Tag Archives: waves

quantum, Schrodinger's Cat

Vodcast Episode Two: Quantum Absurdities, Part One

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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.

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.

Gaede

Episode Twenty Three – An Interview with Bill Gaede

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Today we have an interview with the physicist Bill Gaede. We have not presented the transcript of this in web page form. Instead, you can listen to the audio or download the PDF transcript.

You may have problems with the audio if you hit the play button above after jumping part of the way into the audio. We are not sure what this issue is or how to fix it. You can download the episode or simply play it from the beginning.

Gaede and I discuss the problems in modern physics, some of the many ways in which physics is irrational, the improper conflation of mathematics with physics, his rope model and more.

The problems he mentions are largely centered around the idea that we do not have physicists anymore, we have mathematicians. People that try to describe but not explain how this universe works. But, physics is meant to be about explaining how the universe works!

This is where the rope model comes in. It offers an explanation of light, electromagnetism, gravity and more. Gaede discusses this in some depth in his book “Why God Does Not Exist”.

Please note that the transcript has been edited for grammatical purposes. The contents accurately represent the material, however changes have been made to make it easier to read. So,  it will not exactly match the audio.

However, there may be mistakes in the transcript. Any mistakes in transcription represent our own errors or a transcription error we missed.

Click here to download the PDF transcript.

You can find out more about Bill Gaede’s idea on his YouTube page. You can also check out his Quora profile to see him answering some physics questions.

Math-magicians

Episode Nineteen – Math-Magicians and Mad Titans

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Today we are going over some of the Bill Gaede video “What is Physics. math-magicians and the genocidal plans of Thanos the Mad Titan.

You can find Bill Gaede’s video here if you want to watch it in advance or watch along with us.

Click here to download the PDF transcript. This episode’s transcript has no illustrations.

Episode Transcript

[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 much needed and 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 to our community.

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.

We are your hosts and guides through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science. Dwayne Davies, my husband, is the founder, primary content creator and voice for Metaphysics of Physics. I am Ashna and I help out however I can. You can find out more about us on the About page of the website.

You can also find all the episodes, transcripts, subscription options and more on the website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

Hi everyone! This is episode nineteen of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast and Today we are going over the Bill Gaede video “What is Physics”.

If you want to know what a math-magician is, you are going to have to keep listening until right before the end of the segment covering the Bill Gaede video.

After that, we will discuss the Thanos bit and you can see how that is relevant.

Let’s start by diving into the video, shall we?

Math-Magicians

Bill Gaede starts off by discussing answers to a question he asked on some internet forum. The question went something like:

“Is Quantum Mechanics irrational and illogical?”

This is a good question. It sure seems that it is irrational and illogical. If you have listened to this show before, followed us on Facebook or read our blog, then you might know that we certainly think quantum mechanics is both irrational and illogical.

math-magicians
Unless you think this is somehow not illogical or irrational …

What kind of answers do you suppose he received to this perfectly valid question?

Well, Mr Gaede states four such answers given to him:

  1. “Why do we, humans, want everything to be logical?”

  2. “It is NOT irrational and illogical … just non-intuitive.”

  3. “Why should human logic and rationality apply to quantum mechanics?”

  4. “It’s man’s comprehension of such phenomenon that is illogical and irrational.”

We have heard all these responses in some form or another several times. And we imagine Gaede has heard them several times since he encountered them in that forum post.

Let us provide my thoughts on these answers.

1) “Why do we, humans, want everything to be logical?”

Not all of us do. Many of us are perfectly happy with illogical answers. Even though illogical answers do not help us understand the world. Even though such answers generally impede our ability to understand the world.

However, many other people do want everything to be logical, certainly when it comes to science. We know that the only answers which are of any use are those which are true. Those which are reached according to valid, well-supported chains of reasoning and which are in agreement with reality. That is, those which are logical.

Damn Aristotle for making us think science could be logical …

What is the alternative? Answers which are not based on sound reasoning and which do not agree with reality? What use are those? If the answer is not true, then it is of no value. Even if it happens to be true, if it is not based on sound reasoning, then we cannot know whether or not it is true and we have no reason to believe that it is.

That is why some of us want our knowledge to be logical. Because we want answers which are true and we want a basis for knowing whether they are true or not.

2) “It is NOT irrational and illogical … just non-intuitive.”

First of all, it is irrational and illogical. What else would you call it? It asserts all sorts of contradictions, impossibilities and mutually exclusive things. Such as particles being in mutually exclusive states, properties not definitively existing unless observed, things magically traveling from A to B without covering any of the intervening space and so forth.

What else would you call something that makes claims which openly defy what we know to be true about reality? For no reason and against all reason. And against reason on purpose!

Don’t believe us that quantum mechanics is irrational on purpose? Well, listen to our discussion of Niels Bohr, one of its founders. And then consider that essentially everyone in the field agrees with him and holds to very similar philosophical premises.

https://metaphysicsofphysics.com/episode-seven-bohrs-philosophy/

So, yes, it is in fact very illogical, which means it is also irrational. And doubly irrational for trying to be illogical and to pretend reality is not what it is.

What is Colour? Clearing up Chromatic Confusion.

Introduction

Perhaps one of the oldest philosophical questions goes something like this:

Why are objects the colour they are?

There are three main approaches to this.

  1. To treat colour as a property of the object being observed.
  2. Treat colour as a property of light.
  3. To treat colour as a mode of perception

In the 17th century, Isaac Newton performed a series of brilliant experiments on light. He shone white light through a prism and showed that you can separate it into rays of different coloured light. He took this to mean that colour is an intrinsic property of light.

When combined with his theory of light which treated light as a series of particles, this led him to believe there were different sizes of particles corresponding to different colours.

Blue is the result of particles of a certain size. Red is the result of particles of a different size and so forth.

So, Is Colour in The Light?

This has led many people to conclude that colour is a property intrinsic to light. As though light has a property of “blueness” or “redness”.

Many people still talk as though they believe that colour is a property of light. For instance, when people say something like:

Look at that light, it is blue light.

However, this is not the case. Light does not have a property of “blueness” or “redness” or any other colour. There is no property of light which corresponds directly to colour.

However, there is a property of light which causes the perception of certain colours, as we shall see in a moment.

So, there is no property of colour in light. You can study light all you want; you will not find this property. Suppose you could isolate a single photon and study every aspect of it.

You will never find a quality of “blueness” or “redness”. No matter how hard you look. Nobody ever has and you should not expect anyone to ever do so. So, what does that mean?

Photon
Mind you, modern physics does not have a clue what a photon is. Still, we can be sure it does not have the property “color”.
Creator: Illusterati
Available under a Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Is Colour in the Object?

Prior to the idea that colour is in the light, it was widely believed that colour is “in the object” being perceived. It was believed that apples were red because of some kind of “redness” in the apples.

In other words, an apple appears red because it has some property of redness. The sky appears blue because it has some property of blueness. This view holds that if study the properties of things, you would find a “colour” property or attribute. Or, as though colour is “in the object”.

Many people still seem to think that colour is an attribute or property of an object. You can see this when they say things like:

That apple has a lot of redness in it.

But this is also wrong. Colour is not “in the object” nor is it “in the light”.

No matter how hard you look at apples, you will not find an attribute of “redness”. Nor will you find an attribute of “blueness” in the sky. Color is not in the object.

Colour is a form of perception which depends on the nature of the objects being observed. As well as the nature of the light interacting with the human eye.

Colour is a result of an interaction between the eye and the light being emitted or reflected from the object being observed.

As everyone knows, the eye reacts to light hitting the retina. Now, here is where it gets interesting…

As light behaves like a wave, it has a certain wavelength. The human eye can detect light of wavelengths between about 400 and about 900 nanometres (a nanometre is one-thousandth of a millionth of a metre). So, any light of wavelengths in this range is visible to the human eye.

Human eye
Of course, we are omitting a few details about how vision works. It is a complicated process. For our purposes we can ignore most of the details.

Light does come in other wavelengths outside of this spectrum. But the human eye can really only interact with light in that narrow range of wavelengths.

Of course, light of other wavelengths strikes the eye, however, the eye does not really interact with them in the context of human vision, so we do not need to worry about them.

Before we go any further, what is light? It is electromagnetic radiation.

What is that? It is, simply put, packets of energy that travel through space at “light speed” and which travel in a wave pattern. And since it travels as a wave, all electromagnetic radiation has a wavelength.

What is wavelength? We do not really need to get very technical on this. To put it simply, a wavelength is the distance between “peaks” of a wave.

What is important to grasp is that light comes in different wavelengths. Visible light comes in wavelengths between 400 and 900 nanometres. The electromagnetic waves in this range are the ones which are visible to the human eye.

As you might expect, not all visible light has the same wavelength. Some of it has a wavelength of closer to 400, some will be closer to 900 and some of it will fall in various values in between these.

For instance, light in the range of wavelengths of about 400-450 nanometres causes the perception of the colour violet. Light in the range of 450-485 nanometres causes the perception of the colour blue. And light in the range of 625-740 nanometres causes the perception of the colour red.

Pencil bent in water.

Episode Sixteen – Optical Illusions, Proof of the Validity of the Senses

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Today we are going to discuss the validity of the senses and how optical illusions prove that the senses are valid.

Click here to download the PDF transcript. This episode’s transcript has no illustrations.

Episode Transcript

[Editorial: Please note that this may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences. There is also some background thumping in some of the later minutes of the audio. We were unable to remove this. Sorry if this bothers you, but please tolerate it if possible.

The title uses the word “proof”. Note that this is used in the colloquial sense of “an attempt to convince someone of”. The validity of the senses is not really subject to proof. Instead, all proof relies on the validity of the senses.

A better title might have been something like “Demonstration of the Validity of the Senses”.]

Introduction

Metaphysics of Physics is the much needed and 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 to our community.

