Category Archives: Physics

Bible firmament

Biblical Absurdities: Is the Bible At Odds With Science?

Introduction

Is the Bible at odds with science? Let us take a look at some of the claims of this book, shall we?

We shall not go in any particular order, but pluck out things as I think of them.

I will not pick on easy things, such as the fact that the Bible asserts that God made the Earth in a few days. Even though we know that the Earth formed over millions of years.

Nor will I focus on the fact that the Earth is not, as the Bible seems to think, a flat circle.

I will not discuss the dome that the Bible asserts is above the Earth which keeps the waters in space from falling onto Earth.

Nor will I go into how Noah could not have gathered two animals of every “kind” onto the Ark.

Nor will I go into the fact that that the Biblical notion of “kind” is completely unscientific nonsense. He did not even have enough room on his Ark!

No, there are many claims the Bible makes about the world or how it works that I will not go into. But what am I going to go into?

I will focus on somewhat less obvious or less well-known ways in which the Bible is wrong.

Bible firmament
So, I guess I will not talk about the dome the Bible claims is over the Earth. But I will show it….

Our List of Blunders

Let us start with what the Bible thinks about insects…

The Bible Thinks Insects Have Four Legs

Here is one of the things the Bible has to say about insects:

All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be detestable to you. There are, however, some winged creatures that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground. Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper. But all other winged creatures that have four legs you are to detest.

Leviticus 11:20–23

Insects have six legs, not four. Therefore there are not any four-legged flying insects. Unless the Bible s, for some reason, concerned about insects that have lost two legs.

Surely the Bible authors noticed that insects have six legs?

Well, they noticed they had six limbs. But they did not count two of the limbs as legs. Why? Because at least for the insects described here, they did not consider the two hind legs as walking legs but leaping legs.

But all the same, insects all have six legs. So it is wrong to say that they are four-legged creatures.

The Bible Does Not Know Anything About the Mustard Seed

Let us see which seed the Bible considers to be the smallest seed.

Another parable put he [Jesus] forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Matthew 13:31;32

The mustard seed is not the smallest seed. Jesus might not have known that. But I suspect farmers and the like might have known that.

The mustard seed does not grow into a tree either. The mustard plant is clearly not a tree and looks nothing like a tree.

It might have been classified by some as a tree back then because it grew relatively tall. But that is not a scientifically valid reason to classify something as a tree.

The Bible Thinks Pi is 3

Let us turn to the Bible describing a cauldron and see if we can figure out if the all-knowing God knows the correct value of pi.

Also, he made a molten sea [cauldron] of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.

Kings 7:23-24

The more mathematically astute among you may have already seen the problem. Let me point it out.

Pi is a circle’s circumference divided by its diameter.

The circumference of a circle equals pi times the diameter.

Pi = Circumference divided by diameter.

Now, let us look at what the Bible says. It says that the cauldron is 30 cubits around. So, if we consider the circumference of the circle formed by the rim of the cauldron, it says this circle is 30 cubits around.

It also says that the cauldron is 10 cubits from one brim to the other. So, the diameter of the rim is 10 cubits.

Therefore, according to the Bible:

 Pi = C/d or 30/10 = 3.

But we know that pi is not equal to three. It is about 3.14 and the decimal digits go on indefinitely.

It certainly is not equal to three!

The Bible Thinks the Moon is a Light

Let us see what the Bible says about the Moon, shall we?

And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.

Genesis 1:16

This seems to be talking about the Moon. The greater light would be the Sun and the “lesser light” seems to be the Moon.

But there is one big problem with this. The Moon is not a light, it gives off no light of its own. It is a big bunch of rock. People only think it is light because it reflects the light of the Sun.

So the Bible does not even know what the Moon is. Nor that it has no means of giving off any light of its own!

Interview with James Ellias

This is an interview with James Ellias, creator of the excellent “An Inductive Summary of Physics” series covering an inductive history of physics and other important philosophical topics.

We discuss the role of induction in physics and many other issues in the philosophy of physics. As well as taking a few questions from our listeners.

The questions asked in the interview include (please not the questions are not necceasirly listed in the order asked):

  • Tell us more about the role of induction in physics.
  • What would you add to or change about the theory of induction presented in the Logical Leap? Or what do you have to say about induction in general?
  • Tell us about your video “There are two hierarchies of knowledge”.
  • Alright, tell us about the role of mathematics in physics
  • Tell us about the “Brief History of Physics” series on your YouTube channel.
  • So, tell us the “Inductive Summary of Physics” project.
  • Who are some of your favorite physicists? 
  • Tell us about some of your favorite sources of inspiration for your work? Which authors/speakers do you draw the most from/get the most inspiration from?
  • Would you care to tell us any of your ideas about what really be going on with some of the lesser well known parts of modern physics? I am talking about things like quantum mechanics, what fields really are, what relativity is really describing and so on.
  • Tell us about some of your experiences in academia? Is going into academia something you would recommend for those interested in physics? Why or why not?
  • What do you think is wrong with modern physics? What are some of the root causes?
  • Which books/sources would you recommend to learn more about physics?
  • In what ways is philosophy important to physics? 
  • Why do you think so many physicists dismiss philosophy?
  • Tell us about some of the most ingenious experiments performed in physics.
  • Talk about the difference between the historical approach and your inductive approach. 
  • What do you think about Lewis Littles’ Theory of Elementary Waves?
Bohr, quantum physics,

To find out the answers to these questions, you should tune into the interview… 🙂

You can find his YouTube channel here.

You can find his Inductive Summary of Physics channel here.

Post-Reality Physics: Evidence, Who Needs It?

Today we are going to examine this article on the physics of string theory, “Philosophers Want to Know Why Physicists Believe Theories They Can’t Prove”.

As we discussed in one of our earlier articles, “Physicists vs Reality”, it starts in a rather refreshing way:

It’s often assumed that physics and philosophy are at opposite ends of the academic spectrum. In fact, they’re close—so close that they can overlap…”

Interesting, it is not that often you get to see people admitting that philosophy might be of any relevance at all to physics. Not a lot of physicists would admit this.

I suppose that it should not too be too surprising that philosophers might know better. And even less surprising that a philosopher of science might think this.

We will be hearing from one such, Richard Dawid, in this article.

