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Was Paul Johnson's "Modern Times" Right About Einstein's General Theory Undermining European Civilization?
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100 years ago in the New York Times:

In Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, he said he couldn’t prove his theory was true, but … here were some experiments that other scientists could do that potentially could disprove his theory. The first such experiment was carried out by Arthur Eddington during the 1919 solar eclipse: he found, as Einstein had predicted, that you could see a star that was behind occluded disk of the sun because the sun curved space.

In truth, taking astronomical measurements during a partly cloudy day on an island off the coast of Africa wasn’t easy, so Eddington wound up relying on a single photo. But as he rhymed to the Royal Astronomical Society:

Oh leave the Wise our measures to collate
One thing at least is certain, light has weight
One thing is certain and the rest debate
Light rays, when near the Sun, do not go straight. ”
— Arthur Stanley Eddington, RAS dinner

For 100 years since, people have been carrying out experiments proposed by Einstein, and keep failing to falsify his General Theory

As far as I know, Einstein’s idea of proposing ways to falsify his own scientific theory was a huge step forward in the philosophy of science. Karl Popper’s falsificationist theory of science would seem to basically be an extrapolation.

So, today, Einstein’s General Theory seems like a heroic monument to science, both on the direct and, perhaps especially, meta levels.

Interestingly, however, General Relativity didn’t seem like that in 1919, as Paul Johnson pointed out in Modern Times.

I’ve never been sure if I believed Johnson’s framing device of Eddington’s experiment introducing a relativistic mindset.

But now, some guy on Twitter vidicates Johnson’s approach.

David Chapman, who has a doctorate in AI from MIT, tweets that Eddington’s confirmation of Einstein was seen at the time as profoundly destabilizing, the death of rationalism:

Retroactively, after decades of difficult work by top philosophers, we understand this test of relativity as a triumph of the scientific worldview.

But, at the time:

This is not at all how science was understood in 1900. Science in those days found absolute, eternal, exact Truths.

The “successively better theories” story, taught in high school now, was invented in the 20th century precisely to account for relativity and quantum. …

For decades, general relativity was popularly felt as a disastrous disconfirmation of the scientific worldview. Rationalism collapsed as a source of certainty, and never fully recovered.

One could date the first crack of postmodernity to 100 years ago today. …

It is now difficult to comprehend how completely and shockingly relativity shattered rationalism.

For millennia, Euclid’s _Elements_ was *the* eternal source of absolute, unquestionable Truth about the fundamental nature of reality.

Relativity showed it was just false.

Cultural historians take Newtonian physics as the foundation of the European Enlightenment. It provided a complete understanding of the material world, with perfect certainty.

Modernity consists of extending that paradigm to all realms of meaning. ..

The 1919 announcement that SCIENTISTS PROVE WORLD MAKES NO SENSE was a Big Deal in a way we have forgotten. It was misappropriated as a totem of nebulosity in general. Anti-rationalists seized it as justification for the general relativity of all truth.

Then along came logical positivism as a philosophy intended to reconcile rationality with weird physics like relativity and, even stranger, quantum mechanics. But logical positivism died a death of a thousand cuts by the 1960s. At which point along came postmodernism.

 
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  1. Flip says:

    The German Hyperinflation of 1923 from Paper Money by Adam Smith

    Before World War I Germany was a prosperous country, with a gold-backed currency, expanding industry, and world leadership in optics, chemicals, and machinery. The German Mark, the British shilling, the French franc, and the Italian lira all had about equal value, and all were exchanged four or five to the dollar. That was in 1914. In 1923, at the most fevered moment of the German hyperinflation, the exchange rate between the dollar and the Mark was one trillion Marks to one dollar, and a wheelbarrow full of money would not even buy a newspaper. Most Germans were taken by surprise by the financial tornado.

    “My father was a lawyer,” says Walter Levy, an internationally known German-born oil consultant in New York, “and he had taken out an insurance policy in 1903, and every month he had made the payments faithfully. It was a 20-year policy, and when it came due, he cashed it in and bought a single loaf of bread.” The Berlin publisher Leopold Ullstein wrote that an American visitor tipped their cook one dollar. The family convened, and it was decided that a trust fund should be set up in a Berlin bank with the cook as beneficiary, the bank to administer and invest the dollar.

    In retrospect, you can trace the steps to hyperinflation, but some of the reasons remain cloudy. Germany abandoned the gold backing of its currency in 1914. The war was expected to be short, so it was financed by government borrowing, not by savings and taxation. In Germany prices doubled between 1914 and 1919.

    After four disastrous years Germany had lost the war. Under the Treaty of Versailles it was forced to make a reparations payment in gold-backed Marks, and it was due to lose part of the production of the Ruhr and of the province of Upper Silesia. The Weimar Republic was politically fragile.

    But the bourgeois habits were very strong. Ordinary citizens worked at their jobs, sent their children to school and worried about their grades, maneuvered for promotions and rejoiced when they got them, and generally expected things to get better. But the prices that had doubled from 1914 to 1919 doubled again during just five months in 1922. Milk went from 7 Marks per liter to 16; beer from 5.6 to 18. There were complaints about the high cost of living. Professors and civil servants complained of getting squeezed. Factory workers pressed for wage increases. An underground economy developed, aided by a desire to beat the tax collector.

    On June 24, 1922, right-wing fanatics assassinated Walter Rathenau, the moderate, able foreign minister. Rathenau was a charismatic figure, and the idea that a popular, wealthy, and glamorous government minister could be shot in a law-abiding society shattered the faith of the Germans, who wanted to believe that things were going to be all right. Rathenau’s state funeral was a national trauma. The nervous citizens of the Ruhr were already getting their money out of the currency and into real goods — diamonds, works of art, safe real estate. Now ordinary Germans began to get out of Marks and into real goods.

    Pianos, wrote the British historian Adam Fergusson, were bought even by unmusical families. Sellers held back because the Mark was worth less every day. As prices went up, the amounts of currency demanded were greater, and the German Central Bank responded to the demands. Yet the ruling authorities did not see anything wrong. A leading financial newspaper said that the amounts of money in circulation were not excessively high. Dr. Rudolf Havenstein, the president of the Reichsbank (equivalent to the Federal Reserve) told an economics professor that he needed a new suit but wasn’t going to buy one until prices came down.

    Why did the German government not act to halt the inflation? It was a shaky, fragile government, especially after the assassination. The vengeful French sent their army into the Ruhr to enforce their demands for reparations, and the Germans were powerless to resist. More than inflation, the Germans feared unemployment. In 1919 Communists had tried to take over, and severe unemployment might give the Communists another chance. The great German industrial combines — Krupp, Thyssen, Farben, Stinnes — condoned the inflation and survived it well. A cheaper Mark, they reasoned, would make German goods cheap and easy to export, and they needed the export earnings to buy raw materials abroad. Inflation kept everyone working.

    So the printing presses ran, and once they began to run, they were hard to stop. The price increases began to be dizzying. Menus in cafes could not be revised quickly enough. A student at Freiburg University ordered a cup of coffee at a cafe. The price on the menu was 5,000 Marks. He had two cups. When the bill came, it was for 14,000 Marks. “If you want to save money,” he was told, “and you want two cups of coffee, you should order them both at the same time.”

    The presses of the Reichsbank could not keep up though they ran through the night. Individual cities and states began to issue their own money. Dr. Havenstein, the president of the Reichsbank, did not get his new suit. A factory worker described payday, which was every day at 11:00 a.m.: “At 11:00 in the morning a siren sounded, and everybody gathered in the factory forecourt, where a five-ton lorry was drawn up loaded brimful with paper money. The chief cashier and his assistants climbed up on top. They read out names and just threw out bundles of notes. As soon as you had caught one you made a dash for the nearest shop and bought just anything that was going.” Teachers, paid at 10:00 a.m., brought their money to the playground, where relatives took the bundles and hurried off with them. Banks closed at 11:00 a.m.; the harried clerks went on strike.

