Archive for the ‘Science and Society’ 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.

“Euclidean” Geometry vs Rajju Ganita

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

All the lies and obscurities of “Euclidean” geometry, as taught in the NCERT class VI, IX, and X school texts, stand exposed in these presentations and videos of the workshop held on 5 and 6 June 2021.

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

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

Both “Euclid” and the related philosophy of “superior” axiomatic proof are just a church fraud concocted during the religious fanaticism of the Crusades, to provide support for Christian theology of “reason” set up by Aquinas and the schoolmen.

Sad that Indians have been fooled for 2 centuries, and refuse to think. This incapacity is a design objective of colonial/church education. Sad that the top formal mathematician in the country and abroad are running away from public debate in the manner of fraudulent astrologers: they have no concern for truth or for the future of children.

Rajju Ganita or traditional Indian/African string geometry is so much better.

Rajju ganita cover

Rajju Ganita workshop Bengaluru, 5-6 June 2021

Friday, May 21st, 2021

UDHBHAVAHA

brings you

SHOULD OUR SCHOOL CHILDREN LEARN

“EUCLIDEAN” GEOMETRY OR RAJJU GANITA?

By

Prof. C.K RAJU

A 2-day workshop to discuss:

(1) The falsehoods and obscurities in “Euclidean” geometry, as currently taught
(2) Why Indian śulba (string) geometry is a better way to teach geometry.

DATE: 5th and 6th June, 11AM to 1PM

Who can attend: Math Teachers, Home schoolers, anyone curious and interested in a new perspective on Ganita

Prerequisites : Participants are expected to have read the geometry sections in NCERT math texts (available online) from class VI to class IX. They should also attempt the home assignment at this link. For a further reading list see here.

Registration : Click Here

Poster

“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.

‘“Euclid” must fall’. Keynote: Tübingen/Pretoria 13 May 2021

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

The keynote is on the origin of the excessively foolish, but persistent, belief in racist superiority, AND its cure. Here are the details of the International Colloquium and an extended abstract. The times in the program are German times.

How does this concern Indians? Because the colonial myth of civilizational superiority of the West mutated from the myth of racist superiority of Whites. Both myths are based on essentially the same false history of science and mathematics. We still teach that false history of science to our schoolchildren, under colonial influence. See the chapter 5 on “Introduction to Euclid’s geometry” in the class IX NCERT school math textbook.

Euclid and Jesus coverDespite an enormous amount of secondary literature, there is no primary evidence for the existence of “Euclid”, or that he, or any person or group near his purported date, was the author of the text attributed to him, or that the author was a white male, as shown in our school texts (or Wikipedia etc), or that the text was written for remotely the purposes attributed to “Euclid”. (My challenge prize of Rs 2 lakhs for such primary evidence has been standing unclaimed for the last ten years.) But our government has laid down that, for Western history, we must follow the Wikipedia “standard” that SECONDARY Western (or Western-approved) sources MUST be regarded as definitive proof, because the colonized have no right to demand primary evidence for the master’s tales.

Indian historians seem to have implicitly accepted this historical “principle” of differential evidence, for there was never any hullabaloo regarding false Western history in Indian school texts. Indeed, in two centuries no one else ever checked even the blatantly false and propagandist history of science used by Macaulay, though we changed our education system based on it. Cross-checks will not happen in the near future either, for there are no serious historians of science in any of our numerous university history departments. (It is necessary to emphasize publicly this persistent and collective failure of our historians, because in these time of a Corona tidal wave no one can be sure how long they will last, so if the bitter truth is not stated now it may never be stated.)

“Euclid” (= Uclides = aql-i-des = rational geometry) is a Christian chauvinist myth concocted by the Crusading church in the 12th c. The myth of Greek origins of all science was first used to appropriate all scientific knowledge in Arabic texts to early Greeks. The Crusades failed because Christian Europe was far behind Muslim Europe in scientific knowledge, badly needed even for a religious war. But the church also required an excuse to appropriate it, since the church had earlier declared all non-Christian books as heretical. Attributing the origin of that knowledge to Greeks made it a theologically correct Christian inheritance, since Eusebius had declared early Greeks as the sole “friends of Christians”.

