Another weird announcement from academia… one that comes with the possibility of a tie-in novel, a subsequent Tom Hanks cinema vehicle and a whole raft of poorly-moderated discussion forums populated by users with names like *HemlockSpitter77*. Dr Jay Kennedy at the University of Manchester has cracked the secret code in Plato’s writings[via SlashDot]!
Some highlights from the press release:
The hidden codes show that Plato anticipated the Scientific Revolution 2,000 years before Isaac Newton, discovering its most important idea – the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. The decoded messages also open up a surprising way to unite science and religion. The awe and beauty we feel in nature, Plato says, shows that it is divine; discovering the scientific order of nature is getting closer to God. This could transform today’s culture wars between science and religion.
That’s set my alarm bell to ringing… unless it’s the sound of bookstore cash registers I can hear.
Dr Kennedy explains: “Plato’s importance cannot be overstated. He shifted humanity from a warrior society to a wisdom society. Today our heroes are Einstein and Shakespeare – and not knights in shining armour – because of him.”
Yes; kind of; erm, not really.
Over the years Dr Kennedy carefully peeled back layer after symbolic layer, sharing each step in lectures in Manchester and with experts in the UK and US.
He recalls: “There was no Rosetta Stone. To announce a result like this I needed rigorous, independent proofs based on crystal-clear evidence.
“The result was amazing – it was like opening a tomb and finding new set of gospels written by Jesus Christ himself.
And there goes the Krank Klaxon. Awoooogah!
To be fair, I suppose it’s possible that there really is a code, and that Kennedy has ‘cracked’ it. Though I’m still inclined to think his theory is more likely a load of bollocks.
Best of all is the selection of Plato aphorisms included at the end of the press release for lazy science hacks, because it includes this aposite little gem:
“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.”
Maybe there’s a secret code in there for you, Dr Kennedy?
4 thoughts on “The Plato Code”
I hear your ‘awoogah’, Paul, but beneath this press release there are two potentially interesting findings. (And bear in mind that the academic concerned might be equally mortified by the tone of the press release.) First, it suggests that Plato used the whole-tone scale of the Neo-Pythagoreans to create the superstructure of his works and, second, we might be able to use this superstructure to delineate the true Plato from the fiddled-with Plato. But you knew that. Anyway, I thought it sounded interesting.
Reminds me a colleague who reluctantly gave an interview to a journalist about his work into risky behaviour and car driving. About two hours into a three-hour interview, he mentioned there was a tiny, barely significant negative correlation between a measure of sexual performance and preference for speed while driving driving. Result: An entire article built around a misinterpretation of this correlation, entitled ‘Fast Drivers are Crashing Bores in Bed’. You couldn’t make it up. Oh, wait.
I hear you, Ian. But really, if the unis are going to write link-bait press releases like that, they have to expect stupid sensationalism to be the outcome. That’s what happens when you pitch for the cheap seats, sadly.
@ A message of divinity in nature handed down from ancient cultures:
@ the unification of science and religion by way of our awe of nature:
Technically the coloring in of secualarism with magical thinking and unquestionable absolutes in order to feed our eternal desire for meaning. The notion that science and religion can be unified is complete nonsense. They are oppositional in principle.
This is of zero intrest to anyone, scientist or historian.
Dr Kennedy claims he’s discovered that Plato was a Pythagorean – wow! Shock horror. Maybe dr Kennedy is new to the study of plato but everyone already knew that for two-thousand years. His second great discovery is? Plato had similar words grouped at distances of twelves. Wow, another soporiphically uninteristing discovery! Plato was a poet, and his works are written in regular poetic meter, everyone already knows that too. In the ancient world poetry was written in meters of lines of usually of twelve words, with similar words occuring at regular distances. Just as we put rhyming words at the same intervals in a line to make poetry today (ancient poetry didn’t rhyme). His third claim, for which he offers no evidence: plato anticipated newton? Yea, right, like Helen of Troy anticipated Lady Gaga.
I found dr jay kennedy’s websight where he gives the game away: “It is surprising that Plato could deploy an elaborate symbolic scheme without disturbing the surface narratives of the dialogues, but in this respect he does not differ from other allegorical writers like Dante or Spenser”
ie plato writes like any other poet, snore
So zero discoveries of any intellectual value here then. The press release definately reads like a desperate accedemic trying to drum up some business by copying the DaVinci Code meme – interestingly according to his web page his last job was ‘On an Oil Rig in the Gulf of Mexico’ and the job before that ‘Lecturing in Bagdad’. Ouch, trouble just follows this guy arround.
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