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Godel's Proof on how the US Constitution has a flaw that could allow a dictatorship

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KR1963 writes:

Do any of you know who Mathematician Kurt Godel (1906-1978) is?

His name might be somewhat familiar to you from Douglas Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach. He is a giant amongst humanity's great thinkers. Godel put nearly a supreme faith in an unlimited power of rational inquiry, yet one of his greatest published theories, the famous incompleteness theorem holds paradoxically, that no single axiomatic system can yield all arithmetic truths. That's something a little mind-bending to have with your coffee in the morning.

He seems to be unique even amongst a group of advanced mathematicians. In a world of attempting to predict & categorize, Gödel was known for surprises. One can come up with a premise & surmise it regarding Godel's career as a mathematician thusly:

Most mathematicians prove things already thought to be true.

Occasionally some mathematicians prove things that most other mathematicians weren't one hundred percent sure about.

Rarely does a mathematician prove something to be true that most of the others thought must be false.

And apparently no mathematician had made a career of that sort of proof until Kurt Gödel came along. A rarity indeed.

Morgenstern written account of Kurt Goedel's citizenship exam (see Scribd embed below or click link to go to it on Scribd)

On 5 December 1947, Kurt Gödel, the man Time magazine called the last century's greatest mathematician, had his citizenship hearing. One of Gödel's witnesses was the man the same issue of Time called the century's greatest person, Albert Einstein. The other witness was Oskar Morgenstern, co-inventor of game theory.

Gödel had confided in them that he had discovered an inconsistency in the Constitution, one that would allow the U.S. to become a dictatorship. Einstein and Morgenstern were concerned that their friend's unpredictable behavior might jeopardize his chances. Fortunately, the judge turned out to be Philip Forman. Forman knew Einstein and had administered the oath at Einstein's own citizenship hearing. Everything went smoothly until Forman happened to ask Gödel if he thought a dictatorship like the Nazis could happen in the U.S.

Gödel then started to explain his discovery to Forman. Forman understood what was going on, cut Gödel off, and moved the hearing on to other questions and a routine conclusion.

Here below, a link to that written account discovered by Morgenstern's wife.

Morgenstern written account of Kurt Goedel's citizenship exam 

I find it interesting that Godel's exam happened right about the time that George Orwell wrote his classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. There is a theory that no one concept or idea or invention appears in the world alone. For every person who comes up with a particular notion, this same notion will appear in the mind(s) of other(s).

It would be interesting to one day find this PROOF & see if it actually had an application to the real world & what situation we find ourselves in today.

Oh btw, he supposedly also wrote what was known amongst his friend's as the God Proof.
That is nowhere to be found as well, alas. (but find a novel by Jeffrey Kegler about it here:


Morgenstern On Goedel citizenship


What was the flaw Kurt Gödel discovered in the US constitution that would allow conversion to a dictatorship?
Paul Amerigo PajoPaul Amerigo Pajo, The Pageman in Kabul
1 upvote by Chris Jensen.
You can try to look at F.E. Guerra-Pujol's paper "Gödel’s Loophole" - here's the abstract:

"The mathematician and philosopher Kurt Gödel reportedly discovered a deep logical contradiction in the US Constitution. What was it? In this paper, the author revisits the story of Gödel’s discovery and identifies one particular “design defect” in the Constitution that qualifies as a “Gödelian” design defect. In summary, Gödel’s loophole is that the amendment procedures set forth in Article V self-apply to the constitutional statements in article V themselves, including the entrenchment clauses in article V. Furthermore, not only may Article V itself be amended, but it may also be amended in a downward direction (i.e., through an “anti-entrenchment” amendment making it easier to amend the Constitution). Lastly, the Gödelian problem of self-amendment or anti-entrenchment is unsolvable. In addition, the author identifies some “non-Gödelian” flaws or “design defects” in the Constitution and explains why most of these miscellaneous design defects are non-Gödelian or non-logical flaws."

Lawrence Solum summarizes Pujol's arguments in Guerra-Pujol on Gödel’s Loophole:

  • The paper is divided into five parts. Following a brief introduction, Part 2 retells the story of Gödel’s lost discovery in greater detail and tries to answer a subsidiary question: why is there no formal record of “Gödel’s Loophole”? Next, Part 3 reviews several alternative theories of Gödel’s lost discovery and explains why these alternatives are probably not what Gödel had in mind. (In brief, these alternative theories are off the mark because they ignore Gödel’s interest in logical contradictions and the problem of self-reference.) Part 4 then presents the author’s reconstruction of Gödel’s Loophole. In summary, Gödel’s discovery may be divided into several steps. First, the constitution contains a finite number of legal provisions or “constitutional statements," and one of these statements contains an amending clause, which permits the people to amend to the constitution (when certain conditions or procedural steps are met). Second, since there are no limits on the amending power, then the amending power can be used to amend itself, and third, if the amending clause can amend itself, then all express and implied limitations on the amending power might be overcome through a constitutional amendment. Part 5 concludes.

also Jeffrey Kegler attempts to answer this at Gödel and the Constitution V: My Conjecture:

Without further ado, then, here is my conjecture:
  1. When the Nazis took over Austria, I conjecture that there was some after-the-fact justification in terms of Austrian constitutional law. I want to emphasize here that Gödel's concern would have been Austrian law -- *NOT* German law. I do not read German well and cannot follow up on this. It may be hard to find because even the lawyers who drafted it probably did not take it seriously.
  2. Gödel did take this after-the-fact justification seriously, and at face value. From Gödel's point of view, it would have explained why the Anschluss could and did happen.
  3. When Gödel studied the US Constitution, he found that a similar thing was possible under its terms.
Written 9 Aug, 2013. 2,314 views.


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June 6, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink