Tag Archives: Physics

The Inductive Summary of Physics Project

I have made this post to promote the “Inductive Summary of Physics” project.

What is this project? It is an important project started by my friend James Ellias. He has a Masters in Physics and like he is a very interested in the philosophy of physics. Also like me, he is an Objectivist and applies the philosophy of Objectivism to physics

Unlike me, he focuses more on presenting a rational presentation of physics itself, where I focus more on the problems in modern physics.

What is this series? Well, I will quote James himself:

In this lecture series, I give a detailed summary of the essentials of physics in an inductive order. This will allow us to understand the essentials of known physics through the inductions which proved them. This series does not constitute a rigorous inductive proof, but it is close, as it gives detailed accounts of the observations and reasoning steps required to prove the ideas. To make the lectures consumable by the general public, I have not included technical mathematics in this treatment, but this comes at the cost of full inductive rigor.

James Ellias describing the the “Inductive Summary of Physics” project.

I will not say much else, other than pointing out that it is a highly interesting and successful project. If you have any interest in rational physics, then I strongly suggest that you check it out.

If you like Metaphysics of Physics, then you will certainly like the Inductive Physics Projects and James’ other content.

Newton, physics
Newton, one of those masters of induction from the Inductive Summary of Physics…

You can check out the Inductive Physics playlist here.

Please go there, watch the videos and subscribe. And feel free to leave him some comments with any questions you have. Or ask me here on Facebook/Discord and I can pass them on to him.

I also have an interview with him here.

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.

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.

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!

 

 

Scare Quotes of Note – Episode One

Introduction

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.

The Principle of Physical Interactivity

In this article, we talked about quantum entanglement. While doing so we touched on “action at a distance”. In this article we are going to use it as an introduction to the Principle of Physical Interactivity.

Introduction

Let us summarize action at a distance with a quote from the article:

Suppose you have two particles, particle A and particle B. Suppose these two particles can interact in some way such that if particle A does something, it will cause particle B to change state. Perhaps if particle A emits a smaller particle that strikes B, particle B will spin in a different direction. We will call that change in direction “event C”.

If particle A and particle B are to interact to cause event C, then some kind of physical action must occur. The particles must act upon each in some way which then causes event C.

Particle A will have to emit some particle, vibrate some physical connection between particle A and particle B. Or somehow affect some kind of physical interaction. An interaction being some kind of action taken by A which effects B.

Otherwise, how else could particle A cause particle B to change the direction of its spin? By non-physical means? Using an abstraction? I think not…

Let us try to put this more simply. Let us say that we have a computer and a wireless keyboard connected to the computer. It is connected by a wireless connection.

We will use these two macroscopic objects as our example. However, it is trivial to extend these examples to subatomic particles and apply some simple logic to them.

Even though modern physics insists the subatomic world is not rational. Or that it is not subject to the laws of logic.

Now, suppose we press the button “A” on the keyboard. As a result, the letter “A” now appears on the screen. In other words, our keyboard has interacted with the computer.

Now, what has happened here? Is this witchcraft? Should we expect the Spanish Inquisition?

Spanish Inquisition
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! (Sorry, could not resist…)

I am going to explain this by laying down a simple principle, which I am going to call the Principle of Physical Interactivity.

The Principle of Physical Interactivity says that in physics, all objects that interact with one another do so by physically interacting with one another. All interactions in physics are the interactions of physical objects with each other.

What does this mean? What do I mean by physical? I mean that which has shape or “physical extension”. It is not an abstraction, not an attribute, not a relationship, not an action. It is a non-abstract entity.

So, when I say that all objects interact via physical means, I mean that this interaction takes place when two physical objects act upon one another.  The interaction is not by means of abstractions. It is via the actions of physical entities.

Take the computer and the keyboard. Are they physically interacting? Yes. There are physical objects of some kind traveling from the keyboard to the computer. Or some other kind of physical activity in the keyboard which causes another physical action to take place in the computer.

That interaction might be described by saying that there are waves traveling from the keyboard to the computer. The waves are abstract descriptions of some kind of motion/relationship.

In that case, the keyboard interacts with the computer by some physical process involving the keyboard interacting with some kind of physical medium.

The point of the Principle of Physical Interactivity is that some kind of physical interaction is required.

Waves
What about waves? We shall see about them in a bit….

Must Objects Touch?

What does it mean for objects to touch? I take it that they must have direct physical contact. Is this necessary?

No. The Principle of Physical Interactivity merely says that there must be physical interaction. It does not require that two objects are in direct physical contact.

Let us return to the example of our computer and wireless keyboard. For the wireless keyboard to send a signal to the computer, must the keyboard and the computer be touching? Must they be in direct contact via some part of each other?

The Principle of Physical Interactivity does not require this. It merely requires some kind of physical interaction. It does not require that the computer and the keyboard directly touch one another.

Other Forms of Contact?

Must there be some kind of invisible thread directly connecting the keyboard and the computer? The Principle of Physical Interactivity does not require this either. Physical interaction need not take place via objects such as a thread that directly connects the two objects.

How then can they interact? Well, the keyboard might send waves through a medium such as air, which the computer picks up.

