How To Prove It In China: 36 Methods

Selection and adaptation of invalid methods to prove Chinese theorems


BEIJING - Many Western readers will find China’s hard-core communist propaganda alien and mind-bogging. The tasty way someone (from former East-Germany) described it to me was that “it’s slowly omnomnoming on your sanity and devouring your brain.”

China’s academic writings, too, pose significant challenges to the untrained goggles in that Chinese manuscripts are often revisionist, heavily stylized, repetitive, under-referenced, and full of blatant plagiarism -which was acceptable in China since there was little sense of intellectual property rights (tell Western joint ventures about it!).

Another headache for historians is the Chinese ideal of ‘xiao’ –filial piety. Piety means that emperors, officials, professors, teachers, your parents, and all superiors are always right. Needless to say, in the fields of politics, history, and all social sciences, the Party at all times has the correct answers already, which reduces those branches of scholarship to mere matters of form and ritual (e.g. simplicity, imagery, and repetition). Next, there is little universal notion of ‘truth’ in China, but rather a lofty pragmatism –e. g. what is good for the people. That is, by the way, why “philosophy” and “science,” two distinct Western ways of thinking and methodology, were largely (but not entirely) absent in China before the arrival of the Europeans. (They compensated for it by cultivating sages and sagehood, which is a fascinating topic by itself.)

Which leads us to a well known phenomenon that in China there previously was little or no objectivity in a Western sense that God and the world are separated (it's a metaphor!); in fact, there is no “religion” in China, which means that highest wisdom is with human beings (not God), and that the people and all their various relationships is all there is –so people will have to be accommodated -not some fancy hocus-pocus.

Last, even progressives have no problem with citing Confucius of 2500 years ago which is rarely helpful to solve any real life problem -except that Confucius always wins the argument.

How to prove it in China

The following is a list of invalid but surprisingly effective proof techniques that your author has encountered in Chinese texts. They are obviously not exclusive to China, but rampant:

1. Proof by sheer numbers: How could 1,393,649,829 Chinese be wrong?

2. Proof by induction: Heaven and all under heaven are one!

3. Proof by annexation: Take any already known theory from the West and add: “...with Chinese characteristics.”

4. Proof by subsidy: How could so many government agencies be wrong?

5. Proof by deferral: We’ll prove it once we have achieved socialism (technically in 100 years from the founding of the People’s Republic of China, which will be October 1, 2049.)

6. Proof by powerful imagery: “The United States and Britain are paper-tigers.” --Mao Zedong

7. Proof by persistence: You know this is true!

8. Proof by sentiment: You feel this is true!

9. Proof by wishful thinking: The West is in decline, what is there for us to prove anymore?

10. Proof by guanxi: The more people you know, the higher the probability someone is going to help with your proof.

11. Proof by hukou: You usually got it right if you are a first class citizen (from Beijing, the capital), second class citizen (Shanghai, Guangzhou, etc.), and wrong if you happened to come from the parasitic countryside.

12. Proof by repetition: “And so on, over and over again in an endless spiral, with the ideas becoming more correct, more vital and richer each time.” --Mao Zedong

13. Proof by backward/forward reference: Reference is usually to a past or forthcoming paper of the author.

14. Proof by compensation: The average Chinese skyscraper erected must be no less than 10 stories taller than the average European one.

15. Proof by eminent authority: When I met Hu Jintao at the Diaoyutai State House, he said: “It’s the ‘harmonious society’, stupid.”

16. Proof by pomp: Although China has 829 Million peasants living in poverty and only 1/11 of the GDP (per capita) that of Europe; nevertheless it held the world’s most costly and ostentatious Olympic Games -ever.

17. Proof by reference to inaccessible literature: The Chinese civilization is at least 6000 years old! (Written records go no further than 3000 years –Ouch!)

18. Proof by no-reference whatsoever: There is no reference list in this damn 526-pages textbook!

19. Proof by pre-eminence: The Germans may have invented the automobile, but the Chinese invented the paper for its blueprint.

20. Proof by patriotism: You’re seriously offending the feelings of 1,393,649,828 Chinese compatriots.

21. Proof by yin and yang: We tanked the humiliations during the Boxer Rebellion, the Opium Wars, the Nanjing Massacre, the unequal treaties; soon the imbalance will be restored in our favor!

22. Proof by piety: “I am not inventing something new; I just recite the sages of old.” --Confucius

23. Proof by cultural revolution: Is your culture hopeless? Just crush and shatter it; and write yourself a new one.

24. Proof by production: “The massive population of China is our greatest good. Even a further increase of several times the population is entirely possible, possible through productivity.” --Mao Zedong

25. Proof by walking: “As more people are walking all the time, in the same spot, a path appears.” --Lu Xun

26. Proof by sufficient misery: The starvation of 30 million citizens and the total annihilation of opposition, critics and traditional culture during the Cultural Revolution have finally convinced the Chinese people that it was the necessary thing to do to revive this nation.

27. Proof by demonizing: “The Dalai-lama is a devil in sheep-clothes!” --CCTV

28. Proof by ethnicity: You ‘prove’ it by showing your opponent is not Chinese. A classic: “Mr. Smith does not understand China because he is not Chinese.”