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.

You can find all the episodes, transcripts, subscription options and more on the website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

Hi everyone! This is episode sixteen of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast and I am Ashna, your host and guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science. Thanks for tuning in!

Today we are going to discuss the validity of the senses and how optical illusions prove that the senses are valid.

Modern philosophers claim that the senses distort the data provided to them. And that as a result, you cannot fully trust your senses.  We shall analyse what the senses are, how they operate, and why this claim is false.

What Are The Senses?

The senses take in inputs and according to their mode of operation, cause the experience of sensations.  For example, human eyesight works by absorbing light, which leads to the sensations of sight.  An aspect of the sensations of sight is colour.

However, dogs and many other animals perceive reality different to humans and other beings that perceive colour. They see the world around them in black, white and shades of grey.

Apes color perception.
Many other apes have tri-chromatic colour perception that humans do.

[Editorial correction: Actually the thing about dogs seeing in black and white is a myth, which we neglected to correct ourselves on. It is now thought that dogs can see in other colors. Granted, a more limited range of colors than humans. But, for the sake of argument and not having to correct the entire article, let us pretend it is true.]

Does this mean that dogs do not see things as they are?  No, their senses are not deceiving them.  Sensory organs are passive; they simply interact with light, sound or other forms of input, respond and send signals. This triggers the last stage of perception, the experience of sensations.

Sensory organs have no power to deceive or to distort their input. They simply receive input and send signals to the brain.  There is no mechanism which they possess which can alter the input. Or by which they can alter the sensations experienced.

Different sensory organs work in different ways, reacting differently to light, sound, touch and so forth.  However, regardless of how your sensory organs react to stimuli, regardless of whatever sensations the organism experiences, reality remains the same.

Your eyes react differently to different wavelengths of light, causing the brain to experience sensations which include various colours.

Dogs are blind to colour, but this only means that their eyes and brain do not react to different wavelengths of light in the same way the eyes and brains of humans and other colour-perceiving organisms do.

What is it that you call “colour”? Is the observed colour in the object? Or is colour a matter of sensation? What do you observe when you experience colour?  You are observing that an entity has properties such that it either emits or reflects light of a certain wavelength.

Are you for instance observing that a blue object has “blueness”?  No, the object does not possess “blueness”. It has such properties that it emits or reflects light of a certain wavelength that causes the sensation “blue” when it reaches our eyes.

Colour is not in the object. Colour is a sensation which is dependent on the visual mode of perception.  Visible objects possess properties which cause the sensations of colour.

Multicolored sky
If the sky has “blueness”, it would be harder to explain why it can be so many different colors at once …

Every organism capable of sensing the world around them has sensory organs that trigger sensations.  The nature of those sensations depends on the nature of the entities observed and how they interact with the sensory organs.

Ah, but a dog sees the world in black and white, and humans see it in colour! Therefore, the vision of a dog is subjective and so is ours.  After all, we know that the world is not black and white, but a world of colours.

Or do we? Perhaps neither are objectively true! Perhaps colour is just in our mind!

These kinds of irrational ideas show why it is important to identify that colour is not in the object, but the result of the means of operation of the sensory organs of certain organisms.

[Editorial: These kinds of irrational ideas also show some of the dangerous conclusions you can reach once you start questioning the validity of the senses.]

The sky has no “blueness”, nor does chocolate have “brownness”. The sky has properties which cause it to scatter light in such a way that, when observed by sensory organisms that respond to different wavelengths of light, cause the organism to experience the sensation of the colour blue.

Chocolate interacts with light in such a manner as to cause such organisms to experience the sensation of some shade of brown.

No matter how hard you look, you will never find “colour” in any object, only properties of the object which cause the object to emit or to reflect light of a certain wavelength.

Sensations are not in the object. The nature of sensations depends on the nature of the entities and how they interact with the sensory organs.

Objects do not possess the innate attributes of “blueness”, “bad odour” or “loudness”.  They possess properties that cause organisms to experience particular sensations when observed by those organisms.

You are receiving sensations based on how your sensory organs operate and the nature of the relevant entities you are observing.

In the case of eye damage such that you experience blurry sensations of sight, your eyes are not distorting reality. You simply experience sensations consistent with your eyes not being able to process light rays properly.

The facts of reality remain constant. Regardless of the facts, your eyes are not able to react to light in the same manner as someone without eye problems.

The fact that sensations can take a different form, depending on the state of operation of the sensory organs, does not mean that the senses are potential agents of distortion.  While they operate at all, sensory organs will trigger whatever sensations their current condition is capable of triggering.

Different organisms might experience different sensations if their sensory organs operate differently.  The fact of differing sensations is not a valid reason to doubt the validity of senses.

Newton's Discovery of the Refraction of Light

Episode Eleven – Achievements of Newton

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Today we go over the achievements of Isaac Newton, focusing on his many hugely important contributions to science.

Click here to download the PDF transcript. The PDF version does not have illustrations, but might be easier to read on certain devices, such as your eReader.

Episode Transcript

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

Introduction

Hi everyone! This is episode eleven of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast.

I am Ashna, your host and guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science. Thanks for tuning in!

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.

You can find all the episodes, transcripts and subscription options on the website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

Today we are providing an overview of the achievements of the great Isaac Newton, focusing on his contributions to science. At a later stage we will go over what made him such a great scientist.

Newton
My favorite portrait of Isaac Newton.

This will be the first of our coverage of great figures in the history of science. With some more coming later this year. But, without further ado, let us start our discussion of the achievements of Isaac Newton.

We have a lot to cover, so we cannot cover any one aspect of his work in great detail. Nor can we cover all of his extensive contributions.

Some of them we will not go into detail on. Some we will not cover at all. Such as his work on cubic functions, infinite series, harmonic systems, Diophantine equations, finite differences and more.

We will cover some of the more influential aspects of his work. Starting with calculus, working our way to his other mathematical contributions and then working forward from there.

Calculus

One of his greatest works for which he is best known, is his invention of calculus.

Now, I am aware that many people debate whether Newton or Leibniz developed calculus first. While I believe that in fact Newton may have developed it first, I am not sure whether this will ever be known with complete certainty.

And really, it does not matter much. It seems quite likely that Newton and Leibniz developed calculus independently, although Newton seems to have begun his work first.

It would not be the first time two different people independently developed important and major scientific advances at much the same time. Another classic example would be Wallace and Darwin. Both of whom developed somewhat similar theories of evolution.

Regardless of which of them developed it first or if they each discovered it independently, Newton certainly developed calculus and so he deserves great credit for that.

What is calculus? It is a branch of mathematics which is essentially composed of two aspects.

Differential calculus, which studies patterns of continuous change.

And integration, which amounts to adding up infinitesimally small values and is the mathematical reverse of differentiation. Calculus is the underpinning of much of modern mathematics and without it much of modern mathematics would not be possible.

As differential calculus studies things in motion, it is a fundamental underpinning of the physics of moving objects. Or indeed any quantity which changes continuously over time.

Principia Mathematica
The original calculus textbook.

In fact, much of Newton’s physics depends on and was derived using differential calculus. For instance, you can use calculus to derive an equation for acceleration from an equation for velocity.

Now, just how important is calculus? Well, it is very hard to overstate the importance of calculus. It is one of the most important, widely applicable branches of mathematics ever invented.

Why is this? Because it can be used to describe the behaviour of virtually anything that moves or changes over time. Which is to say, virtually anything at all.

You can use calculus to describe the velocity of a space rocket. Or how stock markets change over time. It can be used to study the equations and or graphs that describe phenomena. You can use calculus to find various properties of these equations and graphs. Such as the rates of change and optimal values and the list goes on.

Calculus is used in countless optimization problems. In such problems you take equations that describe relationships between certain variables and you find the value or values of those variables that give you the optimal results.

Suppose you have an equation that describes the amount of material used to create containers of a certain volume. You can use calculus to find the dimensions of a container that will hold 1.5 litres but which will minimize the amount of material used.

That’s litres (leeters) not litters, though I guess you could find out how many litters of kittens you can fit in a container, using calculus too!

A great variety of problems where you want to maximize or minimize some quantity can be solved using calculus. For example, problems which are very frequent in business and/or design where efficiency must be maximized and cost minimized.

That is differential calculus.

Integral calculus also has many applications. One of them is finding areas or volumes. For instance, if you want to find the volume of an irregular shape such as a Coke bottle, you can use integration to do so.

Many properties in physics are calculated as integrals. For instance, finding the coordinates of the centre of mass of an object, studying magnetic flux and so forth.

And then there is the fact that since integration is the reverse of differentiation, you can use it to derive many equations, just as you can using differential calculus.

The applications of calculus are far too numerous to mention all but a few of the most general applications. Suffice to say that every branch of higher mathematics uses it and calculus is applicable to almost any field of knowledge known to man.

Which is true of mathematics in general, right? Mathematics is all about describing and deriving the various relationships between entities and their properties.

Well, calculus is a fundamental technique used to find many of these. Without which much of higher mathematics would not be possible.

Pythagoras
Pythagoras was among the first to catch on to the general practicability of math. But, he took it a bit too far …

Newton-Raphson Method

This is a method of numerical analysis which allows one to find approximate solutions for real-valued functions. That is, mathematical functions with solutions that are real numbers.

Yes, it has been generalized to complex values, but we will not go into that here.

Let us suppose that you have the equation x3 + 5x – 3 = zero. What value of x satisfies this equation? The Newton-Raphson method allows an approximate value to be found.

It is an iterative process, requiring repeated cycles through the Newton-Raphson formula in order to get increasingly accurate results.

This is not the only such method used to solve functions. But, it is a commonly used one and some computer algorithms use it to solve functions.

But why should we care? Well, many equations where you need to solve for x can be solved with the Newton-Raphson method. In fact, many equations where we have no known method for finding exact solutions can have this method applied. This allows approximate values to be found.

