Date: Dec 28, 2012 3:31 PM
Author: Paul A. Tanner III
Subject: Re: A Point on Understanding

On Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 12:15 PM, kirby urner <> wrote:
> On Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 7:30 AM, Paul Tanner <> wrote:
> << SNIP >>

>> If p is actually a proved statement, a theorem, then person B is
>> simply showing himself or herself to be a fact-denier - and if he or
>> she persists in such fact-denial, to be a crackpot.

> That's quite an illuminating statement in light of your earlier claims
> to have "proved" this and that about the sloppy world of voting and
> health care. In your model, the statements you put forth are "as
> theorems" (truths of the same caliber) and those who oppose you in
> argument are in fact fact-denying crackpots and/or slobs.
> This attitude might well work to your advantage in debate, if you're
> able to communicate your utter disregard for the opponent's view in a
> way that makes you seem professorial. Keep to the tone of the "expert
> witness" but don't let the jury think you arrogant, as if the trial's
> outcome were more up to you than them (or maybe it's no jury and all
> judges -- in NFL debate we lean towards tribunals in the higher
> "courts" with even more judges at the championship level).

This feeble attempt to change the subject won't work. The context here
is denial of mathematical theorems, pure and simple. There is no
debate in the denial of a theorem.

And I'm talking denial of theorems here, not some "I don't understand
how this theorem can be true". One's ability or inability to
understand how a theorem is true is not a legitimate measure of
whether a theorem is in fact a theorem. Using the latter to try to
justify the former is what a mathematical crank (crackpot) does - and
oh yeah, there are a lot of them out there, and yes, some of them can
even be trained in science and mathematics:

"Every discipline has its crackpots: Stories of mathematics"


"Common synonyms for "crank" include crackpot and kook....The term
crank is often applied to persons who contradict rigorously proven
mathematical theorems, such as the impossibility of squaring the
circle by ruler and compass, or who deny extremely well established
physical theories, such as the special theory of relativity,
conservation of mass-energy, or a spheroid earth (See Flat Earth
Society). More engineer-minded cranks may claim to have invented
amagic compression algorithm or a perpetual motion / free energy

One of the responsibilities of teacher to teach his or her students
how to think such that they can avoid becoming cranks.

Sure, one can engage in free inquiry and "let us reason together" all
one wants, but there is a responsibility here, and that is to have a
respect for fact, for what is really true, and to accept it, and not
to deny it.

Unfortunately, since the Internet is one whale of a breeding ground
for this bane of humanity, this crackpot-ism, fact-denial is becoming
more and more prevalent, and this denial of fact is happening in all
forms whether it is mathematics denial or science denial or whatever.
People more and more seem to think that making up one's own facts is
part of what it means to be a thinker.