Scientific Truth Unbound by Credentials or Consensus

Jerome J. Schmitt
Science is solely concerned with demonstrable truth -- no matter the source of the information.  A lowly Swiss patent examiner named Albert Einstein overturned the Newtonian consensus view thereby transforming our very understanding of space and time.

The latest delightful example of this phenomenon is recorded here in a story entitled "German teen solves 300-year-old mathematical riddle posed by Sir Isaac Newton".  This 16-year old Indian-born prodigy named Shouryya Ray has no academic credentials whatsoever but he overturned the "consensus" built over 300 years that these problems were mathematically insoluble (take that, Al Gore!).

Can one imagine circumstances wherein revered luminaries of "critical theory" such as Paul De Man,  Harold Bloom, or J. Hillis Miller were to even listen to, never mind accept and adopt, the assertions of a teenager?  This contrast, in my view, perfectly marks the divide between truth and sophistry

Upon reading of this teenager's remarkable new accomplishment, I was immediately reminded of the story of Srinivasa Ramanujan.

It is one of the most romantic stories in the history of mathematics: in 1913, the English mathematician G. H. Hardy received a strange letter from an unknown clerk [Ramanujan] in Madras, India. The ten-page letter contained about 120 statements of theorems on infinite series, improper integrals, continued fractions, and number theory ...

As a college dropout from a poor family, Ramanujan's position was precarious. He lived off the charity of friends, filling notebooks with mathematical discoveries and seeking patrons to support his work....

Hardy wrote enthusiastically back to Ramanujan, and Hardy's stamp of approval improved Ramanujan's status almost immediately....

Ramanujan's arrival at Cambridge was the beginning of a very successful five-year collaboration with Hardy....

[Hardy] was amazed by Ramanujan's uncanny formal intuition in manipulating infinite series, continued fractions, and the like: "I have never met his equal, and can compare him only with Euler."

So whenever post-colonial types claim that Science is merely a power-construct created by "dead white men", or whenever a "Climate Scientist" insists that only credentialed academics are permitted to declaim on "Global Warming", remind them of the remarkable scientific accomplishments of Shouryya Ray and Srinivasa Ramanujan.

Science is solely concerned with demonstrable truth -- no matter the source of the information.  A lowly Swiss patent examiner named Albert Einstein overturned the Newtonian consensus view thereby transforming our very understanding of space and time.

The latest delightful example of this phenomenon is recorded here in a story entitled "German teen solves 300-year-old mathematical riddle posed by Sir Isaac Newton".  This 16-year old Indian-born prodigy named Shouryya Ray has no academic credentials whatsoever but he overturned the "consensus" built over 300 years that these problems were mathematically insoluble (take that, Al Gore!).

Can one imagine circumstances wherein revered luminaries of "critical theory" such as Paul De Man,  Harold Bloom, or J. Hillis Miller were to even listen to, never mind accept and adopt, the assertions of a teenager?  This contrast, in my view, perfectly marks the divide between truth and sophistry

Upon reading of this teenager's remarkable new accomplishment, I was immediately reminded of the story of Srinivasa Ramanujan.

It is one of the most romantic stories in the history of mathematics: in 1913, the English mathematician G. H. Hardy received a strange letter from an unknown clerk [Ramanujan] in Madras, India. The ten-page letter contained about 120 statements of theorems on infinite series, improper integrals, continued fractions, and number theory ...

As a college dropout from a poor family, Ramanujan's position was precarious. He lived off the charity of friends, filling notebooks with mathematical discoveries and seeking patrons to support his work....

Hardy wrote enthusiastically back to Ramanujan, and Hardy's stamp of approval improved Ramanujan's status almost immediately....

Ramanujan's arrival at Cambridge was the beginning of a very successful five-year collaboration with Hardy....

[Hardy] was amazed by Ramanujan's uncanny formal intuition in manipulating infinite series, continued fractions, and the like: "I have never met his equal, and can compare him only with Euler."

So whenever post-colonial types claim that Science is merely a power-construct created by "dead white men", or whenever a "Climate Scientist" insists that only credentialed academics are permitted to declaim on "Global Warming", remind them of the remarkable scientific accomplishments of Shouryya Ray and Srinivasa Ramanujan.