It's Funny But It's Logical

Once upon a time I wrote an essay called Mathegenesis which was a history of the development of Mathematical Logic in the style of Genesis. Said essay has been reprinted around the world by mathematical logicians. Take a look if that sort of thing is your cup of tea. Meanwhile, here are some stories and maxims lifted from the net. You may also want to check out the Bonkstry incident.

A logician saves the life of a space alien and is rewarded with an offer to answer any question. After a thought he asks: What is the best question to ask and the correct answer to it? After a brief panic the alien consults her computer and says: The best question to ask is the one you just did and the correct answer to it is the one I gave.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.

Profound Truth differs from simple truth in that the negation of a simple truth is a simple falsehood, while the negation of a Profound Truth may be another Profound Truth. E.g. a button with "Life is just as simple as it seems" on one side and "Life is not as simple as it seems" on the other.

Once upon a time in another era... My mother attended Bryn Mawr College during WWII, and one of the requirements for graduation was proficiency in Greek and Latin. My mother had no interest in spending two years studying Greek, and since the catalog listed a proficiency exam for incoming students as an alternative, she spent a couple of days learning the alphabet, the pronounciation rules and a few words...

On the scheduled day (the Saturday before registration) she showed up in the appointed room at the scheduled 9:00 AM time, and waited and waited. Around 9:30 a professor showed up, and was startled to find anyone waiting--since no one had ever attempted the exam. Since he had no test prepared, he pulled a copy of the Odyssey from his bookshelf and had her read the first few paragraphs and translate. (Of course since she was very familiar with the Odyssey in English, it was easy for her to sight translate the first few sentences--a lot easier than it would have been to read them in Greek.) End of exam. She thought about going to the similar exam for Latin that afternoon, but decided it would be pushing her luck...

She also had a philosophy final one year where you had your choice of two questions:

a) Constrast the Hegelian view of mankinds attempts to achieve perfection with those of Kant and Nietche. Pay special attention to... (or some such.)

b) Where is Critique of Impure Reason located in the library, and what color is its cover.

Even though the book was required reading for the course, my mother was the only one to choose b...

An interchange from the usenet

Harter: As a matter of principle I hold wildly varying and markedly inconsistent positions with dogmatic ferocity

Siemon: I like this one, and urge its general adoption.

Gans: Wait a minute: I hold inconsistent positions *simultaneously*. I feel that this is a necessary attribute. Anybody can hold inconsistent positions sequentially.

Harter: The true expert will hold inconsistent positions simultaneously, but not at the same time.

This page was last updated July 3, 1996.