Archive for the ‘History and Philosophy of Science’ Category

Astrology in university education – twenty years after

Saturday, September 11th, 2021

(Note: The following article speaks the truth, instead of taking sides. However, the Indian media being totally polarised, I could not publish the article in either English or Hindi. Hence, am now posting it on my blog, since I feel it is important for me to take a stand on the matter.)

Astrology is a superstition, but why are the colonised unwilling to admit that Johannes Kepler was a superstitious astrologer, who got his livelihood from astrology, and wrote in praise of astrology.  And what of Isaac Newton who superstitiously believed in Biblical creationism and apocalypse. His superstitions rubbed off into science and math as in the “eternal laws of nature”, not to mention his superstitions about the Indian calculus, all of which church superstition we happily teach in schools today.  But there is no outrage among the colonised who blindly accept all church superstitions in mathematics and science. That is exactly why it was the church which brought Western ethnoscience and Western ethnomath to the colonised in general and to India in particular. The real issue is about Western dominance, not science vs superstition.

The Indira Gandhi National Open University recently introduced a postgraduate course in astrology. A similar issue had arisen twenty years ago when the University Grants Commission (UGC) announced a scheme to open 16 university departments, to teach astrology across the country, in 2001. This was hugely opposed, and the late Kapila Vatsyayana organized a public debate, between scientists and astrologers, in the India International Centre, on the desirability of astrology in university education. The late Pushpa Bhargava, Raja Ramanna and I represented scientists. But the astrologers ran away from the debate, though I did later discuss this issue publicly with some other astrologers in other forums. The UGC eventually scrapped the scheme. However, some clarifications given 20 years ago are still relevant.

First, the term “jyotish”, which means time-keeping (through astronomy), is wrongly confounded with astrology (called “phalit jyotish”). The earlier UGC scheme was announced as pertaining to Vedic astrology. However, there is no mention of astrology in the Veda-s. Then, at the India International Centre, I had challenged the assembled scholars, in front of the international press, to show me a single sentence on astrology in the core text of Vedanga Jyotish.1 No one could do so, and some started asking for my copy of the Vedanga Jyotish, which they had obviously never seen before. The Vedanga Jyotishe is a manual of timekeeping, completely disjoint from astrology.

Indians persistently separated astronomy from astrology, which separation is not limited to the Vedanga Jyotish, last updated around -1500 CE. Thus, Nilakantha’s commentary on the Aryabhatiya is dated to +1500 CE.2 During this 3000 year period, there were numerous books written on astronomy in India. These included the Surya Siddhanta, the Aryabhatiya, the Laghu and Maha Bhaskariya of Bhaskar 1, the Brahmasphutasiddhanta of Brahmagupta, the Shishyadhivrddhida of Lalla, Vateshwar Siddhanta, and Gola, Tantrasangraha, Yuktidipika, etc. In none of these books do we find a single sentence related to astrology. The beginning of astrology in India is credited to the 6th c. Varahamihira, and his Brihat samhita, but even Varahamihira’s astronomy book Pancasiddhantika does not have a single sentence on astrology.

However the colonially educated are deluded that jyotish means astrology. The same colonial education also impacts nationalists. Hence, they repeatedly return to the claim that astrology was an important aspect of Indian tradition since Vedic times. Twenty years ago, Pushpa Bhargava had challenged the teaching of astrology in the Madras High Court. In response, the UGC had said that astrology was an important aspect of ancient Indian tradition, a claim happily accepted by the judge (Kalifulla J.) Nobody asked for evidence that astrology was a significant part of Indian tradition, and nobody offered it.

To the contrary, the Buddha explained3 that common people praise him because he does not earn a livelihood by the unethical means of predicting uncertain future events, such as predicting the victory or defeat of kings in a war, or predicting good or bad rainfall. This was not any specifically Buddhist ethics, since it was the common people (then pre-Buddhist Hindus) who praised the Buddha thus.

In contrast, the West traditionally believed in prophecy. Herodotus4 begins his History with the story of Croesus, from Lydia (Turkey), who first made Ionian Greeks his vassals. Before fighting the Persians, Croesus checked the outcome with the Oracle of Delphi. “A great empire will fall” was the prophecy. Unsure about which Empire would fall, Croesus again sent an emissary to ask how long his own rule would last. “Until a mule rules the Medes (Persia)”. Croesus thought that hardly likely and battled Cyrus the Great and lost. The prophecy was then explained that Cyrus  was the mule since he was of mixed descent. Of course, had the outcome been different, there would have been no need for an explanation. This illustrates how foretelling the future was traditionally based on subtle con-tricks.

