Category: Memos

Irreducible complexibullshit.

Irreducible complexity is fallacious. The argument of irreducibility must assume that evolution is false, and the conclusion it reaches is that evolution is false. You can always conclude your assumptions.

They say, “a cell is too complex to be the product of evolution. If it were, there would be simpler cells in existence.” There would not be. The simpler cells have DIED due to the fact that they did not become more complex. That’s what natural selection is.

It is mutation that has fostered evolution in the exact same way that a mutation has made me terminally ill. How’s that for some unintelligent design? But guess what? Natural selection works. I will not be having children. This genetic mutation will terminate in a leaf of my family tree. As all disadvantageous mutations eventually do.

Food for Thought…

Abstinence is only 100% effective if you reject the immaculate conception.

Also, I doubt Joseph found it all that immaculate.

One is not prime.

I was at trivia on Monday, with some friends from the department (the math department, that is). Our team consisted of six graduate students and above. As horrible as this may sound to some of you, believe me, mathematicians are AWESOME in groups.

We were winning (the questions were pretty easy, but I will admit to being mildly happy I knew a period of play in polo was called a chukker), when the following question came up: “What is the sum of the first five prime numbers?” We chuckled, more than a little. It’s 2+3+5+7+11=28.

After getting it right, and being in the minority, the teams who had gotten it wrong FREAKED OUT. “It’s 18! Everyone knows that!”

As I was wearing a shirt with a math joke on it (I often do), and as the host had noticed beforehand, she said, “where’s the mathematician I talked to before? What’s the answer?”

Calmly, I replied, “It’s 28. One is not prime. The first five primes are 2,3,5,7, and 11.”

Someone on an incorrect team said, “no, that’s not the standard definition. One is totally prime.”

Glossing over the fact that they used the word totally, I hope they got in a car accident on the way home I was irritated.

If you ignore this issue, much of mathematics works anyway. However, the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic, which I would say is one of the most critical facts in mathematics, needs 1 to not be prime. It says (essentially, for non-mathy readers) that the prime factorization of every number >1 is unique. The importance is clear: If this were not true, you wouldn’t be able to multiply numbers (the outcome would be unclear), so you wouldn’t be able to add, or divide, or subtract. Basically, standard mathematics couldn’t exist. But, because 6=2*3=1*2*3=1*1*1*1*1*2*3, 1 causes a failure of this (if prime) and so is not a prime number.

This is also discussed (generally, with a bit of historical context), on WikiPedia, for those further interested. It does say (and I agree) that you could allow one to be prime if you modified the statement (and the proof, which it doesn’t say) of the theorem. However, as mentioned, much of mathematics works this way; much is not all. You would need to modify many other things as well, some of which (trust the guy who’s taken algebraic number theory) get ugly.

I’m more interested in why people think one is prime. And I think I know why. It’s because it is (obviously, under either definition) not composite.

This is a problem I come across often when teaching, and it is the failure to understand logical opposites. Here are a few low-math, high-math, and non-math examples:

  • If a function is not even, that doesn’t make it odd. That means it fails the definition of an even function. Most functions are neither (a very select few are both).
  • If a set is not open, that doesn’t make it closed. There are plenty of sets which are neither (or both).
  • The opposite of “your mother” is not “your father”. It is “everyone other than your mother”.

In order for two things to be purely opposites, they need to form a partition of whatever universe they live in. That is, everything is one or the other, and nothing is both. For example, everything is either an “apple” or “not an apple”. Often we gloss over things with very small intersections, or which miss a few cases; we might say every human is “male” or “female”, and treat this (incorrectly, but with few exceptions) as a partition.

This is the problem. “Prime” and “comoposite” are not opposites. The partition of natural numbers consists of three sets: primes, composites, and {1}. There’s nothing at all wrong with that.


Thesis is done. After I get final draft changes, I’ll put some stuff up here.

I’m still dying.

I still don’t know where I’ll be next year.

I still don’t know how I feel about these things.

Dear Wisconsin

A brief post about the union-smasher bill that I’ve heard just passed in Wisconsin today.

The main issue I have is that, thanks to this, our children will now be dumber. So dumb, in fact, that they may continue to think things like this bill are a good idea.

The five states (before today) without collective bargaining for teachers rank 44th and 47th-50th in standardized test scores. Wisconsin is currently (I believe) 2nd.

The Governor had previously said that this is all about the budget, the budget, the finances. When he realized (that is, was told, but didn’t know, because Wisconsin’s Governor did not graduate from college) that he could pass the non-financial provisions of his bill without a quorum, he stripped it of the elements geared toward the budget and ended collective bargaining anyway. Guess it wasn’t about finances.

As a Wisconsin native and an educator, I can really say only two things. 1) I am very thankful to have come from a state where the education was so good. 2) I am sad that I may be part of the last Wisconsin generation who can say that.


Over 1100 people have died in Haiti recently because of Cholera. Do you know what the cure for Cholera is? Fluids. WATER. We can send celebrities to Haiti to sing, but can’t send water. Are you going to lose sleep tonight about this?

…You probably should.


Does anybody remember the last major hurricane to make landfall and do serious damage before Katrina?

Does anybody remember the last terrorist attack made by a non-American before 9/11?

Does anybody remember what happened the last time we declared war on an idea?

Don’t be surprised when this stuff happens, friends. Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.


Do you remember what it was like to live without fear? I do. We were young. We were dumb. I miss that. Do you?

Take a memo:

I wanted to win a Nobel Prize when I was a kid. Then I learned there is no Nobel Prize in mathematics (supposedly, though I believe this to be myth, because Alfred Nobel’s wife had an affair with a mathematician). I also learned that we mathematicians have our equivalent, known as the Fields Medal. They give it out every four years, and you have to be under 40.

I won’t win a Fields Medal. I’m good, but I’m not that good. However, I’ll probably live past 40, so in this sense my illness has not affected the fact that I may never get what I wanted as a child.