Decolonisation in South America-2

July 2nd, 2015

Became an honorary member of the the Institute of Complex Thought at the University Ricardo Palma. Good to know that they want to try the 5-day course on calculus.

Institute of Complex Thought

University Ricardo Palma

University Ricardo Palma

Decolonisation in South America-1

July 2nd, 2015

A few years ago, when a friend, Jorge Ishizawa from Lima, asked for a copy of my book Cultural Foundations of Mathematics, I wondered what he would do with it. (I sent it, but it bounced back.) On a recent visit to Peru, I had a conversation with people at his organization PRATEC, which works with traditional Andean knowledge.  Interestingly, many of them were aware of my work.

Found out that Bolivia has a full-fledged Ministry for Decolonisation! India should have one too!

At PRATEC

Participants

Group photo

MIT Talk: Calculus the real story

May 19th, 2015

The abstract of my talk at MIT differs from my presentation, posted at http://ckraju.net/papers/presentations/MIT.pdf.

The point I made in the talk was that MIT teaches calculus and trigonometry wrongly. This is just because Europeans failed to understand the mathematics they imported from India. For example, the very words “trigonometry”, “zero”, “surd”, “sine”, indicate European conceptual mistakes and failure to understand imported Indian mathematics. We should therefore not blindly copy the MIT MOOC courses, but teach calculus differently, contrary to the recommendation made by Sam Pitroda.

A video of the question and answer session would hopefully soon be online.

Raju’s paradox: all formal mathematicians are fools

May 12th, 2015

For almost two decades now, I have been pointing out that formal mathematics (and much Western philosophy) is based on the false belief that proof based on two valued logic (”deduction”) is “superior” to empirical proof (”induction”). This belief is NOT universal (e.g. Indian mathematicians used empirical proofs, e.g. Buddhists used a different logic), it is NOT empirically certain (e.g. quantum logic), it is anchored in Crusading myth (e.g. there was no “Euclid”, and the book Elements begins with an EMPIRICAL proof, and ends with an EMPIRICAL proof of the “Pythagorean” “theorem”). Formalism, the prevailing philosophy of mathematics, arose from an attempt to “save” that rotten myth that Westerners did something “superior” in math. This math has religious roots in bad Crusading theology (Aquinas’ bowdlerization of al Ghazali that logic binds God). All this mythology and theology has NOTHING to do with any practical application of mathematics, mostly done on computers today, and can be safely eliminated (e.g. using zeroism) without diminishing the practical value of math by an iota. Doing so makes math easy, and actually improves science. That is, it leads to a truly superior math.

At a recent conference in Vizag, I even tried to initiate a public discussion on this, which mathematicians have avoided so far. However, a discussion did take place, and the draft minutes are posted at http://ckraju.net/issa/conversation-draft-minutes.html.

In a more recent conversation with an award-winning formal mathematician, I was asked to give a concrete example of how formal mathematics can lead to wrong conclusions. I have already given examples such as the Banach-Tarski paradox, but they involve technicalities. So, here is a simple example.

Theorem: All formal mathematicians are fools.

Proof. Step 1. If Schrodinger’s cat is both alive and dead then all mathematicians are fools. (Instance of the tautology hence theorem of 2-valued logic that “A and not-A implies B”, where A and B are any propositions whatsoever.)

Step 2. It is an empirical fact that Schrodinger’s cat is both alive and dead. (More precisely, the cat is a macrophysical metaphor for an electron in the two-slit diffraction experiment: the electron both passes through a given slit 1 (A), and does not pass through it, i.e., passes through slit 2 (not-A). For more details see The Eleven Pictures of Time.)

Step 3. Therefore, all formal mathematicians are fools. (By modus ponens.)

QED

Buddhism and science on Ambedkar jayanti

April 14th, 2015

Recently I participated in a panel on science and religion in the Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology. The students who were brought up indoctrinated with Western stories of the conflict between science and religion were dumbfounded when I asked the following question. If science and religion were at war, why then did the church bring science to India? For the manifest fact, contrary to the story of a conflict between science and church, is that the best science colleges in India are still mostly church institutions. The students appreciated it, though it is hard for them to get out of the mental frame imposed by the story. Hopefully, it will set some of them thinking about the use of scientific authority to impose church dogmas.