Hold on now, I thought waves were abstractions? Additionally, I thought you said that the computer and the keyboard must interact by physical means?

The wave is an abstract description of objects taking some kind of action, of causing something to move through the air in a wave pattern and to hit the computer. Therefore, the keyboard and the computer do interact by physical means.

(Note that here on this site, we define waves as a kind of abstraction that describes motion or some other kind of relationship. Thus when we say “there is a water wave”, what we are talking about is an abstract description of a bunch of water molecules arranged in that shape.

The referents of the concept of wave is the water molecules, the concept of “wave” describes the fact that they related in that pattern).

This is still a kind of physical interaction between the computer and the keyboard that causes the letter “A” to appear on the screen.

To sum up, this physical interaction does require some form of physical interaction via touch or some other form of medium.

probability, dice, die

The Role of Probability in Science.

Today we are looking at the proper role of probability in science. And how this has been subverted by modern physics. Let us first look at what probability is.

Let us suppose that we want to roll a six on a six-sided playing die. We know that on average, we will roll a six about one time per six rolls of the die. That is, if we roll the die six times, we would expect to get a six about one time.

We could throw the die twenty times and get six zero times. But we would be surprised if this happens. We would consider this to be a very unlikely event.

The more superstitious person might consider oneself cursed!

We say that the probability, or chance, of rolling a six is one in six. But what do we mean by this? What does the concept of “probability” describe?

There is much that can be said about calculating and determining probabilities in a huge range of imaginable contexts. Mathematics has much to say on this topic and we can use it to calculate/estimate all sorts of probabilities using very sophisticated methods.

But we will keep things simple and ask what the concept tells us about reality, using simple examples.

Probability is a method of dealing with uncertainty.

It takes certain processes, such as rolling a die or predicting the weather. These kinds of processes are very difficult to predict. We have little ability to be certain what the outcome(s) of these processes might be.

For instance, consider rolling a die. Although it seems to be a very simple process, we cannot track all of the tiny motions of the die. We do not have any way of knowing exactly how it will dance through the air and then strike the table.

probability, dice, die

Such simple looking things, but it is next to impossible to predict the outcome of throwing them!

Or consider the weather. This is an extremely complex thing to predict. Countless factors go into determining the weather on any particular day or even hour. So many that we currently have no reliable way to account for them all and we likely never will.

What do we do? If we cannot account for all of the relevant factors and make any certain predictions, then do we throw our hands in the air and give up? We could, but often that is not a good option.

So, what then are we to do? Should we accept that it is difficult to predict the outcome with any certainty? Or should we try to estimate the relative frequency of certain outcomes?

Can we do this, can we estimate the relative frequency of certain outcomes? And how is this useful?

Here we want to estimate how often certain outcomes will happen relative to others. If the process occurs this many times, how often do we estimate we would get this result or this other result?

In other words: we want some way to determine how likely something is to happen. Is it very unlikely or quite likely to happen? Should we expect it to happen often or not very often? This is what probabilities will help us estimate.

This is all probability is, an estimate of the likelihood of a given event to occur. That is, how often a given even is expected to occur.

This helps us estimate whether we should expect something to happen in a given instance or whether we should expect it not to. As well as to estimate how often a given event might happen.

Since we cannot keep track of all the factors that determine the outcome of certain phenomena, probabilities help us deal with uncertainties. We might not be able to account for everything and predict the outcome with much certainty, but we can estimate what the results might be.

This can help us determine which results to expect and which not to expect and how often those results might happen.

This the proper role of probability in the sciences: dealing with uncertainties typically caused by our inability to track complicated or unpredictable phenomenon.

Say we find it difficult to predict the movements of an electron. We do not understand how to predict precisely where it will be two seconds from now.

However, we do know certain things about electrons. We know enough to predict that it is likely it will be somewhere in this area here. It is not likely to be in these other areas. While we cannot be certain where it will be, we at least have some ability to predict its behaviour and we might be able to do something useful.

Or take the weather. It is very hard to be certain what the weather will do days from now. But we can understand meteorology well enough to be fairly certain that on some days it will most likely rain. Or that rain is unlikely. We might not be certain and we might be wrong, but we know enough to advise people that they should prepare for these outcomes, as they are quite likely.

probability

The weather is a very complicated thing. We need a lot of very, very complicated math to predict probabilities here. And we know how often it can be wrong ….

In all these cases we are dealing with uncertainty and allowing ourselves to have some understanding of what to expect when faced with uncertainty. We might not be certain, but we know enough to say something about what is happening.

Now let us get into something more controversial.

In quantum mechanics, there is the concept of probability. But it is not treated as a method of dealing with uncertainty and making predictions about possible outcomes. There it is treated as … something else.

In quantum mechanics, the behaviour of particles is said to exist in some kind of indefinite limbo state until observed. Particles are neither here nor there but in a superposition of positions. They do not have any definite momentum and so forth. Such properties take singular, definite values only when they are observed.

One might expect that they take some definite value according to some causal mechanism. However, that is not the case, not according to quantum mechanics. Once a particle is observed, it is said that the “probability waveform” of the particle collapses and then each property takes on a definite value.

In other words, particles do not have any definite nature. They are treated as things with no definite nature. As something not fully real.