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Episode One – Introduction

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Our first episode serves as an introduction to the show and provides a brief overview of the kinds of issues this show intends to address.

Episode Transcript

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

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Welcome to the first episode of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast, I am Dwayne Davies, your host, philosopher in chief, writer and guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science.

Ashna
Hi everyone, I am Ashna your sometimes co-host and fellow guide.

Dwayne
With this show, we are going to fight for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of science.  We will raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.

Ashna
Yes, and today we are going to tell you a little bit about the show’s agenda and we will provide a brief overview of some of the irrationalities present in the philosophy of science.

Dwayne
You may want to subscribe via iTunes, our RSS feed or one of our other subscription methods.  There is also Facebook and Twitter. You can do all of this from the shownotes or the media player on the website, at metaphysicsofphysics.com

Alright, let’s get started.

This show is about a rational, objective approach to the philosophy of science.  If you are interested in the philosophy of science, then this show is for you.

As you may be aware, it is said that Plato carved “Let none ignorant of geometry enter here”.   Well, we have not carved “Let none ignorant of philosophy” upon the entrance to these halls.

This is not Plato’s Academy and you do not need to know any philosophy or geometry to walk these halls.  However, you might learn a little about the philosophical problems in science.

Ashna
Indeed. Our approach to philosophy is much closer to that of Aristotle or Ayn Rand.  We believe in an objective, rational approach to science and that is what you are going to get.

If you keep listening, this is not the last you will hear of our spiritual and philosophical enemy Plato.   And his many disciples that have followed him through the last few thousand years. In fact, We will be hearing from a few of these disciples later in this episode.

We will be discussing the philosophy of science, focusing heavily on physics and mathematics. More specifically, the many irrationalities that are found within the modern philosophy of science, especially within the philosophy of physics. We will spend a lot of time raising awareness of these issues and then providing alternative ideas.

What are some of the topics we have in store for our listeners?

Dwayne
The is the Big Bang, the impossibility of strong AI, logical fallacies, why string theory is not even wrong, a fake interview with Niels Bohr and many others.

We will be talking about a lot of things from physics that bother us, and we think should bother any rational person.  Now, we have issues with the standard interpretations of things like quantum theory, relativity (special and general) and other parts of modern physics, this should not be taken as a dismissal of these fields.

We are questioning the standard interpretation of quantum physics, not dismissing the entire field. We are not denying that GR and quantum physics are useful and that without them we would not have things like GPS and integrated circuits.

Bohr and Einstein.

Bohr and Einstein, pioneers in quantum theory and relativity. We shall be discussing their work and their debates at length.

Ashna
Well, the mathematics of quantum theory and relativity is good stuff, right?  I mean, all that checks out, as established by a lot of different experiments.  As well as certain other key aspects of their theoretical structure.

Dwayne
Yeah, what we question is the way these theories are normally interpreted.

For instance, it is widely believed that quantum mechanics shows that particles exist in a superposition of indefinite states until observed. It is believed that GR shows that space is curved.  But are these things true? We do not believe so. However, one could interpret GR and quantum physics to suggest such a thing.

It is these kinds of interpretations which we take issue with when it comes to many of the things we will be discussing within modern physics.

Let’s go over some examples of the kinds of issues we have within modern physics today.  This should provide an insight into the kinds of issues we have in mind.

Ashna
Well, there is string theory. It arose as an attempt to unify gravity and quantum mechanics and other theories within modern physics. Various people have been developing it for around thirty years, yet none of them have gotten any closer to providing any evidence that string theory might be a viable area of research.

Dwayne
Yeah, the claims made by string theory have become so bizarre that some physicists think that it is just a little too bizarre.

String theorists spend a lot of time arguing about whether the universe has nine, ten, eleven or some other number of dimensions. About how there may be 10^500 different flavors of string theory and how obviously difficult that makes things. And other really bizarre things.

Yet, even some physicists are starting to think that there is little hope that string theory will ever be able to be confirmed. Which does not bother a lot of experts, who seem content to tell their colleagues that experimental verification does not matter and that people need to shut up and calculate. As though a physics theory does not need experimental verification.

Ashna
What about all this arbitrary talk of parallel universes? Or, the talk that the universe is made up of mathematics. Or that we might be living in a computer simulation. Even that the universe might observe itself. All these claims have been made by mathematicians, physicists or philosophers.

What about special relativity? It asserts that properties of things change relative to the observer. Or, quantum theory which asserts subatomic particles can exist in mutually exclusive states at the same time and that therefore under the right conditions, cats can be alive and dead at the same time?

Plato

Plato, shown here, is as we shall see, one of the main influences on modern physics and mathematics.

Dwayne
As much as we all love Schrodinger’s cat memes… all these things are grossly irrational and yet are held up as scientifically validated and or proven and to be accepted as part of science. We shall be discussing all of these and many more.

Let us provide you a few quotes which help to give you a sense of the sorts of issues that exist within the philosophy of science these days.

Here we go. Note that emphasis has been added for clarity:

Dwayne
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” — Albert Einstein

Ashna
“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. I cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that I talk about, everything that I regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” — Max Planck; The Observer, 1931

Dwayne
“After decades of closely studying quantum mechanics, and after having accumulated a wealth of data confirming its probabilistic predictions, no one has been able to explain why only one of the many possible outcomes in any given situation actually happens.” — Brian Greene; The Hidden Reality

Ashna
“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” — Albert Einstein

Dwayne
“Isolated material particles are abstractions, their properties being definable and observable only through their interaction with other systems” — Niels Bohr; Atomic Physics and the Description of Nature (1934)

Ashna
“I think that modern physics has definitely decided in favor of Plato. In fact, the smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense; they are forms, ideas which can be expressed unambiguously only in mathematical language.” — Werner Heisenberg; The New York Times Book Review, 8 March 1992

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