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Topic: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Replies: 25   Last Post: Jul 19, 2000 9:37 PM

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Barry Cipra

Posts: 21
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Posted: Jul 17, 2000 6:30 PM
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This topic ran its course a couple months ago, but I just came across a
pertinent weference at the Lingua Franca website, an article by Jim Holt
titled "MISTAKEN IDENTITY THEORY - Why Scientists Always Pick the Wrong
Man." Here's a snippet:
-----
The practice of naming things after people (real or mythical) who are
associated with them is called eponymy. There are eponymous words, like
"guillotine," "bowdlerize," and "sadism." There are eponymous place-names,
like Pennsylvania and the Peloponnisos. And there are eponymous compound
expressions, like "Copernican system" and "Halley's comet." When such
expressions occur in the sciences, the presumption is that the thing
designated was discovered by the scientist whose name is affixed to it. That
presumption is nearly always false.

If you think I exaggerate, you are obviously not familiar with Stigler's Law
of Eponymy. This law, which in its simplest form states that "no scientific
discovery is named after its original discoverer," was so dubbed by Stephen
Stigler in his recent book Statistics on the Table (Harvard). An immodest
act of nomenclature? Not really. If Stigler's law is true, its very name
implies that Stigler himself did not discover it. By explaining that the
credit belongs instead to the great sociologist of science Robert K. Merton,
Stigler not only wins marks for humility; he makes the law to which he has
lent his name self-confirming.
-----
The url for the whole piece is
http://www.linguafranca.com/0003/hypo.html

[Note: Robert Merton was mentioned by David Fowler in his reply of 19
March.]

Barry Cipra
cipra@microassist.com


> From: Julio Gonzalez Cabillon <jgc@adinet.com.uy>
>
> At 03:31 p.m. 16/03/00 -0500, Andrew Bowering typed:
> |
> | I am in my final year of a degree course in Mathematics and in need of
> | big help. I have noticed the wealth of knowledge out there amongst
> | you but now I need to tap into this knowledge. Firstly I need some
> | examples of results which are not named after the people who derived
> | them - ie - L'Hopital's rule, found by his tutor Johann Bernoulli.
> |
>
> Mind the "Boyer's Law" in the history of mathematics:
>
> "Mathematical formulas and theorems are usually
> not named after their original discoverers."
>
> Best regards,
> Julio Gonzalez Cabillon





Date Subject Author
3/16/00
Read [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Andrew Bowering
3/18/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
James A Landau
3/19/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
John Conway
3/19/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Julio Gonzalez Cabillon
3/19/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
John Conway
3/25/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Julio Gonzalez Cabillon
3/19/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
MANN@vms.huji.ac.il
3/19/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
David Fowler
3/19/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Johnsonart@aol.com
3/19/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
John Conway
3/19/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Ralph A. Raimi
3/25/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Julio Gonzalez Cabillon
3/19/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Antreas P. Hatzipolakis
3/20/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
RJR_McWhinnie
3/20/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Don Cook
3/21/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
MANN@vms.huji.ac.il
3/22/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Michael S. Mahoney
3/21/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
GARCIADIEGO DANTAN ALEJANDRO
3/21/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Alfred Ross
3/23/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Udai Venedem
3/25/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Julio Gonzalez Cabillon
6/21/00
Read Re: [HM] Historia Matematica: our mailing list
Peter Mitchell
7/17/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Barry Cipra
7/17/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Julio Gonzalez Cabillon
7/19/00
Read [HM] Benford's Law
Ralph A. Raimi
3/25/00
Read Re: [HM] L'Hopital, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Hilbert
Barry Cipra

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