There was little time to explain it during the panel, but Buddhism accepts only the two principles of pramana (proof): namely, pratyaksa (empirically manifest) and anumana (inference). Those two means of proof are also the basis of (real) science. Specifically, Buddhism rejects authority-based proofs, such as the authority of editors of Western scientific journals, based on secretive refereeing, and their ranking system. Buddhists point out that authority must either be manifest or based on inference. Therefore, what possible source of conflict can there be between Buddhism and (real) science?

Clearly, the only source of conflict is similar to that between science in theory, and science as practised, for science in practice relies heavily on authority, such as editorial authority. It also relies on secrecy (such as secretive refereeing) to preserve authorised knowledge in the manner of the church. Finally, most people cannot judge the validity of science on their own and rely on stories about who can be trusted, and who not. Naturally, they get taken for a ride.

There are other differences. Thus, for example, ethics is an important aspect of Buddhism. (Those interested in seeing how Buddhist ethics relate to present day science may like to see my paper on “Harmony Principle”, in Philosophy East and West and elsewhere.) Practising scientists, however, often disregard ethics. A whole lot of Nobel prizes were given to people who participated in the Manhattan project and then coolly washed their hands off the blood of millions affected by the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The same thing can be said of medical practitioners today who are almost totally sold out to the pharmaceutical companies, and care little for patients. Thus, practising scientists are required to be loyal to their masters, the state or capital, and suppress ethical objections.

Though there is no conflict between Buddhism and real science, there can be a conflict between Buddhism and science as it exists, because of intrusion of church dogmas in the content of present-day science and mathematics. I have commented on this intrusion of dogma into science in the context of Stephen Hawking, in the my paper on Science and Islam, and in the public debate with a Christian evangelist with a PhD from Cambridge, intent on turning the classroom into a pulpit. In all cases, the attempt was to use the authority of science to impose dogmas of Christian theology, as in claims about eternal laws of nature, or “causality” (meaning mechanistic causality), or Hawking’s singularities interpreted to suit creationism. The above paper on the harmony principle also briefly indicates why the correct scientific position is not mechanistic causality but very similar to conditioned coorigination (that the future co-originates, conditioned by the past, but not decided by it). That is also the central Buddhist principle of paticca samuppada. Read the rest of this entry »

Dalits and Science in India: Aryabhata on Ambedkar jayanti

April 14th, 2015

Some months ago, I was invited to Patna for a meeting organized by Sanjay Paswan, dalit leader and former Union Minister of State for HRD. Unfortunately, I had to cancel the visit at the last minute, but wrote a short account of my speech. The speech was a response to Sanjay Paswan’s learned book Cultural Nationalism and Dalit which makes the point that the conditions for lower castes were not so oppressive in pre-colonial times. He has documented numerous cases of famous lower-caste religious figures from the ancient Valmiki to Kabir and Ravidas. Of course, he includes Dharmpal’s point about the prominence of dalit teachers and students in pre-colonial education according to British statistics. The same thesis is illustrated by Sri Narayana Guru.

This thesis is important. My point is that the thesis is a priori credible, for. when Buddhism flourished, in India, or, later, when there were many powerful Islamic rulers, it would have been easy for dalits to opt out of the caste system by converting. This was what Ambedkar emphasized when he proclaimed that he was born a Hindu but would not die one. Therefore, also, he converted to Buddhism and urged other dalits to do so. Therefore, also, there should not be a law against conversion, since that would be anti-dalit.

In my planned speech, apart from putting this forward, I also thought of extending the thesis argued by Sanjay Paswan by pointing out that famous dalits included scientific figures like Aryabhata, not only religious one’s. That Aryabhata was dalit is clear from his name Aryabhata, often misspelled as Aryabhatta. As any Sanskrit dictionary will confirm, bhata refers to a slave, a soldier etc., while bhatta is the title of a learned Brahmin. Thus, the misspelling changes Aryabhata from a dalit to a Brahmin. In some cases this misspelling may be due to sheer ignorance, but in some cases it is surely due to mischief, as I pointed out many years ago.

Since I had written out my speech, on “Dalits and Vigyan”, but could not present it, I sent it to a couple of newspapers and magazines. Read the rest of this entry »

Teach religiously neutral math

October 24th, 2014

My article published today in The Hindu, was heavily abbreviated. The more detailed original article in about 1200 words is easier to understand. The petition to teach religiously neutral math, and related material is already on this blog. A draft of a more detailed paper on “Eternity and Infinity” delineating how the West misunderstood Indian math, and its consequences for science today is also posted online for those who want to go into depth about the connections of present-day formal math to church theology on the one hand, and its failures in present-day science on the other. Imitating the West in mathematics is bad idea.