You can also use it for optimization problems, similar to the optimization described when we discussed calculus. In fact, the Newton-Raphson method itself uses calculus, differentiation in particular.

Its applications are many and varied. It is frequently used in the analysis of flow in large networks. Such as water distribution networks or electrical flow through electrical grids.

It also has various uses in numerical analysis and other areas of mathematics, but we will not go into that. Suffice to say that it is an extremely important tool in solving and analysing a great many equations.

Binomial Theorem

This mathematical theorem involves the expansion of powers of binomials. A binomial is something like “X squared plus 2”. Basically, the binomial theorem deals with some variable plus something else, all to the power of something.

These powers of binomials can be written in their full form as a polynomial. Such as x squared plus 5x + 3.

Let us suppose you have something like “2x +3”. And you want to multiply it by itself, you have this:

(2x+3)2

You get a polynomial like this:

4x2 + 12x + 9

The binomial theorem lets you find these polynomials.

So, if you want to multiply (2x + 3) by itself 5 times, what do you get? Well, the binomial theorem will tell you that.

Pascal's Triangle
The Binomial Theorem uses Pascal’s Triangle, which was known to ancient mathematicians.

Which is good, because the polynomial will look something like 32x5 + Nx4….etc. Calculating this by hand would take a while.

Now, it should be noted that others, including Euclid and Al-Karaji had developed less generalized methods for doing this kind of thing. However, Newton’s method was more general. It could also be applied to all real numbers, as opposed to only nonnegative integers.

But, so what? Of what importance or application is this to the real world? Well, quite a lot as it turns out.

Every computer on most networks, including the internet, has an IP address. This is essentially a unique number that is used to identify your particular computer on the network (I am over-simplifying a bit but the fine details do not matter that much).

Well, these are often automatically assigned and the binomial theorem helps to do that. The binomial theorem can deal with other such network problems.

It is also used in estimating probabilities in fields like economics and weather forecasts.. It is used to help design infrastructure to help find the proper amount of materials to use. As well as that, it also helps rank things. And so on….

Bohr

Episode Seven – The Philosophy of Bohr

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Today we discuss the philosophy of Niels Bohr and some of its influences, such as pragmatism. We will explore these by looking at some Bohr quotes.

If you want to know more about the absurdities of quantum mechanics, you can try this link.

Episode Transcript

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

Welcome to episode seven of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast. I am Ashna, your host and guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science. Thanks for tuning in!

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.

You can find all the episodes, transcripts and subscription options on the website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

Today we will be taking a look at the philosophy of Niels Bohr.  We will be making the case for three central elements of Bohr’s philosophy and we will use quotes to show that he did indeed hold to these tenets.

If you are interested in further readings, links to the sources from which many of these quotes are taken have been provided in the show notes.

So, what are these three central tenets of Bohr’s philosophy?

Firstly, the rejection of reality and objective facts.

Secondly, a rejection of the Law of Identity.

And thirdly,  that Bohr ascribed to a kind of acausality, that is a rejection of causality. This might seem a consequence of the second and arguably it is. If you reject the Law of Identity, it is no surprise that you might also reject causality.

What do these tenets point to? Which philosophical influence or influences might Bohr then be said to have suffered from?

Let’s begin by looking at his background.

Bohr’s Background

Bohr is considered one of the foremost and founding figures of modern physics.  He is best known for his contributions to quantum theory and his work on the structure of atoms, for which he won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1922.

Bohr was born in 1885 and died 1962, aged 77.  He became interested in physics at a young age and acquired a doctorate in physics in 1911 from the University of Copenhagen, at the relatively young age of 26.

It should be noted that his father, Christian Bohr, was a friend of the well-known philosopher Harald Høffding.  Christian would invite Høffding to the Bohr household and Niels would observe and take part in many philosophical discussions with this philosopher.

Harald Høffding
Harald Høffding, Bohr’s philosophical mentor.

Høffding was heavily influenced by Kant and later became a positivist.  Positivism holds that knowledge begins with sensory experience and Bohr most certainly agreed with this.

These early experiences with Høffding seems to have sparked an intense interest in philosophy. Furthermore, Høffding was not his only philosophical influence.

Bohr was a philosophical eclectic and was influenced by various other philosophers, such as the pragmatist William James.

As we shall see, the Neo-Kantian philosophies he was exposed to influenced his physics for the worst.

His early work was on the measurement of surface tension of liquids using oscillating fluid jets, for which he won a prize offered by the Copenhagen Academy of Sciences while still a student.  He also got published by the Royal Society of London for related work.

While he was researching material for his doctoral thesis on the electron theory of metals, he came across Max Planck’s early work on quantum theory.  There he read about how light was quantized into packets. After this, his work became a lot more abstract and eventually positively unworldly!

In 1912, Bohr met Ernest Rutherford, the discoverer of the atomic nucleus.  Rutherford also worked on an early atomic model, for which he received the 1908 Nobel Prize.  Bohr went on to make his own atomic model, under the guidance of Rutherford.

