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 »

MH 370: My take

April 1st, 2014

MH 370 has been in the news for some time, so I expressed my views on a visit to Penang, and this led to a press conference the next day.

The press has been harping on human factors, terrorists, hijacking by hacking, pilot suicide and all sorts of exotic theories. The terrorist theory was clearly wrong from day one: why should someone intending to kill himself want a fake passport? Hijacking or hacking also does not fit the facts: else there should have been some related demands by now. It is important to understand the correct causes to prevent a recurrence of this tragedy.

The most likely possibility is a failure of technology, not human error. Very likely there was structural failure and an explosive decompression. What would the pilot do in that case? He would turn back to Malaysia (hoping to land), and would dive down (aiming to get oxygen back in the cabin, not to evade radar). [Why would a pilot intent on suicide turn back and fly across Malaysia, that too while trying to avoid radar?] Clearly, despite his heroic attempts, the pilot and passengers must have succumbed to hypoxia and hypothermia very quickly.

At this stage some people with pitiful faith in technology ask  what about the oxygen masks? Obviously they also failed. If the plane cracks open, the oxygen tank and pipelines too can get torn apart. A known example where the oxygen supply failed is the case of Helios flight 522 of 14 Aug 2005  (a Boeing 737), in which all passengers and crew died, and which continued its zombie flight until crash, despite jets being scrambled to intercept it.

There is a wrong expectation that the plane would have disintegrated into bits and fallen on the spot. Even if the aircraft suffers explosive decompression, the plane can continue to fly and may even land safely as demonstrated by Aloha Airlines flight of 28 April 1988 in which explosive decompression tore out an 18 foot hole.

Obviously, in this case of MH-370 (a Boeing 777-200ER) after the failure of the oxygen supply and the quick onset of hypoxia, the plane presumably continued on auto pilot mode, like a ghost flight, like the Helios flight, until it ran out of fuel and fell into the sea.

Clearly, this theory explains all the known facts, and as of now, this is the only theory which explains all the facts.

Further, structural defects are a common occurrence. In fact, the Consumer Association Penang had complained in 2011 when the Southwest Airlines flight 812 of 1 April 2011 (again a Boeing 737)  was forced to make an emergency landing at a military airport, after suffering mid-air decompression. In a subsequent inspection a large number of aircraft showed up with cracks and metal fatigue.

Structural failure is  a common occurrence just because the aircraft body is designed to be as light as possible, and that is obviously not the same as saying it is as strong as possible or that it is as safe as possible. Further, an aircraft being expensive, airlines continue to use it for as long as possible, increasing the chances of corrosion and structural failure. Clearly consumers ought be informed about these compromises and by how much they increase the likelihood of sudden death in the air. They can then make an informed choice.

Given the above long list of demonstrated structural failures of Boeing aircraft, this possibility ought to be vigorously investigated as the lead possibility. Instead,  we are being offered all sorts of exotic explanations through the press, explanations which don’t at all fit the facts. What is being examined by the FBI is the computer of the pilot (who had a long and unblemished record), not the computers of the Boeing company. A colonised mentality? or something else?

There is a relation to the previous blog post. Many people felt outraged when a bomoh appeared at the airport to divine the location of the crash site. However, so many people blindly believe in experts. They do not see that in our present-day society experts are mostly caught in a conflict of interests which they rarely publicly declare. Therefore, there is no guarantee that aviation experts would tell the whole truth, especially if that truth hurts the very aviation industry to which their livelihood may be tied.  And if one is not oneself an expert how does one know that the expert is telling the whole truth (or even that he really is an expert)?  So, in a situation like this, blind belief in the unbiasedness of “experts”is just another superstition.

Here are the reports of the press conference.

