Mathematics and Reality

A new book called How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, by University of Wisconsin professor Jordan Ellenberg, is getting some attention.

Here’s an NPR interview.

And Slate has been posted several excerpts of the book by Ellenberg (I see there are earlier posts on Slate by Ellenberg as well), including How to Lie With Negative Numbers and Does 0.999… = 1? And Are Divergent Series the Invention of the Devil?.

This second item reminds me of the suspicion of the concept of infinity expressed by Christian apologist William Lane Craig (in this previous blog post) over certain non-intuitive results of dealing with infinite series. I’ve gathered there is a whole strain of doubt among religious conservatives about not just modern science (evolution, cosmology, etc), but also about certain branches of mathematics, including the notion of infinity — because, you know, the only infinity is *God*, and therefore any abstract consideration of the idea of infinity is… blasphemy. While I can’t find, offhand, a link to any particular article about this, I suspect Conservapedia has something to say about this.

It seems the notion of parallel worlds is true, at least subjectively. The divide between those who try to honestly negotiate with reality and those who filter existence through ideology is so extreme (it seems, these days), that it indicates a de facto set of parallel worlds, in which visible reality is but a superficial shared illusion behind radically different fundamental realities.

I shall be reading the Ellenberg book soon.

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