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Re: WAS-- Re: Hanson 2006, Mortimer, Baeker response

I never suspected that this was debatable, but here goes--

The historical context of "math" is lost or ignored here. Mathematical 
phenomena (eg, natural numbers, pi, the formulas for areas and volumes of 
various geometrical shapes) were explored through use of the "tangible 
universe" by early mathematicians. A person qualifying and quantifying pi with 
string and various round-ish objects, or exploring division and fractions with 
piles of beads was gathering _data_, and _testing_ that data against reality. 

The tools of scientific methodology were first formalized by early 
mathematicians, and used to establish the congruence of mathematical concepts 
to the tangible universe. After practical problems (eg, measurement error) were 
overcome by the use of theoretical concepts (eg, Euclid's axioms), robust 
mathematical systems became capable of exploring the tangible universe, rather 
than vice versa. 

Not only is the investigation of mathematical phenomena  _a_ science, it is the 
_original_ science. The pioneers are mostly lost to Time, and many were no 
doubt murdered as reward for their dedication to understanding and the 
betterment of the human condition, yet their work lives on. 

For those who insist that numbers are simply a figment of the human 
imagination, I suggest a career in sales, or leftist politics. Now, stop being 
so ungrateful, and get back to dinosaurs before Mickey gets mad...

Frightened and lonely in world of blithe and careless fuzziness,

----- Original Message ----
From: Graydon <oak@uniserve.com>
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Sent: Friday, June 23, 2006 10:09:56 PM
Subject: Re: WAS-- Re: Hanson 2006, Mortimer, Baeker response

On Fri, Jun 23, 2006 at 06:05:34PM +0000, Phil Bigelow scripsit:
> On Fri, 23 Jun 2006 20:33:38 -0400 Graydon <oak@uniserve.com> writes:
> > On Fri, Jun 23, 2006 at 04:46:32PM +0000, Phil Bigelow scripsit:
> > > That sounds like the scientific method to me.  Tell me where I am
> > > wrong.
> > 
> > Math is under no obligation to correspond to the tangible universe.
> > Science is.  That both are required to be independent of any
> > particular person's understanding doesn't make them the same thing
> > in the face of that fundamental difference.
> When I was in college, there was a guy down the hall in my dormatory
> that said things like that.  He didn't go out on dates.

As substantive disagreement goes, that lacks something. :)

Science is about the pre-existing material world; math, while sometimes
used to describe the material world, isn't.  It's about elegance and

-- Graydon