Friday, June 18, 2021

Kurt Godel and Leo Depuydt

 There is a biography just out:  Journey to the Edge of Reason: The Life of Kurt Godel by Stephen Budiansky.  I was tempted, a little bit.  Then I read Leo Depuydt's review (on Amazon) which I consider very much worth reading:   [Depuydt abbreviates the names of the people he discusses.  Thus Albert Einstein is AE and Kurt Godel is KG.]  Here is the last bit of his Amazon review:

At that time, the Einstein fuse had burned out and he was just a shadow of his former self, turning himself into some kind of a freak show that still dominates the airwaves.

I am not even trying to be critical of KG the Man. He was talented in many ways. So, he was weird. But then, he was harmless. And you can’t say that about all weird people, though he did freak out people a little on occasion and also got into all kinds of disputes a good deal more than most people. The author and myself are evidently diametrically opposed in regard to KG The Myth. But then, the author does transmit the prevailing narrative, a narrative with which I could not disagree more. And the book did nothing to change my mind regarding this disagreement. Quite to the contrary, it helped me strengthen my personal opinion about something that I had long suspected; that is why I personally welcome the book. Reporting the prevailing narrative may just be the task of the biographer. And the author does report the narrative objectively. The author reports the Myth. I see his book as a tool to finally help end the Myth. There are many indications throughout the book of cracks in the Myth. For example, KG later in life felt that he had not done much over several decades at the Institute of Advanced Studies. And that was true. Should such a statement not just raise some suspicion? KG even once, still in his prime, as I learned from the book, submitted an article for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It was rejected because the reviewer could not make any sense of it. Should that not raise some suspicion?

I add in the margin that books about KG and accomplices are often packaged by the media and the book industry as books about a supreme genius. So for a $20 bill or so you can “read the mind of God” or the like. That is a really good deal. Beats going to Disneyland. This reminds me of AE’s famous statements quoting the thoughts of God. Either this was totally ironical or just plain stupid. But people actually buy it most of the time. Go figure. (By the way, I talked to God the other day and he told me He would not tell AE anything because He was afraid as to what he was going to do with it).
In sum. This book needed writing. Finally. It took real work. Impressively. And it is well written. Thankfully. We need many, many more books like this.* To cut more of the crap. There is too much of it. Quousque tandem?

*In fact, a book about another Holy Cow just came out, about St. Stephen (that is, Hawking) by Charles Seife. Also recommended reading.

Leo Depuydt currently works in the Department of Egyptology and Assyriology, Brown University. "Leo does research in Rational Human Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence, and the History of Science. His current projects include 1) "Complete definition of the operating system (OS) of the human brain" (yes: all of it! see the book[*]), trying to show at the same time how all current efforts at AI are completely misguided and money down the drain (such a terrible waste) and 2) "Mapping the Geography of Infinity" (or "The Role of Infinity in the Physical Universe"). In regard to the latter, it can be shown mathematically that the universe is infinite and timeless and that time is only a limitation imposed on the human condition; it is a straightjacket in which all of humanity is held captive. LD"

[*] I went to Amazon to "see the book" Depuydt refers to, but it isn't there.

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