    The flight from currency that had begun with the buying of diamonds, gold, country houses, and antiques now extended to minor and almost useless items — bric-a-brac, soap, hairpins. The law-abiding country crumbled into petty thievery. Copper pipes and brass armatures weren’t safe. Gasoline was siphoned from cars. People bought things they didn’t need and used them to barter — a pair of shoes for a shirt, some crockery for coffee. Berlin had a “witches’ Sabbath” atmosphere. Prostitutes of both sexes roamed the streets. Cocaine was the fashionable drug. In the cabarets the newly rich and their foreign friends could dance and spend money. Other reports noted that not all the young people had a bad time. Their parents had taught them to work and save, and that was clearly wrong, so they could spend money, enjoy themselves, and flout the old.

    The publisher Leopold Ullstein wrote: “People just didn’t understand what was happening. All the economic theory they had been taught didn’t provide for the phenomenon. There was a feeling of utter dependence on anonymous powers — almost as a primitive people believed in magic — that somebody must be in the know, and that this small group of ‘somebodies’ must be a conspiracy.”

    When the 1,000-billion Mark note came out, few bothered to collect the change when they spent it. By November 1923, with one dollar equal to one trillion Marks, the breakdown was complete. The currency had lost meaning.

    What happened immediately afterward is as fascinating as the Great Inflation itself. The tornado of the Mark inflation was succeeded by the “miracle of the Rentenmark.” A new president took over the Reichsbank, Horace Greeley Hjalmar Schacht, who came by his first two names because of his father’s admiration for an editor of the New York Tribune. The Rentenmark was not Schacht’s idea, but he executed it, and as the Reichsbank president, he got the credit for it. For decades afterward he was able to maintain a reputation for financial wizardry. He became the architect of the financial prosperity brought by the Nazi party.

    Obviously, though the currency was worthless, Germany was still a rich country — with mines, farms, factories, forests. The backing for the Rentenmark was mortgages on the land and bonds on the factories, but that backing was a fiction; the factories and land couldn’t be turned into cash or used abroad. Nine zeros were struck from the currency; that is, one Rentenmark was equal to one billion old Marks. The Germans wanted desperately to believe in the Rentenmark, and so they did. “I remember,” said one Frau Barten of East Prussia, “the feeling of having just one Rentenmark to spend. I bought a small tin bread bin. Just to buy something that had a price tag for one Mark was so exciting.”

    All money is a matter of belief. Credit derives from Latin, credere, “to believe.” Belief was there, the factories functioned, the farmers delivered their produce. The Central Bank kept the belief alive when it would not let even the government borrow further.

    But although the country functioned again, the savings were never restored, nor were the values of hard work and decency that had accompanied the savings. There was a different temper in the country, a temper that Hitler would later exploit with diabolical talent. Thomas Mann wrote: “The market woman who without batting an eyelash demanded 100 million for an egg lost the capacity for surprise. And nothing that has happened since has been insane or cruel enough to surprise her.”

    With the currency went many of the lifetime plans of average citizens. It was the custom for the bride to bring some money to a marriage; many marriages were called off. Widows dependent on insurance found themselves destitute. People who had worked a lifetime found that their pensions would not buy one cup of coffee.

    Pearl Buck, the American writer who became famous for her novels of China, was in Germany in 1923. She wrote later: “The cities were still there, the houses not yet bombed and in ruins, but the victims were millions of people. They had lost their fortunes, their savings; they were dazed and inflation-shocked and did not understand how it had happened to them and who the foe was who had defeated them. Yet they had lost their self-assurance, their feeling that they themselves could be the masters of their own lives if only they worked hard enough; and lost, too, were the old values of morals, of ethics, of decency.”

    The fledgling Nazi party, whose attempted coup had failed in 1923, won 32 seats legally in the next election. The right-wing Nationalist party won 106 seats, having promised 100 percent compensation to the victims of inflation and vengeance on the conspirators who had brought it.

  2. newrouter says:

    >SCIENTISTS PROVE WORLD MAKES NO SENSE<

    Physically at the extremes alot of strange stuff happens. So too politically: why do we need 57 genders?

  3. RickinJax says:

    According to Wikipedia, and I think also Modern Times, Eddington made his observations from the island of Principe not from a ship.

  4. Lot says:

    That’s all really silly.

    The old pre-Einstein and QM physics works fine outside of the behavior of sub-microscopic particles and distant heavenly bodies. Or if you want to match up atomic clocks on airplanes circling the Earth down to the microsecond.

    Moreover, the introduction of additional uncertainty and complications in physics was more than matched by rapid increases in knowledge elsewhere.

  5. RickinJax says:

    According to Wiki, and I think also Modern Times, Eddington made his observations from Principe island not a ship.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  6. Dumbo says:

    So “the Earth is flat” thing is an attempt to return to old certainties?
    I don’t know, I’m not convinced Einstein’s theory is the main culprit for all this.
    However, Marx + Freud + Darwin + Einstein, perhaps that was too much to handle.

    OT:

    This blog and the whole Unz site for some reason has very little interest in Latin America (which is strange given that the U.S. is getting more “Latin American” every day) but the region seems to be in turmoil. Evo Morales just resigned after protests. Weird protests in Chile. New leftist/peronista government in Argentina after months of protests. Lula released from prison in Brazil during the presidency of his nemesis, furthering protests there too. What is going on?

  7. Anonymous[123] • Disclaimer says:

    both on the direct and, perhaps especially, meta levels.

    What does this even mean? What is the “direct level”? What is the “meta level”?

    • Replies: @res
  8. But remember, Steve, History is written by liberal arts graduates.

  9. So relativity is just another Jewish conspiracy with no basis in reality. Thanks for clearing that up.

    • Replies: @Larry, San Francisco
  10. Andy says:

    I think Darwin’s evolution theory was far more subversive to European traditional Christian civilization than relativity. I don’t think it’s that hard to reconcile religion with relativity, but it is much harder to reconcile it with evolution.

  11. Dave Pinsen says: • Website

    For millennia, Euclid’s _Elements_ was *the* eternal source of absolute, unquestionable Truth about the fundamental nature of reality.

    Relativity showed it was

    just false.

    Non-Euclidean geometry had already been around more than 70 years when Einstein published his relativity theories.

  12. @Reg Cæsar

    Just like quantum mechanics.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  13. Alfa158 says:

    I always thought the World Wars are what undermined Western Civilization.

    • Agree: Mr. Anon, Thea
  14. nurdle says:

    Pretty sure the pointlessness of a certain recently-ended war inspired much more doubt than Eddington’s measurement.

  15. Mr. Anon says:

    There was a cartoon I once saw from a contemporary German publication about the effect of Relativity on people’s perceptions of the World. It had a quote by Einstein to the effect that it had slowly dawned on people that the World would never be the same now that Einsteinian relativity had replaced Gallilean relativity. The cartoon showed two panels, the first: a bunch of people in a streetcar, staring this way and that, caught up in their own concerns. The second showing……………..exactly the same scene with nothing changed. I looked for it on-line to post it here, but couldn’t find it anywhere. Anyone else ever seen it?

    Statements about the societal implications of scientific discoveries are usually vastly overblown. I think Evolution had a big effect. But discoveries in Physics? I doubt it. Physics has greatly changed our world, but not so much how most people think about their world.

    • Replies: @Counterinsurgency
    , @c matt
  16. Dumbo says:
    @Andy

    I agree with that, and in fact, I think atheism skyrocketed after Darwin.

    On the other hand, biology was always a much less “exact” science than physics, so I can understand that Einstein was also a shock.