Ernest Rutherford
Ernest Rutherford, the great Kiwi physicist and discoverer of the atomic nucleus.

Bohr combined Rutherford’s description of the nucleus and Planck’s quantum theories into his own atomic model. For this, he received the Nobel Prize in 1922.

Bohr’s atomic model is considered one of his most significant contributions to modern physics. It shows the atom consisting of a positively charged nucleus with negatively charged electrons traveling around it in separate circular orbits with discrete radii. And that the electrons can transition between orbits by emitting or absorbing energy equal to the quanta of light.

His theoretical work was also used to help understand how nuclear fission works and was used in the first attempts to split uranium in the 1930s.

Bohr developed a concept of “complementarity” which would prove to be perhaps one of his most irrational and revealing philosophical notions.  This concept held that there was seldom a single way to describe something and that often, seemingly contradictory, mutually-exclusive descriptions had to be embraced.

The most well-known and influential examples of complementarity at work is that of the particle-wave duality of light and other subatomic “particles”.

It is unfortunate that complementarity would come to lie at the heart of quantum mechanics.  As we shall see, it is useful in revealing the deep irrationality of quantum mechanics and its philosophical influences.

Now, let’s look at some Bohr quotes that point to the pillars of his philosophy, the first one being, the rejection of reality and objective facts.

Bohr’s Rejection of Reality and Objectivity

Isolated material particles are abstractions, their properties being definable and observable only through their interaction with other systems. [1]

The Quantum of Action and the Description of Nature (1929).

As we shall see, Bohr does not think that physical reality has any place in physics.  He believes that knowledge is the process of forming relationships between abstractions, not the study of the concrete physical world.

From the very beginning, however, one was not unprepared in this domain to come upon failure of the forms of perception adapted to our ordinary sense impressions.[1]

The Quantum of Action and the Description of Nature (1929).

Here, this domain refers to the atomic theory and Bohr admits that he was not unprepared for the alleged failure of the forms of perception.  What could have lead one to be prepared for this? Philosophy.

Plato
Remember this guy? Yeap, it is Plato! Bohrs bad philosophy can be traced all the way back to Plato.

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. [3]

The Philosophy of Niels Bohr’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1963, Volume 3, Issue 19

So, in other words, we cannot know physical reality, only abstract descriptions.  Physics is not the study of reality as it is, but simply a pragmatic description that explains what we observe.

An abstract description of what?  The next quote gives us a clue.

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. [4]

Defense Implications of International Indeterminacy (1972) by Robert J. Pranger, p. 11, and Theorizing Modernism : Essays in Critical Theory (1993) by Steve Giles, p. 28

Here Bohr means that language can not be used as a precise method of the description of reality.  The purpose of words, of concepts, of ideas is not to describe reality, but to describe and relate “images” and “mental connections”.

In other words, the purpose of language, of concepts, is not to study physical reality, but to study and relate abstractions.

So when we asked, “An abstract description of what?” Of, what? Nothing? Or perhaps abstract descriptions of sense perceptions.  But sense perceptions of what? We shall return to this in a little bit.

Are these abstractions to be considered objective?  Bohr does not think so.

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. [5]

Physics and Beyond (1971) by Werner Heisenberg

Bohr does not consider it worthwhile discussing whether or not an idea is objective or subjective.  This is not too surprising given that one of Bohr’s many philosophical influences was, as we shall see, pragmatism.

You might ask whether there was any justification for Bohr saying these kinds of things.  It is certainly widely asserted that Bohr and his peers were forced to reluctantly accept the implications of quantum theory.

But there can be no physical justification for claiming that reality is unknowable.

Why then did Bohr adopt this view?  Is it because the quantum world really is “inflicted with a kind of vagueness”? Or, is it because of his philosophical influences?

The situation which we meet here is characterized by the fact that we are apparently forced to choose between two mutually contradictory conceptions of the propagation of light.  One, the idea of light waves, the other, the corpuscular [particle] view of the of the theory of light quanta, each conception expressing fundamental aspects of our experience. As we shall see in the following, this apparent dilemma marks a particular limitation of our forms of perception which is bound up with the quantum of action.[2]

The Atomic Theory and the Fundamental Principles underlying the Description of Nature (1929).

Are we forced to choose between contradictory conceptions of light?  No. Objectivity, the recognition of reality as it really is, requires us to identify the fact that it can be only one of those and to attempt to identify which one is the case.

Far from it being a dilemma, it is a requirement of objectivity and identifying reality. To ignore this requirement is to reduce the concept of light to a floating abstraction and to make it impossible to identify its true nature.

Kant
Bohr’s philosophy is also heavily influenced by the philosophy of Immanuel Kant.

Nor is it a limit of our “forms of perception” as such.  Nothing that exists can exist with a contradictory nature.  To be is to be something, free of contradictions.

Far from being a “limitation” of our “forms of perception” this is a necessary fact which everything, including perception, must adhere to.

