Sunday, September 19, 2010


I just saw a reference to a book that I must read: Charles Seife, Proofiness, The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception (Viking, officially to be released next week). From a review in the New York Times: "The numerical cousin of truthiness is proofiness: “the art of using bogus mathematical arguments to prove something that you know in your heart is true — even when it’s not.”

As a historian of Philosophy, I have had to live with that approach pretty much all of my life. Much of "analytic" and "post-analytic" philosophy lives off this kind of "proofiness," albeit more based on logic and semantics. Is it a mere accident that it rhymes with "goofiness"?

I will have to get this book, in any case!

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