A look at some Hawking quotes and why he was not a friend of reason. Many of these quotes are typical of many in the field.
[Please note that this will not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences].
Welcome to the second episode of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast, I am Dwayne Davies, your host and guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science. Thanks for tuning in and I hope you will tune in again!
With this show, I am going to fight for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of sciences. I will raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.
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Alright, so today we are going to do something a little different. As many of you will know, Stephen Hawking died a little while back. We were not really a fan of his ideas. Why is this? Well, a lot of his physics is dubious, to say the least.
But, we are not here to discuss that today. We are going to dig up some quotes from Hawking himself and discuss some of the implications of these quotes. This will give you some idea of why we think Hawking was no friend of reason and why we cannot really shed a tear over his death.
We will get a lot more out of this episode than “why we think Hawking is anti-reason”. We will discuss views which are shared by a great many other physicists and we will also get some idea of the problems with those types of views.
Before I get started, I would like to make an announcement. I am currently working on a lecture which I want to present when it is done. It is about the crisis in modern physics and its cause, which is bad philosophy. This will explain the sorts of issues I briefly went over in the last episode and which we will be going over today.
I plan to be able to present this one fairly soon, maybe at some point within the next few weeks or so. More on this when it is closer to completion.
But, for now, we will go over some of the issues and provide some responses.
To quote Hawking:
“I regard [the many worlds interpretation] as self-evidently correct. Yeah, well, there are some people who spend an awful lot of time talking about the interpretation of quantum mechanics. My attitude — I would paraphrase Goering —is that when I hear of Schrödinger’s Cat, I reach for my gun. “
He finds it “self-evident” that there are parallel universes and that anyone that doubts this is irrational. Despite the fact that his view is irrational and obviously far from “self-evident”. It is terribly dishonest to claim that his view is self-evident.
Very few things are in fact “self-evident”. The many-worlds interpretation clearly is not. Especially since it is nonsense. It attempts to sidestep the Copenhagen Interpretation by replacing “consciousness collapses the wave-function” with “the wave-function does not collapse, all things that can happen do happen”.
It is hard to see how this is any better than the Copenhagen Interpretation and it is arguably worse.
“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”
So, because of gravity the universe magically creates itself and this is why existence exists? What kind of tortured chain of “reasoning” is that?
There is no reason why there is something rather than nothing. This presupposes an alternative to existence. But, there is no alternative to existence; existence exists. It is senseless to talk about reasons for existence, it just is. Existence does not have a cause. A cause presupposes something that already exists to act as a cause.
It is not necessary to invoke God or quantum fluctuations of nothing to explain existence, because existence has no cause.
“Mathematics is more than a tool and language for science. It is also an end in itself, and as such, it has, over the centuries, affected our worldview in its own right.”
Mathematics is not an end in itself. Mathematics is a science of method used to discover things about reality. Hawkings disagrees with this. He believes that the role of physics is to develop equations. Once you do that, you are essentially done.
This reflects the common view that mathematics is essentially all there is to physics or at least that it is the main activity of physics. This view is held by a lot of string theorists today that cannot be bothered even trying to find a way to test their theories.
While, of course, rational scientists always seek to test their theories to see if they are true. They do not consider mathematics an end in itself, they consider it a means to help them formulate a hypothesis, which must then be tested using experimentation.
“Maybe that is our mistake: maybe there are no particle positions and velocities, but only waves. It is just that we try to fit the waves to our preconceived ideas of positions and velocities. The resulting mismatch is the cause of the apparent unpredictability.”
Waves of what? Waves are the motions/changes of something. You cannot have waves without something waving. You cannot wave away the problem of particle-wave duality by appealing to causeless actions. A wave is not a thing and something cannot be a wave. Things exhibit wave behavior but they are not made up of waves.