Prophets were given a very high religious status in the West. Hence, during the Crusades, the church tried to put down Muslims by the criticism that Paigambar Muhammad made no prophecy. Unfortunately, the strange response of Muslims to this critique has been to translate Paigambar (meaning messenger) as Prophet!

Traditional Western superstitions did not magically disappear with the advent of science. Johannes Kepler, famous for his “laws” of planetary motion, wrote on the fundamentals of astrology.5 Before he grabbed the high church position of Astronomer Royal to the Holy Roman Empire, Kepler was a practising astrologer, and he wrote that providing astrology as a means of livelihood to astronomers was proof the of pre-established harmony created by God!

Even Isaac Newton superstitiously believed in Biblical creation, some 6000 years ago. He explicitly used it to deny the antiquity of Egypt.6 He also believed the Bible correctly foretold the future apocalypse of the world at the “seventh trumpet”.7 Indeed, belief in prophecy, or the belief that the future can be foretold, persists in the scientific belief in the mechanistic evolution of the world according to some “eternal laws of nature”. This belief in “eternal laws of nature” is a Christian dogma first propounded by Thomas Aquinas.8 This dogma, is not, for example, acceptable in Buddhism,9 or Islam,10 or Hinduism.11

But, both Newton and Kepler believed in this dogma, and we teach it in our schools today.12 This dogma asserts that the future is determined and predictable by the knowledgeable, like prophets and Laplace’s demon. (On Karl Popper’s formulation, Laplace’s demon is a super-scientist, who knows all the laws of nature, a super-observer, and a super-computer, who can hence calculate the future.13) Of course, no one knows how the “laws of nature” or equations of physics (supposedly) causally determine human actions, any more than anyone knows how planets determine human actions. So, the difference between the demon and astrology is a matter of technique, not of principle.

The colonially educated believe Indians were especially superstitious. But the experimental method was used in India, long before Bacon,14 and many traditional Indian astronomers spoke out against superstition. For example, it is said that Indians believed that Rahu  and Ketu are the cause of eclipses. This myth is undoubtedly found in the Purana-s. However, the eighth century Lalla titled the 20th chapter of his Sisyadhivrdhida15 as the “Correction of mythical knowledge”. Here he gives several arguments why demons such as Rahu, cannot be the cause of an eclipse. In the 26th sloka he says “In a solar eclipse, people in different parts (of the earth) see different portions of the Sun eclipsed. Some do not see (the eclipse) at all. Knowing this, who can maintain that an eclipse is caused by Rahu?” Further, Lalla (20:22) asks why eclipses occur only near the full moon or new-moon. In contrast, the Bible (Luke 23:44-45) states the superstition that God caused a solar eclipse at noon on the crucifixion of Jesus, which is impossible, because Easter, or the supposed date of resurrection of Jesus, is linked to the full moon when a solar eclipse is impossible. Before the 19th c., which Western astronomer rejected this Biblical assertion as a superstition?

The conclusion is that scientific thinking is a much older part of Indian tradition than astrology which was probably imported in the 6th c., and true nationalists ought to encourage that older tradition. On the other hand, church superstitions still flourish in science (and math) and the tail-wagging colonised who believe science is a matter of Western approval, not critical thinking, need to understand that.

1K. V. Sarma, ed., Vedanga Jyotisa of Lagadh, trans. & notes T. S. Kupanna Sastri (New Delhi: INSA, 1985).

2K. Sambasiva Sastri, ed., Aryabhatiya of Aryabhatacarya with the Bhasya of Nılakanthasomasutvan (University of Kerala, Trivandrum, 1930).

3Maurice Walshe, trans., Digha Nikaya: Long Discourses of the Buddha (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1995), 68–72 Brahmajala sutta, section on Mahashila.

4Herodotus, The History, trans. G. C. Macaulay, n.d., https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2707/2707-h/2707-h.htm.

5J. Bruce Brackenridge and Mary Ann Rossi, ‘Johannes Kepler’s on the More Certain Fundamentals of Astrology Prague 1601’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 123, no. 2 (1979): 85–116.

6Isaac Newton, “Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms amended”, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/15784/15784-h/15784-h.htm#chapII.

7C. K. Raju, The Eleven Pictures of Time: The Physics, Philosophy and Politics of Time Beliefs (Sage, 2003) chp. 4, ‘Newton’s time’.

8Thomas Aquinas, Sumnma Theologica, First part of the second part, 91,1, n.d., http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2091.htm.

