Polarized Geometry In Ferguson, Missouri

Non Euclidean Geometry

Back in 2009, at my Melchizedek Communique web site, I noted an extreme polarization of Americans into two distinct groups. Earlier, in 2005, at my old Conspiracy Nation web site, I repeatedly noticed how the nation was said to be polarized. “If you are not with us, then you are against us,” summarized George W. Bush in those times. Currently the extreme polarization in America can be seen regarding the ongoing situation in Ferguson, Missouri. The latest drama revolves around the mystery of who shot two police officers in Ferguson. (Background: Officers Shot In Ferguson, Ersjdamoo’s Blog, March 12, 2015.)

A framework for the Ferguson polarization is the conflict between Euclidean Geometry and Non-Euclidean Geometry. One side, call them the Euclideans, says Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown on August 9, 2014. The other side, call them the Non-Euclideans, seems to defy reason regarding the overall Ferguson situation.

To get to the crux of the matter, perhaps it is best to first examine the history of Non-Euclidean Geometry. We begin with Karl Friedrich Gauss who is credited by author Morris Kline as the father of Non-Euclidean Geometry. Until about 1800, confidence in Euclid reigned supreme. But one of Euclid’s axioms, dealing with parallel lines, began to be doubted. How can we know for sure what happens to the “parallel lines” if they are extended into infinity? Maybe the “parallel lines” intersect way out there. Who knows?

This would be “kooktard” thinking in terms of some commentators to the alt.conspiracy newsgroup. Nonetheless, as early as 1767, mathemagician Jean-Baptiste le Rond d’Alembert called Euclid’s parallel lines axiom the scandal of geometry. Then Gauss decided that since we don’t know what happens in infinity, it would be equally plausible to say that the parallel lines do meet eventually. Based on this assumption, Gauss constructed a different geometry, internally consistent but Non-Euclidean. However Gauss was fearful of publishing what would have been rank heresy at the time. Gauss risked being called a “kooktard”, so to speak, and decided just to leave his ideas in private notes. In a letter written in 1829, “Gauss says explicitly that he feared the clamor of the Boeotians, a metaphorical reference to one of the dull-witted Greek tribes.” [1]

So enter the Russians, as usual. Once again these confounded Russians, who believe, “Question more”, actually dared to publish a Non-Euclidean Geometry. It was an aforesaid Russian, one Nicholas I. Lobatchevsky, a notorious mathemagician at the University of Kazan, who published a paper on Non-Euclidean Geometry circa 1829-1830.

Well, the cat was out of the bag and others, such as John Bolyai and Georg Riemann, climbed on the bandwagon. Riemann claimed the straight line “must have the structure of a circle and like the circle have finite length.” [1]

“Why any durn fool can see a line is not a circle!” would say some. And even Morris Kline admits that intuitively such Non-Euclidean assumptions seem silly and false. Yet Albert Einstein was not deterred and went on to use the Riemann geometries for his theory of relativity. [1]

Consequent to Einstein, it became fashionable to embrace relativity, even if, like most people, you didn’t really understand the theory. When a journalist asked the British astronomer Sir Arthur Edding­ton if it was true that he was one of only three people in the world who could understand Einstein’s relativity theories, Eddington con­sidered deeply for a moment and replied: “I am trying to think who the third person is.” [2] At the universities, in their literature departments, the professors didn’t wish to appear backward. And so many of them were happy to see ideas of one Jacques Derrida, who operated out of the Non-Euclidean camp. What happens to the parallel lines in infinity? We really can’t be sure, say the Non-Euclideans. And Derrida grabbed the ball from there and decided the search for an “essential reality” or “origin” or “truth” is futile. [3] Then from Derrida we move on to the Modern Language Association (MLA) and Non-Euclidean interpretations of the Ferguson events.

Ferguson, Missouri is a puzzle. Many wonder and scratch their heads about it. “Why any durn fool can see a line is not a circle!” Yet the Non-Euclidians see things otherwise and this causes frustration among the Euclidians. “Can’t they see! It’s plain as day!” The larger geometry of Ferguson involves the pre-anointed presidential candidates for 2016: Jeb “Get Tough” Bush (Euclidean) and Hillary “Smiley” Clinton (Non-Euclidean). How do you get the electorate to care about such a dull “choice” for 2016? Answer: You stir up passions about ongoing events in Ferguson and elsewhere then transfer those passions into the voting booth.

——- Sources ——-
[1] Mathematics and the Physical World, by Morris Kline. New York: Dover Publications, 1981. (Originally published 1959.)
[2] Quantum Field Theory, APPENDIX B. General Relativity. http://www.quantum-field-theory.net/app-b/
[3] “Derrida”, http://www.massey.ac.nz/~alock/theory/derrida.htm

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About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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