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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Supporting faith in the system

Role I want to play can seem mysterious or even a bit complicated until you consider what I see as strange things. And to me the strangest things have driven others that seem so dramatic, like why I put forward a definition of mathematical proof, which I noted at the time back in 2005, was motivated partly by behavior from mathematicians.

And it's in the post what I found troubling, where had routinely seen in the news mathematical arguments presented as possibly proofs, which were called proofs, and mathematicians talking as if mathematical proofs were delicate. Huh?

Such a bizarre contention was about trying to explain to press, when things called proofs were later shown to have error, and I say, should call mathematical arguments being checked by the system to see if are proofs instead of calling proofs to the public before that is even done.

That behavior upset me. And surprised me too! Why talk as if mathematical proof was fragile or delicate? Why? Why? Why?

Do try to feel empathy for academic mathematicians desperate to make a career or just keep one going, but there have to be limits on selfish behavior, and constant focus on what is good for the system as a whole.

Political behavior from mathematicians or even worse, chasing fame with a claim is not an excuse for such disruption.

It irritated me. So I wrote a definition of mathematical proof, which has a functional basis.

Some of these things are SO wild, but true. It's like thinking about it later though, seems extraordinary. The explanations are worth nothing I guess. Usually I DO try to explain.

And, also note that gave me the benefit of checking my own mathematical results with it. Which I also needed as why wouldn't I?

With my one published paper, also note I've championed the system, as it passed anonymous peer review, and actually faced two reviewers.

Questioning their own system by mathematicians is probably why things stand as they are. If they just followed the rules would be so much easier for them. And I'm NOT a mathematician so I can critique that while wryly noting my detachment from that system is a plus.

Will also note my disdain for what have seen as quests for celebrity from certain mathematicians, and a disappointing amount of hero worship, which muddles the quest for truth from the established community. It's like math people want to believe based on SOURCE instead of argument. Naive hero worship worries me.

Yes, I have my own ways of making fun of such things, as well as highlighting them. I'm functionally focused on what works, as I test, and see over time. And is a process where I try to lighten things up when I can, to the extent I can. Helps me feel better at least.

I see myself currently as the biggest defender of the system, which is a responsibility I take very seriously. And that becomes more clear in time.

If you thought something else, why?

There is a LOT of hard evidence that I'm working hard to maintain certain things. Over and over again have gone to a lot of effort to support mathematics globally. Including taking the time to be careful as to how that is done.

There is no rush for me. Mathematics is important enough.

Feel like mostly done though, which is great! Heavy lifting? Over. Helping with mathematics is already mostly fond memories. Don't spend much time on these things now anyway. Just lately have been cleaning up a bit. Have other things to do too. Maybe have to do a little something else here or there if field of mathematics gets endangered again, but plan is soon NOTHING else, to fix. Can still talk things though. Is fun.

Often have been forced to face things objectively, accept facts, and realize I'm lucky to have a role to play, and not think too hard about how big it might be or how strange it is. As then can feel all kinds of weird, which is not fun.

Oh yeah, thankfully I haven't seen mathematicians trotting out mathematical arguments still under review as mathematical proofs that are delicate recently. If still happening, luckily not that I've noticed.

I find that behavior undermines public confidence in mathematics. And be certain I consider that to be unacceptable.

Mathematical proofs are NOT delicate. Never think otherwise.

Mathematical proofs are absolute in a sense few things human beings can ever find can ever be.

That will never change.


James Harris
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