Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Western superstitions in science

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

The Black House Kollective initiated a welcome conversation in Soweto on decolonisation in relation to Western superstitions in science.

Soweto poster

For example, the first lesson in science is typically about Newton’s “laws”. But how do we know there are any eternal laws of nature? That was just a church dogma enunciated by Aquinas in Summa Theologica.  (Recall how a priest given a PhD in philosophy of science by Cambridge tried to turn the classroom into a pulpit, at Universiti Sains Malaysia, but could not state a single eternal law of nature when repeatedly challenged to do so.) Of course, a non-mechanistic physics is possible, as I have shown.

More subtle is the creep of superstitions into science through the metaphysics in formal mathematics, falsely declared to be universal (or superior) with the help of false myths like those of Pythagoras and Euclid PLUS false myths of the deductive proofs in the Elements PLUS false myths about the infallibility or superiority of deductive proof.

However, colonised minds, who believe in and propagate these superstitious beliefs, are terrified when asked to publicly explain why 1+1=2 in formal math. So far, no formal mathematician, anywhere in the world, has shown the guts to try to defend formal math in public. That itself tells everyone that the truth is with normal math.

Here is the initial part of the very interesting conversation in Soweto (3.5 MB mp3 file) and a photo of the participants.

Trailer of conversation in Soweto

Participants in Soweto meet

Protest against racist censorship

Friday, November 4th, 2016

False history of the kind that “Much, though certainly not all, mathematics was the creation of dead white men” has been traditionally used to defend racism. My Euclid challenge prize for Rs 2 lakhs is offered to demonstrate that this racist history is based on faith not any facts. Therefore, the only way to save that rotten history is to prevent its articulation. Hence the Conversation took down my article “To decolonise math, stand up to its false history and bad philosophy.” Here are two protest letters and an article.

1.Protest letter to Conversation from Decolonial International Network

2. Protest letter from Mr S. M. Mohamed Idris, Chairman, Citizens International, to International Association of Universities.

3. Note on censorship of decolonised math.

As a mark of protest against this censorship do reproduce the  original article re-posted at http://ckraju.net/blog/?p=117. Or link to it. Feel free to reproduce the protest letters, (more…)

To decolonise math stand up to its false history and bad philosophy

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

[This article was first published in the Conversation (Global edition) on 24 October 2016. It quickly reached a readership of 16737, before being taken down, obviously because it represents a dangerous piece of dissent against racism and colonialism. For more details see the next blog post. ]

A false history of science was used to initiate colonial education, in support of colonialism. This false history persists. In a recent article about decolonising mathematics, for instance, Professor Karen Brodie asserts that “Much, though certainly not all, of mathematics was created by dead white men.”

This is not true.

A false history

Consider the most elementary mathematics of fractions. Did the white man invent it? No. The Rhind papyrus shows that black Egyptians knew about fractions from at least 3700 years ago. Moreover, Greeks and Romans did not: there is no systematic way to represent fractions in traditional Greek and Roman arithmetic. Europe imported the arithmetic of fractions, and it came into the Jesuit syllabus only around 1572, and the white man finally started learning what Ahmose the scribe was teaching black children 3000 years earlier.

What mathematics could “dead white men” have created without even a knowledge of fractions?

Of course, Western historians have long claimed that “real” math was invented by Greeks: Pythagoras, Euclid and so on. However, Pythagoras is myth and there is no historical evidence for Euclid, as I’ve explained in my book Euclid and Jesus.

The “evidence” for Euclid is so thin, that I’ve instituted a challenge prize of around R40,000 for serious evidence about Euclid. This stands unclaimed and has done for several years.

Further, though the text Elements (which Euclid supposedly wrote) comes from Alexandria in Africa, its author is commonly visualised as a white man. But it is rather more likely that the anonymous “author of the Elements” was a black woman.

When this is pointed out, some people try to save the myth: they say they don’t care about the author, only the book. However, it is another false Western myth that the book Elements is about deductive proofs. The actual book contains no pure deductive proofs. Its very first proposition is proved empirically, as is its fourth proposition (the side angle side theorem), needed for the proof of its penultimate proposition (“Pythagorean proposition”).