Here is something he has to say:

The criteria for establishing a theory, he discovered, is not in itself subject to scientific enquiry. “They’re considered background assumptions,” says Dawid. “It’s a question that’s driven by physics but it’s a philosophical question.”

There are criteria for establishing a theory. At least there is if you want to do it rationally.

First, your theory should have a rational foundation. It should start with known facts, be it direct observational results. Or with something else we know to be true based on observation. Then we attempt to build up from there.

One should study the facts of reality and identify some implications of those facts. One should then focus in on one or more implications of reality and attempt to see what new facts one might be able to identify.

These form the basis of one’s hypothesis, some proposed fact of reality one wants to prove to be true. One then needs to validate this in some way.

In the physical sciences, this involves experimentation. One needs to perform experiments that validate that hypothesis and then show that it is indeed true.

In more abstract subjects, such as mathematics, one might need to perform a mathematical proof, based on logic. Such proof shows that given some established premise, that a given conclusion is true or false.

Of course, math proofs can be very hard and abstract. But they are not totally disconnected from reality …

In any case, one needs some valid way to prove their hypothesis and show that they have indeed identified some fact of reality.

So, yes, there are criteria for establishing a theory. And the philosophy of science helps establish what these criteria are.

And guess what Mr Dawid, philosophy is a science.

To quote Ayn Rand:

Philosophy is the science that studies the fundamental aspects of the nature of existence. The task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life. This view serves as a base, a frame of reference, for all his actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential. This view tells him the nature of the universe with which he has to deal (metaphysics); the means by which he is to deal with it, i.e., the means of acquiring knowledge (epistemology) …

Ayn Rand, “The Chickens’ Homecoming”, Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, 45

That is right, philosophy includes metaphysics, that is, our view of the fundamental view of existence. Which, ideally, one would approach scientifically.

It also includes epistemology, the science of how one goes about gaining knowledge. And this would include how we would go about performing science. Which, again, ideally, we would approach scientifically.

Despite what many philosophers might believe, philosophy is not a bunch of subjective thoughts where one argues whatever one wants.

At least, it does not have to be approached this way.

Ayn Rand, the great rational and founder of the philosophy of Objectivism.

To the contrary! Ayn Rand shows that philosophy can and should be approached as a systematic study of reality, of mankind’s nature and his relationship to the world around him. It should start with observation and work its way up from that.

Observation is something that scientists themselves often implicitly dismiss. What with Kant trying to argue that we cannot trust our senses and a lot of philosophers agreeing with him.

So, it is little wonder many of them can find no basis for their philosophical ranting.

[M]any serious physicists seem to have abandoned this model. String theory, for example, is one of the most exciting ideas in modern physics. But it’s not testable—so how can physicists be confident that it’s sound?

They cannot be. Anyone can come up with any kind of theory that they like. I could come up with a system that tries to explain physics as the product of little meta-puffballs (credit to Leonard Peikoff for this amusing idea or at least one like it).

Let us suppose that it is consistent and that if the universe is made up of meta-puffballs, that this would explain everything we see in physics. Does this make the theory true? Does this make this a good theory or good physics?

No, it does not. A theory is not true simply because it is self-consistent. It is not true because it might explain how things work.

What if meta-puffballs do not exist? Or if they have no bearing to anything we can observe? What if the theory does not explain anything?

We need to test theories against the facts of reality. And not simply come up with a purely mathematical hypothesis that may or may not describe the nature of real objects.

We do not want these hypotheses to fail to describe the interactions of real entities.

There is a need to verify that our theories describe actual fundamental entities and their actions. And not a simply self-consistent mathematical theory that may not describe how reality works!

Not that string theory is internally consistent anyway.

quantum, Schrodinger's Cat

Vodcast Episode Two: Quantum Absurdities, Part One

Play

Today we are going over quantum absurdities and showing how quantum physics is in fact highly absurd. This is part one of a two part series.

Click here to download the PDF transcript or read below the video.

You may also listen to or download an audio only version above.

[Note: Please note that this transcript may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.]

Intro

Metaphysics of Physics is the crucial voice of reason in the philosophy of science, rarely found anywhere else in the world today.

We are equipped with the fundamental principles of a rational philosophy that gives us the edge, may make us misfits in the mainstream sciences but also attracts rational minds.

With this show, we are fighting for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of science.

We raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.

The irrationality of modern physics is the focus of this channel. We have covered topics such as:

The irrationality of Stephen Hawking. The universe and the Big Bang. The philosophy of Niels Bohr. The achievements of Isaac Newton.Optical illusions and the validity of the senses.

If you think that science is about explaining a knowable reality, then this is the channel for you.

If you want to learn more about the irrationality of modern physics, then you are in the right place.

I am your host Ashna. My husband, Dwayne Davies is the primary content creator and your guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science.

We will discuss the problems in modern physics and more and how we can live in a more rational world!

Check out our website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

The Show Itself

Hi everyone! Welcome to the second episode of the Metaphysics of Physics video podcast. Today we are going over quantum absurdities and showing how quantum physics is in fact highly absurd.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it covers many of the essential absurdities.

What is the purpose of this? Yes, the mathematics of quantum theory is incredibly useful and impressive. But we want to show that the physical interpretations of quantum mechanics make no sense.

This is part one of a two-part series.

Particle Wave Duality

Quantum physics asserts that particles can be described as both a wave and a particle.

Albert Einstein had this to say about particle-wave duality:

It seems as though we must use sometimes the one theory and sometimes the other, while at times we may use either. We are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do.

Albert Einstein

Until the early twentieth century, light was widely considered to be a wave, as demonstrated by Thomas Young.

Thomas Young
Thomas Young

But then Einstein showed that light seemed to have particle behavior! And Planck showed that light seemed to come in discrete packets.

So, was light a particle or a wave? Which was it? Later physicists alleged to show that light sometimes shows particle behavior and sometimes wave behavior.

This led them to conclude that light is somehow both a particle and a wave at the same time. And that it, somehow, sometimes behaves as a wave and sometimes behaves as a particle.

Does this make any sense? Well, of course not.

A wave is an abstract description. It describes the motion of something. It describes various relationships.

Take a sound wave. It is an abstract description of the movement of air that can be mathematically represented as a wave.

