Douglas Hofstadter – Metamagical Themas (1985)

by vyh

It is a curious coincidence that the only other reply to my article that was printed in the “Letters” column of Scientific American also came from the University of Delaware. Here it is:

I hope that you do not receive any correspondence concerning Douglas R. Hofstadter’s article on self-reference. I should like to inform your readers that many years of study on this problem have convinced me no conclusion whatsoever can be drawn from it that would stand up to a moment’s scrutiny. There is no excuse for Scientific American to publish letters from those cranks who consider such matters to be worthy of even the slightest notice.

A. J. Dale
Department of Philosophy
University of Delaware

I replied as follows:

Many years of reading such letters have convinced me that no reply whatsoever can be given to them that would stand up to a moment’s scrutiny. There is no excuse for publishing responses to those cranks who send them.

After these two exchanges had appeared in print, a number of people remarked to me that they’d read the two letters from Delaware that had attacked me, and had enjoyed my responses. Two? I guess it wasn’t so obvious that Dale’s letter was completely tongue-in-cheek. In fact, that was its point.

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