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Theodore Kaczynski

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Brian LaSorsa Posted: Sun, Jul 11 2010 10:29 PM

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the work of Theodore Kaczynski (the Unabomber). I read his manifesto and, not expecting anything too smart or logical, it actually made a lot of sense. The man is really smart. I was delightfully surprised.

"Modern society is in certain respects extremely permissive. In matters that are irrelevant to the functioning of the system we can generally do what we please. We can believe in any religion we like (as long as it does not encourage behavior that is dangerous to the system). We can go to bed with anyone we like (as long as we practice "safe sex"). We can do anything we like as long as it is UNIMPORTANT. But in all IMPORTANT matters the system tends increasingly to regulate our behavior."

Clearly it wasn't a good thing for him to kill innocent people, but what do you guys think of him?

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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He is quite intelligent, in fact he attended Harvard as an undergraduate at 16 and completed a degree in mathematics, he then completed a mathematics PhD from the University of Michigan and by all accounts he was a genius when it came to mathematics.

Also, from what I remember his manifesto did not contain any grammatical errors. However, I found his ideology is mostly composed of anarcho-primitivism of the 'lets give up all modern technology and move to the woods' type.  He also had no qualms with using force to achieve his goals or to bring about the kind of society he wished. I find deficiencies with his ideology e.g. anarcho primitivism, but I don't want to dwell on them at the moment.

I think he illustrates 'Rothbard's law'  which is basically 'people specialize at what they are worst at'.

"Man thinks not only for the sake of thinking, but also in order to act."-Ludwig von Mises

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von Vodka replied on Sun, Jul 11 2010 10:54 PM

He's one of those guys who has many interesting insights but reaches misguided conclusions. For example, the part about leftists is pretty interesting. He's sort of like Chomsky (but not as insane ;)

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Also, from what I remember his manifesto did not contain any grammatical errors.

That's crazy. I hadn't heard that before, but I looked it up and you're definitely right. I know that he began the bombings after he saw the environment being ruined, but I wonder if he went crazy in some way to retaliate or if he actually thought that what he did was the best way to bring about the specific change he desired in society. Do you happen to know which kind of mathematics he studied? I'm glad the terrorist networks aren't full of people as smart as he. It's too bad he chose the path he did.

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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Wikipedia says that his field of study was something called geometric function theory, though my mathematics is woefully inadequate to understand exactly what he was doing. Here is a preview to his dissertation though.

"Man thinks not only for the sake of thinking, but also in order to act."-Ludwig von Mises

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a preview to his dissertation

I wish so much I could understand that type of math. I love math geniuses, especially like in A Beautiful Mind and Good Will Hunting.

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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Kind of related to that, Nash did call for some sort of Gold standard or currency competition here  which was kind of interesting.

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That's awesome. I hadn't really studied his economic beliefs before. I'll never understand why the government doesn't listen to these intelligent economists.

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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I am not really sure how his work can relate to Austrian theory though, maybe someone with more knowledge of his work can discuss it further.

"Man thinks not only for the sake of thinking, but also in order to act."-Ludwig von Mises

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Giant_Joe replied on Sun, Jul 11 2010 11:34 PM

I'm left wondering if such mathematicians are even aware of the philosophy of methodology when it comes to the sciences. Honestly, it would be great if some of these mathematicians saw what Austrian econ. had to offer, and took up some of the ideas/arguments.

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Fephisto replied on Tue, Jul 13 2010 2:41 AM

I'm left wondering if such mathematicians are even aware of the philosophy of methodology when it comes to the sciences. Honestly, it would be great if some of these mathematicians saw what Austrian econ. had to offer, and took up some of the ideas/arguments.

Hey there:

 

http://mises.org/Community/forums/p/6932/106558.aspx#106558

 

A lot of math people are around.

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"Even when leftists talk about discrimination and sexism, they're damn well talking about the results of the economic system" ~Neodoxy

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A lot of math people are around.

I feel like many of those mathematicians didn't go from this to this within their own lifetimes. That's the only way to do real math. With beards and bombs.

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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baxter replied on Tue, Jul 13 2010 3:26 AM

>That's the only way to do real math. With beards and bombs.

I don't get it. He sounds like a nutjob who blew up innocent people. The little math he did do is so abstract  that no one gives two craps about it.

If you want to see a real genius, look at Euler. He wrote like 800 papers on math and didn't leave behind a trail of bodies.

>I'm left wondering if such mathematicians are even aware of the philosophy of methodology when it comes to the sciences.

Probably not very. I mean they use the tools of deductive logic and they use the scientific method (e.g. Euler and Gauss did tons of numerical experiments: http://www.maa.org/editorial/euler/How%20Euler%20Did%20It%2022%20False%20induction.pdf; the  Riemann hypothesis is studied experimentally with computers and is often used as a practical assumption in proofs).

Also, a lot of it is really intuition, some of it visual and spatial (I believe Hadamard addressed this: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/5896.html). But you don't have to be an expert on epistemology to use most of these tools. The average person off the street knows these tools to some extent.

> Honestly, it would be great if some of these mathematicians saw what Austrian econ. had to offer, and took up some of the ideas/arguments.

As the axioms are plausible, it is appealing to a math guy. But the use of imprecise verbal argumentation rather than symbolic manipulation makes it lose some of its appeal. P.S. from a scientific (not strictly mathematical) point of view, the dearth of experimental evidence is frustrating.

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Kaczynski tried to kill Chomsky.

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Giant_Joe replied on Tue, Jul 13 2010 10:32 AM

Hey there:

http://mises.org/Community/forums/p/6932/106558.aspx#106558

A lot of math people are around.

Haha! I didn't mean to be offensive or anything. I've done plenty of supplementary math studies when getting my computer science degree. From the math courses I've been through and seen, and the math majors I've spoken with, there doesn't seem to be much talk of methodology outside of the little bit in statistics courses. Not that epistemology is a central topic for mathematics in and of itself, but I think it's important to know it anyways.

I'm just interested in having this stuff exposed to the "intellectual" or "opinion forming" (as I see it) class of people.

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John Ess replied on Tue, Jul 13 2010 12:04 PM

'tried to kill Chomsky'

I wonder if this is related to the fact that Ted was friends with John Zerzan.  Zerzan, a famous anarcho-primitivist, wrote an essay damning Chomsky called 'Who is Chomsky?' or something like that.

Found it:  http://www.insurgentdesire.org.uk/whochoms.htm

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I don't get it.

I was being sarcastic. I don't really think you need to have a beard and make bombs in order to do math. But it does help.

Kaczynski tried to kill Chomsky.

Did he try to kill him with one of the bombs, or was this a separate incident?

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Fephisto replied on Tue, Jul 13 2010 3:39 PM

Beards definitely help.  Gives you cred. cheeky

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Did he try to kill him with one of the bombs, or was this a separate incident?
Chomsky was on his to-bomb list. Maybe he didn't actually try to kill him. 

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