Or take a water wave. When we say “wave” in this context, we are describing water arranged in a certain pattern.

The pattern of rise and fall with peaks and troughs.

The concept of a water wave describes the relationship of positions between water molecules that makes this pattern.

In common speech, it is often said that a “water wave” or the like refers to the water molecules. This is the noun form of “wave” that describes something arranged like this (something that is waving).

We are using wave in its verb form, as a description of motion or behavior, or a description of some kind of relationship.

A wave is a behavior that a physical entity does. Water may move in a wave motion. Air molecules move in a wave pattern and we experience this as sound.

A wave is the behavior of physical entities. It is not a form of physical entity.

Saying that light is a wave is saying “Light is the movement or behavior of something”. It does not tell us what it is that is waving.

It is like if I held up a ball and asked what it is and you said “That is a bounce”.

You have told me something that the ball does but not what the ball actually is. Bouncing is what the ball does, it is not what the ball is.

Physics is the science of explaining the nature of the fundamental physical constituents of the universe. You want to explain what those things are and how they interact.

Saying “light is a wave, an abstract description of behavior” does not further that in any way and evades the question of what is doing the waving.

We do not even have to get into the issue that something cannot be a wave and a particle at the same time. Because a wave is a description of behavior while a particle is a description of what something is, its form.

The idea of particle-wave duality reifies an abstraction and attempts to reduce physical entities to an abstraction.

It also evades the Law of Identity that says that things are what they are. Something is either a particle or not. It is not a particle, a form of matter and also a wave, an abstraction.

Contradictions do not exist. If you think you see a contradiction in reality then check your premises, because one or more of them are wrong.

quantum, Schrodinger's Cat
That means no dead and alive zombie cats…

Indeterminacy

It is said that until they are observed, particles do not have a definite state. Instead, they exist in a state of “superposition”.

That is, they exist in multiple different, mutually exclusive states all at once. And then when an observation takes place, they take on definite values for their properties.

A property is merely an aspect of somethings existence. But any property of any particle can only exist in one state at a time. That particle’s property can only take one value at a time.

That is just another way of saying something is what it is and that it has a nature and its properties are determined by its nature. Its properties are simply an aspect of its nature and cannot be any different than what they are.

This implies that properties must have single, definite values, as determined by the nature of the entities in question.

Saying that particles exist in a superposition of states is equivalent to saying that those properties have no values and do not exist.

It is denying that a particle is what it is and instead treats it as some kind of Platonic combination of possibilities.

This reifies the idea that a particle can have different possible states and pretends that these possible states are all somehow real, independent of the particle and its nature.

Karl Popper, falsifiability

Thoughts on Falsifiability and Popper

(Editorial: Please note that in this article on falsifiability, I use the phrases “science”, “sciences” and the like. Unless otherwise noted, I am talking about the “empirical” or “physical” sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology.

And not sciences such as mathematics and philosophy.

However, much of the same logic applies to those other sciences as well.

Also, I am not attacking the idea of falsifying a theory as such. I am discussing Popper’s philosophy of how falsification is the essence of science.)

Falsifiability is a problem to a “central problem” in the philosophy of science developed by Karl Popper. Popper was a philosopher of science and closely associated with the influential Vienna Circle.

According to Popper, the central problem in the philosophy of science is demarcation. The problem of demarcation is that of distinguishing between science and non-science.

In Popper’s own words:

The problem of finding a criterion which would enable us to distinguish between the empirical sciences on the one hand, and mathematics and logic as well as ‘metaphysical’ systems on the other, I call the problem of demarcation.

Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery

In other words, the problem of demarcation is how to distinguish between science and what Popper considered to be non-scientific. Things such a metaphysics and logic.

Karl Popper proposed falsifiability as the solution to this problem.

It can be summed up as:

[S]tatements or systems of statements, in order to be ranked as scientific, must be capable of conflicting with possible, or conceivable observations.

Hansson, Sven Ove (2008). Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). “Science and Pseudo-Science”. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 ed.). 4.2 Falsificationism.

Popper accepted the Humean critique of induction and goes further.

We can briefly sum up Hume’s critique of induction with this quote:

From causes which appear similar we expect similar effects. This is the sum of all our experimental conclusions. Now it seems evident that, if this conclusion were formed by reason, it would be as perfect at first, and upon one instance, as after ever so long a course of experience. But the case is far otherwise. Nothing so like as eggs; yet no one, on account of this appearing similarity, expects the same taste and relish in all of them.

It is only after a long course of uniform experiments in any kind, that we attain a firm reliance and security with regard to a particular event. Now where is that process of reasoning which, from one instance, draws a conclusion, so different from that which it infers from a hundred instances that are nowise different from that single one? This question I propose as much for the sake of information, as with an intention of raising difficulties. I cannot find, I cannot imagine any such reasoning.

David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 4. Sceptical doubts concerning the operations of the understanding

Popper agreed with Hume that it is logically impossible to conclusively verify a universal proposition by reference to experience.

After all, in his view, it is easy to say that all swans are white. But you have no way to know this simply by observation.

All it would take, according to Popper, is a single counter-example to falsify the induction.

Of course, it would be baseless to assume that all swans are white and call that a valid induction. Why would we assume that? That is not how valid inductions works…

…The answer to this problem is: as implied by Hume, we certainly are not justified in reasoning from an instance to the truth of the corresponding law. But to this negative result a second result, equally negative, may be added: we are justified in reasoning from a counter-instance to the falsity of the corresponding universal law (that is, of any law of which it is a counter-instance). Or in other words, from a purely logical point of view, the acceptance of one counter-instance to ‘All swans are white’ implies the falsity of the law ‘All swans are white’ – that law, that is, whose counter-instance we accepted. Induction is logically invalid…

Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Ch. 1 “A Survey of Some Fundamental Problems”, Section I: The Problem of Induction p. 27

He, therefore, rejects the validity of induction and insists that science does not use it. Instead, he argues that science consists of problem-solving.

But, in practice, as we shall see, this consists of producing theoretical bowling pins which you then spend your time trying to knock over.

Popper did not understand the importance of induction.

He seemed to equate induction with making an arbitrary generalization from observation and thus making unsupported universal statements.

It is therefore consistent that Popper insisted that you cannot prove a theory true by showing that it agrees with observation.

