Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Esoterica, my foot!

Humanity has always respected those who claimed to know of things unknown to others. Be it mathematicians, or just plain astrologers. All this attention is good for the person in question. The person's demand goes up. And in this world, demand is everything.

Esoterica is a con job. People build an aura of ununderstandability over apallingly obvious truths. Take for instance high school mathematics. To lots of normal people circles were a terror and complex numbers were like agents of doom. But the brave who actually tackled these little things head on found that circles were round little things which had some really neat properties and complex numbers weren't inexplicable - one just needed a bit of imagination. This unapproachability of such topics by the common man, of course, gives the 'enlightened' a lot of importance. The enlightened (teachers or students) can then circomlocute like God knows how and confuse the living daylights off other innocent people in the guise of giving an explanation.

What of Relativity, we may ask. Essays have been written trying to demystify it. Claims have been made (by none other than Al Einstien) regading the esoteric nature of the same. But when you come down to it - it's neither mysterious nor esoteric. It's so remarkably simple that even a school teacher can understand it!. But no, decades of propaganda have equated the rather ubiquitous E=mc^2 with complexity. It has become that layman symbol of all knowledge beyond possible average human reach.

Take Fourier analysis, yet another example. The nightmare of any student. Why? The expressions look kind of intimidating - with all the integrals and the exponents. You get the feeling as if you're traveling in an airplace (which has just been deprived of one of its wings by a rather erratic bird). It almost makes my heart beat faster. But look seriously! It just uses simple math - elementary facts regarding additions of functions and the product of two numbers close to each other being positive. Intuition lies hidden behind the impassive cloak of mathematics.

Egotripped underachieving scientists, stupid bloggers (such as yours truly, by writing such stupid blogs) and incompetent teachers are responsible for this feeling of esoterica - this feeling of the unapproachablity of simple mathematic truths amongst the general public. Long live the offenders. May our importance increase. May man never realize how he has been conned. But when he does, he shall automatically become a conner.

1 comment:

Prashanth said...

Rap.... you are talking only about mathematics here, and since mathematics comes naturally to an IITian, you may feel there's no mathematics too esoteric to bamboozle you.

I guess I have a different defn of the word Esoteric. When I tell junta that I am interested in Science Fiction and Fantasy in fiction and comp games... that too not the standard ones... I am saying that my tastes are esoteric. None but a select few can understand me in this in this language, leave alone converse fluently. What do you understand when I say, "I was in Telaranrhiold for most of the afty, it felt like Larloch had gone major on me..."??