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.

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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