Press conference

English

  1. http://www.fz.com/content/mh370-scientist-urges-checks-planes-metal-fatigue-technical-safety
  2. http://www.theantdaily.com/news/2014/03/31/mh370-indian-scientist-dismisses-hijacking-or-pilot-suicide-theory
  3. http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/258645
  4. A video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8V8gthtuGys&feature=youtube_gdata

Chinese

  1. http://ckraju.net/press/2014/MH370-Chinese-1.jpg
  2. http://ckraju.net/press/2014/MH370-Chinese-2.jpg
  3. http://ckraju.net/press/2014/MH370-Chinese-3.jpg
  4. http://ckraju.net/press/2014/MH370-Chinese-4.jpg
  5. http://ckraju.net/press/2014/MH370-Chinese-5.jpg
  6. http://ckraju.net/press/2014/MH370-Chinese-6.jpg

Press release

http://ckraju.net/press/2014/press-release-MH-370.html

Petition to teach religiously neutral math

January 15th, 2014

Petition is given below. To sign online go to:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/teach-religiously-neutral-mathematics

If you are convinced, do also SPREAD the word by forwarding this email to others.

Anyone who has children or grandchildren in school (or had a bad math experience in school) qualifies as a potential signatory, as does anyone who wants real independence.


1. Printable copy: http://ckraju.net/petition/Petition-to-teach-religiously-neutral-math.pdf
2. Detailed explanation: http://ckraju.net/petition/Math-petition-explanatory-note.pdf
3. List of relevant books, papers, news etc: http://ckraju.net/papers/Reading-list-on-history-philosophy-of-math.html

————Petition——————

To,

HRD Minister, Govt of India,
Ministers and Secretaries of Education of all Indian States,
Vice Chancellors of various universities,
Chairperson, NBHM,
Director, NCERT

Sub: Ensure that mathematics taught in public schools is religiously neutral.

Dear Minister/Secretary/Vice Chancellor/Chairperson/Director,

Colonial education served the interests of the coloniser, so it should have been critically reviewed after independence. Unfortunately, this was not done till now, and our education system still imitates the West. Uncritical imitation may be harmful. European universities were set up by the church and controlled by it for centuries. Long-term church control meant sustained pressure to make all knowledge theologically correct. So, religious biases are likely in Western knowledge.

Indeed, the accompanying note explains that this applies even to mathematics: mathematics developed differently in different cultures, but Europeans perceived it in religious terms relating to mathesis and eternal truth. As the note explains, most school mathematics, such as arithmetic, geometry, algebra, calculus, and probability, actually originated in the non-West and was imported into Europe for its practical value. However, Europeans attempted to make it theologically correct, and align the notion of infinity to the church notion of eternity. In the process, they turned mathematics into metaphysics and introduced elements of Christian dogma in it, so that there is a subtle religious bias in the way mathematics is taught in schools and universities today. Eliminating that religious bias does not affect any practical application of mathematics.

Teaching a religious bias through a compulsory subject in public schools is unconstitutional. Mathematics should be taught in public schools in a religiously-neutral way and for its practical value. Therefore, if the charge is right, the teaching of mathematics in schools must be changed forthwith. Mathematics is commonly regarded as a difficult subject, and the superfluous theological complexities in it may be the reason for that. We note that actual teaching experiments have been performed, in universities in various countries, to show that teaching mathematics, devoid of theological complexities, also makes it easy. If the charge were not right, then our educationists ought to have publicly refuted it long ago, since it has been published in 4 books, 32 scholarly articles and numerous newspapers, in various countries, for over a decade. The silence is strange.

This matter concerns millions of students each year, including our children or grandchildren about whose education we are deeply concerned. Accordingly, we feel that the issue must be decided in a transparent way. Usually, such decisions (regarding what mathematics to teach) are taken by experts. But to avoid a biased decision, the experts must be properly selected. The non-experts who select the experts must explain why they chose those experts. The customary practice is to select experts by blindly trusting Western endorsements and certifications, but that method is inappropriate in the present context of a critical review of colonial education, where the interests of the colonised and the coloniser may diverge fundamentally. Whose interests do these experts represent? This must be transparent, especially if there is no concrete evidence that these experts contributed to the welfare of people in India. Relying exclusively on Western certified experts just amounts to continuing the colonial system of requiring permission from the West for any change of policy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Infinity, math, physics, and metaphysics

June 14th, 2013

Can physics be done without infinity as taught in math (real analysis) today? Someone demanded an explanation in an email sent to my son.  (I guess the Raju family has the same problem as the Bernoulli family in Europe!  :-) .)