  17. nebulafox says:

    Um, no? General relativity and the quantum mechanics of the next decade has to be up there in all-time greatest achievements of Western civilization. Study the equations that make up GR, and I promise, you’ll realize how frapping brilliant Einstein really was, that he *derived* all that.

    It was WWI, the proud creation of the neocons of the day in every major European capital, that was the dripping, self-inflicted mortal wound of Old Europe.

    • Agree: ic1000
  18. ‘…This is not at all how science was understood in 1900. Science in those days found absolute, eternal, exact Truths…’

    Most people still treat science — and all academic disciplines — as if they were that.

    Look at a hundred assertions about the results of DNA studies. Ninety nine of them will recount the data as if it represented certain fact.

    There’s a certain pernicious logic to it all. We used to take religion as providing a source of certain truth.

    Well, science more or less debunked that. Fine: science is the source of certain truth.

  19. Mr. Anon says:
    @Steve Sailer

    There was also an expedition to Brazil to observe the same eclipse.

  20. nebulafox says:
    @Andy

    Couldn’t evolution just be the answer to how and not the answer to why?

    (I’m not religious, but I personally don’t think evolution and religion are irreconcilable.)

    • Replies: @jb
  21. syonredux says:

    Lovecraft was certainly deeply affected:

    “I have no opinions-I believe in nothing….My cynicism and scepticism are increasing, and from an entirely new cause–The Einstein theory.
    The latest eclipse observations seem to place this system among the facts which cannot be dismissed, and assumedly it removes the last hold which reality or the universe can have on the independent mind.
    All is chance, accident, and ephemeral illusion – a fly may be greater than Arcturus, and Durfee Hill may surpass Mount Everest- assuming them to be removed from the present planet and differently environed in the continuum of space-time. There are no values in all infinity-the least idea that there are is the supreme mockery of all.All the cosmos is a jest, and fit to be treated only as a jest, and one thing is as true as another.”

    -HP Lovecraft, May 1923 letter

  22. @Lot

    ‘Moreover, the introduction of additional uncertainty and complications in physics was more than matched by rapid increases in knowledge elsewhere.’

    You seem to be confusing knowledge and certainty.

  23. jb says:
    @Lot

    The old pre-Einstein and QM physics works fine outside of the behavior of sub-microscopic particles and distant heavenly bodies.

    True enough, but that isn’t the point. The claim is that it was the interpretation of Relativity, however bogus, that undermined Western Civilization. And in fact I can remember being in high school and being under the impression that Einstein’s theory had something to do with cultural and moral relativism, and being a little surprised when I learned otherwise. So while I am far from convinced, the idea isn’t totally nuts.

    • Replies: @Coag
  24. nebulafox says:
    @Lot

    Classical mechanics as formulated by Newton or Lagrange still works just fine unless things get really heavy, really fast, or really small.

    However, anything that has a transistor relies on the last one at the lowest level of abstraction, and you know, modern information economy…

  25. Dmitry says:

    There was some impact of 20th century physics, on the imagination of artists and poets. (Although this does not seem to be interesting to them today).

    For example, a Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977; author of “Lolita”) was somehow annoyed about a theory of relativity https://books.google.ru/books?id=lFNZDwAAQBAJ&hl=ru&pg=PA197

  26. Coag says:

    If Newtonian mechanics was rational, General Relativity was meta-rational. By establishing light as an absolute, asymptotic entity like God Himself, GR posed as an attractive supplement to both Enlightenment sensibilities and pre-modern European theology. Einstein himself rejected revealed religion but he was still very comfortable with the Spinozist, Newtonian, deistic clockmaker.

    On the other hand Einstein’s less legendary work on the photoelectric effect (but which actually won him the Nobel Prize) helped inspire the quantum revolution, which along with Einstein’s habitual dinner companion Kurt Godel’s demonstration of all mathematics and logic as mere solipsistic truism, comprised a truly deadly attack on the heart of rationalism. Einstein himself was deeply disturbed by the implications of quantum physics and spent the rest of his life in quixotic schemes to contain it.

  27. No heaving deck of a ship. This book goes into considerable detail on how the measurements were made, they were done very meticulously. Plus, just recently someone pulled the old photographic plates out and reexamined things and the deflection they found matched what Eddington found.

    • Replies: @newrouter
  28. Bill P says:

    Popper got his fallibilism directly from Charles Sanders Peirce.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
  29. jb says:
    @nebulafox

    Evolution and religion are definitely not irreconcilable, but before evolution came along religion was the only serious and respectable explanation, and afterwards it wasn’t. That was deeply subversive!

    • Agree: bomag
  30. @Larry, San Francisco

    Just like quantum mechanics.

    Which bohr me to no end.

    • LOL: RickinJax
  31. Dmitry says:
    @Bill P

    Peirce, Dewey and William James, are example of how “relativist” and “post-modernist” (as called today) theory of truth, was fashionable in the early 20th century, slightly ahead of the (not necessarily very related to this topic) theory of relativity has become mainstream in physics.

    Nietzsche writes “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense” in 1873 – where he presents a pragmatic view of truth. (Although in later writing he seems to reject this view of truth).
    http://ieas.unideb.hu/admin/file_7421.pdf

    William James is presenting “relativist” understanding of truth and reality, in the beginning of the 20th century.
    https://philosophy.lander.edu/intro/articles/pragmatism-a.pdf

    • Replies: @MBlanc46
  32. anon[823] • Disclaimer says:
    @Flip

    Too Long

    [MORE]

    Did Not Read

    • LOL: Buzz Mohawk
    • Replies: @Pheasant
  33. Coag says:
    @jb

    Very true, the name “Relativity” was misconstrued and used as a pretext by all the Left Bank types of the world who flunked their STEM classes as children, to devalue all moralities as “relativistic”. It’s purely a folly of wordplay.

    Einstein’s theory could just as well be called Absolutism of Light, with all other things in the universe relative to It. Not even Newton could even conceive of this type of absolutism.

    Imaginative clerics could just as well have equated Light with God, but early 20th century clerics were as dull as the anticlerical salon crowd when it came to grasping the implications of a superior intellect like Einstein.

    Einstein’s laws placed Newton on more general and thus arguably even firmer and more absolute grounds and (literally) timeless certitudes.

    • Replies: @utu
    , @MEH 0910
  34. syonredux says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Just like quantum mechanics.

    Which bohr me to no end.

    You gotta be born into it, like Olivia Newton-John….

    Newton-John was born in Cambridge, England, to Welshman Brinley “Bryn” Newton-John (1914–1992) and Irene Helene (née Born) (1914–2003). Her Jewish maternal grandfather, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born,[4][5][6][7] fled with his family to England from Germany before World War II to escape the Nazi regime. Newton-John’s maternal grandmother was of paternal Jewish ancestry as well. She is a third cousin of comedian Ben Elton.[4] Her maternal great-grandfather was jurist Victor Ehrenberg and her matrilineal great-grandmother’s father was jurist Rudolf von Jhering.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_Newton-John

    • Replies: @Hhsiii
    , @BB753
  35. dvorak says:

    More than general relativity, the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics was a direct attack on objective reality – causing most physicists to accept a philosophical view about unreal reality.

    Bell’s Theorem rekindled experimental work in quantum mechanics.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_test_experiments

    Today’s physicists are less impressed with the Copenhagen Interpretation. It may end up on the dust heap, yet.

    • Agree: SimpleSong
    • Replies: @SimpleSong
    , @Lars Porsena
  36. According to Wikipedia, the font of all absolute, true knowledge,

    [Franz] Boas first articulated the idea in 1887: “civilization is not something absolute, but … is relative, and … our ideas and conceptions are true only so far as our civilization goes”

    So the damaging concept of cultural relativism can be traced back at least that far. It is what undermined European Civilization as much as anything.