9C. K. Raju, ‘Buddhism and Science’, 2016, https://youtu.be/SkS1HM6g0O4, a conversation with the Dalai Lama.

10C. K. Raju, ‘Islam and Science’, keynote address, in Islam and Multiculturalism: Islam, Modern Science, and Technology, ed. Asia-Europe Institute University of Malaya and Japan Organization for Islamic Area Studies Waseda University, 2013, 1–14, http://ckraju.net/hps-aiu/Islam-and-Science-kl-paper.pdf.

11Minutes of a meeting in the University Sains Malaysia, 2011, to discuss whether the belief in “laws of nature” should be part of a course in the philosophy of science. http://ckraju.net/usm/PSc-minutes.html.

12See, e.g., the 2021-22 NCERT text on science for class IX, chp. 10, p. 133. http://ckraju.net/papers/presentations/images/NCERT-class-IX-science-chp-10..pdf

13For Laplace’s demon see C. K. Raju, Time: Towards a Consistent Theory (Springer, 1994).

15For a general account, see “Indians against superstition”, extract from “Proofs and Refutations in Mathematics and Physics: an Indian Perspective”, in History of Science and Philosophy of Science, ed., P. K. Sengupta, Pearson Longman, 2012. For the original source see Lalla, ‘शिष्यधीवृद्धिद’, ed. Bina Chatterjee (Delhi: Indian National Science Academy, 1981).

“Euclid” must fall: racism, the church, and the axiomatic method (collected resources)

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

(Keynote Tübingen/Pretoria 13 May 2021. Related articles now online.)

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAP1BcK8mLE

Presentation: http://ckraju.net/papers/presentations/Euclid-must-fall.html

Articles:

Part 1: Racist prejudice and the false history of “Greek” achievements in math and science

Abstract.To eliminate racist prejudices, it is necessary to identify the root cause(s) of racism. American slavery preceded racism, and was closely associated with genocide. Accordingly, we seek the unique cause of the unique event of genocide + slavery. This was initially justified by religious prejudice, rather than colour prejudice. This religious justification was weakened when many Blacks converted to Christianity, after the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The curse of Kam, using quick visual cues to characterize Blacks as inferior Christians, was inadequate. Hence, the church fell back on an ancient trick of using false history as secular justification for Christian superiority. This trick had resulted in a false history of science during the Crusades when scientific knowledge in translated Arabic texts was indiscriminately attributed to the early Greeks, without evidence. This false history enabled belief in religious superiority to mutate into a secular belief in White superiority. After colonialism, and the Aryan race conjecture, the belief in White superiority further mutated into a belief in Western civilizational superiority, openly propagated today by colonial education. Hence, to eliminate racist prejudice, it is necessary to engage simultaneously with the allied prejudices about Christian/White/Western superiority, based on the same false history of science.

Full article at: http://ckraju.net/papers/Tubingen-Pretoria-part-1.pdf

Part 2: The practical failure (and political success) of the axiomatic method (or the church understanding of reason) in math

Abstract. Previously we saw that racist prejudice is supported by false history. The false history of the Greek origins of mathematics is reinforced by a bad philosophy of mathematics. There is no evidence for the existence of Euclid. The “Euclid” book does not contain a single axiomatic proof, as was exposed over a century ago. Such was never the intention of the actual author. The book was brazenly reinterpreted, since axiomatic proof was a church political requirement, and used in church rational theology adopted during the Crusades, as a counter to Islamic rational theology. Deductive proofs are MORE fallible than inductive or empirical proofs. Even a validly proved mathematical theorem, such as the “Pythagorean” theorem (based on Hilbert’s axioms, say), is invalid knowledge in the real world. There is no concept of approximate truth in formal mathematics. Nevertheless, the myth of “superior” axiomatic proofs in the “Euclid” book continues to be reiterated by Western historians, and colonial education teaches axiomatic mathematics. Actually, superior practical value comes from the two “Pythagorean” calculations well known to Indian/Egyptian tradition, but unknown to Greeks. The advantage of related decolonized courses in mathematics has been pedagogically demonstrated. But understanding and political will is needed to change colonial/church education.

Full article at: http://ckraju.net/papers/Tubingen-Pretoria-part-2.pdf

Alternative to current school teaching of Christian chauvinist “Euclid’s” geometry

“Euclidean’ geometry vs Rajju ganita” Bengaluru, 5, 6 June 2021)

Details of workshop: http://ckraju.net/blog/?p=200

Prior reading list: http://ckraju.net/geometry/Reading-list-geometry-rev.pdf.

