The Flaw of Math, or Perhaps Just the Limits of Human Cognition

  • Veritasium on math’s fatal flaw, or perhaps just a limitation on the extent humans can understand reality;
  • Considering why cars are built to be able to break the law;
  • A cartoon about religious folks who believe the Bible was written in English;
  • Two items about “Project 2025” and Christian Nationalism.
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Veritasium on Facebook, 6 May 2022: Math Has A Fatal Flaw..

In any mathematical system, there will always be true statements that cannot be proven. Some perhaps trivial, some perhaps profound.

And, we may never know.

And I find this fascinating because it hints at the limitations of human cognition… or perhaps that reality itself is incomprehensible to to human cognition (not quite the same thing). This echoes Steven Pinker’s conclusion, in his book that I just read.

Included is good stuff about The Game of Life, which demonstrates how extremely simple rules can give rise to complexity, and the impression of design, even volition.


Why are our cars built to allow us to break the law?

Vox, David Zipper, 1 Mar 2024: Driving at ridiculous speeds should be physically impossible, subtitled “Reckless speeding is epidemic in the US. This simple technology could save tens of thousands of lives.”

At a national level, Americans are far more likely to die in crashes than those living in other rich countries; even comparably spacious and car-clogged Canada has a per capita crash death rate that is 60 percent lower than its southern neighbor.

Happily, a common-sense solution is available. A technology known as Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) can make it difficult or impossible for drivers to drastically exceed the posted limit. Over the last few months, a bevy of federal, state, and local officials have called for ISA adoption on all new cars, or at least on those driven by public employees or those with a history of reckless driving.

There’s some kind of weird hypocrisy going on here. Speed limits are everywhere (except perhaps on the Autobahn, which I drove on once, back in… 1993), yet our cars, which are regulated in so many ways, are allowed to cruise at speeds well over all the speed limits. I’m sure Republicans would say that this is a matter of *freedom*… to break the law? Then change the laws. Or is it, freedom for me, speed limits for thee? (I’m aware that certain kinds of vehicles, like school buses, do have speed regulators installed.)

At the same time, how is this any different from the issue of firearms? Conservatives say they need to protect themselves, but why allow these attachments to some firearms that allow them to fire much more rapidly? How can those devices be construed as anything other than mass-murder machines? (All thoughts of “well-regulated militias” have long vanished among both conservatives and, apparently, some Supreme Court Justices. This is a visceral issue, not a sensible or legal one.)


From a Facebook friend’s re-post of a cartoon making fun of a certain type of under-educated, simple-minded religious folk. (It’s a friend’s post, not a global post, so I won’t link it here.)

There *are* people like that out there, whose knowledge of history is so nonexistent they don’t for a moment reflect on how languages have changed since the Bible was written, let alone know anything about how the Bible came together over thousands of years. I will quote a comment to the post by another of my Fb friends, Darrell Schweitzer:

This is not a joke. When my wife worked for the Philadelphia city government, she met a lot of low-level bureaucrats who actually believed this. When it was pointed out that the Bible is a translation, the usual response was that the person had just never thought about it. They hadn’t really looked at the title page either, since most editions say “translated from the original tongues.” It would of course take considerably more education for them to be able to understand that languages evolve and English did not even exist at the time of Jesus, let alone at the time of Moses.

But this is how all religious faith promulgates, I think; ordinary folk adopt whatever beliefs, no matter how unexamined and irrational, that their community follows. Understanding reality is not the point; belonging is.


We’ve noted before the “Project 2025” plan meant to go into effect when Trump (or any other Republican) retakes the White House. Basically, to institutionalize Christian Nationalism. Here’s a piece that focuses on that plan’s focus on curtailing women’s right.

AlterNet, Carl Gibson, 2 Mar 2024: Far-right wants ‘Department of Life’ in second Trump term to further curtail women’s rights

The document states that the HHS [the Department of Health and Human Services ] should become “known as the Department of Life,” specifically by “rejecting the notion that abortion is health care and by restoring its mission statement under the Strategic Plan and elsewhere to include furthering the health and well-being of all Americans ‘from conception to natural death.'”

Needless to say, I predict that this new Department of Life will not be hobbled by science or critical thinking.


Meanwhile, here’s how the Christian Nationalists are furious for being portrayed accurately.

Hemant Mehta, Friendly Atheist, 1 Mar 2024: Christian Nationalists are furious at reporter Heidi Przybyla for accurately reporting on them, subtitled “Conservatives are big mad that the POLITICO reporter connected the dots between their religious faith and their plans for a second Trump term”

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