    Since Einstein became a pop science icon, he may indeed though have been the reason people started saying “everything is relative.”

    BTW the planet Mercury will transit the Sun tomorrow. It’s image will come straight to us, unbent, because it will be directly in between us and our star.

    • Replies: @Kronos
  37. Anonymous[292] • Disclaimer says:

    Scientific theory got applied to culture, and relativity became generalized, especially in the anthropology department that became the intellectual foundation of much post WWII Western Thought.

  38. gcochran says:

    General relativity is an exact, deterministic theory. Equating it with philosophical relativism is like equating lightning and lightning bugs, only dumber.

    Falsification? Kepler was trying to figure out the orbit of Mars – but his attempt didn’t fit Tycho’s observations, which Kepler knew to be accurate. So, false, and back to the drawing board.

    • Agree: Coag, Buzz Mohawk
    • Replies: @nebulafox
  39. So, about Einstein’s TOR…

    This one is my favorite, he debunks it using euclidean geometry, no math required https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kJ8gTdOsek

    So the question is: If physicists are so wrong about the TOR, what the fuck else have the screwed the pooch on?!

    • Replies: @bomag
  40. newrouter says:
    @Teddy Ballgame

    So the next one is “Soros’ War”?

  41. nebulafox says:
    @gcochran

    Einstein didn’t like quantum mechanics precisely because it went against his orderly, deterministic view of the universe.

    He wasn’t the only scientific genius to not accept later inventions.

    • Replies: @Charon
    , @Menschmaschine
  42. Sean says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Einstein could not accept Quantum physics though and Schrodinger’s famous cat thought experiment originated with Einstein pointing out how absurd the implications were.
    The (still untenured) Sean Carroll is such a liver lipped liberal he does not like talking about killing cats so in his thought experiment it can be merely asleep.

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2014/06/30/why-the-many-worlds-formulation-of-quantum-mechanics-is-probably-correct/

    Textbook quantum mechanics says that opening the box and observing the cat “collapses the wave function” into one of two possible measurement outcomes, awake or asleep. Everett, by contrast, says that the universe splits in two: in one the cat is awake, and in the other the cat is asleep. Once split, the universes go their own ways, never to interact with each other again.

    There are other silly objections to EQM, of course. The most popular is probably the complaint that it’s not falsifiable. That truly makes no sense. It’s trivial to falsify EQM — just do an experiment that violates the Schrödinger equation or the principle of superposition, which are the only things the theory assumes. Witness a dynamical collapse, or find a hidden variable. Of course we don’t see the other worlds directly, but — in case we haven’t yet driven home the point loudly enough — those other worlds are not added on to the theory. They come out automatically if you believe in quantum mechanics. […]
    Sadly, most people who object to EQM do so for the silly reasons, not for the serious ones. But even given the real challenges of the preferred-basis issue and the probability issue, I think EQM is way ahead of any proposed alternative. It takes at face value the minimal conceptual apparatus necessary to account for the world we see, and by doing so it fits all the data we have ever collected. What more do you want from a theory than that?

    Culture is going a different way to the genes in Western society. Associative mating at higher education and the workplace since the sixties should have made upper middle class people more Asperger’s-ish in their mental style, but instead a world of objects in thrall to the laws of physics has receded and and an imaginary universe of ideas, concepts and feelings which obeys arbitrary rules is increasingly the priority. It is the participation and influence of women that is changing things, not scientific theory.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-imprinted-brain/201909/diametric-diagnosis-the-new-british-disease
    As one of the world’s most famous autistics, Temple Grandin, has pointed out (see reference), Western societies of the recent past may have made life easier for high-functioning autistics than do present-day ones. The explanation may simply be that in the past it was much more of a man’s world than is the case today, and given that autism has been associated since Asperger with male mentality, past Western societies were, therefore, more mechanistic—and certainly more typically male—in their cognitive configuration.

    Hence Unz.com, a rest from the modern Western world where men are men and HBD chick is a man too.

    • Replies: @SFG
  43. nebulafox says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Oh, you were just mathematically abused as a child like 95% of Americans, so I’ll excuse such gross comments that offend basic decency.

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
    , @Charon
  44. res says:
    @Anonymous

    both on the direct and, perhaps especially, meta levels.

    What does this even mean? What is the “direct level”?

    The scientific discovery itself.

    What is the “meta level”?

    How we think about scientific discoveries in general.

    These links might be useful.
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/metalevel
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta

  45. utu says:
    @Coag

    “…the name “Relativity” was misconstrued…” – Correct.

  46. Anon[316] • Disclaimer says:

    Wikipedia:

    Betteridge’s law of headlines is an adage that states: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”

  47. MBlanc46 says:
    @Dmitry

    Putting it simply, for the pragmatists, truth is “what works”. What is relativist about that?

    • Replies: @Dmitry
    , @Dube
  48. @Lot

    It is now difficult to comprehend how completely and shockingly relativity shattered rationalism.

    Not buying it either.

    99% of people don’t have any grasp of any principle of Special Relativity. (Ok, maybe 5% or so who are SciFi geeks might be say “can’t go faster than light”.)

    And 99.99% have no idea what General Relativity is about at all, including 99% of “intellectuals”.

    Basically most of any effect is the name “relativity”. And actually special relativity could easily have been named “universality”–the laws of physics give the same behavior in every inertial frame. Physics isn’t relative but universal.

    No what radically destabilized the West 100 years ago, was the Great War: the utter studity of the West’s supposed “leaders”, the utter destruction and sheer horror they unleashed and their utter contempt of the welfare of their nations’ peoples. (Sound familiar?)

    • Replies: @Coag
    , @Simply Simon
  49. Namu says:

    These phenomena can be explained by other means. Read:
    milesmathis.com

  50. Namu says:
    @Flip

    Adam Smith didn’t know what he was describing.
    Making fiat money isn’t the problem – where you put this money is, and how you make it in the first place.

    Read:
    Web of Debt by Ellen Brown
    The Lost Science of Money by Stephen Zarlenga

    • Replies: @Pheasant
  51. tanabear says:

    Don ‘t forget the actual opening lines to the song from Casablanca, As Time Goes By:

    This day and age we’re living in
    Gives cause for apprehension
    With speed and new invention
    And things like fourth dimension.

    Yet we get a trifle weary
    With Mr. Einstein’s theory.
    So we must get down to earth at times
    Relax relieve the tension

    And no matter what the progress
    Or what may yet be proved
    The simple facts of life are such
    They cannot be removed.
    Herman Hupfeld

  52. Kronos says:

    This is a pretty good book that partially covers this issue.

    But I agree with the book that Einstein’s “theory of relativity” didn’t result in the “moral relativity” that made people panicky. The aftermath of WW1 takes the lion’s share for creating any pessimism and moral woe.

  53. Hmmm. Doesn’t relativity allow the accurate calculation of physical results in moving reference frames, specifically ones with different velocities or in relative acceleration? This means that there is no ambiguity based on the motion of the observer relative to the reference frame of the observed phenomenon. Ambiguity of calculated results from different reference frames is eliminated. Those old fogeys had their knickers in a knot for nothing. It is now time for my evening Boomer cocoa. Good night. My assistant told me she has a nice new big pillow for me.

    • Agree: jim jones
  54. Kronos says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Won’t lie, I thought the photo was a magnification of a hairy back.

    • LOL: Buzz Mohawk
  55. @Flip

    On the other hand, what became of the valuation of the stocks of companies in Germany during that period?

    https://image.businessinsider.com/4ed0df50eab8ea7e63000018?width=700&format=jpeg&auto=webp

    “Bottom line: In marks, stocks had an amazing run. Even in USD they had a nice runup.”

    https://www.businessinsider.com/heres-what-happened-to-stocks-during-the-german-hyperinflation-2011-11

    Years ago I heard financial advisor Terry Savage express faith in the USA as the place to put your money.