Presentations: Day 1, Day 2 (space bar moves to the next slide)

Videos: Day 1, Day 2 (2:45:55, and 2:55:59)

School text for class IX: http://ckraju.net/geometry/Rajju%20Ganita%20cover-front-back-r.pdf

See also, Euclid and Jesus: How and why the church changed mathematics and Christianity across two religious wars, Multiversity, Penang, 2012.

“Euclid” must fall

Friday, May 14th, 2021

To access the presentation for my zoom talk on ‘”Euclid” must fall’, described in the previous post, click the image below.
Euclid fallen

A video of the recording premieres on 23 May 2021 at 12 noon IST.

Ganita vs formal math: an obituary of formal math

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

Ganita vs formal math: an obituary of formal math

This is a video recording my concluding seminar (25 March 2021) as a Tagore Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study.

Twitter summary:
1. Ganita (गणित) differs from (formal) math,
2. it makes math easy, and
3. makes science better.
4. This is an obituary of formal math.

Slogan formulation
Formal math is dead,
long live normal math (गणित)

Detailed “abstract” (synoptic contents etc.) in three layers..

Presentation.

Best run on site (without downloading). Space bar moves presentation forward. Blue text indicates hyperlinks (for those who would like to examine the briefly displayed material in detail).

The Eleven Pictures of Time: the Physics, Philosophy, and Politics of time beliefs

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

(elaborated and simplified)

An interactive workshop at the Berlin festival for time issues 24, 25 March 2020, 1500-1800 Berlin time. Facebook live stream: http://facebook.com/MaerzMusik
will be only of the conference talk on the 21st March 1430 to 1600 Berlin time (1900 to 2030 IST).

The workshop will cover the following 12 topics related to the book. Each topic will be covered in an average of approximately 20 minutes. After each hour there will be questions for around half an hour.

The book begins and ends with the Fisherman’s story: to marry a mermaid the Fisherman wants to lose his soul, but does not know how to do so.

  1. Life after deathMany ancient cultures believed in the soul and life after death, as in the stories of Nachiketa, Socrates, Chuang Tzu (butterfly’s dream), or sufi poems like those of Rumi
  2. Sceptics Equally, however, many ancient and modern sceptics rejected the belief in life after death. An ancient sceptic, Payasi, performed a variety of experiments with dying persons to test and reject the belief in life after death.
  3. Cosmic recurrence or “cyclic” timeHowever, Payasi’s experiments refute only a simplistic belief in life after death. The correct understanding of the ancient belief in life after death is in the context of cosmic recurrence (as in Bhagvad Gita), or as in the Nietzsche’s attempted reconstruction. Ancient symbols of cyclic time include the Egyptian Ouroboros, the Buddhist Kalachakra, the Maya/Aztec calendar stones, and the Nataraja (dancing Shiva). With cosmic recurrence, not only are people reborn, everything in the cosmos repeats. Roughly, this corresponds to cyclic time. This notion of life after death with “cyclic” time meets all the objections raised by sceptics, both ancient and modern. But is it science?
  4. Cosmic recurrence in physicsCosmic recurrence or “cyclic” time is scientifically possible. In Newtonian physics, on the Poincare recurrence theorem, the cosmos must recur if it is closed. That is, every microstate of a closed cosmos must repeat to an arbitrary degree of precision, infinitely often. The theorem can be extended to general relativity (case of geodesic flow), and a similar theorem holds in quantum mechanics. I point out the flaws in the text-book resolution of the recurrence paradox of thermodynamics.
  5. The curse on cyclic timeApart from physics we need to understand also the politics of time beliefs. The church, after it married the Roman state, cursed this belief in life after death in the context of cosmic recurrence. Early Christianity derived from Egyptian mystery religion (“paganism”). As elaborated by Origen, it accepted cosmic recurrence; it also accepted equity. But the later-day post-Nicene church misrepresented cosmic recurrence as the collapse of morality. The real political reason was to promote inequity: the state-church wanted to project exclusive benefits for converting to Christianity, to be able to sell Christianity. (more…)

Plagiarism by ex-president of the Royal Society. 3: Lessons for decolonisation of math

Friday, November 8th, 2019

So, what are the lessons for decolonisation from part 1 and part 2?

Lesson 1. Do not blindly trust Western/White authority. Fight to reject any system which forces such trust.

If the editor of the most prominent math journal (Notices of the AMS) can act so shamelessly in such a public case, just imagine what mischief an editor can do in secret. Yet our whole academic system forces academics to trust editors. University academics are required to submit papers to editors and get their certificates of approval through a secretive process of refereeing. This system of valuing only publication in secretively refereed “trusted” and “authoritative” journals, whose ranking strongly correlates with their degree of Westernization, turns university academics across the world into slaves of the West. For their career advancement they are forced to keep Western authority happy. This is particularly the case in formal mathematics, where authority is the sole guide to truth.