If you cannot make inductions in science, then you cannot generalize from experimental observation and form conclusions about the phenomena you are studying.

For instance, suppose you are Newton and you have the hypothesis that there is some force which attracts objects towards one another. How might you prove that this is the case?

You might observe the way Mars moves around the Sun. And the way the Moon moves around the Earth. And induce that they have similar behaviours which can be explained by the same inverse square law.

But, according to Popper science does not work by induction.

So, you are not meant to generalize from observations and form generalizations about instances/things you have not observed.

How then are you meant to show that your hypothesis about attractive forces is valid? If you cannot reason from the observed and generalize from observations to general principles, how do you validate your theories?

Well, this indeed means that you have no way to do so. So, yes, if Popper was right about science not using induction, then it would seem reasonable to believe that science cannot show anything to be true.

Induction is not how science works huh? Tell the classical physicists that then. Because Newton and others were masters of induction …

You can, however, according to Popper, disprove a theory by showing that it contradicts with observation. He believed that you can never prove a theory to be true since you might disprove it tomorrow!

So, if you take all this to its logical conclusion, then according to Popper you can never be sure that any given theory is right.

A conclusion Popper seems to have agreed with:

What we should do, I suggest, is to give up the idea of ultimate sources of knowledge, and admit that all knowledge is human; that it is mixed with our errors, our prejudices, our dreams, and our hopes; that all we can do is to grope for truth even though it be beyond our reach.

Karl, Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge

Indeed, according to Popper, the quest for any particular nugget of scientific truth is never-ending, further implying we can never hope to find it:

The game of science is, in principle, without end. He who decides one day that scientific statements do not call for any further test, and that they can be regarded as finally verified, retires from the game.

Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 11 Methodological Rules as Conventions

So much for certainty in science then. Or knowing anything.

If we cannot be certain that a theory is true, then how are we to assess the worth of a theory?

Is Falsifiability the Main Criteria to Assess a Theory?

According to the philosopher of science, Richard Dawe, it certainly is an important one.

“Physicists have long relied on a notion advanced by philosopher Karl Popper, that a theory is scientifically valid if it is falsifiable.”

Richard Dawe, “Philosophers Want to Know Why Physicists Believe Theories They Can’t Prove”

Indeed, it is widely accepted that for a theory to be accepted as true, it must be possible to test the theory and show that the theory is falsifiable.

Generally, I do not consider the issue of falsification to be the essential issue when it comes to testing a theory. And this is not widely considered the central issue, not to the extent Popper advocated.

Let us further explore why I do not think this is the central issue Popper makes it out to be.

Yes, a theory needs to be tested. It should be possible to show that the observable facts of reality are consistent with the theory. One needs to demonstrate that the observable facts lead one inexorably to that theory.

One should try to prove that the theory in question and only that theory is the logical implication of the observable facts of reality.

If the theory is not consistent with the facts, it should be possible to show that the theory is false.

It is important to be able to show that a given theory is false. But if a theory is false, then it would be nice if the experiment was designed so that this could be determined.

Take the Michelson-Morley experiment. This was intended to detect the presence of a luminiferous aether. It was so designed that if there was not one, then the experiment would indicate this.

In other words, this experiment was designed so that the existence of the aether could be falsified.

Generally, the focus of science is not on trying to show a theory to be false. Generally, the point is rigorously making observation and seeing what they imply about the validity of the theory.

Is “Settled Science” Scientific?

Is there any such thing as settled science? Yes, there is.

But, first, what do I mean by “settled” science? A scientific claim that any rational person would accept as true and established beyond any reasonable doubt. And which they consider will never be replaced by an alternate theory.

You might object that this is not very scientific! We must always keep in mind that we might be wrong. We need to be ready to adjust what we know to accommodate new information that might cast what we know today into doubt!

Yes, that is partially true. We should keep in mind that we are fallible and that we might come to invalid conclusions.

Science, as with any other body of knowledge, is contextual. We study reality and based on what we observe, we form logical conclusions. But we can only account for that which we know about.

For instance, take Newtonian gravity. In the context of not knowing what happens near the speed of light, it was entirely reasonable to accept Newton’s laws of gravity as settled science.

We did not know what happened at extremely high velocities so we had no reason to doubt Newtonian gravity. Newtonian gravity is valid, within the context of things not moving near the speed of light.

Then, we expanded our context to be able to account for things near light speed. We realized that in that context, Einstein’s relativity provides better mathematics for what happens with gravity at near light speed.

Does that mean that we had no reason to be certain about Newtonian gravity?

No, it does not. We knew that it was an extremely accurate description of gravity at speeds much lower than the speed of light.

That is why NASA uses Newtonian gravity for most purposes, even though relativistic equations would be more accurate. Newtonian gravity is easier to deal with and is extremely accurate at the speeds NASA tends to work with.

You may have noticed rockets do not go at anything near the speed of light. So, Newton’s gravity equations will work just fine thanks.

Certainty is contextual. Suppose in the context of our knowledge, the available evidence supports a theory. We are therefore entitled to some certainty about that theory.

But what if it turns out that we are wrong? After all, we used to believe some strange things.

We used to think things burned because of phlogiston. Phlogiston was a mysterious substance that was thought to exist in all combustible bodies.

We used to think that dinosaurs were all sluggish, scaly critters that probably lived in swamps to support their massive weight.

Well, yes. Sometimes we are wrong. Our theories are sometimes not supported by facts. We have no business accepting some theories as anything more than a plausible hypothesis.

These are the theories which do not make up the body of settled science. These are the theories we should not consider settled.

However, it would be dishonest to consider a theory settled in the absence of evidence. It would also be dishonest to consider a theory settled if we did not understand it well enough to be sure it was consistent with all the available evidence.

Having said that, some theories are entirely reasonable within the context of the available evidence. Sometimes all the known evidence points to these theories being true.

Sometimes we understand the theory well enough to reasonably conclude it is entirely consistent with the facts. Therefore, we can be certain about these theories.

We should not entertain serious doubt of theories that have substantial evidence behind them.

We can always imagine that some theories might be disproven. However, we should be certain about a theory if all the available evidence points to it being true.

Certainty does not require us to magically account for the possibility of a context of knowledge we do not currently possess. We can be certain that something is true even if there is something we do not know about now that may later show that it is not true.