Ordinarily, I would not have responded, for people ought not to demand an explanation by email without bothering to read or understand what I have already written. But, similar doubts were expressed by a young woman (with a PhD in functional analysis) who attended my talk in Ramallah. They may again arise in future. So, I decided to respond.

Infinity is metaphysics. Infinity relates to eternity, so that the Western concept of infinity in present-day math is saturated with the church metaphysics of eternity.

Ironically, the figure for infinity, ∞, is still shaped like a serpent coiled back on itself and eating its own tail, and is an old symbol of quasi-cyclic time.

The linkage of infinity to eternity led to the first creationist controversy: over the nature of eternity, not evolution. In the 6th c. John Philoponus objected to Proclus’ notion of eternity based on quasi-cyclic time. Philoponus’ problem was that if the cosmos is eternal (as Proclus conceived it) it would not be created. That creationist controversy is still going on.

For example, Stephen Hawking claimed the cosmos was created with a “singularity”. (A “singularity” is nothing but an infinity of some sort.)  He concluded his only serious scientific book by identifying the “singularity” with “the actual point of creation” where there is a breakdown of the “laws of physics”. This conclusion is pure metaphysics, for there is no way to check it empirically.

In his popular book, Hawking explained the point of this metaphysical conclusion: because the “laws of physics” break down at the “singularity”, that leaves God free to create the world of his choice. Note that this is in accordance with the Christian notion of one-time creation (and contrary to the Islamic notion of continuous creation, or the Buddhist notion of non-creation, or the “Hindu” notion of periodic creation and destruction). The church heavily promoted this “scientific proof” of the correctness of its (post-Nicene) Christian theology.

People may be suspicious of the church but they implicitly trust scientists today. And, though few  (perhaps 2 or 3 among the 1.25 billion in India) have read or understood Hawking’s scientific work, hundreds of millions of people strongly believe he is a great scientist. Such gullibility and implicit trust is bound to be exploited by the church, which is ever on the lookout for new ways of doing its propaganda. Few people are even aware that Hawking reached his conclusion by postulating his “chronology condition” which denies quasi-cyclic time, and does so using exactly the same bad argument that Augustine used against Origen,  and which argument is at the foundation of post-Nicene Christianity. So, what Hawking did was to use the metaphysics of infinity to promote the politics of the church, like Augustine.

Read the rest of this entry »

Yoga, mathematics, and ganita

June 9th, 2013

Yoga has been accused in the US of having religious roots, hence unfit to be taught in public schools, and there is  court case going on to that effect. The obvious solution is to teach yoga only for its practical value in public schools.

But mathematics too has exactly the same religious roots. So (with our without a court case) the same solution should be applied to math.  That was my central message: teach secular ganita for its practical value in public schools, where math is today a compulsory subject, unlike yoga.

But my talk on this in the Abhyas Mandal series, Indore, was badly misreported by five different newspapers. Some reports said the exact contrary of what I said (and the video record backs me). Two got even their headlines wrong. Maybe my presentation was under par. Maybe the analogy was too novel. Anyway, I don’t want to apportion blame, just to clarify what I really wanted to say.

I wrote a fresh article for Naidunia with that title: “सेक्युलर गणित पढ़ायें”, which was published here with a changed title.

Naidunia article

In fact, I had written up a whole paper which I have now posted here. The paper also has a picture from my book Euclid and Jesus to make the point that Yogic meditation and math had exactly the same spiritual/religious function.