With such secretive editorial control over what constitutes valid knowledge, no serious critique of colonial knowledge is possible. For example, the racist editor of the Conversation censored my article on decolonising math, after it was published and went viral. (For more details see “Mathematics and censorship“, Journal of Black Studies, and Rhodes Must Fall.) Her stupid excuse was that (as a non-White) I am not allowed to cite original ideas from my own published work, but must only repeat White/Western falsehoods. It is strange that so many news portals across the world, which first reproduced my article, believed that excuse, and pulled down my article.

That editor’s idea of a proper article was one which began with the fake history that “mathematics…is the work of dead white men”, and hence blacks and women are bad at math. The recommendation “imitate the West/Whites”. This way of using fake history to demand imitation of the West was the strategy of colonisation, and that is being now passed off as a strategy of decolonisation.

Reject this system of thought control. Refuse to be guided by such editors. As stated in Ending Academic Imperialism, in this digital age, there is a very easy alternative in the form of post-publication public review. (That would diminish colonial power of thought control, which is exactly what the decolonial activist wants.)

Lesson 2. Colonial authority is built on false myths of supremacy, just as racist authority was built on the false myth of racist supremacy. Tear it down by demanding evidence for those myths.

Much colonial power is based on lies propagated through colonial education. To teach the intellectual supremacy of the coloniser, math texts tell all sorts of glorious but false tales of White/Western/ colonial achievements in math, such as those of early Greeks such “Euclid”, “Archimedes” etc. for which there is no serious evidence. (See the drafts of these lectures. “Not out of Greece”, delivered at the University of South Africa, Pretoria.) The Greeks and Romans knew little math little math as shown by their defective calendar, copied, like their gods,  from Egyptians.

Challenge that false claim of Western intellectual supremacy by repeatedly pointing out the falsehood of these myths. Demand solid evidence, as I did through my Euclid challenge prize mentioned also in my censored article. And keep pointing out the falsehood of those myths for at least a century to drive home the point.

Apart from the early Greeks, in “official history, scientific discoveries are mostly attributed to post-renaissance Europeans. Atiyah is hardly the sole case where brazen theft has been passed off as “independent rediscovery”. As regards post-renaissance “discoveries” in science there are numerous fraud cases of people glorified on the strength of such “independent rediscovery” just when dependent discovery was possible. This includes cases such as Copernicus, or Newton’s purported invention of calculus, as described in my books Is Science Western in Origin? (Multiversity etc., 2009, 2014) and more elaborately in Cultural Foundations of Mathematics (Pearson Longman, 2007)

First, the simple remedy is this: the onus of proof must be on the one who claims independent rediscovery or glorifies it. This principle must be applied especially to fake Western heroes. Second, there is no reason to continue to give credit to the one who claimed the idea at a later date. Give credit only to the one who did it earlier. Thomas Kuhn in his Copernican Revolution (1956) brazenly continued to glorify the “second discoverer}, Copernicus, AFTER he was exposed in 1952 by Kennedy as having copied from Ibn Shatir. Was Kuhn such a bad researcher that he didn’t know about Copernicus’ exposure? (When I ask this question in my decolonised course on history and philosophy of science, all students opine that Kuhn tried and succeeded in a cover-up.)

Keep in mind the trick of “Atiyah’s hypothesis”: that most people go by nomenclature, not facts. Hence, insist on large-scale changes in nomenclature in history books to reflect this principle, that the numerous second discoverer’s cannot cannot continue to be credited, and delete the names of people who have been fraudulently credited with ideas on the strength of “independent rediscovery”. Smashing fake Western icons, and the related claim of intellectual superiority, by speaking the truth, would expose the true face of colonialism, and greatly diminish its continuing power.

Lesson 3. Beware of the counter-reaction when editorial authority and false myths are challenged.

Colonial power was based on lies, like the power of the church. The church developed a systematic technique of preserving its lies, and the West continues to use it. The stock technique is to demonise all those who challenge its authority . That is, the simple trick is to preserve fake heroes by painting any challenger as a villain, through further lies.

