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Series G, Episode 14: Greeks

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679461.  Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:35 pm Reply with quote

Phil Jupitas' helmet tattoo is, presumably, Trojan rather than Greek.

679636.  Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:25 pm Reply with quote

dj, you're obviously very keen to nail the Quibble of the Year Award, and fair play to you - but on this one I propose to counter-quibble thus:
Because the lliad was written in Ancient Greek and all the names of the persons and gods were Greek names, many people think that the Trojans and the Greeks were the same people and they spoke the same language.

although I may as well confess immediately that the linked article goes on to argue that that was not the case.

679642.  Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:36 pm Reply with quote

In any case, while the word Trojan is written underneath, the helmet itself is clearly of Greek style.

Ian Dunn
679682.  Sun Mar 07, 2010 4:18 am Reply with quote

I'm more interested in the proof for the existance of God. If this is true how come so few people know about it?

679719.  Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:54 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
dj, you're obviously very keen to nail the Quibble of the Year Award, and fair play to you -

In this case, my intention was merely to point out to people who didn't know that the tattoo on Mr. Jupitas' wrist was the logo of the great Trojan Records label. Unless I wasn't really paying attention and it was actually this Trojan logo:

which would have made more sense with regard to helmet jokes!

Last edited by djgordy on Sun Mar 07, 2010 7:56 am; edited 3 times in total

679720.  Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:56 am Reply with quote

Ian Dunn wrote:
I'm more interested in the proof for the existance of God. If this is true how come so few people know about it?

God doesn't like a lot of people to know that he exists.

Also, it has been argued that the important thing is to have faith in the existence of God. If someone proves God's existence, then you no longer have "faith", you have certainty.

679815.  Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:11 am Reply with quote

Ian Dunn wrote:
I'm more interested in the proof for the existance of God. If this is true how come so few people know about it?

Lots of people know about it, it's the same old Ontological Argument that St Anselm used, just written down symbolically instead of in words.

What I felt was terrible was the way it was described, especially by Stephen.
S. Fry wrote:
Yes... so Kurt Gödel used Modal Logic to prove conclusively that God exists, though even he wasn't really convinced by the conclusion.

No, no and thrice no. He seems to be under the impression that you can disbelieve a mathematical proof. If something is proven, then that's it. There is no argument again the conclusion. It's the underlying axioms that you disbelieve.

Gödel's proof was a proof that God exists given certain conditions. Gödel, and every other rational person, must be convinced by the conclusion, it's been proven mathematically. However, proof that those conditions correspond to reality is left as an exercise for the reader. If you say that the axioms are false, then you can dismiss the result, which is what most people would do.

679820.  Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:30 am Reply with quote

You've misunderstood us Moosh. It's simple semantics, but I think that most people would understand what we meant.

The conclusion of Godel's proof was that God exists.

He wasn't convinced of this conclusion (that God exists).

Simple as that. Of course he, and we, know that as a mathematical proof it is sound, and that the problem (if you believe there is one) is with the axioms.

I guess we used the word "conclusion" to mean 'what the proof concluded given the validity of the axioms', whereas you take it as meaning the 'result of the proof as a purely mathematical construct.'

679821.  Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:40 am Reply with quote

I guess where we'd differ would be "The conclusion of Godel's proof was that God exists." I would say that the conclusion of Godels' proof was that given the axioms, God exists. And therefore he was convinced by it.

But I appreciate that it's just my interpretation, and I may be being over sensitive to people treating proofs as things you can have an opinion as to the validity of, which I see far too much.

679823.  Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:45 am Reply with quote

I suppose you're right that this:

Yes... so Kurt Gödel used Modal Logic to prove conclusively that God exists

Is so much a simplification for light-entertainment purposes, as to be almost totally wrong.

We should've said:

Yes... so Kurt Gödel used Modal Logic to prove conclusively that, given certain axioms, God exists

679826.  Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:08 am Reply with quote

Exactly. A little bit more explanation and you'd have gone from simple and wrong to still understandable to the layman and right.

This is an issue I've had before with QI. You present something like this proof, which is pretty incomprehensible to almost everyone watching, and it's like you're presenting mathematics and science as being incomprehensible and out of reach. You don't explain them, because QI is a comedy entertainment show, and go into detail about them properly would be rather dull and not at all funny. But it comes across like you're giving the audience a peek through the lab window at Science and rather than trying to explain, you just say "hah, that's far beyond your understanding, better to just make a joke about it." Other examples would be the chemical formula for respiration, or the proof of 1+1=2 from previous series.

I just think there should maybe be some middle ground between a documentary and a show that just laughs at intellectual stuff. And as in the example here, all that's needed is just a little bit more, just saying that the conclusion follows from the assumptions and it's the assumptions that are challenged.

679857.  Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:40 am Reply with quote

On the other hand, you could say that QI is one of the only shows on primetime television that even comes close to explaining subjects such as modal logic or quantum physics.

If we give the information in an accessible way, it may encourage people to discover more for themselves, and the odd simplification in order to keep space for a nob-gag or two is a price worth paying.

One of the elves' pet sticking-points is the argument of how complicated we can get without alienating 90% of our audience. To give an idea, try writing a 250 word essay about who Godel was, what modal logic is, how the proof works and the various proofs of God that is easy to understand by the average man. It ain't easy.

Here is the end of what I wrote for stephen's notes, as you can see, the facts are correct - but the odd word can be garbled especially in the middle of a conversation and after the editor's knife has had its wicked way:

...The proof continues through three definitions, six axioms and four theorems and finishes with:
◘Ǝx G(x)

Which by now, you can no doubt read as "it is necessarily true that there is some "x" that is "Godlike" - or, more simply, "God Exists". The mathematical derivation is correct so any flaw must be hidden within the axioms - cynics might point at axiom 3: "The property of being God-like is positive."

Gödel would not publish his proof of God’s existence because he was afraid that others might think: “that he actually believed in God, whereas he was only engaged in a logical investigation"

680288.  Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:09 pm Reply with quote

Eggshaped, what you wrote in Stephen's notes there is what I'd have liked to see in the show. Maybe even a bit less detail would have been fine, but sadly it's not what happened.

This is my specialist subject, as it were, Godel is one of my heroes and I recognised his work pretty much as soon as Stephen started talking about it. I therefore have no idea how much most people know about it. Maybe what was in the show was at the right level, you and the rest of the elves are a better judge than I.

683556.  Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:55 am Reply with quote

I'm curious about the Spartan reply "If." Stephen posited that the original threat was Athenian and was issued during the Peloponnesian War (430-404 BC). Unless the elves have access to a source with which I'm not familiar, this seems like a jumble of the threat issued by Philip II of Macedon circa 346 BC:

You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city.

(Translations and versions of the anecdote vary, though.) Philip (and Alexander) more or less left Sparta alone after that. But the English usage of "laconic" usually has nothing to do with taking one's time: the OED refers only to terseness, concision or sententiousness. Rich's definition fits more to words like "leisurely" or perhaps "dilatory." So, I guess there's a kind of double quibble here, unless I'm not privy to some specific information which the elves possess.

And, lo, the irony of a long-winded post on laconic language... *smacks forehead in shame*

683560.  Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:10 am Reply with quote

Actually I don't think we'd argue with either of those quibbles, van.


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