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Letters to the Editor

Hi Frank,
I like the new format of SCR and I enjoyed your bit about natural selection.
There are several problems with the monkey theorem. If you’ve ever tried to state “the law of averages” you’ll know that it’s just a vague idea that “things even out in the end.” We have to deal with the laws of probability, which can be stated precisely and easily misapplied.

It doesn’t matter how many monkeys and typewriters there are and it doesn’t matter if they die or wear out as long as they’re replaced by new ones. The mathematical absurdity of the thing can be shown quite easily. If the typewriter has 30 characters and instead of typing Hamlet we randomly type a phrase of 100 characters, the number of possible phrases is 30100. The probability of any particular such phrase appearing is therefore 1/30100, i.e. 30-100. So the probability that this phrase won’t appear is (1 - 30-100).

Now suppose we randomly type one of these phrases 10,000,000 times a year (which is more than 1,000 times an hour) and do so for 10,000,000,000 years (a ballpark figure for the age of the universe) the probability that any particular phrase will not be typed is (1 - 30-100)100,000,000,000,000,000, a number so close to 1, which in probability terms means certainty, that it would take a calculator with around 130 decimal places to show the difference. Another way of putting this is to say that the probability of a particular phrase appearing is signified by a decimal point followed by about 130 zeroes before a non-zero digit turns up. This is just for a 100 character phrase – now imagine the calculation applied to a whole play.

The only way of getting round this is to assume that there is infinite time available. However, once we start talking about infinity we are in serious trouble. AS Eddington put it, “That queer quantity “infinity” is the very mischief and no physicist should have anything to do with it. Perhaps that is why mathematicians represent it by a sign like a love knot.”

Infinity appears in ordinary mathematics only as a shorthand way of saying that something increases without limit, so all we can do is to assume that the number of times a phrase is typed increases without limit. This means that the probability of a given phrase not being types is given by multiplying (1 - 30-100) by itself not a mere 100,000,000,000,000,000 times but by a number as large as we care to mention. As the number increases without limit, the product will approach zero as close as we like – but it will never get there. In this context infinity is a chimaera – no matter how many times the typing is done there is still a finite probability that the given phrase will not show up.

I think what I’ve just been typing is a waste of time, but I find it fascinating and irresistible.

Keith Francis
New York

Hi, Frank Congratulations for the new Southern Cross Review.

On the Editor's Page you wrote: “I get philosophical about natural selection and am waiting to be pounced upon as my only reward.”

Your arguments has to face the evolutionists' argument that millions of years is almost like infinite time. Nowadays there is a very strong argument against that: there was simply not enough time for coordinated mutations. Look at Durrett, R. and D. Schmidt. Waiting for Two Mutations: With Applications to Regulatory Sequence Evolution and the Limits of Darwinian Evolution. Genetics, Vol. 180, Nov. 2008, pp. 1501-1509, which I cite on my newest paper.
For instance, in the Cambrian explosion, which took from 2 to 9 million years, many new species appeared. Just for a comparison, the calculation nowadays is that in the average it takes 200 million years for coordinated mutations occurring in just two genes in hominids.
www.ime.usp.br/~vwsetzer/conseqs-of-materialism.html
I haven't sent this paper to you yet because I have to update it with citations from Graham Dunstan Martin's "Does it Matter? The unsustainable world of the materialists.

Speaking about evolution, why don't you publish the wonderful Craig Holdrege paper "The Giraffe's Short Neck"?

By the way, a new argument occurred to me inspired by your text: For physicists, as Einstein, time is an illusion (our experience of time does not occur in physics models). If it's an illusion, why do evolutionists use it as one of their main arguments?

Valdemar W. Setzer - Dept. of Computer Science, University of São Paulo www.ime.usp.br/~vwsetzer

Re: The Diamond Way: Baseball as an Esoteric Ritual

Hello,

I am curious about the image at the head of Hannah M.G.Shapero's "The Diamond Way: Baseball as an Esoteric Ritual" (Number 53, May-June 2007). Did you create the image for that article or did you pick it up from another source? I would like to use it in a presentation I'm giving and would like to credit the artist.

Thanks!

Tom Christensen

I directed the questioner to Hannah M.G.Shapero. (Ed.)

RE: A Pair of Worn Shoes by Ken Wilbur

I only have one word to describe what this article, these words meant to me, and that is: Healing!
Thank you Ken Wilber,
Don Drumm

Re: The Tacuino by R. Ariel Gomez

The writing skill, the prose, if you will, is exceptional. The story reminds me, a little, of "Tuesdays with Morrie", although, done over a longer term. I'm a sucker for any story that discards the physical world and concentrates on the intimacy of the lives of individuals. Therefore, "never send to know for whom the bell tolls". John Donne.

Thanks,
Mike Ingles,
Ohio

RE: La Tacuino por R. Ariel Gomez

Queridos amigos,

El vínculo que copio es de alguien que conozco hace muchos años. Todas las publicaciones de su sitio están en inglés, pero algunas tienen traducción al español. www.SouthernCrossReview.org

Digo esto porque quisiera que leyeran : "The Tacuino" de R. Ariel Gomez. Tienen que ir al sector Fiction, el cuento aparece en inglés primero, al final marcan el recuadro que dice español, y ahi lo tienen.

El cuento me conmovió enormemente.

Su autor, al final señala algo tan cierto, así lo dice: "... un cuento aparece irresistible, e inevitablemente toma los controles, transportándome de nuevo, protegiendo mi día."

Abrazo,
Silvia Martini
Buenos Aires

RE: Downsized by Frank Thomas Smith

Great story! Great writer.
Thanks.

Rob Johanisse,
Holland

Dear Editors,

I came across your site via egoisten.de and found it interesting. I´m still digging through your archive ... By travelling across anthroposophical sites one of the most interesting people I met was Seth Miller. One of his essays is here: www.spiritalchemy.com. Maybe something for you and your readers.

With kindest regards
Alexander Rabitsch,
Germany

Indeed. After consultation with Seth Miller, his essay The Matrix - an Anthropsophical Reading appears in the current issue.

Re: Basic Issues of the Social Question

Hi Frank,

I received a note from a reader of the Archive on your translation of "Basic Issues of the Social Question" ... thought you would like to know:

"Thought I would let you know. A friend of mine who also happens to be a very knowledgeable christian community priest was super impressed with the "Basic Issues of the Social Question" translation. I had download the book several years ago, printed and leather bound the book. I was showing him the binding & he noticed the uncommon translation. He remarked that it was the best translation he had seen. That the translator did not take the "large liberties" that many other translators take in paragraph structure and such. That the name of the book is a much truer translation than what is normally seen.... oh yes, & he was super impressed with the notes at the back of the book, remarking that the translator even knew "history". I have read the book 6+ times and have really enjoyed it. Looked through maybe 2 other translations, and did not like them nearly as much. Its a real peace of work. I am very grateful that you have made it available through the archives".

-- Jim Stewart
e.Librarian
The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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