Thursday 16 July 2015

Alternative mathematics

Peter Fisher is the Clinical Director and Director of Research at the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine (formerly the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital). Recently, in the BMJ (British Medical Journal, a widely respected scientific publication) he argues that homeopathy is misunderstood

Currently, the NHS spends £4 million on homeopathy, which is a small sum, and is dwarfed by the over-the-counter market of £46 million.

I'm not a medical doctor, so I certainly would not presume to pontificate on whether a bottle of pure water can cure a very wide variety of conditions, especially as that august personage Prince Charles is strongly in favour of alternative medicine.

No, I'm here to argue the case for alternative mathematics.

The trouble with ordinary mathematics, is that it's just too difficult. I once went into a post office to buy ten 7p stamps. I offered a pound for the transaction, expecting to be given the stamps and 30p change. To my surprise, the post office worker pulled out a calculator, punched in some sums, and then asked me for a further 30p. And when I said that she got it wrong, she argued so strenuously that I decided it wasn't worth my time, so I ponied up the extra 30p.

So how would alternative maths work? Well, there wouldn't just be the one. There would be homeopathic maths, traditional maths, holistic maths and faith maths. So let's start off with faith maths.

Faith maths

This is the easiest maths. You have a Book in which every possible mathematical calculation is recorded; if it isn't in the Book, then you'll have to rely on rabbinical commentaries and papal pronouncements, and if it isn't covered by those, then the calculation that you proposed is a sin. Change comes from Divine Revelation.

Holistic maths

Each mathematical calculation has to take account of every other possible calculation. This, of course, slows down calculations to the point where they cannot, in practice, be carried out, and when you recognise this, you recognise the futility of calculation, and avoid doing it. Change comes from within.

Traditional maths

Roman numerals are used for arithmetic, and if you've ever tried to multiply MDXVIII by LIX then you'll be glad if they ever invent calculators that can use this system. Fit mutatio ex calculo.

Homeopathic maths

This uses numbers that are so heavily diluted that they bear no resemblance to their original form. So, before performing any calculation, you multiply each number by zero. As you can see, this makes computation vastly simpler, and the final answer is, unsurprisingly, zero. There is no change.

1 comment:

  1. Political Maths: Where the answer is always the same, no matter what the calculation is?