tegmark believes that we need to discover the infinity-free equations describing the true laws of physics.

Amen, amen, and amen.

Such infinity-free equations exist, and I show some. It turns out in probability that you do not need parameters if you stick with reality-based measurements, which is to say with the discrete and finite; indeed, parameters are a consequence of intruding infinities. With no parameters, there is no need for estimation or hypothesis testing (Bayes or frequentist). These ideas are out the window! Instead, we are left with pure probability. Instead of speaking of the infinite, we speak (in science) of only that what can be observed (in principle, of course), and what can be observed can only be discrete and finite. (I do not say that kinds of infinity cannot exist. God, for instance, is a kind of infinity and exists. I do say we cannot know the mind of God.)

Eliminating infinity eliminates paradox, and it whacks crudities such as “flat” priors over the continuum, which is an infinity much, much, much larger than the ordinary, banal counting infinity, 1, 2, 3, … It’s so large that all we really can do is prove it exists. We can’t even get an understanding of all the numbers stuffed into [0, 1], let alone the entire “real” (ha!) line. So why think we can think of probabilities for each possibility in the continuum?

Answer: we cannot, which is why these things are called “improper” priors, which means everybody knows they’re not probabilities at all. They’re only used because they make the math work out. (And their proofs of utility involve infinite sequences, which I hope you can see are circular arguments.)

Tegmark’s original article is here.

In the past, many venerable mathematicians expressed skepticism towards infinity and the continuum. The legendary Carl Friedrich Gauss denied that anything infinite really existed, saying “Infinity is merely a way of speaking” and “I protest against the use of infinite magnitude as something completed, which is never permissible in mathematics.” In the past century, however, infinity has become mathematically mainstream, and most physicists and mathematicians have become so enamored with infinity that they rarely question it. Why?

The answer (the same in probability) is “infinity is an extremely convenient approximation, for which we haven’t discovered convenient alternatives.” These alternatives, as I said, exist.

Here is where probability comes in, though Tegmark doesn’t mention it directly:

Let’s face it: despite their seductive allure, we have no direct observational evidence for either the infinitely big or the infinitely small…If space is a true continuum, then to describe even something as simple as the distance between two points requires an infinite amount of information, specified by a number with infinitely many decimal places.


June 19, 2016 | 6 Comments

Summary Against Modern Thought: Matter Doesn’t Always Matter

This may be proved in three ways. The first...
This may be proved in three ways. The first…
See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

Just a small point today, though there’s real meat in paragraph 5.

Chapter 40 That matter is not the first cause of the distinction of things (alternate translation)

1 FURTHERMORE, it is evident from the foregoing that the distinction of things is not on account of a diversity of matter as its first cause. For nothing determinate can proceed from matter except by chance: because matter is in potentiality to many things, of which if only one were to result, it must needs be that this happens in the minority of cases, and such is that which happens by chance, especially if we remove the intention of an agent. Now it was proved that the distinction of things is not from chance. It follows therefore that it is not on account of a diversity of matter, as its first cause.

Notes Remember, chance here does not mean a real thing, but in the sense of a unknown (or unintended) cause or causes.

2 Again. Those things which result from the intention of an agent, are not on account of matter as their first cause. For an active cause precedes matter in acting: because matter does not become an actual cause except in so far as it is moved by an agent. Wherefore if an effect is consequent upon a disposition of matter and the intention of an agent, it does not result from matter as its first cause. For this reason we find that those things which are referable to matter as their first cause, are beside the intention of the agent; for instance monsters and other mischances of nature.

But the form results from the intention of the agent. This is proved thus. The agent produces its like according to its form, and if sometimes this fails, it is from chance on account of a defect in the matter. Therefore forms do not result from a disposition of matter as their first cause; on the contrary, matters are disposed in such a way that such may be their forms. Now the specific distinction of things is according to their forms. Therefore the distinction of things is not on account of the diversity of matter as its first cause.

Notes Monsters! If you’re creating a sculpture and the stone has a flaw which cracks the work at an intended point, this is a defect in matter. Dysgenic mutations, too.

3 Moreover. The distinction of things cannot result from matter except in those which are made from pre-existing matter. Now many things are distinguished from one another which cannot be made from pre-existing matter: for instance, the celestial bodies, which have no contrary, as their movement shows. Therefore the diversity of matter cannot be the first cause of the distinction of things.

Notes Well, the science is not quite right here, but the argument isn’t dependent on stars. Think instead “virtual” particles popping into existence in the vacuum.

