Thursday, March 10, 2005

Gödel, Original Sin, and Sausage...

Jordan Ellenberg (he of the countably infinite reading list) has a nice Slate review of a new book about Gödel's theorem (Incompleteness, by Rebecca Goldstein). He makes the important point that the incompleteness theorem did not have the cataclysmic effect on modern mathematics that non-mathematicans were under the impression it does. All it does is destroy a
"Communist takeover of mathematics" in which individuality and intuition would be subjugated, for the common good, to logical rules.
This tidbit is funny.
Yet, Gödel is routinely deployed by people with antirationalist agendas as a stick to whack any offending piece of science that happens by. A typical recent article, "Why Evolutionary Theories Are Unbelievable," claims, "Basically, Gödel's theorems prove the Doctrine of Original Sin, the need for the sacrament of penance, and that there is a future eternity."
To that, I have only one response: the Sacred Sausage Invocation. Amen.

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