Today we are starting 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.
Without any further ado, let us look at our first seven quotes. We have several quotes from the physicists Heisenberg and Schrodinger. As well as quotes from the philosopher David Hume and one from the Quran.
Scare Quotes of Note
“Quantum theory provides us with a striking illustration of the fact that we can fully understand a connection though we can only speak of it in images and parables.” — Werner Heisenberg
According to Heisenberg, quantum theory does not tell us of things as they are. The purpose of physics, to allow us to understand the nature of things as they are and to explain how the physical world works on a fundamental level.
What does he mean by images and parables? He means that we can construct mental pictures but those pictures do not describe things as they are. We can construct descriptions of things like atoms, but these descriptions are not true.
Like a parable, they tell a story, one that is not necessarily true. In this case we are just telling ourselves stories for the purposes of describing the quantum world.
That does not sound much like physics to me!
“Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.” — Werner Heisenberg
When he says that the universe is “stranger than we think” he is likely referring mostly to quantum mechanics. Which is certainly very strange and also very false.
“[S]tranger than we can think”? What does he mean by this? He means that not only is the world as strange as quantum mechanics claims but perhaps even stranger! Heisenberg did not believe that we could know reality. He thought we could know only what was exposed to our senses. Which according to him, was not really reality.
He also thought it was so strange, so illogical that it would always remain as an unknowable mystery.
No. Reality is certainly not this strange. Despite what quantum physicists assert to the contrary.
“We have no other notion of cause and effect, but that of certain objects, which have always conjoin’d together, and which in all past instances have been found inseparable.” — David Hume
Hume was an extreme skeptic. He was the sort of person who would question whether just because your car battery died and your car stopped, that there necessarily had to be any casual connection between these two events. No matter whether or not you could actually show that there was a causal connection.
There are many, many people like this today and many of them are getting this directly or indirectly from Hume and other philosophers.
According to Hume, just because your observe A leading to B, you cannot assume that causes B. Well, yes, you should not blindly assume that. It is true that just because A happens and then B happens, that you can assume that A causes B. Perhaps B occurring after A was simply a coincidence and B has no real relation to A. After all,correlation is not causation
However, that does not mean that you cannot show that in some cases A and B must be casually connected. It is simple to show that if you take the battery out of your car, that will cause it not to work anymore.
All you have to do is show the nature of a car engine and show the relationship between the nature of the engine and the battery. Then you can show that yes, removing the battery is casually connected to the car stopping.
Therefore you can in fact prove that A will always lead to B. You simply show that if A occurs, it is in the nature of the entities involved that B happens. It would contradict the nature of the entities involved if B did not happen! Therefore A and B are certainly casually connected.
We do not have to blindly assume a causal connection, we can show that in certain instances, such a connection must be necessity exist!
“I insist upon the view that ‘all is waves’.” — Erwin Schrodinger
How can all be waves? Everything is a wave?
Let us remind ourselves what a wave is. A wave is an abstract mathematical description of relationships. Things wave, but things are not waves.
Saying that matter is a wave is like saying that “an electron is the periodic motion of something”. What? How can an electron be periodic motion? An electron might move in a periodic manner, but an electron is not itself made up of motion!
A wave is something that matter does, not something that matter is.
So why on Earth should we insist that all is waves?
We discuss this issue in this episode of the podcast.
“String theory at its finest is, or should be, a new branch of geometry. …I, myself, believe rather strongly that the proper setting for string theory will prove to be a suitable elaboration of the geometrical ideas upon which Einstein based general relativity.” — Edward Witten
String theory is supposed to be a “unified theory of physics” which serves to unify quantum mechanics and relativity. It is supposed to provide a unified, fundamental and integrated theory of physics from which most, all or at least many other ideas in physics can be derived.
Such a theory should provide a physical explanation for the physical world by describing the nature of physical objects and their interactions. A geometrical theory certainly does not do this. Geometry describes mathematical relationships, it does not describe the fundamental nature of physical objects and their interactions.
While it is fine to use geometry in physics, the end goal of physics should not be to describe a geometrical theory. Mathematics is not the end goal of physics. Physicists have for more than one hundred years pretended as though it is. That does not make it so.
“The laws of physics and chemistry are statistical throughout.” — Erwin Schrodinger
Are they now? Let us ask ourselves what the proper place of statistics is in physics.
We know that there are some phenomena that we do not understand very well. We do not yet understand them well enough to be able to accurately predict how they work. Nor do we have mathematical equations that we can use to accurately predict their behavior.
But suppose we are able to construct a statistical model that gives us the probabilities for certain kinds of behaviors. We might not understand the phenomena very well nor be able to predict the outcome with much certainty, but we can at least use statistics to estimate he chances of certain outcomes.
A good example of this would be most of quantum mechanics. We know so little about the quantum world that we have to resort to probabilities and other statistical methods. We tell ourselves that is all we can do, but that nonsense is a story for another day.
The truth is that if we adopt rational epistemology and if we decide we can learn more about the quantum world, we will and we may not have to rely on statistical methods.
“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.” — Quran (8:12)
There are many people that like to pretend that the Quran does not advocate violence. They believe that anyone claiming that Islam is a violent ideology is simply misunderstanding the teachings of Islam.
So, then is this quote directly from the Quran not representative of Islam? It is from its most holy book, so one cannot dismiss it merely as the a misrepresentation of the religion.
Perhaps this passage is an anomaly and there are few passages like this? Nope! There are many other passages such as this which openly call for Muslims to violently murder non-believers. Such violence is a central aspect of the faith and the standard response demanded when in regards to infidels!
So much for Islam not being a religion of extreme violence. Such violence is an inextricable part of the faith!
You can find over 100 such verses of violence here.