  56. Roger says:

    Yes, logical positivism was a philosophy that did reconcile rationality with weird physics like relativity and quantum mechanics. Then philosophers rejected it all.

    So it is nonsense to say “decades of difficult work by top philosophers” explained testing relativity. Testing relativity was well-understood long before the philosophers misinterpreted the subject.

    • Replies: @Odin
  57. The only thing about Einstein’s works that would make the public mind squishy about understanding the world is the label itself, “Relativity.” There is nothing irrational about the works themselves.

    The label fell into the public discourse and was misapplied and misunderstood. Everything became “relative,” and if you were really sophisticated, you knew that your “frame of reference” was what determined your reality, so your culture could not possibly be any better than anybody else’s.

    Re Euclid: As others have pointed out, non-Euclidian geometry had been around a long time before Einstein. (My wife’s alma mater was named after one of the discoverers, a Hungarian named Bolyai.) There is nothing Earth-shaking about that. In fact, borders drawn on the Earth have to conform to a sphere, not a plane. Somehow they still work, but only if you enforce them.

    • Replies: @Old Jew
  58. Coag says:
    @AnotherDad

    No what radically destabilized the West 100 years ago, was the Great War: the utter studity of the West’s supposed “leaders”, the utter destruction and sheer horror they unleashed and their utter contempt of the welfare of their nations’ peoples. (Sound familiar?)

    Lamenting the Great War signifies societal decadence.

    Destruction and horror can absolutely be vivifying for societies. From the Thirty Years War to the Napoleonic Wars, the west’s most robust nationstates were forged from slaughters that claimed proportionally far more casualties, than WWI did.

    In fact it is blind sacrifice in total war, not the hesitant conserving of blood, that reinforced the brotherhood and cohesion within the modern west’s societies and inspired them to mastery of the entire world over centuries. The West’s leaders during WWI were following in the footsteps of Gustavus Adolphus, Marlborough, Napoleon.

    What truly sapped the west of its strength and purpose was that after WWII, it was decided that only universalist principles were worth fighting wars for, rather than simple and straightforward genocidal war against ancestral national enemies. The universalist war invariably leads to moral contradiction, cognitive dissonance, and inward-directed aggression.

    The Japanese recognized the vivifying value of a nationalist war, fought regardless of outcome (in typical Buddhist fashion).

    Israel is the only modern nationstate today that still has the integrity to fight the nationalist war.

    • Agree: Redneck farmer
    • Disagree: Hail
    • LOL: Nodwink
  59. @nebulafox

    Some people enjoy being mathematically abused.

    • Replies: @SFG
  60. “We can solidly settle our ideas only by trying to destroy our own conclusions by counter-experiments” (Claude Bernard, 1865)

  61. @dvorak

    Was just going to say this–QM was the real mind bending stuff–things like Schrodinger’s cat, wave particle duality, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, all deeply, deeply weird. Hey, uh, you can’t measure the momentum of this rock with perfect precision because it doesn’t actually have an exact momentum, except in the special case that it could be anywhere in the universe. Wat?

    It is often said that GR and SR were the completion of classical physics, and QM was the beginning of modern physics.

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
  62. Dmitry says:
    @MBlanc46

    Such view of truth as “what is useful”, or “what works” – results in relativism, to what are the requirements (“what works”, “what is useful”) of the observer.

    This can sound like a simplistic misrepresentation, but I don’t think they (pragmatists) can escape relativism.

    Problem of pragmaticism view of truth is to explain why truth can be useful. Truth can more often be useful, only because it means a correspondance with reality, and this truth is not a result of usefulness to the observer, but rather just a possible cause of this usefulness. (“Possible” because believing things that correspond to reality, can sometimes be less useful or work worse, than believing things which don’t correspond to reality)

    Perhaps you could distinguish ontological pragmaticism, from simply pragmaticism as an epistemological method. In the latter, you could escape relativism, but then the “pragmaticist” claims would only be methodological ones, and not very exciting.

  63. I don’t think anything makes much difference.

    In the Apollo era, it was said that human perspective would change, but we seem to be the same ignorant fools we always have been.

  64. nurdle says:
    @Coag

    What a shame it is that French and German lives are no longer used to determine how Alsace-Lorraine is governed. Perhaps we should build a pyramid right on the border and shoot or blast the hearts out of a thousand young men at the apex each year, just to remind ourselves how twisted that is.

  65. MEH 0910 says:
    @Coag

    https://www.edge.org/annual-question/what-scientific-term-or%C2%A0concept-ought-to-be-more-widely-known

    Jim Holt
    Author and Essayist, New York Times. New Yorker, Slate; Author, Why Does the World Exist?

    Invariance

    ******
    And in the mind of Albert Einstein, the idea of invariance led first to e = mc2, and then to the geometrization of gravity.

    So why aren’t we hearing constantly about Einstein’s theory of invariance? Well, “invariant theory” is what he later said he wished he had called it. And that’s what it should have been called, since invariance is its very essence. The speed of light, the laws of physics are the same for all observers. They’re objective, absolute—invariant. Simultaneity is relative, unreal.

    But no. Einstein had to go and talk about the “principle of relativity.” So “relativity”—and not its opposite, “invariance”—is what his revolutionary theory ended up getting labeled. Einstein’s “greatest blunder” was not (as he believed) the cosmological constant after all. Rather, it was a blunder of branding—one that has confused the public for over a century now and empowered a rum lot of moral relativists and lit-crit Nietzscheans.

    Thanks, Einstein.

  66. indocon says:

    Expect a new rash of stories of how black men are dying early…probably cuz of whitey.
    https://www.businessinsider.com/kaiser-permanente-ceo-bernard-j-tyson-dies-2019-11

    Atlantic already had a piece on Elaaaaajia Cumins, written by who else, isteve allstar Ibram Kendi
    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/too-short-lives-black-men/600628/

    • Replies: @Anon 2
  67. @Coag

    What truly sapped the west of its strength and purpose was that after WWII, it was decided that only universalist principles were worth fighting wars for, rather than simple and straightforward genocidal war against ancestral national enemies. The universalist war invariably leads to moral contradiction, cognitive dissonance, and inward-directed aggression.
    The Japanese recognized the vivifying value of a nationalist war, fought regardless of outcome (in typical Buddhist fashion). Israel is the only modern nationstate today that still has the integrity to fight the nationalist war.

    I think this is entirely deranged. Partial though I am to Israel, there are many other examples of this supposed “integrity” in Africa, where the pursuit of genocidal war against ancestral enemies has not proven to be a great boon, to say the least. It is abundantly clear that the Great War was the beginning of the end for the West,more is the pity

    • Replies: @Coag
  68. map says:
    @Flip

    There was no mystery to the German hyperinflation.

    Germany had a war reparation debt of $30 billion at a 7% interest rate. $30 billion was the size of US economy…the biggest in the world at the time.

    When the first payment came due, the Germans printed a couple hundred million Reichsmarks out of the blue and attempted to make the payment with that. The Reichsmark detonated the German economy and the hyperinflation started.

    This destroyed the savings of the German population.

  69. Coag says:
    @kaganovitch

    If Africans had the IQ, time preference, self-inhibition, and other characteristics of westerners then their heroic age of war would catalyze their societies much as the Thirty Years War or Napoleonic Wars spurred on western nationstates to new heights. (Wars in which up to 30% or more of national populations died)

    The Great War only looks portentous in retrospect and with much faulty revisionism. Western nations’ self-confidence and cohesion were perfectly fine on the eve of WWII and even shortly after WWII. Even the defeated Germans were looking forward to incurring even more sacrifices for the anticipated NATO-Warsaw Pact war. The West finally lost their moral direction in the generational turmoils of the 60s.