Certainty is contextual, it is valid to be certain based on the context of available evidence. As long as we are willing to address any evidence that arises should the context of our knowledge change.

In other words, we can be certain something is true. And yet adjust our theories when the context of our knowledge expands.

However, there are theories that we can consider completely and forever settled. These are theories we know with certainty and can prove without any shadow of a doubt to be true.

We know these will never be shown to be false.

It would contradict known facts of reality if they were not true. Things would have to not be what we know that they are.

Examples of these would be that atoms exist. We know atoms exist; we have seen them. If they did not exist, almost everything we know about chemistry and atomic physics would not be true.

We know evolution happens. We might not know everything about how it happens, but we know that it does. To disprove evolution, we would have to invalidate almost everything we know about biology and the known facts of biology would have to be other than what they are.

We know that the Earth is round and that it orbits the Sun. To invalidate this, the direct evidence of our senses would have to be wrong! The fact that we can see that the Earth is round would have to be fake. And how would we explain the observed behaviour of Earth if it does not orbit the Sun?

Yes, because it is much more scientific to think this might be real, right?

We can say without a shadow of a doubt that theories like this are absolutely and forever settled and that we will never find anything that contradicts them. We know that no such evidence is even possible.

Such science is completely settled. It would be nonsensical to pretend otherwise!

So yes, there is such a thing as settled science. It is baseless to pretend otherwise. And it would be intellectually dishonest and non-scientific to pretend that it is not settled!

It is unscientific to question that the Earth might not be round. Or that evolution does not happen. Or that atoms do not exist. Why?

Because we have seen that the Earth is round! Are we to question the evidence of our senses so that we can become a Flattard?

It would contradict the obvious implications of the evidence of our senses to believe atoms do not exist. Additionally, we have seen atoms!

It would go against observable facts and their logical implications to question that evolution happens.

It would be unscientific to question that light exhibits wave behaviour. This would go against the evidence of our senses and the logical implications of that evidence.

To question theories which we can show are irrefutable facts based on the evidence of our senses and the logical implications of such, is unscientific.

Your belief that the irrefutable facts of reality might be wrong is completely nonsensical and unscientific.

The ability to entertain alternatives to the way reality works is not indicative of science, it is closer to the mindset of the religious person that must evade reality to maintain the possibility of his delusions.

The questioning of everything, even things we can prove beyond any reasonable doubt is little better than those that deny science outright.

To deny the absolute certainty of that which we can show beyond any reasonable doubt, is to either partially deny the veracity of the evidence or fail to understand that science is about the study of an objective reality, not blind guesswork.

Physicists vs Philosophy and Reality.

I was reading this article by Goldhill and found the opening rather refreshing. It led me to write this article about physicists’ rejection of philosophy.

We shall examine the article by Goldhill further in future articles. But for now, here is that opening:

It’s often assumed that physics and philosophy are at opposite ends of the academic spectrum. In fact, they’re close…

Olivia Goldhill

It is rather refreshing that the author admits that philosophy has any relevance to physics at all. Since most physicists would disagree with this.

I would say that many in physics are outright hostile towards philosophy!

Let me provide a few quotes to amply make this point.

Philosophy used to be a field that had content, but then ‘natural philosophy’ became physics, and physics has only continued to make inroads. Every time there’s a leap in physics, it encroaches on these areas that philosophers have carefully sequestered away to themselves, and so then you have this natural resentment on the part of philosophers.

Lawrence Krauss

What about another one from the late Stephen Hawking (we discuss him in our second podcast episode here)?

Philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.

Stephen Hawking

What about one heard repeated by Steven Weinberg but often attributed to Feynman?

The philosophy of science is just about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds.

Weinberg/Feynman
Oh Feynman, you don’t get philosophy, do you?

What about one from the famous Max Born?

“I have tried to read philosophers of all ages and have found many illuminating ideas but no steady progress toward deeper knowledge and understanding. Science, however, gives me the feeling of steady progress

Max Born

You get the idea. Many in physics are deeply hostile to philosophy. At best they think that philosophy has no relevance to what they do. At worst they believe that it contradicts their view of the world.

Because they do not understand the role of philosophy, they are often hostile to it.

Why? Well, for several reasons.

One of those would be that rational philosophies demonstrate that many tenents of modern physics cannot be right. For instance, Aristotle’s metaphysics and epistemology blast a lot of their fallacies apart.

For instance, Aristotle’s philosophy makes it clear that particle-wave duality is nonsense. Something cannot be two mutually exclusive things at once.

The most certain of all basic principles is that contradictory propositions are not true simultaneously.

Aristotle, Metaphysics

It also makes it clear that Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is also nonsense. Everything that exists has identity, it has a definite nature. Not a vague, indefinite nature as alleged by this principle.

Now “why a thing is itself” is a meaningless inquiry (for—to give meaning to the question ‘why’—the fact or the existence of the thing must already be evident—e.g., that the moon is eclipsed—but the fact that a thing is itself is the single reason and the single cause to be given in answer to all such questions as why the man is man, or the musician musical, unless one were to answer, ‘because each thing is inseparable from itself, and its being one just meant this.’ This, however, is common to all things and is a short and easy way with the question.)

Aristotle, Metaphysics

But physicists have accepted anti-Aristotelian, anti-reality ideas. Therefore, they feel that they must rebel against the very ideas that brought the world out of the Middle Ages. The very ideas which made advanced science, including physics possible.

They are rebelling against the Aristotelian revival that made all this possible. The very knowledge that made it possible to get to the point where they know enough about atoms and space to make the kinds of irrational conclusions they have been making for over one hundred years!

Philosophy and physics are deeply intertwined.

Our view of metaphysics tells us what kind of world we think we live in. One in which objects have primacy or one in which consciousness and magic are primary.

Our epistemology includes our view of whether we live in a knowable world. And how we can know anything or if we think knowledge is even possible.

Physicists are, of course, influenced by philosophy. They believe that reality is inflicted with a kind of vagueness, in as far as it lacks a definite nature.

They believe that our senses are unable to perceive reality as it is, ala Kant.

Like Plato, they reify mathematics as somehow being more fundamental than physical objects, ala Plato.

philosophy, Plato
Funny how it almost always comes back to our arch-enemy, Plato…

So then, physicists are influenced by philosophy. Why then do they deny that philosophy influences them?