(more…)

Plagiarism by ex-president of the Royal Society. 2: The cover-up by the American Mathematical Society

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Part 1 of this post restated the facts regarding my novel mathematical point about “Einstein’s mistake”, how it was copied by Michael Atiyah during his AMS Einstein Centenary lecture of 2005, and its subsequent report published in the Notices of the AMS, 2006. Also copied was the claim that the point was novel enough to constitute a paradigm shift. It was also related to quantum mechanics as I had done earlier. For sure, Atiyah did it knowingly, for (a) my novel point about Einstein was very widely disseminated through two books and several journal articles, and newspapers, and (b) Atiyah persisted in falsely claiming credit even after (c) he was directly informed of my past work, and acknowledged being so informed.

But before going to an ethics body (which later indicted Atiyah) I first approached the American Mathematical Society for redress.

So how exactly did the AMS respond to this plagiarism?

As the AMS ethics states (see excerpt):

  • The knowing presentation of another person’s mathematical discovery as one’s own constitutes plagiarism and is a serious violation of professional ethics. Plagiarism may occur for any type of work, whether written or oral and whether published or not.

And how ought the AMS to respond to plagiarism? It says:

  • “the Society will not knowingly publish anything that violates this principle, and it will seek to expose egregious violations anywhere in the mathematical community.”

The AMS cover up: part 1

But what did the AMS actually do? Did it expose this egregious violation of its ethics to the maximum extent possible?

Not at all. To the contrary, it covered up. How? The AMS did publish a note acknowledging the indubitable similarity of my earlier published work with the ideas attributed to Atiyah in the offending article published in the Notices. But this was not enough. Not even an apology was offered: that is the belated acknowledgement subtly tried to pass off Atiyah’s plagiarism as an “acceptable” oversight. It suggested that, in preparing for his Einstein centenary lecture, Atiyah had somehow missed noticing my two prominent books and journal articles on Einstein. But that Atiyah too had independently arrived at the very same novel mathematical (though not social) conclusions about Einstein in his Einstein centenary lecture, as I had done a decade earlier. The conclusions were so novel that the offending article had, like me a decade earlier, called it a paradigm shift, and had even linked it to quantum mechanics exactly as I had.

My letter objected to this. It was already plagiarism when it happened the first time, in 2005 because my extensively published work was widely disseminated, and wide dissemination is the test of plagiarism on the stated AMS ethics. It was plagiarism beyond all reasonable doubt when it happened a second time, through the prominent 2006 article published in the Notices of the AMS, AFTER Atiyah was directly informed of my past work, and had acknowledged being so informed.

But Andy Magid the then editor of the Notices refused to publish my letter. He wanted to hide the  full facts that Atiyah plagiarised twice, and that the second time there was not a shred of doubt that he plagiarised knowingly. Obviously, hiding these key facts would mislead many people into thinking the Atiyah case was one of “innocent” oversight. That is, the editor misused his editorial authority to suppress facts and mislead people by refusing to publish my objection. (His intent must be judged from his actions, and not what he preaches to his students.) That is, instead of upholding the stated AMS ethics, the AMS editor connived at its violation. Haensch, in her blog post, is furthering conniving in that unholy effort to water down Atiyah’s plagiarism, by twisting facts into allegations.

Indeed, Atiyah pressed his false claim so brazenly for a good reason: the value of formal mathematics is judged solely by authority, and as the authority, Atiyah was confident that many formal mathematicians would throw ethics and facts to the wind and jump to defend him (for quid pro quo, or because of their deep respect for authority).

Act 2: “Atiyah’s hypothesis”, Atiyah’s mistake

Therefore, Atiyah continued brazenly. In Atiyah’s second act of plagiarism he got two of his stooges, Johnson and Walker, to write the report of his lecture for the Notices. Why? First it provided a fig leaf of cover, which I later tore apart by pointing out that Atiyah was consulted. Second, the real aim of the Notices article was to attach his name to my ideas. Only by a third party (though not Atiyah writing himself) could coin a new term linking Atiyah to the grand “discovery” (not C. K. Raju’s book in the library, but the ideas in it!).

To further press Atiyah’s claim to the ideas, these two named it “Atiyah’s hypothesis”. This was done on the socially savvy principle, that people go by the name attached to a discovery, irrespective of the real discoverer. Therefore, merely naming it “Atiyah’s hypothesis”, while again suppressing any reference to my prior work, would forever mislead people into believing it was Atiyah who first thought of the idea.

This devious plan to plant that term “Atiyah’s hypothesis” in the most widely read math journal was probably Atiyah’s idea. At any rate, this nomenclature certainly had his approval, since Atiyah was consulted, as Walker was eventually forced to explicitly admit.

