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Cranks

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Once upon a time, a certain mathematics professor, one William Dilworth, joined the ranks of those purporting to rebut Cantor’s diagonal argument and aiming to show that that set theory (as we know and love it) is founded on mistake — indeed “Logicians’ axiomatic set theory is meaningless in mathematics.  They have been working in wrong mathematics and exerting their efforts in vain over the past sixty years.” Underwood Dudley gave Dilworth a mention in his entertaining squib Mathematical Cranks. Dilworth sued for defamation. The case was dismissed, then went to appeal. The dismissal was upheld on appeal in a decision written by Richard Posner. From the decision: A crank is a person inexplicably obsessed by an obviously unsound idea—a person with a bee in his bonnet. To call a person a crank is to say that because of some quirk of temperament he is wasting his time pursuing a line of thought that is plainly without merit or promise … To call a person a crank is. . .

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News source: Logic Matters

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