FOM: General Intellectual Interest
Harvey Friedman
friedman at math.ohio-state.edu
Wed Mar 24 14:25:09 EST 1999
Shipman wrote 1:38PM 3/21/99:
In support of Steve's contention that F.O.M. is of great "general
intellectual interest",
this week's TIME magazine names the 20 most influential minds of the 20th
century (actually 24 people since three were teams), and the only
mathematicians on the list are Godel and Turing, both of whom are central
to f.o.m.
Hayes 11:52AM 3/23/99 responded:
Maybe the question to ask is, how many mathematicians work for TIME, Inc.?
Friedman responded:
Maybe the question to ask is, how many logicians work for TIME, Inc.?
Maybe another question to ask is, why did Hayes ask his question?
Hayes responded:
Sorry if I was too elliptical. I meant only to suggest that one shouldnt
take a survey conducted by a magazine such as TIME as being in any way
authoritative in any matter requiring intellectual insight or specialized
technical knowledge of almost any topic, except perhaps Washington
politics. Sorry if this sounds snobbish. My cynicism is however based on my
own experience.
Friedman now responds:
Of course I agree that
"one shouldnt take a survey conducted by a magazine such as TIME as being
in any way authoritative in any matter requiring intellectual insight or
specialized
technical knowledge of almost any topic, except perhaps Washington
politics".
Having Turing and Godel there is definitely evidence of particularly wide
general intellectual interest in their achievments - even if they are often
misunderstood and/or misapplied.
Some will say that Turing got mentioned for work that is not f.o.m.
However, at that time, f.o.m. and models of computing were pretty
inseparable. And of course, the style of thinking is virtually identical.
So the mention of Turing and Godel is definitely clear evidence in favor of
the views of many people on the FOM list regarding the special general
intellectual interest of f.o.m. and the approach to intellectual life that
it represents. Definitive evidence? Of course not.
But I am confident that you will join me and many others on the FOM list in
enthusiastically celebrating this recognition of Turing and Godel!!
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