# Pythagoras mentioned in Vedas?

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Mon Jun 14 22:40:55 UTC 1999

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> As usual, you are applying statistics the wrong way. Why do you keep
> doing that? What <practical use> is there for us to read your
> "conclusions" that a John Doe of 6th century B.C. is less likely to have
> gone to India than a 3rd century one? People who <do> travel are not John
> Does--they are <real people>. They live their lives without any thoughts
> about social statistics. I don't see that you have any arguments
> that would prevent one <specific> scientist or even a group of <specific>
> scientists going between India and Greece in 600 BC, in 700 BC, in 800 BC,
> in 900 BC, in 1000 BC, etc, etc. Unless, of course, you think that the
> Indians were chimpanzees at the the time of 1000 BC or something, and that
> they only became humans later. If that is what you say, then I say to you:
> Prove it!

Excuse me, but I find you last sentences both stupid and offensive. As for the your
other arguments:

I do not use statistics in the wrong way. You are perfectly right that I cannot
*prove* that Greeks did not go to India in the sixth century. Now, the point of
probabilistic reasoning is precisely that you use it to deal with matters that cannot
be proved. Statistics is a method for handling uncertainty. So I'll give you my
probabilistic reasons:

First of all, statistics cannot be used to decide individual cases, only cases in the
mass. The question is therefore: What is the probability that Greeks (in any number)
went to India in the 6th century?

1) We have no material indicating that Greeks went to India in the sixth century.
This is admittedly an argument ex nihilo. But on the other hand: Given the
considerable geographical distance through difficult territory, and the fact that the
early Greeks show no trace of knowledge of India,  in statistical parlance the null
hypothesis would be:
H0: Greeks did not go to India in the 6th century. Consequently the stronger
hypothesis would be:
H1: Greeks did go to India in the 6th century

As you see, unless you can prove that they DID go, you have no grounds for claiming
that they went. The burden of proof does not fall on the one who says no, but on the
one who says yes.

2. As for the later period, we know that Greeks went to India and in fact wrote books

a) Greeks knew about India
b) Greeks went to India
c) consequently it is more probable that if Greeks went to India to learn
mathematics, they did so during the later period.

As you may have noticed, Karttunen who has written two thick volumes on Greek
knowledge of India shares my views of the relative probabilities.

In fact: when you have very little data, you are struck with probabilistic thinking.
Under such circumstances, a conservative judgement makes good sense.

As for "practical use": As far as I can see, there  is no practical use to be had
from either possibility. The difference is between showing intellectual restraint and
filling your mind with happy imaginings.

Now, please show me the "Real scientist" who went to India in the sixth century!

And by the way, can you prove that you have stopped beating your wife?

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

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