Monthly Archives: May 2018

What It Takes

This article began as a parenthesis to a planned article (yet to be completed) about passion and reason, as related by David Hume, according to whom,

Reason is, and ought only to be[,] the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.

I thought about how I had not really read Hume since college; I thought more about what did not end up in my previous article here; it seemed I was working out another article, the present one, which ends up considering arguments that natural science is founded on the Christian creed, and takes note along the way of continuing censorship of Wikipedia by the Turkish state. Continue reading


I am writing from the Math Village, and here I happen to have read that Abraham Lincoln kept no known diary as such, but noted his thoughts on loose slips of paper. Admired because he “could simply sit down and write another of his eloquent public letters,”

Lincoln demurred. “I had it nearly all in there,” he said, pointing to an open desk drawer. “It was in disconnected thoughts, which I had jotted down from time to time on separate scraps of paper.” This was how he worked, the president explained. It was on such scraps of paper, accumulating over the years into a diaristic density, that Lincoln saved and assembled what he described to the visitor as his “best thoughts on the subject.”

Thus Ronald C. White, “Notes to Self,” Harper’s, February 2018. My own notes to self are normally in bound notebooks, and perhaps later in blog articles such as the present one, which is inspired by the 1960 article called “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences,” by Eugene Wigner.
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Boolean Arithmetic

Mathematics can be highly abstract, though remaining applicable to daily life. I want to show this with the mathematics behind logic puzzles, such as how to derive a conclusion using all of the following premisses:

  1. Babies are illogical.
  2. Nobody is despised who can manage a crocodile.
  3. Illogical persons are despised.

The example, from Terence Tao’s blog, is attributed to Lewis Carroll. By the first and third premisses, babies are despised; by the second premiss then, babies cannot manage crocodiles.

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