    • Replies: @Kaganovitch
    , @Jack D
    , @dfordoom
  70. anon[992] • Disclaimer says:

    Very OT but loosely related to iSteve’s Greco-Roman architecture thread…

    The #MeToo aspect of the spread of early Christianity is rarely discussed. We know a few things:

    – Slavery was widespread in the Roman world.
    – Early Christianity spread primarily among slaves and women.
    – There is a well-documented tendency for male slave owners to sleep with female slaves, impregnating a fair number of them. For any doubters, look at the genetic record in South Carolina.

    Hypothesis: The Virgin Birth — i.e, no daddy — story of Jesus likely resonated with female slaves, who were tired of the Clintonii, Weinsteinii and Trumpii impregnating them, leaving their children to be born into slavery or die via ancient, crude abortion methods.

    Noteworthy: The earliest 1st person account of a Christian being martyred in the arena (The Passion of Perpetua, 203 AD) is by a Christian, nobile woman, in which both she and her attendant slave were pregnant, where despite in-depth descriptions of all characters involved, no baby daddies were mentioned anywhere. This was probably not lost on a Roman audience.

    The reason we worship some variant of a Jewish Carpenter, as opposed to some variant of Zeus, is because a certain level of urbanization coincided with a high number of Roman men not keeping the pants up, or rather, their togas down.

  71. Johnmark says:

    Electric Universe theory has falsified everything Einstein theorized, but there are also plenty of books that have debunked Relativity and you can easily do it yourself if you try to visualize the notion of gravity distorting space. It’s not possible. That whole marble on a blanket thing doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

    • Replies: @oddsbodkins
    , @Mr. Anon
  72. Another proof that historiosophical generalizations are wrong.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  73. Coag says:

    It looks like the comment I’m replying to was deleted but I’ll have this posted anyways. The comment said something along the lines of war is bad, America didn’t need bloody wars and bloody casualties to be the leading western nation, and that I shouldn’t defend Israel’s wars.

    ***

    It was luck and nothing more for America that our ancestral enemies the technologically basketcase Indians could be disposed of with minimal fuss. But our national self-confidence was such that Americans would absolutely have been willing to rack up casualties if we faced a stronger opponent. And we certainly relished our genocidal war against the Indians—it’s the reason we live on such nice real estate and it certainly should be celebrated and not be a source of regret or guilt. So please go ahead and check the box for America having forged our superpower, continent-spanning nation in the crucible of glorious genocidal war.

    I have never been a part of and I don’t want to be a part of war myself because I’m a selfish coward living in a selfish and cowardly age. Yet I’m realistic enough to recognize that our current reflexive distaste for war is directly related to our moron leftist cousins’ open plot to deconstruct our society. A society in its prime (like Israel) is absolutely willing to do to the Palestinians what we did to the Indians—and the Israelis should not apologize for it just as I refuse to apologize for our bountiful nation. All the hemming and hawing and moralizing about the tragedy of war is pure hypocrisy when we enjoy the fruits of war won by our legendary ancestors all across this continent.

  74. Anon 2 says:

    For many reasons it was Quantum Mechanics that undermined the classical,
    common sense view of reality to a greater extent than Theory of Relativity:

    1. Rutherford’s discovery of the atomic nucleus in 1911 and Bohr’s
    model of the hydrogen atom (1913) showed that our bodies and the
    chair we are sitting on are mostly empty space because the nucleus
    is roughly 1/100,000 of the lowest orbit in the hydrogen atom. But
    if we are mostly empty space, why can’t we walk through walls? The
    latter is actually easy to explain using electromagnetic repulsion;

    2. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (1926) dealt a severe blow to our
    conviction that there is no limit to how precise our knowledge of
    atomic systems can get. Before 1926 scientists used to think that
    we could achieve infinite precision by reducing measurement errors
    to zero. It turns out that’s impossible. Another version of the Uncertainty
    Principle says that you cannot observe a system without disturbing
    it in some way. As my professor used to say, “I’m looking at you, so
    I’m changing you.”

    3. Bohr’s model of the hydrogen atom undermined the Principle of
    Causality by introducing the concept of the Quantum Leap – nothing
    in physics can predict when the electron “decides” to make a leap from
    higher energy orbit to a lower energy one, emitting a photon in the
    process. Moreover, the electron is not allowed to pass through the
    forbidden zone in between the two orbits because its energy is
    quantized. So how can it make the jump? Quantum Mechanics,
    invented in the mid-1920s by de Broglie, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, etc
    alleviated some of these problems by making the theory statistical
    which means we still have no idea what makes an individual electron
    “want” to make a jump at a specific instant in time.

  75. @Coag

    You sound like George C. Scott as Patton growling on about the glory of war.

    Have you ever experienced war? Have you even served in a military?

    WWI was not in any way “vivifying,” and it did not leave the men of Europe all turgid and ready to fight another one. It broke the Continent and landed families on the wrong sides of artificial borders. That’s your “nationalistic” war for you. It destroyed nations.

    Note: As an American, I agree that the only reason our people should fight a war is to defend our nation, but that hasn’t happened since before the 20th century. American wars throughout the 20th century and now have been a long series of foreign entanglements. We were warned against this by our first president, and his words are still true.

    • Replies: @Coag
  76. OT:

    Today on the Howie Kurtz show on FoxNews (“MediaBuzz”), Mollie Hemingway broke the embargo on mentioning the name of the impeachment whistle-blower, Eric Ciaramella. Howie looked as if he had swallowed a tarantula.

    The attacks from the Establishment armada has already begun. The American people must not be allowed to know what everyone in DC already knows: standards must be maintained.

    We’re going to find out now if Tucker, Hannity, and anyone in Conservatism, Inc. actually has a backbone.

    I sent the following email to FoxNews, but the real battle is going to be fought in the trenches — blogs, phone calls to the networks, etc.

    Hemingway is smart, articulate, and honest. Decent people will speak up for the truth.

    My email to FoxNews:

    On the Howie Kurtz show today, Mollie Hemingway mentioned, correctly, that Real Clear Investigations has identified Eric Ciaramella as the “whistle-blower” in the ongoing impeachment imbroglio.

    FoxNews and Ms. Hemingway are going to be attacked for this.

    This is a pivotal moment for FoxNews. Do you have the courage and decency to stand behind and support a contributor who told the truth (she did accurately state what Real Clear Investigations alleged) or will you bend to the ruling Establishment that wants to hide information from the American people?

    This is indeed one of the times that try men’s and women’s souls.

    I hope and trust that FoxNews will stand for the First Amendment and for telling the truth, already known to everyone in DC, to the American people.

  77. Coag says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    It looks like your deleted and revised your post but anyways my response to you is above.

  78. “For 100 years since, people have been carrying out experiments proposed by Einstein, and keep failing to falsify his General Theory”

    Wrong. As soon as we go beyond galactic dimensions, GR does not work any more at all – the movement of galaxies is very different to that predicted by GR. To explain this, vast amounts of “Dark matter” have to be hypothetisized. Despite much effort, any attempt to actually detect any of this hypothetical “Dark Matter” has failed. On top of this, it was discovered, that, contrary to GR, the universe does not only expand, but this expansion is accelerating. For this another Ad Hoc hypothesis, the even more mysterious “Dark energy” had to be made up. You can of course always immunize a theory with enough Ad Hoc crutches.

    To repeat an earlier post by me on this topic:

    Well, so does General Relativity – it needs the ad hoc application of copious amounts of both “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy” to fudge the differences to observed reality. Not to mention other highly problematic issues like the emergence of singularities, closed causal loops and time travel.

    The most serious issue however is the seeming impossibility to reconcile GR with Quantum Mechanics to create a unified theory, something that has been tried with much effort since the 1930ies, all in vain. The great hope String Theory is now more or less admitted to be a failure; fundamental physics has largely stagnated for many decades.

