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One aspect of the Sokal and Bricmont affair was not raised in the \{\\em LRB\} \
correspondence (29 October 1998): namely, the authors' scientific \
competence. They state rightly that 'Goedel's theorem is an inexhaustible \
source of intellectual abuses'. Unfortunately, the authors themselves, \
suffer from 'Goedelitis'! Their 'explanation'--'Goedel's first theorem \
exhibits a proposition that is neither provable nor refutable in the given \
system, provided that this system is consistent'--is simply wrong. An \
essential property--namely the existence of a proof-checking algorithm--is \
omitted. Without this proviso the whole edifice falls into pieces \
essentially in the same way it did when Kristeva replaced 'consistency' by \
'inconsistency' in Goedel's second theorem: sometimes consistency cannot be \
proved within the system, but an inconsistent system can prove its own \
inconsistency. The omission is not accidental: it reapers on later in the \
book. Finally, the authors' 'expert' judgement dismisses any impact of \
Goedel's theory on the development of artificial intelligence, theory of \
randomness, philosophy of mathematics or understanding Escher's art (to \
name only a few areas): 'Metatheorems in mathematical logic, such as \
Goedel's theorem ... have ... very little impact on the bulk of \
mathematical research and almost no impact on the natural sciences'.\
\
C.S. Calude, Auckland\
\f1\i London Review of Books, 4 February, 1999, 4}