But there was another, even more subtle aspect of social savviness. Calling it “Atiyah’s hypothesis” (instead of “Einstein’s mistake”, as I did) would not arouse social opposition (as, for example, in Israel denying me a visa to talk about it in Palestine). Atiyah understood the value of my mathematical point, but he was interested in promoting himself, not in speaking the truth about Einstein.

However, despite this crafty way of plagiarising my work, Atiyah slipped up, because he lacked the knowledge which went into shaping my ideas. Atiyah the mathematician made a blunder about the physics involved. (more…)

Plagiarism by ex-president of the Royal Society. 1: The facts

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Background: What the decolonisation activist should know

By way of background theory, decolonisation activists need to understand the following. Western wealth was initially built on the obvious theft of land (e.g. of “Red Indians” by killing them) and the theft of labour (of blacks by enslaving them) and forcing them to work on the land. However, colonial power was built on a lesser known and more intangible theft: the intellectual theft of knowledge. This intellectual theft was used to glorify the West by systematically creating fake intellectual heroes from early Greeks to the “renaissance” (see Is Science Western in Origin?). This self-glorification was then used (e.g. by Macaulay) to impose colonial education, the key and continuing source of colonial power. (See, Ending Academic Imperialism: a beginning.)

To dismantle continuing colonial power, decolonisation activists must understand two key ways of covering up intellectual theft. The first is to use the “doctrine of independent rediscovery”, to let off the intellectual thief, and, indeed, continue to give credit to him. The second is the systematic technique of demonisation, to attack the one whose idea is stolen. Recall, how, instead of condemning genocide, it was the “Red Indians” who were demonised e.g. through “Western” films and narratives of “cowboys and injuns”. Likewise, instead of condemning slavery, it was the blacks who were demonised, and continue to suffer from the resulting prejudice even after slavery and apartheid officially ended. That is, apart from creating fake heroes, the West also systematically creates fake villains by demonising all its opponents to make even genocide and slavery “morally righteous”.

The following should be regarded as a case study which explains how these tricks continue to be used today at the highest level of the most reputed Western academic organizations to perpetuate colonial power and academic imperialism.

Introduction

Recently, a blog post “Putting math in context” came to my notice. It “tangentially” links (a) decolonisation of math (in which I have been involved over the past decade) to (b) the brazen and repeated plagiarism of my earlier published mathematical work by a former President of the Royal Society, Sir Michael  Atiyah and (c) its cover-up by the American Mathematical Society (AMS). This post on the AMS official blog, is written by Anna Haensch, an Assistant Professor at Duquesne University, and former AMS-AAAS mass media fellow. Her job as a blogger is supposedly to improve the public understanding of science. But the post is misleading. It distorts facts. Since this is a matter of great public importance, the issues need to be clraified, especially in the context of attempts by racists and formal mathematicians to protect their power (and jobs) by derailing the effort to decolonise math.

My response is in three parts. (1) The facts, (2) the cover-up by the American Mathematical Society, and (3) the lessons for decolonisation.

Fact, not allegation

First, referring to my webpage on Atiyah’s  plagiarism of my work and its cover-up by the AMS, Haensch calls it an “allegation of intellectual theft”, and “a really wild ride”.

But, it is a FACT that Atiyah plagiarised my work. There is a public finding by an ethics body that Atiyah was prima facie guilty of plagiarism. This is the first entry on the Atiyah webpage:

Hence, this is today an established and cited case of plagiarism. There is a distinction between a convicted criminal and an alleged criminal! Journalists are required to respect facts, but Haensch does not. (Perhaps because she is also a formal mathematician. Formal math is divorced from empirical facts, and hence can reach any false conclusions through bad postulates. This is one good reason to decolonise math.) A formal mathematician can simply postulate that “fact=allegation”. :) How else does Haensch reduce the public finding of three experts of an ethics body to a mere allegation made by me? For she has not offered a single new fact, or argument. Her related journalistic trick of avoiding facts is “proof by adjectives”, to persuade people who are too lazy to check facts.

AMS belatedly acknowledged my prior work

The other fact is that even before the judgment by the ethics body, the Notices of AMS itself eventually admitted the similarity of my earlier published ideas to those falsely claimed by Atiyah. This is again stated on the Atiyah webpage:

Is the journal (the most widely read math journal) so abysmally lacking in standards that it published such an admission merely on the strength of a wild allegation? Haensch’s insinuation implies this!  Actually, the strong similarity with my ideas is indubitable, and anyone can cross check it: just use the links to various documents on my Atiyah  webpage.