The same trick was later used for a purpose more vital to the church—to support its sudden theological shift to Christian rational theology (set up during the Crusades to compete with Islamic rational theology or aql-i-kalam), by giving “reason” a false Greek origin, to appropriate reason as a Christian inheritance. Note that the fake history of “Aristotle” (of Toledo, not Stagira) alone1 was not enough to appropriate the kind of “reason” the church needed, since “Euclid”, or rather the brazen church “reinterpretation” of the book falsely attributed to him, provided the sole purported example of axiomaticreasoning prior to the Crusading church. Since then, the “Euclid” myth was used to dodge the reality that such peculiar metaphysical reasoning was actually an invention of the crusading church for its political gain.

The world-over everyone used normal reasoning based on facts, as e.g. in India in the Nyaya, Buddhist, or Jain syllogisms. But Christian rational theology used a special type of reasoning, called formal (or faith-based) reasoning, which began from (faith-based) axioms, rather than facts, because facts are so often nakedly contrary to church dogmas. An example is Aquinas’ axiomatic reasoning about angels (which don’t exist, in fact), to deduce that many angels can fit on a pin, in his Summa Theologica. However, most people confound normal reasoning (based on facts) with formal reasoning (why bypasses facts, and is based on faith in axioms), because of the church doublespeak of using only one word “reason” for both.

The Western claim that axiomatic reasoning is a “superior” form of reasoning is a mere church superstition, which glorifies church metaphysics. However, this claim of a “superior” form of reasoning is critical to the claim of civilizational superiority. Hence, even though it has been publicly exposed, over a century that the book, purportedly authored by “Euclid”, does not contain a single axiomatic proof, from its first proposition to its last, even supposedly responsible historians like Needham keep regurgitating this false myth of axiomatic proofs in “Euclid”, as proof of Western civilizational superiority.

And, of course, this myth of axiomatic proofs in “Euclid’s” book is repeated in our school texts, because of our differing standards of history, that for Western history we must blindly trust Western authority, and that no one should actually read an easily available book, imitating Cambridge dons who foolishly avoided reading the book carefully for over 750 years until the end of the 19th c.

Today, the myth of civilizational superiority is used to promote axiomatic mathematics as a “superior” type of mathematics, involving “infallible” deduction, though it is trivial to show that axiomatic deduction is highly error-prone, and, of course, even valid deduction need not result in valid knowledge, since any desired nonsense proposition whatsoever can be proved axiomatically as a theorem, by suitably selecting the axioms, as Aquinas did.

The axioms of mathematics (such as those of set theory) are a pure metaphysics of infinity (aligned to church dogmas of eternity), which are empirically irrefutable. They result in nonsense mathematical theorems such as the Banach-Tarski theorem that one ball of gold can be subdivided and reassembled, without stretching, in to two balls of gold identical to the first. These unrealistic theorems are then defended by further metaphysics such as “measurability” which few understand.

The axioms are to be accepted solely on the strength of Western authority: e.g. calculus must be taught using formal “real” numbers, not the “non-Archimedean” arithmetic and the normal mathematics with which the calculus originated in India, and as I teach it. All practical value (e.g. calculation of rocket trajectories) still comes from normal mathematics: e.g. calculation of rocket trajectories is today done on computers which cannot use formal real numbers, declared essential for calculus, but use floating point numbers instead, which are quite different. Similar remarks apply to AI.

Unlike the claim of racist superiority, which is firmly rejected by Blacks, the closely related claim of civilizational superiority, especially in mathematics and science, has been accepted and internalised by the colonized today, who rush to defend it, typically by abusing the critic. They resort to abuse because so few (none to my knowledge), even in our premier universities, understand or can state even the axiomatic proof of 1+1=2 in formal real numbers, for which I offered a reward of Rs 10 lakhs in JNU. Surprisingly, not a single faculty member in our premier university claimed this reward, or even the reduced reward of Rs 1 lakh offered for the full proof of 1+1= 2 in real numbers, if given in a week’s time.

