Thursday, September 23, 2010


JSH: But is it helpful?

On my side there has been a very strong need to understand and I've had a lot on my plate for quite a few years trying to work through any number of mathematical questions generated in a burst you might say, back in 2002. The arguing has helped me tremendously, as I've developed a full understanding of what I call the coverage issue, as well as been able to get a better grasp of my other result, on the prime counting function.

Over the years I've tried to be very clear about how I use Usenet as I want to be fair. As heated as arguments have gone over the years there is just no way that I think that Usenet is a control area of mathematical society. It is to me, a fringe. It is a place where mostly cast-offs from mainstream math society, can still talk mathematics, though a price they often pay is a very insulting atmosphere, where often your voice can be lost, or seem lost.

To me I've brought quite a few benefits though to posters who may not have known what is still possible, no matter what posters may tell you, or how lost you may feel. As much as some decry the search realities I have now, I think for others it should be comforting to know that if you are right, and argue your positions carefully, it is possible that the world will in some way listen to you.

And technology has so greatly advanced today that yeah, your ideas can be found, no matter how much of a needle in a haystack you may think they are. One of my favorites (warning leads to one of my blogs) is: prime number compression

I only come up about #6 when I do that search in Google, but there is still this kind of solid feeling that, hey, here's a little idea of mine that somehow, someway is found by Google for whatever reason, and I'll take that versus not having it.

What I've shown then I think is that you don't have to believe the nasty people!!!

Posters may say anything to you. You may get the most vicious accusations against you, especially of failure, if it appears that you are right and have something important. There is no rule that it should be otherwise.

Over the years the primary complaint I get is that I keep arguing to people who don't believe me, and won't believe me, so why bother?

But I argue to understand. And I know that others can follow these arguments from anywhere in the world. And I know that the marginally few people who may reply to you are not necessarily representative of anything at all, except the few people who bother to reply to you on Usenet.

But is it helpful? I ask that question as the subject as I think lots of people can get really confused about the discussions as when they read me arguing with various people those people can seem to be important simply by virtue of them getting a reply or because they're tacking something into one of my threads when more than likely nothing they say matters, especially on the big picture scale.

These are people who will reply with anger if I talk about just my math blog getting hits from 121 countries/territories as Google Analytics puts it because they themselves are not at that level. But they post in reply to me as if I'm inferior to them. Which I think is an unnatural enough thing for many people that it is very disconcerting.

If I'm at that level why do I tolerate people who are not, who are so disrespectful?

Because I need to understand myself, and arguing these things out is a way to understand. There are not a lot of places where I can argue math, and worse, people who think I'm great are useless to me for that purpose.

To the extent that deluded people exist who will trump themselves up over me, then I can do extreme mathematics and talk out ideas to better understand them, which is good in the long-term for an entire world.

So, I think, yes. It IS helpful. And I worry a bit as reality looks to catch up, and one day there will be no people who will dare to argue with me about math, who are at all intelligible, as with a position of authority in people's minds I'll lose one of the greatest things that Usenet has given me—questioning.

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