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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

SLEB Clarifications

It is clear from the post-bag that some residual confusion surrounds the Sushing scale of Celebrity, which we launched last month. Readers will recall that the scale was a logarithmic one, in which the fame of a person was quantified as the decimal logarithm of the number of people to whom the person was known. The scale therefore ranged from 0, which is the decimal logarithm of 1, to a practical limit of 9.6, which is the decimal logarithm of 7.2 billion, taken to be the sentient population of the earth at present.

The logarithmic nature of the scale proved too confusing for some. In particular a correspondent called Max Clifford, who described himself as a publicist (hence having a direct personal interest in the scale), asked the following question:

‘If 0 is the rating you give to a celebrity who is known by only 1 person, what score should I give to a celebrity who isn’t known by anybody?’

It took time and patience, but I got Mr C to see that, even allowing for non-self-awareness, if a person is to be rated on the Sushing scale they must be known at least by the rater, so a rating of 0 is the smallest possible in practice.

A related but more subtle case was put by an eminent mathematician who has asked to remain anonymous in my blog. To protect his identity I will refer to him just as S.H.

Professor  S.H. has questioned the applicability of the scale to values that are strictly unknown. For example, the exact value of the cosmological constant, Λ, which appears in Einstein’s field equations and plays a role in determining the rate of quantum evaporation of black holes via asymmetric radiation at the event horizon. Surely, he argued (via his voice synthesizer), as the exact value is known by nobody, its ‘fame’ should be rated as the logarithm of zero, which is minus infinity. While I have no practical objection to an infinitely negative score, I did point out to Professor S.H.  the philosophical  shortcomings in his thinking, which I will share with you now lest others are suffering from the same or related misconceptions. The issue strikes to the heart of post-modern semiotic theory, while echoing the ideas of Aquinas.

Let us take the case of Dolly Parton. When we say that the melodious C&W chanteuse is ‘known’ by more than 800 million people, what exactly do we mean? Certainly most of them will ever have met her. A good few of them will never have seen her image. Some might never have heard her voice. What we mean is that when a certain token, phonetically Dolly Parton, is presented to human beings, in around 800 million of them a type of pattern of synaptic response will be triggered , equated with the psychological phenomenon of recognition. In the case of purely abstract relations, the conception that in Germany is called Kergreifscheist lends to the question the idea of one-ness between symbol and entity. The mapping is an entological one, of course, without overtones of bimorphidism.

Readers- we’re going to do the Sudoku now, thanks.

Oh, OK. I can finish the explanation tomorrow.

Readers- not sure we can make tomorrow. Might be best to just leave it for now and we'll let you know when we're ready to read the rest.


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