Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mathematical Politics

I just finished watching the BBC Documentary called "Dangerous Knowledge" on the work of Cantor, Boltzmann, Godel, and Turing on the concepts of infinity and irrationality in mathematics and physics. First of all, I highly reccomend that everyone do some research into these guys, even if you don't watch the documentary.
At the end of the documentary, the host leaves us with the thought of whether we as humans have matured enough to live with uncertainties, or whether we are destined to repeat the mistakes of the 20th century and pledge blind allegiance to yet another certainty. He alludes earlier in the video to the difficulty Godel encountered by determining that there would always be problems that exist outside of human logic while living in Austria as Hitler came to power as a leader who declared such certainties that people blindly followed him.
I ask you to take those thoughts to heart as our own elections come. Please don't judge a potential leader on their answers or how certain of them they are--there is not enough certainty in this world in which we live to levee the sorts of blind judgements our political system traps the candidates into making. Instead, if you can, judge them on their critical thinking abilities and their abilities to adapt to both work in depth on issues and also take a step back and look at the world-view ramifications of any actions--a skill that I believe can only be displayed by someone who has a multitude of life experiences outside of politics and govnernment.
I fear we have become so comfortable in our system of looking for easy answers in our politics and policies that we have become succeptable as a country. It's a pattern that has repeated throughout history--if we don't use our brains more effectively, we will fall victim to the blind power of another entity (if not our own, if we aren't cautious in our checks and balances).

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