Pythagoras mentioned in Vedas?

Bo Klintberg klintber at CHASS.UTORONTO.CA
Tue Jun 15 18:56:30 UTC 1999

Dear Lars Martin Fosse:

This is just a short letter to tell you that I am <truly> sorry if I have
<personally> offended you. I thought that I just scrutinized some
argumenents that potentially I thought were yours. Once again, I am truly
sorry if I in any way disturbed or offended your person.

That doesn't, however, mean that I like your way of doing statistics. I
still don't. :-)

greetings from a sunny, but chilly Toronto.
Bo Klintberg.

On Tue, 15 Jun 1999, Lars Martin Fosse wrote:

> >
> > 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
> about it. Therefore:
> 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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