    The key reason for the failure to unify GR with QM is precisely the revolutionary new relativistic model of time and space for which Einstein is hailed. All efforts to graft it onto QM have been an abject failure: QM simply needs a fixed spatial background and absolute time to work.

    Given this – and the fact that QM, in sharp contrast to GR, has an entirely unblemished record when it comes to experimental confirmation – it is quite clear that it is GR and not QM that has to change. Einstein shunted physics on a fundamentally wrong track in 1905. What needs to be done is to go back to the preferred Frame (i.e. aether) paradigm and to create a theory of gravity that relates to GR in a similar way as the Lorentzian Aether Theory relates to Special Relativity. There exist proposals for such theories ( http://ilja-schmelzer.de/gravity/ ). It remains to be seen how much longer the Einstein cult of personality can conserve the obviously flawed relativistic paradigm.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  79. Anon 2 says:
    @indocon

    But Hispanic Americans despite lower levels of education and higher levels
    of poverty live on the average 3 years longer than White Americans: 81.8 years
    vs. 78.8 years. Perhaps the mañana philosophy of life helps. Hence the American
    blacks should complain about Hispanics, not about whites.

    See the Hispanic Paradox in Wikipedia

  80. Civilization does a good job of undermining itself. The “Needlers”, a group of embroiderers, spent decades making tapestries of their church’s history. Now one of those “insensitive” pieces has been cancelled– in a secret vote!

    Minneapolis church is split over a tapestry, made by its women, that some call insensitive

    Minneapolis church votes to retire controversial embroidery


    Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. These are not my father’s Congregationalists!

  81. Kyle says:

    Relativity is falsifiable and well proven. I believe that gravitational waves have been detected. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics is not falsifiable, and it’s hard to call it science. The Copenhagen interpretation is much more subversive to western culture. Pilot wave theory has never been disproven, although it doesn’t explain the delayed choice quantum erasure experiment. Then again nothing explains that experiment, and copenhagen or many worlds are lame attempts at it. Richard Feynman said that nobody understands quantum mechanics, and I believe him. Maybe at the speed of light, time doesn’t pass by at all, and space is compressed longitudinally so that the photons don’t actually travel any distance at all, maybe this has something to do with the the perceived uncertainty of the photon path and the perceived delayed choice erasure.

    • Agree: PhysicistDave
  82. @PhysicistDave

    Good on you. What’s weird about this Ciaramella circus is that anybody could have found the name, as I did a few days ago. So, it was all a kabuki theater or something. Why the pretending? Who was that aimed at? Five-year-olds and people who don’t have internet access?

    BTW, there is no guarantee that this Ciaramella fellow is really the one. (And either way, he does not matter at all.)

    Another writer published on UR claimed it was a man in Ukraine connected to the Democrats here. Our deep state’s fingers are so far up the nether holes of Ukraine that all this is silly. Our president has every right and reason to encourage investigations over there; but when he does that, he tickles the tail of the dragon that lives here and around the world.

    General Relativity did not make us this insane. The usual human organizational behaviour did: Some people naturally end up and are genetically made for screwing around inside organizations and at the tops of societies to lord over everyone else — and to keep secrets from them.

  83. @Flip

    There is a widespread view on the alt-Right that economics does not matter.

    That view is wrong.

    Human beings have to eat. And if the only way to eat is to become a barbaric thug, civilization dies.

    Economics matters.

  84. @Lot

    That’s all really silly.

    I think you’re right. But maybe that’s the point. “Philosophers,” “intellectuals” and “social critics” have a penchant for over-extrapolating and using inapt metaphors drawn from their limited understanding of science.

    So the state of science as non-science intelectuals “feel” it to be, does seem to influence the cultural zeitgeist.

    For example, the “billiard ball” simplicity of Newtonian physics inspired Enlightenment thinkers to believe that the rest of nature and even human society could be amenable to simple formulas and rules.

    But when cutting edge science started getting too complicated and “funky” for non-expert intellectuals to really understand it — like relativity and quantum mechanics — it probably did have some psychological influence on their feelings about reality.

    Leftists intellectuals in particular used to love metaphors about the “Heisenberg uncertainty theory” or “chaos theory” to support their ideas about deconstruction of texts or whatever.

  85. @Johnmark

    Your GPS works because it is corrected for time distortions of both special and general relativity. Any experimental doubt about the truth of those theories vanished over fifty years ago.

    • Replies: @Johnmark
  86. @Hypnotoad666

    You’re onto it here:

    “Philosophers,” “intellectuals” and “social critics” have a penchant for over-extrapolating and using inapt metaphors drawn from their limited understanding of science.

    So the state of science as non-science intelectuals “feel” it to be, does seem to influence the cultural zeitgeist.

    A nice example from art history is how painters began cutting up their images and depicting volumes and motion the way the newly-invented motion pictures did. Suddenly, the art zeitgeist was of a world “cubed” up into pieces. (Now, this was from invention, not pure science, but the phenomenon was as you describe, as it was when everything in the intellectual world became “relative” after Einstein’s “invention.”)

    This is the real root of Steve’s question/theme here. Not what we pop thinkers in the cheap seats have to say, but what public intellectuals and tastemakers say and how they influence the rest of us and our world. My comments have missed this, but yours hits it.

  87. @PhysicistDave

    There is a widespread view on the alt-Right that economics does not matter.

    Is this really true? That view does not spread to me.

    The view is that economies matter but that much of the field of economics functions under the imprimatur of Leftism. We reject Marxism, and we are not engaged in a “class struggle.” We ask why the man needs to be a barbaric thug to eat, but we do not pretend that we can manage economies from the top down to help him.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  88. Einstein kept a bust of Schopenhauer in his study. The idea of fiddling with the categories of space and time is there in The World as Will and Representation.

  89. @Hypnotoad666

    I think you’re right. But maybe that’s the point. “Philosophers,” “intellectuals” and “social critics” have a penchant for over-extrapolating and using inapt metaphors drawn from their limited understanding of science.

    That’s the real story. When dealing with science, philosophers almost always get it wrong. That includes philosophers of science. There is a pragmatic, commonsense core to the practice of science that defies the kind of thinking that philosophers engage in. Science has advanced despite philosophy, not because of it.

    The exception to this rule might be Charles Sanders Peirce, but then he was a working scientist with a rigorous mathematical mind. He understood earlier than anyone that the practice of science required a statistical, critical, pragmatic, and anti-skeptical frame of mind and that one shouldn’t get too worked up over any absolute truths in science because one would never find any.

    You should read philosophy in the same way you get inoculated – to protect yourself from the very disease you might unsuspectingly partake of later in life.

  90. Dave Pinsen says: • Website
    @PhysicistDave

    Luke Ford mentioned Ciaramella‘s name on his YouTube stream on Friday and YouTube immediately shutdown the stream and deleted it.

    • Replies: @Hail
  91. @PhysicistDave

    There is a widespread view on the alt-Right that economics does not matter.

    I think the more accurate take on the alt-Right is that they believe economists don’t matter. Their subject might be worthy of study, but they haven’t shown it to be true.

    I still think that’s wrong, but it’s very different from your claim.

  92. @MEH 0910

    MEH 0910 quoted Jim Holt as saying:

    And in the mind of Albert Einstein, the idea of invariance led first to e = mc2, and then to the geometrization of gravity.

    So why aren’t we hearing constantly about Einstein’s theory of invariance? Well, “invariant theory” is what he later said he wished he had called it. And that’s what it should have been called, since invariance is its very essence. The speed of light, the laws of physics are the same for all observers. They’re objective, absolute—invariant. Simultaneity is relative, unreal.

    That is, of course, quite correct.