P.S. A subtle point: I used the term “secular” in the original title of my article, not “religiously neutral” (which is what I meant) just because I could not accept the common translation “धर्मं निरपेक्ष” since “dharma” is not exactly “religion”.

Euclid and Jesus now on Amazon

May 6th, 2013

The subtitle is: How and why the church changed mathematics and Christianity across two religious wars.

The book explains the relation of present-day school mathematics to the politico-religious beliefs of the church.

The book is finally available on amazon.com as both paperback and ebook.

BROWSE | BUY PAPERBACK| BUY E-BOOK (Download free Kindle app for PC, MAC, and smartphone)

Or go to the webpage for more details.
Euclid and Jesus cover

Mathematics in refugee camps

May 6th, 2013

Of what use is mathematics in refugee camps? And its history and philosophy? Explaining this was a tough challenge.

P.S. Here is a video summary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPWNL5YL2ds&list=UUTUs46gzu-mvO9hDIzzMfBg&index=1,

and on the Campus in Camps website: http://www.campusincamps.ps/en/projects/c-k-raju/

Talk in Campus in camps

The talk at Campus in Camps

https://www.facebook.com/CampusinCamps

Read the rest of this entry »

History and Philosophy of Science: a new course

May 6th, 2013

This new course is a world first. It was formulated after an intensive curriculum deelopment workshop already mentioned in an earlier blog.

The West has systematically produced false history as propaganda to glorify itself and belittle others. This has further resulted in a bad philosophy of science and math. Typical courses in HPS in Western universities blank out the non-West. Western academics (like Wikipedists) seem incapable of debating the point seriously: they merely strike superior poses, pile on the falsehoods, vilify, censor, etc. Clearly they aim for the dim-witted and gullible.

For example, Kuhn’s “Copernican revolution” was written AFTER it became known to Western scholars that Copernicus was merely a priest who copied Ibn Shatir’s work from its Greek translation (available in the Vatican) and was too frightened of the Inquisition to acknowledge his non-Christian sources . As for the myth of Claudius Ptolemy, the Almagest is manifestly an accretive work with the current pole star at the head of its star list, and some parameters given to an accuracy of 13 decimal places, while the length of the year is wrong in the second decimal place. Indeed, Greeks and Romans were a superstitious lot who regarded astronomy as a crime, and punished it with death, as in the case of Socrates or Anaxagoras. The Julian calendar reformed the Greek, but remained hopelsssly unscientific (as the Gregorian still is). The wrong length of the year in it for centuries proves the Greeks and Romans never had any access to any advanced astronomy! (Hence, the long-standing confusion about the dates of Easter; they have just celebrated Easter in Palestine in May.)

Likewise the tale of the Newtonian revolution is bunkum. As I have shown in my book on Cultural Foundations of Mathematics, the calculus developed in India over a thousand year period, and was imported to Europe by Jesuits based in Cochin. Europeans, with their primitive and religious understanding of mathematics, failed to understand the infinite series and blundered like Descartes or even Newton with his “fluxions”.

The truth comes out from simple things like the inability of Westerners to measure the size of the earth until 1672, which is something that was well known in the non-West, from more than a thousand years earlier, at least since Aryabhata (5th c.), Bhaskara I (7th c.), al Mamun (9th c.), al Biruni (10th c.) etc, and probably since the Egyptians.

Unlike the parochial HPS courses in Western universities, the new HPS course suits the international character of the students of AlBukhary International University. Here the students of the new HPS course take a trip near equinox to see how simple it is to measure the size of the earth, so they can have a good laugh at those false Western tales.

Students of AlBukhary International University setting out to measure the earth

At the observation point, after sunset

The “God” particle and creationism

May 6th, 2013

Wow, the reports makes people believe that scientists have experimentally demonstrated the existence of God and the church notion of creation! Discount those people (who believe this) as gullible idiots if you like, but that is the constituency.Article on god particle