Deductive proof doesn’t lead to valid knowledge

Stripping off the false history exposes the central philosophical claim: that “real” math is about deductive proofs which are infallible and lead to “superior” knowledge. However, that claim too is false: deductive proofs are fallible. So an invalid deductive proof can be easily mistaken for a valid one. For centuries, the most authoritative Western scholars collectively made this mistake, when they wrongly praised “Euclid’s” Elements as a model of deductive proof.

Worse, even a validly proved mathematical theorem is only an inferior sort of knowledge, since we never know whether it is valid knowledge. For example, the “Pythagorean theorem” is not valid knowledge for triangles drawn on the curved surface of the earth. However, Europeans kept applying the “Pythagorean theorem” to such triangles to determine latitude and longitude on their navigational technique of “dead reckoning”. This led to centuries of navigational disasters and made navigation – and determination of longitude – the key scientific challenge for Europeans from the 16th to the 18th centuries.

In fact, a mathematical theorem need have no relation at all to valid knowledge. For example, we can easily prove as a mathematical theorem that a rabbit has two horns: 1. All animals have two horns. 2. A rabbit is an animal. 3. Therefore, a rabbit has two horns. This is a valid deductive proof, but is the conclusion valid?

Mere deductive proof does not lead to valid knowledge. We must check whether the assumptions are true. In this case the assumptions are false: simply point to an animal which has no horns. However, formal math forbids such commonsense, empirical proofs, based on its central dogma that deductive proofs are “superior”.

Anyway, the postulates of formal mathematics, say set theory, cannot be empirically checked. So formal mathematics is pure metaphysics. The only way to check its assumptions is to rely on authority – and in practice we teach only those postulates approved by Western authority. For example, calculus is done with formal real numbers (and not Indian non-Archimedean arithmetic, or floating point numbers used in computer arithmetic). School geometry is taught using Hilbert’s far-fetched synthetic postulates, not Indo-Egyptian cord geometry.

A slave mentality

Thus, formal mathematics creates a slave mentality. It creates a person who blindly relies on Western authority and conflates it with infallible truth. So finding better ways of inculcating that slave mentality – teaching the same maths but differently, as Brodie proposes in her article – is absolutely the last thing we should do.

False claims of “superiority” are a trick to impose Western authority, exactly as in apartheid. Everyone understands 1+1=2 in a commonsense way. But Whitehead and Russell took 378 pages in their Principia to prove 1+1=2. Declaring such mountains of metaphysics as “superior” knowledge has political value. People who cannot understand those 378 pages “needed” for 1+1=2 are forced to trust an “expert”.

The entire colonial tradition of education teaches us to trust only Western-approved experts, and distrust everyone else. This creates epistemic dependence for even the simplest things like 1+1=2, making epistemic dissent impossible.

But epistemic dissent is central to decolonisation. And much work has already been done to decolonise mathematics.

A successful alternative

There is an alternative philosophy of mathematics, consolidated in my book Cultural Foundations of Mathematics and now renamed zeroism.

It rejects the Western metaphysics of formal mathematics as religiously biased since the days of Plato, who related mathematics to the soul. Actual teaching experiments have been performed with eight groups in five universities in three countries – Malaysia, Iran and India.

This decolonised math is so easy that the calculus can be taught in five days. Work on this approach to decolonising mathematics and science has been reported in various meetings on decolonisation organised by the Multiversity. It was publicly discussed in newspapers, and blogs, and prominently reported in newspapers, magazine articles, interviews and videos.

Decolonised math rejects the redundant metaphysics of formal math as inferior knowledge. It reverts to a commonsense practical philosophy of mathematics as a technique of approximate calculation for practical purposes. By making math easy, it enables students to solve harder problems that are usually left out of existing courses. It also leads to a better science, the simplest example being a better theory of gravitation arising from correcting Newton’s wrong metaphysical presumptions about calculus.

(CK Raju explains how decolonised maths leads to better science. [Click image to go to video of MIT talk])

In short, math can be decolonised. The simple way to do it is to have the courage to stand up to its false Western history and bad Western philosophy, and focus solely on its practical value.

Author’s note: Publication details for cited references are available here.

