All bloggers are liars

by John Q on March 10, 2005

Slate runs a good debunking of romantic popular misinterpetations of Godel’s theorem. Key quote

The precise mathematical formulation that is Gödel’s theorem doesn’t really say “there are true things which cannot be proved” any more than Einstein’s theory means “everything is relative, dude, it just depends on your point of view.”

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen dubious appeals to intuition or claims about chaos theory and the like supported with reference to Godel’s theorem, but I have derived the following proposition:

Quiggin’s metatheorem: Any interesting conclusion derived with reference to Godel’s theorem is unfounded.

Feel free to evaluate with reference to the post title, and your level of interest in the formalist program.

The Great Migration

by Kieran Healy on March 10, 2005

CT has switched platforms from MovableType to WordPress. Thanks to lead WordPress developer Matt Mullenweg for doing the behind-the-scenes work on this. We hope this move will make things easier for our readers.[1] For one thing, it should be the end of double- triple- or even duodecuple-posted comments. These were becoming an embarrassing CT hallmark, thanks to our outdated installation of MovableType and way too much server load. Trackback spam and other blogging bugaboos should also become easier to manage. More generally, it’s good to move over to an open-source platform.

I expect there will be teething problems in the short-term, as we fine-tune the layout and learn how to use the new software. We hope you’ll bear with us. Right now, our main page doesn’t render properly in Safari: the right sidebar text ends up positioned on the left. This isn’t a problem on Firefox or IE. If there are any CSS gurus out there who want to suggest a fix, we’d be very grateful.

fn1. This is a test of footnotes.

It’s a Cookbook!

by Henry Farrell on March 10, 2005

I’m about to jump on a plane to Europe, after jumping off a plane from Hawaii yesterday, but couldn’t resist blogging this aside from a recent Scott McLemee “column”:

bq. At one point, they [‘Chairman Bob’ Avakian and his philosopher sidekick] note that the slogan “Serve the People,” made famous by the little red book, could be used — with very different intentions, of course — at a McDonald’s training institute. This is, on reflection, something like Hegel’s critique of the formalism of Kant’s ethics. Only, you know, different.

Chairman Bob is stealing a riff here from Damon Knight’s famous short story “To Serve Man,” which was made into an even more famous Twilight Zone episode. I imagine that Chairman Bob’s version is more laboured and less funny than the original: “Don’t get on the ship. The book, To Serve Man, IT’S A COOKBOOK!” has to rank as one of the best closing lines of all time.

You Learn Something New Every Day–On The Internets

by Belle Waring on March 10, 2005

I don’t know how to put this delicately…but I never knew there were so many–ah–euphemisms (kakophemisms?) for anal intercourse until I read this list of words which you cannot emblazon on an NFL personalized jersey. And, I think that if you had asked me, I would have said I did indeed know quite a good number. The scales have fallen from my eyes. (via Hit and Run.)

Good old socialized medicine

by Daniel on March 10, 2005

Congratulations to the team at King’s College London, who have managed to achieve the first claimed “cure” of Type 1 Diabetes via transplanted islet cells. Just to drive the point home, the technique that they used was originally developed in Canada, so it’s a double win for socialized medical research.

The temptation is almost overpowering to speculate that the reason this particular procedure was developed outside the USA might have something to do with the fact that curing a disease with a single operation doesn’t produce a lifelong dependence on patented pharmaceuticals. But this temptation probably ought to be resisted; it’s only a single case. But well done King’s College, and perhaps this will shame our government into funding London’s hospitals properly.