FOM: Successes of intuition over rigor

Richard Zach rzach at
Mon Feb 18 14:45:43 EST 2002

> From: "Alexander R. Pruss" <ap85 at>
> Subject: Re: FOM: Successes of intuition over rigor
> All I meant to do was to illustrate that there is no empirical data to
> support the claim that those who think more rigorously tend to reject
> certain propositions, and without such data to make such claims is
> intellectually irresponsible.

Neil did not claim this. He listed propositions, once widely believed,
which have no rigorous justification (or are provably false). They were,
or are (in the case of belief in God) not believed on the basis of
rigorous proof, but on the basis of intuition. Hence "success" of
intuition over rigor. 

As to empirical evidence: The surveys which you probably remember are in
Nature 386, 435-436 (1997) and 394, 313 (1998). Larson and Witham polled
1000 scientists (for the 1997 survey) and separately the 517 members of
the NAS (for the 1998) survey.  Belief in God among US mathematicians:
44.6% in the 1997 survey, and 14.3% in the survey of NAS members.


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