Because they do not understand the role of philosophy. They see it as intrusion on the business of science. Which they see as doing experiments and analyzing the results.

However, physics is not simply performing experiments and coming to whatever conclusions you wish. It is about explaining how the physical world works.

This requires one to be able to analyze the evidence of the senses and infer how the physical world works. It requires one to perform experiments and to be able to infer the mechanisms of nature from the results of said experiments. Without the conclusions contradicting basis metaphysical axioms such as “A is A”.

This is where one’s philosophy comes into play.

When looking at the results of these experiments, one’s view of the fundamental nature of reality, of metaphysics will come into play.

Their metaphysics tells them that things are not what they are, that they do not possess identity and that things can exist as something with a contradictory nature.

And this will seep into their physics. They will tend to interpret reality in this way and come to bizarre conclusions. The kind of bizarre conclusions modern physicists like to arrive at.

If they believe that reality is not knowable, then this will seep into their physics. They will pretend that some things cannot be known and thus do not need to be rationally explained. Or even explained at all.

They will evade explanations or offer non-explanations in their place.

Much as modern physics does when it pretends that the following is an explanation of gravity:

Einstein’s law of gravitation controls a geometrical quantity curvature in contrast to Newton’s law which controls a mechanical quantity of force.

Arthur Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1928) p. 133.

Or when it pretends that “electrons are a probability cloud” explains the unusual behavior of electrons.

A proper philosophy helps avoid these kinds of non-explanations. Irrational philosophies tend to make them inevitable.

Which is why modern physics is in the mess it is in. Good luck pointing that out given philosophy is allegedly useless!

It is rather like the man dying of thirst complaining that water is bad for him.

No, he needs water! And physics needs philosophy. Even if physicists lost in their desert of irrationality like to pretend otherwise…

Spacetime is NOT Swirling around a Dead Star

Today we are going to examine an article which claims that spacetime is swirling around a dead star. The article can be found here.

As many long-time followers of Metaphysics of Physics will know, we take issue with certain aspects of modern physics (for instance we talk about that here). That includes many of the central assertions of General Relativity(GR).

Key among these is the assertion that space and time are mathematical dimensions which are also somehow an aspect of physical reality. That they are somehow unified into some mathematical abstraction known as “spacetime”.

But space and time or spacetime are not things. Which is how GR and this article treats them. If it did not the whole premise and conclusion of this “thing” called spacetime swirling around a dead star falls apart. And this is exactly what happens when we define space and time as valid concepts.

Space and time are abstractions. And abstractions do not swirl or twist or dance around anything!

And spacetime is an invalid abstraction in as far as it is treated as anything other than a mathematical technique.

See, spacetime is apparently physical that is why it bends.

What is Space?

Space is a concept which indicates relationships between positions. Meaning?

Suppose that we consider one of the rooms in our house, say the living room. The living room is that part of the house between the four walls of the living room and between those four walls is some “space”.

The “space” within that room simply indicates relationships between the positions of those four walls. One wall is over here, another wall is over there and the other two are other there and there. In between is all this space. The space essentially refers to the separation between objects. This “space” then forms some area or volume in which you can find things.

The space in this room is simply a sum of places. Space is simply the relationships between boundaries of some kind of container or some otherwise defined set of bounding objects.

So, for instance, you can walk into the living room and say “Well, we have these walls. They are in different positions. There are other positions in between them.” And the sum of those other positions is the “space” inside the room.

(You can find more in episode twenty-one of the podcast, where this section was derived from).

What is Time?

Time measures motion or change. For instance, it takes two motions or changes and identifies a relationship between them.

For instance, suppose we are talking about how old I am. What fact of reality does my age refer to?

Well, we take two events, my birth and the writing of this article. And identify the fact that there is a certain relationship between these two. My birth happened during a particular revolution of the Earth around the Sun. This moment is occurring within a different revolution of the Earth around the Sun.

While I write this, 37 such revolutions have happened. And so I have thus identified a relationship between my birth and the writing of this article.

I could do something similar with myself starting a race and ending it. Except, presumably I would use a second to measure the relationship between the start and end of this event; a second as measured by the motion of a second hand around a clock or by a digital equivalent.

Or suppose I wish to measure how long it takes me for me to grow larger muscles and be able to work my way from bench pressing 100  to 125 pounds. And suppose I track the time using the date on my phone.

What am I measuring here? Relationships between my strength levels, a change in such over time.

(You can find out more about time in this subscription article).

We will go into what space and time are only far enough to see that they are abstractions. They are measurements of relationships.

What are Dimensions?

A dimension is a mathematical concept that indicates mathematical relationships. It is a technical concept that indicates how many independent parameters there are. In geometry, it indicates a set of coordinate axes required to specify any point.

The details are not important for this discussion. What is important is that dimensions are a mathematical concept that establishes mathematical relationships.

But physics treats dimensions as physical aspects of the universe. They treat the universe as if it was a thing that was somehow built up out of the dimensions. But space and time are not physical things, they are not aspects of the universe. They are relational concepts, they deal with abstractions.

space
Here is a representation of the mathematical concept of dimensions.

But relativity supposedly proves that space is a set of dimensions!

Does it? Show me the proof that shows this. Space is an abstraction, nothing in physics justifies treating it as though it is a physical thing that is somehow subject to bending or distortions as a physical object might be. The same is true about time.

The reason modern physicists do this is that they are reifying mathematical abstractions. They do not understand that mathematics is a science of method for measuring reality. They do not understand that the equations of Relativity do not describe physical objects.

What the equations describe are relationships. The equations need to be given a reasonable physical interpretation. Which is where rational metaphysics comes in. However  they refuse to engage in rational philosophy, instead choosing to interpret it in any way which is mathematically consistent. Without regard to logic, reason, that is, rational metaphysics.

What then to make of things getting shorter or longer based on relative speed? That objects get longer or shorter for other reasons. It does not justify the reification of  space.

Vodcast Episode One: The Cause of Modern Physics is Philosophy

Play

Today we are going over quotes that help to show that the cause of the irrationality in modern physics is philosophy.

Click here to download the PDF transcript or read below the video.

You may also listen to or download an audio only version above.

[Note: Please note that this transcript may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.]

