I must confess to a vice: I have a ghoulish fascination for dysfunctional ideas. Sad to say some, like global warming denialism or racism can feel depressingly ubiquitous. Others are a tad more rarefied – like the occasional defenders of geocentrism. Yet the finest, most exotic of the misapplications of intelligence must be mathematical-crackpottery.
To push truly odd mathematical ideas takes real skill and perseverance. First of all it is hard to find the space which encompasses enough people to know enough about the area of maths you are disputing to understand what you are disputing, yet not so much about the topic to see why you are talking nonsense.
One of the longest running blogs cataloguing and debunking examples of bad maths is Mark Chu-Carroll’s Good Maths – Bad Maths blogs: http://www.goodmath.org/blog/
It has been around for some time, originally on Science Blogs, then at Scientopia and now self-hosting. He has been debunking in good humour some very, very odd ideas.
Here is an extract from a 2010 post which amused me: http://www.goodmath.org/blog/2010/11/16/grandiose-crackpottery-proves-pi4/
Someone recently sent me a link to a really terrific crank. This guy really takes the cake. Seriously, no joke, this guy is the most grandiose crank that I’ve ever seen, and I doubt that it’s possible to top him. He claims, among other things, to have:
- Demonstrated that every mathematician since (and including) Euclid was wrong;
- Corrected the problems with relativity;
- Turned relativity into a unification theory by proving that magnetism is part of the relativistic gravitational field;
- Shown that all of gravitational/orbital dynamics is completely, utterly wrong; and, last but not least:
- proved that the one true correct value of pi is exactly 4.
I’m going to focus on the last one – because it’s the simplest illustration of both his own comical insanity, of of the fundamental error underlying all of his rubbish.
Ah, Miles Mathis, the pi equals 4 guy. To be fair, Mathis was trying to be provocative and his claim was more specifically about pi equaling 4 when circular motion was involved. Yet it is still nonsense and as Mark Chu-Carroll says, very grandiose nonsense.
The guy in question really does need to be read to be believed, and I’m willing to entertain the idea that it is a very clever spoof or very complex humour. Take this piece on his various enemies: http://milesmathis.com/david.html
This post will be an ongoing reply to selected critiques of my new book, The Un-unified Field. The first negative review of the book has just been posted at Amazon UK, so I take this as the beginning of my science counter-critiques. I have been looking forward to this moment, as many can imagine. I am already well-known—some might say notorious—for my counter-critiques on my art site. For almost a decade I have been making the current art critics look very bad. Using Whistler as my model, I have responded directly to the various writings of the status quo, taking on all the big names, including Greenberg, Saltz, Schjeldahl, Hughes, Danto, Carey, and Hickey. But until now my science site has been a different sort of beast. I have attacked physics and physicists, not science critics. I have written and published science papers, not polemics. Yes, my science papers contain a bit of polemics, but I could never have included them in a folder titled “counter-criticism.” I have not only been criticizing science, I have been doing science. I have not just analyzed, I have corrected and predicted. Now, however, I able to use my polemical skills, sharpened by a decade of art fights, in the field of physics. If these science critics had bothered to read any of my art or science papers, beyond “a passing glance here and there,” they might not have stuck their necks out. But they have stuck their necks out and will continue to, of course, and this will provide me (and perhaps you) with decades of new fun.
I can’t help feel like I’m reading a mish-mash of both John C Wright and Vox Day but with an extra dose of grandiloquence.
Speaking of Vox Day…
…over at my new favourite encyclopedia…
There are various edits going on at Voxopedia. A lot of it is alt-right PC renaming of things, removing CE from dates and putting AD back in, swapping out “pro-choice” for “abortion legalization”. There seems to be lots of minor edits on topics related to Croatia but…aside from Castalia House related things not much in the way of new pages.
However, one of the more prolific editors “Rectified” has been working on some new content – content that wouldn’t make it into Wikipedia.
Ladies and gentlemen: The Miles Mathis page! http://infogalactic.com/info/Miles_Mathis
I have seen the future of the big fork!
As El Sandifer has pointed out, the encylopedia lacks a decent user base. Of the user it has picked up only a small proportion are editing. Because most topics already have entries (from Wikipedia) all the ‘fun’ work has been done. What is left is the drudgery of keeping the thing up to date.
But then what? Well, the Mathis page shows the way. The alt-right hangers on (or perhaps the alt-right internet constituency) is not just frustrated by leftwing gatekeepers but any and all gatekeepers. Wikipedia is hated not just because of some progressive choices when it comes to naming things or deleting topics but because it constrains behaviour. Specifically it constrains the behaviour of privileged brats and that kind of constraint (not just from Wikipedia but in general) is targeted by alt-right angst.
So Voxopedia has notability guidelines but thos guidelines will be used (at some point in the future…) to rank pages. Hence, a Miles Mathis biography page can be a thing. Not only that but there doesn’t seem to be any rules against editing/creating a page on yourself.*
So here is a future for “Infogalactic” if it last – a vanity encyclopedia not just for Vox but for Vox’s followers.