Re: sacred geometry

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Sat, 20 Sep 1997 20:41:41 -0500

Anders Sandberg wrote:
> I once wrote a semi-serious text about the occult significance of the
> five platonic polyhedra, the archimedian polyhedra and the simple groups.
> I based it on some fun analogies (4 sides of a tetrahedron = 4 elements,
> INRI = the Klein 4-group) and then developed them. No stringency, no
> real logic, I just went with my feelings and invented connections where
> I wanted. Then I published it on alt.magick - and got a lot of encouraging
> responces. Many people actually thought I had come up with something
> worthwhile, and this disturbed me. I could have written almost anything,
> and it would have made sense to them!

You should have known better.

I once came up with an entirely reasonable (and experimentally testable)
explanation of astrology - simply to prove to myself that I could prove
anything. I don't DARE publish it even in the pages of the Skeptical
Inquirer. Not only would it become the standard explanation, but my mailbox
would be flooded and my phone would be tied up and my life made unlivable by
the National Enquirer and people who simply can't understand the concept of "I
made this up".

But, you ask, what possible explanation can there be for remote stellar bodies
influencing our personalities?

And the answer is - that the explanation is completely obvious, and that the
astrologers haven't already thought of it demonstrates how silly they are, and
that I won't tell you.

But to show I can, I shall now prove four related propositions:
1) The sky is green.
2) The sky is purple.
3) The sky has red polka-dots.
4) (Generalized:) The sky is any color.

1) Sun is yellow. Sky is blue. Yellow + blue = green.
2) The sky is purple, at night.
3) The stars are polka-dots. Some of them are red giants.
4) There are many planets in the Universe. Some of them will have skies of
any given color.

I did not make up the explanations first. First I made up the propositions,
then I proved them. Note that every explanation is *true*. No matter how
ridiculous the propositions may seem, they are quite correct. If I'd shown
you those propositions and told you I was going to prove them, you would have
laughed. Instead you are now placed in the position of asserting that they
are sober fact.

Which they aren't. Three are flawed. You see, given my enormous talent in
the area of rationalization, I have become *very* good at detecting incorrect
ones. But can you find the flaws?

If I gave my explanation of astrology, sober scientists would actually try the
experiment (it would fail, because astrology DOESN'T work), and my explanation
would be enshrined in the hearts of New Agers forever and ever. It wouldn't
matter what I said.

--       Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.