Intro

Metaphysics of Physics is the crucial voice of reason in the philosophy of science, rarely found anywhere else in the world today.

We are equipped with the fundamental principles of a rational philosophy that gives us the edge, may make us misfits in the mainstream sciences but also attracts rational minds.

With this show, we are fighting for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of science.

We raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.

The irrationality of modern physics is the focus of this channel. We have covered topics such as:

The irrationality of Stephen Hawking.The universe and the Big Bang. The philosophy of Niels Bohr. The achievements of Isaac Newton.Optical illusions and the validity of the senses.

If you think that science is about explaining a knowable reality, then this is the channel for you.

If you want to learn more about the irrationality of modern physics, then you are in the right place.

I am your host Ashna. My husband, Dwayne Davies is the primary content creator and your guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science.

We will discuss the problems in modern physics and more and how we can live in a more rational world!

Check out our website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

The Show Itself

Hi everyone! Welcome to the first of the Metaphysics of Physics video podcast. Today we are going over quotes that help to show that the cause of the irrationality in modern physics is philosophy.

If you are a long-time fan of Metaphysics of Physics, then you will know that modern physics is full of crazy absurdities. Such as things being particles and waves at the same time. And things not being real unless they are observed. Or the tendency to treat obvious concepts such as that of “dimension” or “time” as though they were physical things. Or that the universe is made from mathematics!

Why do educated people take such nonsense seriously? Is it because reality is as weird as physicists like to believe? And do we just have to accept this?

No! If you examine all these kinds of claims, you will not find any evidence that supports them. All these claims are simply baseless, nonsensical interpretations of experiments and/or mathematical equations. There is never a shred of evidence that supports any of these interpretations.

Ah, but what about all the alleged experimental evidence. Yes, what about it? In no case can it reasonably be interpreted as supporting any such anti-reality position. No experiment ever performed will ever show that reality is not real or that it is unknowable.

If reality was not real, the results of experiments would not be real and they would demonstrate nothing. If reality was unknowable, then you could never learn that by performing experiments that could not reveal that.

Or in other words: you cannot use reality to demonstrate that there is no reality. You cannot claim knowledge that proves that knowledge is impossible.

No experiment will ever show that reality is not real….

Why then do physicists take any of this seriously? It is because of the ideas that physicists have accepted either passively or actively. It is because of the philosophies that those in physics have blindly accepted or have actively embraced. Philosophies which lead them to interpret reality through the twisted lenses of those very philosophies which are hostile to reality and knowledge.

What kind of philosophies might these be? The kind that asserts that what we call reality is an illusion and that we might as well give up trying to understand how it works. Instead, they claim that we should confine ourselves to studying only mathematical appearances. As that is all they believe we shall ever know about.

Today we are going to explore some quotes from physicists. We will start with Niels Bohr and his contemporaries. They started physics down the road of abandoning reality in favor of mathematical appearances. And then we shall turn to more recent physicists who evidently agree with Bohr and his peers.

We shall see that the absurdities of modern physics should come as no surprise. The people inflicting modern physics with these absurdities are simply being consistent with the philosophy of Bohr and the like. The philosophy which dominates science today and which is shaped by the Neo-Kantian philosophies that have dominated our culture for over a hundred years.

Without any further ado, let us look at some of these quotes. And then discuss what kind of philosophical premises motivated them.

“Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.” – Niels Bohr

Bohr believed that we could never know reality as it is. We can merely develop a pragmatic abstract description consistent with what we observe. Which is merely an illusion, not things as they are.

Gee thanks Bohr, thanks for plunging physics into irrationality…

If we cannot know reality, then one might ask “towards what purpose?” do we have science? Creating science-fiction?

That seems rather pointless to me. But pragmatists would assert that there is some use in describing illusions. If they help us live better lives as we navigate our way around all these illusions.

“Isolated material particles are abstractions, their properties being definable and observable only through their interaction with other systems.” – Niels Bohr.

We are to view things such as an “electron” or a “proton” as abstract descriptions. We should not think that we know anything about what they are. No, we are merely creating abstract descriptions. And then identifying relationships between these abstractions.

After all, if we cannot know reality as it is, and all we have are illusions to work with, then should we not at least try to find out how these illusions are connected? At least then we can learn to live in this world of illusions.

“I consider those developments in physics during the last decades which have shown how problematical such concepts as “objective” and “subjective” are, a great liberation of thought.” – Niels Bohr.

Here Bohr exposes his pragmatism. He does not consider it worthwhile to discuss whether the abstractions he holds so dear are “objective” or “subjective”. He is merely concerned with whether they might prove pragmatically useful.

If we cannot know reality, then what use is it to say whether something is objective or subjective? We can never know. We can only know whether abstractions are useful.

A reasonable person might say that abstractions are only useful if they are objective.

Bohr believed that we cannot know whether something is objective or not, so considers it pointless to consider such things.

“We must be clear that when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections.” – Niels Bohr

Bohr enjoyed the fact that so much of the quantum physics he was developing made no sense. He reveled in its frequent contradictions and insisted that different aspects of the same thing could be in a kind of conflict (but were complementary) with each other. Of course, he urged his peers to accept such conflicts!

He was like one of those deranged poets who enjoys constructing rhymes that make no sense. But who nonetheless insists that his poetry is of great depth and significance.

Except he was not merely some poet filling his victim’s ears with an insult to the Muses. He was detaching physics from reality while insisting that physics does not need it. While insisting that instead it needs beautiful descriptions of contradictions!

“There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract quantum physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about Nature.” – Niels Bohr

That sums it all up. According to Bohr, the point of physics is not to learn about the fundamental nature of the physical world. What then is the point of physics?

According to Bohr, it is about whatever we want to say about reality. Without concerning ourselves with things like objectivity, logic or the true nature of things. It is all about “poetry” and the relationships between meaningless abstractions with no connection to an unknowable reality.

Of course, physics is about explaining the real physical world. But according to Bohr we can not know the real world, let alone explain it!

You can read more about the philosophy of Bohr in episode seven of the podcast. There we cover his philosophy in some depth.

Bohr and his disciples had an enormous influence on physics and later physicists. But he was not the only person to assert such things.