Hindu article 24 October 2014

As for actual alternatives in math education, my experiments with my decolonised course on calculus have already been reported in scholarly articles such as

Teaching math with a different philosophy 1 and

Teaching math with a different philosophy 2

Columbus day: a celebration of genocide

October 24th, 2014

My article on the claim that Vasco “discovered” India. On the religious and legal “Doctrine of Christian Discovery” any land belongs to the first Christian to sight it whose Christian duty it is to murder or enslave the original inhabitants. That is what happened in the Americas and Australia, but that is a genocide we celebrate not condemn. The original article, and the one published in Nai Dunia, with changes below.

Nai Dunia article 13 October 2014

A partial (but documented) English version has appeared online in Frontier Weekly as The “discovery” of India (part 1).

Nothing Vedic in Vedic maths: response to comments

September 6th, 2014

My article in The Hindu, 3 Sep 2014, received 214 comments and 4.3k Facebook Likes.
Hindu article thumbnail

Here are my responses. (A separate response in Hindi to Dinanath Batra’s associate’s comments on my Jansatta article in Hindi of 10 Aug 2014 is given below.)

  1. Abuse. Some people have turned abusive and chanted abuses like mantras! Funnily, their abuses are always the same, no matter what the critique! After working on decolonisation for the last 4 years, and mentioning the use of Indian ganita in the above articles, it is excessively funny to be accused of being a follower of Macaulay! Pathetic. These abusers have an equally pathetic knowledge of Hinduism, and hence are its worst enemies, not its owners, as they claim, for they confuse the fakes for the real stuff. (Incidentally, I have also given what is possibly the strongest possible scientific basis for Upanishadic philosophy, relating it to scientific and refutable notions of time,[1] but it is beyond even their leaders.) Anyway, such ignorance of the purva paksa (the critique) permanently disqualifies these abusers from being taken seriously, according to the Nyaya sutra.
  2. It is ancient hence it is Vedic.
    1. Wrong! Ancient does not mean Vedic. Buddhism, Jainism, and Lokayata are also ancient, but all reject the Veda as a means of knowledge. Lokayata said that Brahmins are hypocrites. Is that also Vedic knowledge!? If not, the claim “vedic = ancient” is just a second lie invented to “save” the first (claim of “Vedic” math). A third lie is now needed to “save” the second one! (Note that Lokayata are Hindus on present-day tax laws, or the Indian census.)
    2. Besides, how do we know it is ancient? What is the pramana? Our source (Krishna Tirtha) is recent. He hid his real sources, obviously for a good reason. If they were really ancient, why did no one else mention them in so many thousands of years? How do we even know this system is Indian in origin?
    3. The article pointed out that the usual algorithms are Indian in origin (unknown to Krishna Tirtha and his followers), and based on the place value system which can be traced to the Veda. They are definitely Vedic. Why abandon the real Vedic for the fake Vedic?
  3. It is useful for CAT etc.It is a very narrow and colonial vision of education that imagines that education is intended only to pass competitive exams The real social use of mathematics is on the frontiers of science and technology, where the mental arithmetic of “Vedic” math is irrelevant.
  4. Caste and Shakuntala Devi. Read the rest of this entry »

Decolonisation of education (Math, science, and History and philosophy of science) links

June 4th, 2014

New videos

Here is a link to a video interview (over 9 hours) with Claude Alvares on a variety of issues concerning decolonisation of education. This has been posted by Multiversity TV, and I should have posted it long ago on my blog.

Preview

http://tvmultiversity.blogspot.in/2014/02/c-k-raju-interviewed-by-claude-alvares.html

History and Philosophy of Science

Part 5 of the above video series has interviews with students of the new “decolonised” course on History and Philosophy of Science (HPS). Some details of the new course, pictures of students etc. were earlier posted on this blog at

http://ckraju.net/blog/?p=89

The genesis of the HPS curriculum, the international conference which preceded it, and minutes of discussion at Universiti Sains Malaysia are posted at

http://ckraju.net/blog/?p=73

The actual curriculum of the courses which ran at AiU are posted at

HPS-1

http://ckraju.net/hps-aiu/History-and-Philosophy-of-Science-curriculum.pdf

HPS-2

http://ckraju.net/hps2-aiu/HPS-2-syllabus.pdf

Math education

As for math education, my experiments with my decolonised course on calculus have already been reported in scholarly articles such as

Read the rest of this entry »