An independent reality in the ordinary physical sense can neither be ascribed to the phenomena or to the agencies of observation.  After all, the concept of observation is so far arbitrary as it depends upon which objects are included in the system to be observed.  Ultimately, every observation can, of course, be reduced to our sense perceptions. [6]

 Quantum postulate and the recent development of atomic theory Nature. 121: 580-591.

Here Bohr advocates the idea that observation is not the observation of real entities in the physical world, but of floating sense perceptions.  In his view, science is not the study of external physical reality, but the description of sense perceptions.

Sense perceptions of what?  Reality does not begin with sense perception.  To perceive is to perceive something.

Our senses do not distort that which they observe. Neither do our senses create their own content. But, Bohr frequently spoke as if he believed that our senses create their own content or distort that which they do observe.

Bohr and Einstein

Episode Five – Various Questions

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Our fifth episode is a discussion of what is wrong with science today. As well as quantum theory, relativity, string theory and more.  It takes a Q&A format where we answer several questions.

Episode Transcript

[Please note that this may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.  Also note that the audio may be louder than previous episodes, so you might want to keep this in mind].

Welcome to episode five of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast. I am Ashna, your host and guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science. Thanks for tuning in!

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.

You may want to subscribe via iTunes or any of our other subscription methods.  You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can do all of this from the show notes or the media player on the website, at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

Today we will go over some questions.  Although we have not yet received many questions from our audience, we will go over some questions which you might have or we might be asked at some point.  You may consider these “Frequently Anticipated Questions.”

We would like to answer questions actually sent in and do this kind of Q&A format more often. However, for that, we will need your questions!  Please submit them on the website link provided or email them to questions@metaphysicsofphysics.com!

This set of questions is about the position of Metaphysics of Physics on some of the popular fields of science, specifically physics and the philosophy of science.

We are also going to start answering Quora questions on the show!  Dwayne Davies, the founder and content creator of this show, has a Quora account and has answered several relevant questions already.  Click here to go to his Quora profile and check out some of the answers to relevant Quora questions!

Ok, let’s get into it.

What do you think is the biggest threat to science today?

Bad philosophy.  That is ultimately the biggest threat to pretty much anything.  Ones fundamental philosophy determines whether or not they follow rational ideas and what kind of morality and convictions they hold.

Plato
A great deal of bad philosophy got started with this guy, Plato.

If one follows a rational philosophy, then it is likely that their ideas will be rational and their actions moral.  If they follow irrational philosophies, they will hold irrational ideas and their actions will be morally questionable.

But, the question is about the biggest threat to science. And the answer is still “bad philosophy”.  Why is this?

Well, one’s metaphysics and epistemology are key.  If one believes in the primacy of an objective reality independent of the wishes and desires of the human mind, then they are more likely to approach science objectively and rationally.

If one believes that they can gain knowledge of reality, then they will probably do all they can to learn about reality.

If one believes that reality is unknowable, then they will not seek a full knowledge of reality and act as though at least some things are not knowable.

If one believes in the primacy of reality, then one knows that reality does not obey one’s wishes and that reality is not subject to consciousness.  One does not maintain the metaphysical primacy of abstractions. That is one does not think that reality is explained by appealing to abstractions.

Quantum theory and relativity offer non-physical explanations of things like gravity and the nature of light and how it interacts with things.  String theory, despite decades of intense research, is non-intelligible and makes no testable claims. A lot of modern cosmology is little better.

It has been decades, since the development of the Standard Model in the 70s, since we have seen any major progress in the fundamentals of physics.  Why is this?

Yes, this stuff is hard.  But, this is not the main reason.  The main reason is that most scientists are operating according to irrational philosophical premises and are doing bad science.  They are interpreting experiments wrong and coming to conclusions which do not contribute to the understanding of reality.

The biggest threat to science is bad philosophy.  And that threat is impeding people’s ability to do good science.

We do not just see this is in physics. We see this in the environmental sciences, where many scientists start with a conclusion and then try to represent results in a way that supports their conclusion.

We see this in computer science, where computer scientists do not understand the nature of the mind and intelligence and try to create computers with intelligence.  Even though if they understood the nature of the mind and computers, they would know that they could not do this.

Science does not operate in a vacuum.  One’s ability to do good science is only as good as their philosophical premises.  If they have bad philosophical premises, then they will reach poor conclusions in science. If they know how to do science at all. If they even value science at all.

The worse a cultures philosophical premises, the less rational science they can make and the less scientific progress they can make.  It may eventually become so bad that they do not value true science and abandon science for mysticism.

Moses
Religion is a very primitive form of philosophy. This is why very reliigous cultures tend to have a pre-scientific mentality.

So, yes, bad philosophy is the biggest threat to science today.

What are some of the stances of Metaphysics of Physics that almost nobody agrees with?

Pretty much anything on this show could qualify.  But, I suppose that is not much of an answer. Here is one example which almost nobody agrees with. Even several people who otherwise agree with things being said on Metaphysics of Physics disagree with this.