For instance, we have this quote from Werner Heisenberg:

Scare Quotes of Note – Episode Two

Introduction

Today we are continuing a new series where we take seven quotes from my database of irrational quotes, briefly examine what they mean and what is so terrible about each of the quotes. You can see part one of the series here.

Without any further ado, let us look at our quotes. We have several quotes from the physicists Einstein, Kaku and Planck. As well as some more quotes from Islam.

Scare Quotes of Note from Islam

the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” – Sahih Muslim

More verses of violence, this time from one of Islam’s other holy sources.

People like to claim that any assertion that Islam is violent is misrepresenting the faith. But it is a faith revolving around a violent warlord and has countless verses like this!

Islam is fundamentally a violent religion in the spirit of the Old Testament.

It is not like Christianity, which was intended to be a somewhat more peaceful adaptation of the Old Testament Judaism. Islam is intended as a violent radicalization of Abrahamic theology!

Religions never tolerate disbelief and they all prescribe some kind of penalty, even if it is simply severe moral condemnation. In fact, in most religions, non-belief is the cardinal sin.

In most religions, the one sin the gods, including the Christian God, cannot forgive is the sin of non-belief. Most religions can forgive most or all other sins if the sinner engages in the proper magic rituals.

The more violent the religion, the more its ideas support radical violence, the more probable it is to openly advocate the slaughter of heretics.

Islam is a religion with a very violent ideology. So, when Muslims demand the slaughter of non-believers we should not cry “that is not the real Islam talking”.

We should condemn Islam as an incredibly violent ideology that must be opposed as the cult of death that it is.

“And if ye are unclean, purify yourselves. And if ye are sick or on a journey, or one of you cometh from the closet, or ye have had contact with women, and ye find not water, then go to clean, high ground and rub your faces and your hands with some of it” Quran 5:6

Islam has a less than healthy attitude towards women.

As do many religions, particular the Abrahamic ones. It considers women inferior to men. Islam takes it further than some of them and considers women not only unclean but lowly, degrading creatures.

Apparently women are inherently unclean. If one touches them one should wash ones hands and faces!

Islam treats women as inferior in many other verses too. As we can see here.

So much for a peaceful religion. And the claims that Islam is not anti-women. Evidently, it is.

Scare Quotes of Note from Physicists

“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”- Max Planck

Consciousness is not fundamental.

Biological organisms possess consciousness, the faculty of awareness. As far as we know, only  biological organisms  possess consciousness.

Consciousness does not and cannot exist separately of organisms. Just as we cannot separate life from living organisms, neither can we separate consciousness from living organisms.

Since only organisms possess consciousness and organisms are matter, matter must exist as a prerequisite of consciousness. If there is no matter, there is nothing to possess a faculty of awareness.

Not only that, if there was no matter, there would be nothing for consciousness to be aware of. A faculty of awareness when there is nothing to be aware of is a contradiction and therefore does not represent reality.

Consciousness requires matter in order to exist in the first place.

“All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.” ― Max Planck

All matter exists and originates from a force?

First of all, force is an abstract description of the action of entities. Before forces exist, entities must exist in order that they can interact and thus exert forces on one another.

You cannot have forces that exist without entities to act. No more than you can have dancing without dancers or driving without cars. Actions require entities to act. Actions can not exist divorced from entities to act.

We have no reason to think that matter originates and exists only by virtue of some force. Or that the force in question must be a result of some conscious and intelligent mind.

This is a thinly veiled attempt at primacy of consciousness.

It asserts that consciousness is primary to reality. In the words of Ayn Rand, the primacy of consciousness is “the notion that the universe has no independent existence, that it is the product of a consciousness”.

This is exactly what Planck is asserting! That somehow matter and the physical world would not exist if it were not for some form of consciousness that created it!

Planck was a member of the Lutheran Church. It is obvious that this requirement for intelligence is meant to suggest that matter requires the existence of some kind of god, preferably the Christian God.

Obviously this is not true. If the universe does not require consciousness to exist, then it certainly does not require intelligence to exist either.

“When Physicists speak of “beauty” in their theories, they really mean that their theory possesses at least two essential features: 1. A unifying symmetry 2. The ability to explain vast amounts of experimental data with the most economical mathematical expressions” – Michio Kaku

There is not necessarily anything wrong with a theory having a unifying symmetry.

In fact, this can lend a theory a kind of mathematical beauty.

But what about this ability to explain vast amounts of experimental data with the most economical mathematical expressions? Um, explain data with mathematical expressions?

No, mathematical expressions are not explanations. They are quantifications of relationships. We talked  about this in episode one of Scare Quotes of Note.

“The physical world is real.” That is supposed to be the fundamental hypothesis. What does “hypothesis” mean here? For me, a hypothesis is a statement, whose truth must be assumed for the moment, but whose meaning must be raised above all ambiguity. The above statement appears to me, however, to be, in itself, meaningless, as if one said: “The physical world is cock-a-doodle-do.” It appears to me that the “real” is an intrinsically empty, meaningless category (pigeon hole), whose monstrous importance lies only in the fact that I can do certain things in it and not certain others”  – Albert Einstein

How is it meaningless to assert that the physical world is real?

The physical world is axiomatically real. “The physical world” is equivalent to “the objects, the things that exist qua entity and which are not relationships or other abstractions”.

To say it is meaningless to assert that the physical world is real, is like saying it is meaningless to assert that entities exist!

Obviously it is not meaningless or arbitrary or empty. The fact that anyone can make these claims proves that some kind of physical world exists. As those making these claims are part of the physical world!

Einstein is applying some kind of Neo-Kantian philosophy here it seems. He is trying to argue that there is no sense trying to discuss reality. This is a clumsy attempt to do away with objective reality. And it cannot work.

“Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed.” – Albert Einstein

Theories do not determine what can be observed!

They are a description of reality, they do not determine how reality works nor do they create reality.

Whether or not we can observe something depends on its nature. It is not determined by the content of an abstract description of it.

Why did Einstein take this view? He took the view that we cannot really know reality as it is. However, physics has to start somewhere. It seems he took the view that it starts with your theories.

Which are not logical deductions based on observing the world and performing experiments. But that you pluck ideas out of the air and see which ones stick.

This is not how you do science or gain knowledge about anything. You have to start by studying reality, not plucking arbitrary ideas out of thin air!