4 Again. Whatever things having a cause of their being are distinct from one another, have a cause of their distinction: because a thing is made a being according as it is made one, undivided in itself and distinct from others. Now if matter, by its diversity, is the cause of the distinction of things, we must suppose that matters are in themselves distinct. Moreover it is evident that every matter has being from something else, since it was proved above that everything, that is in any way whatsoever, is from God. Therefore something else is the cause of distinction in matters: and consequently the first cause of the distinction of things cannot be a diversity of matter.

Notes If molecules are made of atoms, and atoms quarks, and quarks strings, and strings whatever, then eventually we must bottom out at a first cause of being. That cause cannot be nothing.

5 Again. Since every intellect acts for the sake of good, it does not produce a better thing for the sake of an inferior thing: and it is the same with nature. Now all things proceed from God Who acts by His intellect, as stated above. Therefore inferior things proceed from God for the sake of better things, and not vice versa.

But form is more noble than matter, since it is its perfection and act. Therefore He does not produce such and such forms for the sake of such and such matters, but rather He produced such and such matters that there might be such and such forms. Therefore the specific distinction in things, which is according to their form, is not on account of their matter: but on the contrary matters were created diverse, that they might be suitable for diverse forms.

Notes What a remarkable argument! The distinction must be in logical priority. If matter is required for forms to exist, then since prime matter has no form, both must be created simultaneously, though matter must be logically prior to form.

6 Hereby is excluded the opinion of Anaxagoras, who postulated an infinite number of material principles, which at first were mixed together in one confused mass, but which an intellect subsequently separated, thus establishing a distinction among things: as well as the opinions of any who held the distinction of things to be the result of various material principles.

June 18, 2016 | 27 Comments

Facebook All Video: The Disappearance Of Words


I was, like, I can’t even. I mean, it’s like something isn’t right. I feel, like, it isn’t right? Like, removing, like, words? It’s so, like, strange. I was all, “Facebook, like, turning to an all, like, all-video format is, like, going to, like, further make people, like, not read and everything?”

It’s only a coincidence, I suppose, that Facebook’s method of signaling is the ‘Like’ button.

In five years time Facebook “will be definitely mobile, it will be probably all video,” said Nicola Mendelsohn, who heads up Facebook’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at a conference in London this morning.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has already noted that video will be more and more important for the platform. But Mendelsohn went further, suggesting that stats showed the written word becoming all but obsolete, replaced by moving images and speech.

“The best way to tell stories in this world, where so much information is coming at us, actually is video,” Mendelsohn said. “It conveys so much more information in a much quicker period. So actually the trend helps us to digest much more information.”

No, it doesn’t. Mendelsohn (and Zuckerberg), if they really believe such a thing and aren’t bloviating, are wrong—and they’re wrong if they’re bloviating, too. And not only wrong, and not only preposterously wrong, but stupefyingly preposterously wrong. With some exceptions, such as conveying information in a painting or showing the positions of the mangled cars in a crash, video does not convey “much more information in a much quicker period” than reading.

You can read these words faster than you can listen to them. Too, you can re-read them much faster than re-watching them, which involves making a device go backwards and then forwards again; whereas your eyes can do the same trick in an instant.

Imagine watching a video of somebody reading Spengler’s The Decline of the West. Not only would the audience spend many more hours assimilating the material than readers, who again can not only read, but re-read (a necessity with this book) faster than watch, they would also fail to see the irony in their act of listening to what was meant to be read confirms the thesis of what they should have been reading.

If you don’t like that example, feeling man’s journey is essentially one of progress and any book which dares to disagree isn’t worth reading, then feast your eyes upon any math of physics text, or a book of history written by any author prior to the Twentieth Century. Videos of the same won’t cut it.

The comparisons aren’t entirely fair, I admit. Facebook is a “platform” for flummery, foolishness, families, and felines, subjects which are not content rich. Videos suffice. This may be why Facebook censors content which leads to written discussions.

Anyway, the non-reading trend is only being embraced by that dismal company; it did not create the trend. For instance, a librarian at a major university confirmed that students who amble down to the “learning center” do not do so to read books, but to engage with their “devices” in a pleasant setting. Of course, textbooks, with their colorful sensationalism and textual pablum, discourage any but the most ardent seeker of knowledge. Educational theory has been discouraging real books for some time, which accounts for much including the hideousness of textbooks.

Casual reading has been decreasing for some time, and this has led to what was written to be simplified, and that led to speech which is less descriptive and more demonstrative, and that leads to people unwilling to read better books, which leads to what’s being written to be simplified, and so on.

Like, am I right?