Mine is the list of invalid methods of proof (original source unknown):
Proof by example
The author gives only the case n = 2 and suggests that it contains most of the ideas of the general proof.
Proof by intimidation
Proof by vigorous handwaving
Works well in a classroom or seminar setting.
Proof by cumbersome notation
Best done with access to at least four alphabets and special symbols.
Proof by funding
How could three different government agencies be wrong?
Proof by eminent authority
â��I saw Karp in the elevator and he said it was probably NP-complete.â��
Proof by reference to inaccessible literature
The author cites a simple corollary of a theorem to be found in a privately circulated memoir of the Slovenian Philological Society, 1883.
Proof by accumulated evidence
Long and diligent search has not revealed a counterexample.
Proof by ghost reference
Nothing even remotely resembling the cited theorem appears in the reference given.
Bonus points if you find examples of these invalid methods of proof in certain popular forum debates...
This one isn't necessarily math/science humor, but is about a mathematician and engineer, so I suppose it kind of fits...
A mathematician and an engineer are sitting next to each other on a long flight. The mathematician leans over to the engineer and asks if he would like to play a fun game. The engineer just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few winks.
The mathematician persists and explains that the game is real easy and lots of fun. He explains, "I ask you a question, and if you don't know the answer, you pay me $5. Then you ask me a question, and if I don't know the answer, I'll pay you $5."
Again, the engineer politely declines and tries to get to sleep. The mathematician, now somewhat agitated, says, "Okay, if you don't know the answer, you pay me $5, and if I don't know the answer, I'll pay you $50!"
This catches the engineer's attention, and he sees no end to this torment unless he plays, so he agrees to the game. The mathematician asks the first question. "What's the distance from the earth to the moon?"
The engineer doesn't say a word, but reaches into his wallet, pulls out a five-dollar bill and hands it to the mathematician Now, it's the engineer's turn. He asks the mathematician "What goes up a hill with three legs and comes down on four?"
The mathematician looks up at him with a puzzled look. He takes out his laptop computer and searches all of his references. He taps into the air phone with his modem and searches the net and the Library of Congress. Frustrated, he sends e-mail to his co-workers all to no avail.
After about an hour, he wakes the engineer and hands him $50. The engineer politely takes the $50 and turns away to try to get back to sleep.
The mathematician then hits the engineer, saying, "What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down on four?" The engineer calmly pulls out his wallet, hands the mathematician five bucks, and goes back to sleep.
Helium walks into a bar. The bartender looks at him snidely and scoffs, "We don't serve inert gases in this place buddy."
Helium does not react.
Little Boy: "My math teacher is crazy".
Little Boy: "Yesterday she told us that five is 4+1; today she is telling us that five is 3 + 2."
A worker walks into a building and two walk out.
Physicist: Experimental error.
Biologist: They must have reproduced.
Mathematician: If one more person walks in the building will be empty
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