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The Wig, the Shoe, and Mathematics
Publication date: 2005-08-22

In the recent tributes paid to Mo Mowlam, a British politician, some were recollecting that in some of her arguments she would tear her wig off her head and throw it on the table to make a point in her argument. And a Russian head of state once made a point in his argument with the Americans by taking off his shoe and banging it on the table at the United Nations. And now the Americans are seeking to make their points by torturing those who disagree with them, and Tony Blair is hoping to win his argument by use of secret trials by special judges.

But can the truth of an argument be established by throwing wigs or banging shoes, or by torture or secret trials?

This is what Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, (1646-1716), the German philosopher, mathematician, logician, lawyer and historian, and one of the most powerful spirits of Western civilization, suggested in his The Art of Discovery:

"The only way to rectify our reasonings is to make them as tangible as those of the mathematicians, so that we can find our error at a glance, and when there are disputes among persons, we can simply say: 'Let us calculate, without further ado, in order to see who is right.' "
and some 1000 years before Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz wrote these words similar ideas were repeatedly stated in the Qur'an:
"Prove it, if you claim to be righteous."
Thus, it has been known for centuries that the only way to establish the truth of a proposition is to collect the relevant facts, to establish their truth by examination of evidence and to draw from these facts logical conclusions by using mathematical logic.

So, why, in spite of this knowledge, people still agree to be governed not by mathematicians and honest lawyers and accountants, but by political demagogues who talk obvious nonsense and seek to win their arguments by cheap stunts, like throwing wigs, banging shoes, or by torture and secret trials?

The answer to this is: because people instead of trying to discover the true state of affairs, as mathematicians and honest lawyers and accountants do, seek answers which make them feel more comfortable about themselves, regardless of whether these answers are true or false.

A recent example of this was the argument about the shooting of a Brazilian by the British police.

Having discovered that they shot a totally innocent man, the police, instead of investigating the case, started looking for explanations which would justify their actions.

Thus, they tried to explain the shooting by the fact that the Brazilian wore a heavy jacket on a hot summer day, which gave them grounds to believe that the Brazilian was a suicide bomber. This statement made the police feel more comfortable about their actions.

But it made a Brazilian spokesman feel less comfortable, so his answer was: "But Brazil is a very hot country. British summer is like Brazilian winter, so we, Brazilians, wear warm jackets even on 'hot' British summer days".

But when the case was investigated, and the evidence was examined, it emerged that the Brazilian did not wear a heavy jacket, as claimed by the British police, at all. He wore a thin short denim jacket. And all the arguments about the heavy jacket between the British Police and the Brazilian spokesman were totally irrelevant.

But, if we look at the "political debate" we shall see that there is no attempt to discover the truth at all. The politicals are just trying to win their arguments by factually false and logically invalid statements. And much of it is just bland assertions and name calling, like:

"Terrorist!"
"Terrorist, yourself!"
"Liar!"
"Liar, yourself!"
"Rogue state!"
"Rogue state, yourself!"
It's like an argument between drunken prostitutes quarreling about a twenty-pound note. But as the "argument" heats up, the prostitutes start tearing out each other's hair, and the politicals send their high flying bombers to destroy cities.

And this is why the world is in such a mess.

But Tony Blair calls this "legitimate politics".

So, the time has come to follow the advice of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, and to replace political argument, with mathematical logic.

Tony Blair is clinging onto politics, because he is afraid that he is incapable of anything else. He is afraid that being honest is more difficult than talking nonsense. But his fears are not justified.

It is true that being honest involves some effort to establish the facts, but once the facts are established and proved to be true, it is the end of the matter.

To talk political nonsense, does not require much effort - just open the mouth and spew it out. But, doing so does not end the matter. The nonsense is discredited and another nonsense needs to be said to keep the "argument going". And all the time one has to keep covering up and distorting the facts.

And such arguments can continue for years, decades and even centuries, without being resolved.

And this is why the Iraq War is still "controversial" and so is the Middle East Conflict.

But, if, to acknowledge the truth, then the issues can be resolved once and for all.

Yes, the truth can be unpleasant. The Iraq war had no sound legal basis, and this does make Tony Blair a war criminal. And Tony Blair did deceive the Monarch, the Parliament, and the People, and this is an act of treason under the British Law.

But, honest admittal of the crimes can entitle Tony Blair to a Royal Pardon. And it will also open the way to an honorable ending of the Iraq war.

Once the illegality of the war is admitted, then the status of the American presence in Iraq can be changed from "illegal occupation", to "provision of labour force for the purpose of the rebuilding of Iraq, as part of the reparations for the damage done by the illegal war".

This will also remove the stigma of "collaboration with the foreign invaders" from the present Iraqi government. And accepting the legitimacy of the resistance to the American occupation will open the way to cessation of the violence in Iraq, the resistance leaders being given a place in the Iraqi post war government.

But then, of course, Tony Blair can continue with his politics, so that the People continue learning by experience where politics leads. The Germans have learnt it under Hitler, the Russians have learnt it under the Communists, now it is for the Britons to learn the value of politics under Tony Blair.

So the choice before Tony Blair is the Leibniz way or the Hitler way.


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