The cure, as I stated in my censored article, which was censored worldwide, is to stand up to the false history AND bad philosophy of mathematics, at the base of the secular justification for the claim of religious/racist/civilizational (Christian/White/Western) superiority.

Anyone interested in attending the meeting may please get in touch with me or the organizers.

1The published version of this article on logic in the Springer Encyclopedia has gathered some gross gratuitous errors because of the reflexive and unilateral application of this false history by the editor/publisher: e.g. Organon dating factually to the Crusading time of 12th c. CE, has been dated by Springer to 12th c. BCE! 😀

The first step to cure racism

Monday, June 8th, 2020

(In response to a post asking about the possible cure for racism, by Ron Eglash on the Isgem mailing list (International study group on ethnomathematics)

Well Ron,

Let us ask what we and Isgem, in particular, can do about it.

The false sense of racist superiority was created and is supported by false church and racist history, and the appropriations of Egyptian and other achievements to Greeks, as articulated by James, Diop, Bernal, various Afrocentrists (and me). But how to correct this and bring the correction to the “mainstream” schools and universities?

The problem is that the Western academic world is still living in the era of the medieval church, and imagines it can continue to control “valid” knowledge through pre-censorship (secretive “peer review”) and censorship in the name of “quality”, while constantly avoiding transparent public debate to try to preserve its falsehoods.

You might recall my censored article “Was Euclid a black woman?” which was censored by a racist editor of Conversation, in South Africa, and then worldwide, because racists in South Africa were enraged at the thought of their pet fantasies being challenged. The article was later reproduced as part of another article: “Black thoughts matter: Decolonised math, acdemic censorship, and the “Pythagorean” proposition” in Journal of Black Studies and also in Rhodes Must Fall (Oxford), Zed books.

It is a very silly idea to imagine that “valid knowledge” can be decided by some semi-literate White editor or reviewer sitting in judgment of a knowledgeable counter-opinion, without any detailed public response. As explained in my booklet Ending Academic Imperialism, the simple alternative in the digital age is to have post-publication public reviews, which are NOT anonymous.

That is, one simple way to eliminate the numerous falsehoods responsible for continued racism is to allow open debate, and replace the present archaic academic system.

While the Isgem mailing list is open, the Isgem journal Mathematics and Culture  follows similar regressive academic practices, and, for example, refused to publish my views on Euclid, though no one so far has come up with a single counter-point, or claimed my Euclid challenge prize for serious evidence about Euclid. That was just another attempt to preserve prejudices spread by racist and church falsehoods in the name of “quality control”. I never submitted anything to that journal again.

Incidentally, for a recent review of the issue see the blog post: Greediots and Pythagoras. 3: Was Euclid a black woman? The term “Greediots” is in response to the term “pyramidiots” invented by Gillings: it refers to people who believe without serious evidence that much science and math was invented in early Greece, though the early Greeks were bad even at basic arithmetic, as my censored article emphasized.

And look at the ridiculous “quality”that has resulted from this method of knowledge control called “quality control”.

Greek history for idiots: Greediots and Pythagoras. 1: No axiomatic proofs in Greek math.

See, also, part 2 of the blog on the foolishness of the Cambridge University math syllabus.

So, once again, I think the first step is to try to reform universities to abandon this attempt at knowledge control by force of authority. Let us demonstrate an alternative system in Isgem and in math education.

And if it is not done, that leaves only the inevitable alternative of violent overthrow. The US abandoned slavery only after the civil war, it abandoned segregation only after the agitation following the Rosa Parks episode, and abandoned its strong support to apartheid only after it became impossible to sustain that regime. Likewise, it took action against racist police officers for the first time after a sustained violent agitation.

But the situation is changing. The mess in Covid management in the US and Europe (compared to China), and the resulting economic recession has exposed the possibility that the temporary reign of the West is over, and the West is crumbling because of the social disharmony due to the excessively unjust system it set up.

So, the other alternative may be to do nothing and just wait for a few years!Emoji

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.

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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…)