To recall, I first linked functional differential equations to a paradigm shift in physics on the one hand, and to quantum mechanics on the other. This was published as part of a long series of journal articles later consolidated into a book, Time: Towards a Consistent Theory, Kluwer Academic, 1994. (Fundamental theories in Physics, vol. 65.) These novel ideas were exactly the one’s for which Atiyah dishonestly claimed credit in his AMS Einstein centenary lecture 2005 and in its report published in 2006. This was done in full knowledge of my past work.

Why a post-facto acknowledgement is NOT enough

OK, so why is the post-facto acknowledgement to my prior work not enough? (more…)

Ganita vs formal math

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

My first “official” seminar at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, introducing the topic of my research project as a Tagore Fellow.

Ganita vs formal math: re-examining mathematics, its pedagogy, and the implications for science.

Here is the extended abstract, and the official tweet from the Director (seated, extreme left). (Will get a better photo.)

Tweet from Makarand R. Paranjape, Director, IIAS (Official) (@ShimlaIias)
Makarand R. Paranjape, Director, IIAS (Official) (@ShimlaIias) Tweeted:
Prof. C.K. Raju, Tagore Fellow, IIAS, made a presentation yesterday on “Ganita vs Formal Mathematics: Re-Examining Mathematics, its Pedagogy and the Implications for Science” in the Seminar Room of the Institute. Prof. R.C. Pradhan chaired the session.@MakrandParanspe https://t.co/jpzGuDh1oX https://twitter.com/ShimlaIias/status/1139432721946595328?s=17

Correcting Einstein

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

Someone brought to my attention this article in the Wire on “poor” Albert Einstein.

The author, a facebook expert, is unable to separate the myth of Einstein from the theory of (special) relativity (this intellectual sloppiness is critical to his argument). I had made this distinction (between the person Einstein and relativity theory) very clear, even for layperson, in my TGA acceptance speech, on Einstein’s mistake. Einstein  plagiarised the special theory of relativity from Poincare, without fully understanding it, and consequently made a mistake.

Decades earlier, I had pointed out Einstein’s mathematical mistake (about functional differential equations) in my book Time: Towards a Consistent Theory, Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, 1994 (Fundamental Theories of Physics, vol. 65). Before pontificating on “poor Einstein”, Srivastava should have bothered to inform himself. He should have read at least the reviews of that book say the one by J. F. Woodward in “An Essay Review of C. K. Raju’s Time: Towards a Consistent Theory (Kluwer Academic:, Dordrecht)”, Foundations of Physics 26 (1996) 1725-1730, or by G. J. Klir, Review of Time: Towards a Consistent Theory (International J. General Systems 27 (1999) 427-8). Perhaps Srivastava reads so many registered letters, he has no time to read scientific books.

Third, because the physics involved is so elementary (special relativity is a first-year  under-graduate subject), my point about relativity was published even earlier as a series of articles in Physics Education (India). (Ironically, one of the referees for those articles was from TIFR.)  My argument was debated internationally, and my claim (of a paradigm shift) was attacked by H. D. Zeh. But the debate was effectively settled after I actually published the first solution of the functional differential equations of electrodynamics (in a journal edited by Zeh). This debate is described and explained in my more recent series of six expository articles on functional differential equations in the same journal. (References to all articles can be found in the 6th article.)

Sadly, Srivastava, is unfamiliar with all this elementary physics. He is a scientist by virtue of his job, not knowledge. He would have done better to  avoid this public exhibition of his ignorance.

The fact is that no one refuted any of my arguments, either mathematical or historical, about Einstein, in the past 25 years, since my first book was internationally published. To the contrary, on the centenary of Einstein’s special relativity paper, in 2005, the supposedly great mathematician Michael Atiyah, a former President of the Royal Society, in his Einstein lecture, endorsed my argument, against Einstein, for it is an argument readily understood by a mathematician. Actually, Atiyah plagiarised my thesis  (about Einstein’s mistake) from my above book. (Imitation is the best form of flattery!) So keen was he to falsely grab credit for my argument, that even after he was personally informed, he kept plagiarising it until he was eventually exposed and  forced to admit it, and later indicted for plagiarism. Ironically, again, two former directors of TIFR, including the late M. G. K. Menon, supported my efforts (”Petition against celebrity justice”) to bring Atiyah to book, against the Western ethics of always defending cheating by Westerners.

Colonial attitudes

However, people like Srivastava exemplify the colonial trick of using science to deprecate Indians by putting them down to establish mental authority over them. This results in the widespread but wrong impression about “inferior Indians”. To correct it, I recently wrote a series of article on “Scientific temper in ancient and modern India”. My point was that the experimental method was used in India long before it was used in the West. (more…)