29. Proof by exclusion: Before the defendant airs his dirty opinions in public, he will be censored/defamed/incarcerated/executed to prove his irrelevance.

30. Proof by meekness: Usually employed by showing three or more of the following virtues: kindness, courtesy, amiability, ingratiation, graciousness, hospitableness, sagacity, modesty. Hence Confucius: the true gentleman knows what is right.

31. Proof by saying No: Publish a book entitled China can say No.

32. Proof by corruption: You have to pay if you have to pay.

33. Proof by suspension: “China’s rise will be peaceful.” –Wen Jiabao

34. Proof by English translation: If the West can read it, you exist!

35. Proof by having-nothing-to-prove-at-all: Forget proof and all - Be RICH. Be TALL. Be EDUCATED. (The so-called “3G” [san gao] will get you anywhere in China!)

36. Proof by Confucius: Just say Confucius said it, e. g. “Girl who do back spring on bedspring have offspring next spring.” etc. --Unknown author

Note: This has been cross-posted at www.east-west-dichotomy.com.

Image credit: Vitchanan Photography/Shutterstock.com

You can follow me on Twitter, my Website, or my other Blog. Please leave your interesting comments and suggestions in the section below. And, see you around next time!

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Keep reading Show less

Where do atoms come from? Billions of years of cosmic fireworks.

The periodic table was a lot simpler at the beginning of the universe.

10 excerpts from Marcus Aurelius' 'Meditations' to unlock your inner Stoic

Great ideas in philosophy often come in dense packages. Then there is where the work of Marcus Aurelius.

(Getty Images)
Personal Growth
  • Meditations is a collection of the philosophical ideas of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
  • Written as a series of notes to himself, the book is much more readable than the dry philosophy most people are used to.
  • The advice he gave to himself 2,000 years ago is increasingly applicable in our hectic, stressed-out lives.
Keep reading Show less

An organism found in dirt may lead to an anxiety vaccine, say scientists

Can dirt help us fight off stress? Groundbreaking new research shows how.

University of Colorado Boulder
Surprising Science
  • New research identifies a bacterium that helps block anxiety.
  • Scientists say this can lead to drugs for first responders and soldiers, preventing PTSD and other mental issues.
  • The finding builds on the hygiene hypothesis, first proposed in 1989.

Are modern societies trying too hard to be clean, at the detriment to public health? Scientists discovered that a microorganism living in dirt can actually be good for us, potentially helping the body to fight off stress. Harnessing its powers can lead to a "stress vaccine".

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that the fatty 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid from the soil-residing bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae aids immune cells in blocking pathways that increase inflammation and the ability to combat stress.

The study's senior author and Integrative Physiology Professor Christopher Lowry described this fat as "one of the main ingredients" in the "special sauce" that causes the beneficial effects of the bacterium.

The finding goes hand in hand with the "hygiene hypothesis," initially proposed in 1989 by the British scientist David Strachan. He maintained that our generally sterile modern world prevents children from being exposed to certain microorganisms, resulting in compromised immune systems and greater incidences of asthma and allergies.

Contemporary research fine-tuned the hypothesis, finding that not interacting with so-called "old friends" or helpful microbes in the soil and the environment, rather than the ones that cause illnesses, is what's detrimental. In particular, our mental health could be at stake.

"The idea is that as humans have moved away from farms and an agricultural or hunter-gatherer existence into cities, we have lost contact with organisms that served to regulate our immune system and suppress inappropriate inflammation," explained Lowry. "That has put us at higher risk for inflammatory disease and stress-related psychiatric disorders."

University of Colorado Boulder

Christopher Lowry

This is not the first study on the subject from Lowry, who published previous work showing the connection between being exposed to healthy bacteria and mental health. He found that being raised with animals and dust in a rural environment helps children develop more stress-proof immune systems. Such kids were also likely to be less at risk for mental illnesses than people living in the city without pets.

Lowry's other work also pointed out that the soil-based bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae acts like an antidepressant when injected into rodents. It alters their behavior and has lasting anti-inflammatory effects on the brain, according to the press release from the University of Colorado Boulder. Prolonged inflammation can lead to such stress-related disorders as PTSD.

The new study from Lowry and his team identified why that worked by pinpointing the specific fatty acid responsible. They showed that when the 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid gets into cells, it works like a lock, attaching itself to the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR). This allows it to block a number of key pathways responsible for inflammation. Pre-treating the cells with the acid (or lipid) made them withstand inflammation better.

Lowry thinks this understanding can lead to creating a "stress vaccine" that can be given to people in high-stress jobs, like first responders or soldiers. The vaccine can prevent the psychological effects of stress.

What's more, this friendly bacterium is not the only potentially helpful organism we can find in soil.

"This is just one strain of one species of one type of bacterium that is found in the soil but there are millions of other strains in soils," said Lowry. "We are just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in terms of identifying the mechanisms through which they have evolved to keep us healthy. It should inspire awe in all of us."

Check out the study published in the journal Psychopharmacology.