There are a lot of people that disagree that it is invalid to assert that there are sets with an infinite size or sets which are infinite yet larger than other sets.

So-called “infinite” sets do not have a size. They are simply infinite. To say that they have a size implies that you can count and quantify all of their elements. But, you can’t, that is what it means to be an infinite set!

So, if infinite sets have no size, then there is no basis for comparing their sizes! And there goes one of the “proofs” that there are different sizes of infinity.


This means that the set of natural numbers, the set of real numbers, et cetera, have no sizes. They are simply infinite.

Black hole

Episode Two – Some Anti-Reason Hawking Quotes

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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.

If you want to know more about us and the show, check out our first episode.

Episode Transcript

[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.

You may want to subscribe via iTunes, our RSS feed or one of our other subscription methods.  You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Do all of this from the show notes or the media player on the website, at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

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.

He are not going to talk about Hawking’s personal life. Or his struggle with his severe disability. Yes, Hawking was a very resilient and he deserves some credit for that. But, we are here to discuss Hawking’s philosophical views and how they relate to physics.

The Hawking book “A Brief History of Time” is of course a good way to learn more about his physics.

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?

Hawking and his magic.
Hawking claimed that the universe can create itself from nothing. This amounts to magic.

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. Hawking 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.

It has certainly been true in the past that what we call intelligence and scientific discovery have conveyed a survival advantage. It is not so clear that this is still the case: our scientific discoveries may well destroy us all, and even if they don’t, a complete unified theory may not make much difference to our chances of survival.

Knowledge and intelligence are good things and cannot reasonably be considered a potential threat to human survival. They are our means of survival. Scientific theories, if they are scientific, are not dangerous.

However, non-scientific ideas can be. And many of his ideas are of this kind.

Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory.

You cannot be certain of anything, apparently. Out with certainty and proof when it comes to observable reality. You can never be sure what you “prove” today will be true tomorrow. Or, at least, there is no such thing as a watertight proof.

If you design an experiment properly, you will run it once or a few times, until you understand the results that you get. Once you understand the phenomena you are studying, you can predict with certainty what the results will be. Or, in cases when there is a degree of imperfect knowledge, you can at least predict the chances of certain kinds of results.

So, you can often be very sure the result will not contradict the theory, once you correctly understand the nature of the things you are studying. It is only when you do not have this understanding that you cannot be so sure and that you regard your theory as though it could be contradicted as easily as Hawking describes.

Is there a chance that despite your certainty your theory still might be wrong? Well, yes. But, certainty is not a matter of “There is no possible chance I will later be proven to be wrong when someone discovers something I do not know about”. It is the conviction that, given presently available knowledge, that your theory is correct.

By the way, a good scientist keeps in mind that his theories depend on the context of his knowledge and the context of available evidence. Hawking knows that should someone uncover something he did not know or find different evidence, that his theory might be corrected or replaced.

But, unless and until such arises, Hawking is still assuming, he exercises the scientific method properly, according to the best knowledge and evidence available to him, entitled to be certain that his conclusions are correct.

If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.

No, that is not how that would work and it is paranoid to think that it is. Mechanization makes most people richer. And why would machine owners lobby against wealth distribution? Paranoid nonsense.

It is not in the interest of the people creating or selling machines to make people poorer. The major selling point of such machines is to make life better, perform certain tasks more efficiently, to free humans of menial work and so forth. To make life easier and better.

While it is true that mechanization can cost some people their jobs, they are generally able to find work doing other things. But, you have to remember that robots replace humans in jobs where robots are better at the work than humans. Freeing humans up to do what they are better at and will always be better at.

Also, increased mechanization creates a lot of jobs. The machine industries need a lot of people to create, run and repair these machines. As well as people to find innovative ways to use them. At the moment, many jobs related to increased mechanization are booming and creating countless jobs. Far more than any which might be lost. And you can be sure that this will continue.

Computer technician
Computers automate a lot of work. But, the computer industry creates a lot of jobs.

Machines help do their job better and therefore become richer. You only need to look at the history of the computer, the car and countless other pieces of technology to see this. They also open up countless ways for people to find new ways to generate wealth, often easier than they ever could before.

So, you can always be sure that despite increased mechanization, there will always be plenty of jobs for people and chances for people to become more wealthy by taking advantage of machines. Machines create wealth and make it more possible for everyone to become wealthy, not poorer.

The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. We cannot quite know what will happen if a machine exceeds our own intelligence, so we can’t know if we’ll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it.

Again, intelligence is being posed as a threat. It does not matter if an intelligence is “artificial”, intelligence is not a threat. Artificially intelligent entities, if they existed, would not automatically choose to wipe us out. They would by necessity require ethics, just as we would. And we would have plenty of chances to try to provide them with ethical guidance.
I do not believe that artificial intelligence, if one means the sort of intelligence humans possess, is even possible. However, this is not the place to discuss this, though I will get back to this topic in another episode.