1. A Baker’s Dozen 11
Number mystics want to comprehend the cosmos and predict the
future on the basis of numbers. In this, they are not so very dis-
similar to their brethren, the scientists. For many a discovery, it
was Pythagorean intuition, rather than rational analysis, that was
crucial—even if the brethren do not readily admit it. Nowadays,
researchers possess the technical tools of statistics, such as regres-
sion analysis, to search in an objective manner for possible interre-
lationships. But these tools can be mis-used. So-called data miners,
modern-day number mystics, correlate everything with everything in
a search for possible relationships that, only in retrospect, may seem
faintly plausible. The proper theoretical framework which would jus-
tify the claims is then supplied later, merely as an afterthought.
Meanwhile, the Pythagorean concept of the cosmos has reached
a new level. Alan Turing and John von Neumann heralded the age
of the electronic computer in the middle of the twentieth century. A
few years ago, Stephen Wolfram presented A New Kind of Science, a
book in which he claims that the entire universe is one giant computer
producing complexity through the repeated execution of simple rules.
Thus, mankind has travelled the voyage from the Pythagorean dictum
“all is number” to its modern-day equivalent “all is computation.”
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