Conversation with the Dalai Lama

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

The video of my conversation with the Dalai Lama is now on You Tube.

still

It is also still available on the official site .

Reports of this appeared in Tibet Post,

Tibet Post

and in the Sunday Guardian

and sundry news agency reports.

Gravitational waves and Einstein

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

What did Einstein really say about gravitational waves?

First, the background. In almost twenty five years, no one has answered the objections I raised about Einstein. Namely that he did not fully understand the special theory of relativity invented by Poincare. Special relativity requires functional differential equations, as Poincare realised. But Einstein never understood that till the end of his life, and kept trying to approximate functional differential equations by ordinary differential equations which is manifestly a mistake. See my book Time: Towards a Consistent Theory (Kluwer Academic, 1994).

In the more recent series of articles on FDEs in Physics Education, the first article explains the mistake.

Sadly, though special relativity is a first year undergraduate subject, it continues to be taught incorrectly. Even at that elementary level, scientists go by the force of social authority, and just ignore the force of a scientific argument.

Further, even in the case of general relativity, it is known that Einstein had the wrong equations before Hilbert sent the right equations to him. Withing 5 days he then claimed he had suddenly and coincidentally arrived at the same equations independently of Hilbert, just as he claimed he suddenly and coincidentally arrived at the special theory of relativity shortly after Poincare’s article on it was published!

Now, the popular image of Einstein is as a great mathematician, but knowledgeable people understood that Einstein was ignorant of mathematics: as Hilbert said, “every boy in the streets of Goettingen knows more about 4-dimensional geometry than Einstein”. (more…)

Gravitational waves and RGT

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

A PhD student from IIT Madras asked me to comment on the reported discovery of gravitational waves in relation to my points about Einstein. My comments were as follows.

Any claim that the experiment has confirmed general relativity is wrong; scientific theories can only be refuted, never confirmed. It is faith which is confirmed.

My own theory of gravitation,  RGT (Retarded Gravitation Theory), was most recently explained in an expository paper.

There is no fundamental competition between GRT (General Relativity Theory) and RGT any more than there is a fundamental competition between Lorentz covariance and general covariance. One may however speculate on the generally covariant theory which would result if the flat spacetime limit is RGT, not Newtonian gravity, and so on.

After the solar system the galaxy and its structure is the next big problem in gravitation, not gravitational waves. However, it remains a fact that GRT cannot be used to understand the galaxy, which requires that we solve a billion body problem. At any rate the billion body problem in GRT could not be solved in the last century. It does not matter if GRT is the ultimate theory, for it has little practical value in the context of the galaxy. (more…)

Education policy, secularism and traditional values

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Many traditionalists whether in India or in Iran regard secularism in education as the biggest enemy of traditional values. (A recent example of this thinking is Bharat Gupt’s article posted at http://indiafacts.co.in/religious-pluralism-and-distorted-notions-of-secularism-in-education/ )  These traditionalists are dead wrong: the church has succeeded so well because those it considers its biggest enemies don’t even recognize it as an enemy.

The biggest enemy of traditional values are the church dogmas, which have crept even into mathematics and hard sciences, and which are so much a part and parcel of colonial education.

The primary problem facing Indian education today is that it is a thoughtless continuation of colonial education, which itself was a continuation of church education. (The first bill for secular education in Britain dates to 1872, so Western education was 100% church education when it first came to India.) Church education, designed to produce missionaries, teaches subordination to church/Western authority. That suited colonialism but does not suit a free country.

Decolonisation of education is needed even in the hard sciences such as mathematics and physics. Few have noticed that church dogmas creep even into mathematics and science as taught in our universities today. For example, physics uses differential equations which require calculus. But calculus as taught in our universities requires that time should be like the real line. However, all Indian values, especially the value of moksha (or nirvana), are based on the notion of quasi-cyclic time.1 So, just teaching calculus, in the present way, teaches that those Indian values are fundamentally wrong and anti-science, hence lack credibility.

(more…)

Decolonisation in South America-1

Thursday, 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

Dalits and Science in India: Aryabhata on Ambedkar jayanti

Tuesday, 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. (more…)

Columbus day: a celebration of genocide

Friday, 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).