Boxing Pythagoras

Philosophy from the mind of a fighter

Archive for the month “June, 2014”

Be smart. Use tau.

For anyone who didn’t know, this past Saturday was Tau Day, a celebration of the proper circle constant!

A couple weeks ago, I told all of you about how π is stupid, and urged everyone to be smart and use τ, instead. However, you might be surprised to learn that this is not the end of the debate, when it comes to angles. While I argue that people should measure angles in terms of τ, many traditionalists argue that they should be measured in terms of π, our grammar schools are still intent on teaching the incredibly archaic degrees of arc, and if you’ve ever fiddled with a scientific calculator, you might have learned that some backwards people prefer gradians. But that’s still not the end of the debate. According to a video by Dr. David Butler of the University of Adelaide, “π may be wrong, but so is τ!”

I’m going to celebrate Tau Day, belatedly, by rebutting Dr. Butler’s presentation. I’m going to show that degrees, gradians, η, and π are all stupid, and that the only smart choice in this debate is τ.

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WLC on Time, Part 5: More Mathematical Misconceptions

After my last installment of this series, I had thought that I would be done critiquing Dr. William Lane Craig’s misunderstandings of the science and mathematics regarding time. After all, I’ve already shown that his arguments in support of the archaic Tensed Theory of Time are unfalsifiable, fallacious, ill-conceived, and self-contradictory. What more could there be for me to say? Well, in this week’s Reasonable Faith Podcast, Dr. Craig gifts me with more of his misconceptions about time. Starting at the 13:15 mark and lasting through the rest of the podcast, Dr. Craig addresses a question posed to him about the implications of the Tenseless Theory of Time on the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, which the questioner refers to as “the holy grail of atheism.” I’ll note that this questioner doesn’t seem to realize that even a great many devout Christians completely accept the veracity of Evolution by Natural Selection, and that it is no more an “atheist” theory than is the Pythagorean Theorem. However, the particular implications on evolutionary biology will take a back seat, today, to the more general implications which Dr. Craig claims are made by the Tenseless Theory of Time. Specifically, Dr. Craig asserts that nothing actually changes over time, on the Tenseless Theory. Read more…

Pi is Stupid

I teach Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to people of all ages, from preschoolers to middle-aged parents. While BJJ, in itself, is not necessarily the most academic of pursuits, I also happen to be a huge nerd. So while teaching some of my 8 to 13 year-old students, it sometimes happens that I overhear them talking about their math classes, often to complain about ideas that they’re struggling to grasp. Being a huge nerd, and also a delighted teacher, I do my best to help them through these issues. If I can teach a kid how to find the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle at the same time as teaching her how to finish a Triangle Choke, I become pretty much the proudest martial arts instructor you could hope to meet.

One of the things that my kids often use in their math classes, but almost never really understand, is the constant π (pi). They are taught π in class to help learn things like how to calculate the area of a circle, but they usually don’t really know what π actually is. They just think of it as some number that they have to memorize, never thinking about where the number comes from, or why it is what it is. Sometimes, I’ll tell the kids that they can earn their way out of doing push-ups if anyone can tell me what π is. Most often– after the jokes about desserts are made– I’ll hear someone say, “Coach, π is three-point-one-four!” Every now and again, one of the kids is clever enough to say, “Coach, π is three-point-one-four-on-into-infinity!” They get confused when I tell them that’s the value of π, but that is not what π actually is. It’s not their fault that they get confused by this; they were usually taught about π all wrong. I don’t even blame their math teachers, because most of the time, those math teachers were also taught about π in the wrong way. For a very long time, math classes have been teaching that π is a number, instead of teaching that π is the relationship between a circle’s circumference and its diameter. There is a reason it has been taught this way.

Ladies and gentlemen, π is just plain stupid.

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Heathen Apologetics, Part 4: The Argument from the Miraculous

Welcome back to Heathen Apologetics, where we repurpose common, Christian apologetics arguments and instead use them to support the veracity of Norse religious faith. The purpose of this series is to serve as a sort of giant reductio ad absurdum. Using the exact same logical constructs espoused by Christian thinkers, with only minor modifications to the premises made to substitute specifically Christian suppositions with specifically Norse ones, Heathen Apologetics intends to show that these arguments are entirely untenable. Today, we’re going to take a look at the Argument from the Miraculous.

The supernatural power of the runes proves that the gods are real.

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The Story of My Rationalism

My parents– like all parents– love to tell stories, bragging about me to their friends. One of their favorites comes from my early childhood. When I was just four or five years old, my Sunday School teacher came to my parents flummoxed, after a particular day of church. She pulled them aside and apologized, telling them that I had asked a lot of questions that she could not answer. In fact, she had never even thought about many of my questions before then. If Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel were the first people, who did Cain think was going to kill him after he had been caught in his crime? Who lived in the land of Nod and how did they get there? If there were no people before Adam and Eve, didn’t that mean Cain married his own sister? I was young, but I loved to think and to learn, and the combination of these three things often brought me to places that my teachers had never even considered.

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