There is a claim that Christopher Langan is the smartest man in the US. However, he also claims that intelligent design and evolution are compatible … really!! … in that case, I can only suggest that he is perhaps not as smart as some consider him to be.
OK, to be fair let’s clarify something – Intelligence and rationality are not the same thing. What can sometimes happen, as in this case, is that very smart people can dream up clever ways of rationalizing utterly absurd ideas.
The problem with IQ, is that it only measures your cognitive potential, not your actual grasp of reality. The higher it is, the more probable it is that you can justify and rationalize almost any crazy idea. To illustrate that point, he does not appear to understand what a theory actually is as the word would be normally used within a scientific context because he has in effect redefined it. (Unless you are really curious, I’d skip that last link). Bizarrely, in there he appears to be using the word “theory” where most of the scientifically literate would use “hypothesis”, and that can be either due to simply not knowing, or may in fact be a deliberate ploy, all part of a word game, to justify some wacky conclusion.
OK, back on topic … the evidence that Chris Langan is as smart as he claims to be is … well, when he was tested it was discovered that he is rather good at doing IQ tests. There does also appear to be a lot of evidence indicating that he touts completely kooky ideas and concepts.
So why am I babbling away about him?
When faced with the observation that “the smartest” man in the US believes in God, and has supposedly proven that he exists, I can only respond with the observation that he also appears to believe and rationalize a lot of other strange stuff as well.
Still not convinced that he is an eccentric? well here is a nice dissection of Mr Langan’s CTMU claim.
To recap: this “theory” of his has three problems, each of which is individually enough to discard it; with the three of them together, it’s a virtual masterpiece of crap.
- The “theory” consists mostly of word-games – arguing about the meanings of words like “universe” and “inclusion”, without actually explaining anything about how the universe works. It’s a theory with no predictive or descriptive value.
- The “theory” is defined by creating a new version of set theory, whose axioms are never stated, and whose specific goal guarantees that it will be an unsound theory. Unsound mathematical theories are useless: every possible statement is provable in an unsound theory.
- The author doesn’t understand the difference between syntax and semantics, between objects and models, or between statements and facts – and because of that, the basic statements in his theory are utterly meaningless.
The last link is of specific interest, because Mr Langan turns up in the comments section and is clearly not a happy chap. He proceeds to spew a rather large quantity of ad-hominem ridden bullshit. Perhaps if he had gone with, “No you are wrong because … “, and proceeded to lay out a rebuttal, then it might be appropriate to cut him a bit of slack.
Bottom Line: Smart? Of course. But right? I’m not convinced.