In the next day or two I will post a detailed account of my experiences at the Gathering for Gardner, which I can honestly say is one of the most enjoyable math conferences I have ever attended. In the meantime, you might enjoy this essay by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross. Polster is a mathematician at Monash University in Australia, and I had the pleasure of meeting him at the conference. His column has nuggets like this:
There may not be much left to argue, but argument continues regardless. For instance, there is the famous Oxford theologian Richard Swinburne. He fell in love with probabilities, and in 2003 he proved that it is 97% probable that Jesus rose from the grave. Swinburne’s work was respectfully reported around the globe.
We cannot be so respectful. We shouldn’t have to say it, but Swinburne’s work is pseudomathematical nonsense. His arithmetic of probabilities is fine, but the base probabilities that he worked with were nothing beyond wild guesses.
Go read the whole thing, and not just because the authors refer to an essay of mine. Be sure to stick around for the brainteaser at the end.