    As it happens, I am working on a monograph showing how a lot of General Relativity can be derived using no more than first-year calculus: everything up to and including the Schwarzschild solution for black holes, the basic equation for stellar structure (Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkov equation), the influence of pressure on gravity, and a lot more.

    No new results: all of my final answers agree with Einstein, Schwarzschild, etc. But for the last century all this has been (correctly) derived with the apparatus of “pseudo-Riemannian geometry” (the curvature tensor, the Christoffel symbols, the Einstein tensor, and all the rest) — basically incomprehensible to most ordinary people, including most physicists. It turns out that, at least for spherical symmetry, you don’t need all the high-powered math. The calculations need not even be very lengthy, though you do have to think carefully about the actual physical effects (a good thing in my opinion: General Relativity is physics, not math!).

    I have to confess that the idea for this approach is due not to me but to Dick Feynman: in the final chapter of the second volume of his famous Lectures on Physics,, Feynman explains the underlying physical ideas behind this approach.

    So, alas, this will not make me famous. I do hope that by filling out in complete detail Feynman’s suggestions, I can help show that General Relativity is not as inaccessible as it generally seems. It is never going to be easy: strange and unexpected things really do happen in strong gravitational fields.

    But the heavy-lift math that repels most sane people really is not necessary to understand an enormous amount of what happens in the spherically symmetric case. I’d like to think that if this approach had been taken in the early days by Einstein, Hilbert, Schwarzschild, et al., then the subject would never have seemed so impenetrable.

    But this is the normal course of progress in math and physics. The idea that moderately bright high-school students could understand calculus would have seemed bizarre in the eighteenth century, probably even at the turn of the twentieth century. But, now, serious STEM students are expected to learn calculus in high school.

    We do get better at explaining physics and math as the decades and centuries roll by and the once radical new theories come to be seen as not so radical and even a bit old hat.

    • Replies: @Lot
  93. Anonymous[466] • Disclaimer says:

    Not really.

    By a pure process of logical deduction and rationality, the greatest of the ancient philosophers insisted upon the ultimate illusionary nature of matter and ‘reality’.

  94. utu says:
    @MEH 0910

    But no. Einstein had to go and talk about the “principle of relativity.” So “relativity”—and not its opposite, “invariance”—is what his revolutionary theory ended up getting labeled.

    There was a good reason for it. It was Lorentz who derived his Lorentz Transform from the invariance of Maxwell equations. So Einstein could not take this path as he was feigning the ignorance (*) of Lorentz and his transforms and thus had to derive them from another principle which was his Second Postulate of c=const between the inertial frames. His first postulate which was the Principle of Relativity (formulated by Poincare already in 1900) did not play a role in the derivation of Lorentz Transform. However from the Principle of Relativity w/o the Second Postulate (c=const) Lorentz Transforms can be derived (Ignatowski 1910) but then the parameter c is not yet determined whether it is the speed of light.

    “The principle of relativity, according to which the laws of physical phenomena should be the same, whether for an observer fixed, or for an observer carried along in a uniform movement of translation; so that we have not and could not have any means of discerning whether or not we are carried along in such a motion. “— Henri Poincaré, 1904

    “…the same laws of electrodynamics and optics will be valid for all frames of reference for which the equations of mechanics hold good. We will raise this conjecture (the purport of which will hereafter be called the “Principle of Relativity”) to the status of a postulate, and also introduce another postulate, which is only apparently irreconcilable with the former, namely, that light is always propagated in empty space with a definite velocity c which is independent of the state of motion of the emitting body. “ – Albert Einstein, 1905

    (*) In English translation of his 1905 paper after WWI Einstein added the following footnote: “The preceding memoir by Lorentz was not at this time known to the author.”

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  95. Lot says:
    @PhysicistDave

    I’ve enjoyed reading about particle physics since I was a kid. I never took a class in it however, because when I looked at the first physics textbook, it was full of boring looking problems involving levers. I took chemistry instead, which started by taking about protons, neutrons and electrons. There were also more girls in chemistry.

  96. @Reg Cæsar

    Feynman, but what is that you’re doodling there?

  97. Eddington’s observations and calculations were believed to be explained in no small part by the Newtonian Gravitation, leaving some significant part unexplained; it’s a leap of faith to say this confirms Einstein, which is what many people assume, and you are more correct when you say that he failed to disprove Einstein.

  98. @Buzz Mohawk

    Buzz Mohawk wrote to me:

    The view is that economies matter but that much of the field of economics functions under the imprimatur of Leftism. We reject Marxism, and we are not engaged in a “class struggle.”

    Yeah, of course prior to the 1930s, economics was generally market-oriented, and the idea that you could make up for deficient aggregate demand by printing money was viewed as the province of monetary cranks. Then there was a hostile takeover by Keynesians in the 1930s: a combination of Bloomsbury chic and of guys who wanted more government power (i.e., sinecures for themselves) but lacked the guts to become Marxist revolutionaries. And then people like Samuelson tamed the pseudo-revolution of the 1930s by introducing mathematical techniques that had little to do with the real world.

    It has indeed been a mess (I actually had an informal offer to do a post-doc in econ after finishing my Ph.D. in physics — I would have been far from the first to make that transition).

    However, the nature of inflation, the operation of the banking system, the benefits of international trade are all issues that really do matter, and I have seen a lot of people who identify as alt-Right treat such matters as either trivial or simply a matter of personal choice. They are not: there is a real world of economics out there and some well-established knowledge about that world, even if it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. (A simple example: Milton Friedman’s claim that “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon” is essentially true).

    I’ve also seen alt-Right claims that culture trumps economics, which is a bit like saying your left leg trumps your right leg. Both matter, and each influences the other.

    Buzz also wrote:

    We ask why the man needs to be a barbaric thug to eat, but we do not pretend that we can manage economies from the top down to help him.

    Of course, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Robert Heilbroner admitted, “It turns out, of course, that Mises was right” in terms of the Mises-Hayek claim that rational central planning was impossible.

    But I wonder how many on the alt-Right today even know who Mises and Hayek were, much less understand their argument: I take it for granted that no one on the Left gets it.

    Young people today think socialism can work: someone has really dropped the ball.

    • Agree: Kratoklastes
  99. Whiskey says: • Website

    The bearded God killers Darwin, Marx, and Freud killed the underpinning of the West long before Einstein or WWI.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  100. Hail says: • Website
    @Dave Pinsen

    That is some intense censorship. Do they use the same guys China uses, or what?

    I propose using the nicknamed C-I-A Rah-mella to get around these voice-recognition Youtube censors.

    • Agree: PhysicistDave
  101. @PhysicistDave

    Well, Mises was a Jew, and something, something Hayek sucks, seems to be the alt-right attitude, at least online.

  102. @utu

    utu wrote:

    There was a good reason for it. It was Lorentz who derived his Lorentz Transform from the invariance of Maxwell equations. So Einstein could not take this path as he was feigning the ignorance (*) of Lorentz and his transforms and thus had to derive them from another principle which was his Second Postulate of c=const between the inertial frames. His first postulate which was the Principle of Relativity (formulated by Poincare already in 1900) did not play a role in the derivation of Lorentz Transform. However from the Principle of Relativity w/o the Second Postulate (c=const) Lorentz Transforms can be derived (Ignatowski 1910) but then the parameter c is not yet determined whether it is the speed of light.

    Well… Lorentz did it basically by assuming that all forces are electromagnetic (which of course is not true).

    One way of looking at Einstein’s achievement is to say that he assumed that all forces of nature obeyed the same symmetries as electromagnetism does: this turned out to be a major breakthrough in understanding the forces of nature in the twentieth century.

    As to Ignatowski’s derivation, he did not and could not rule out the possibility that his quantity n was equal to zero, which would mean that Galilean-Newtonain relativity obtained, not Einsteinian relativity.

    So, all that Ignatowski really showed was that Einsteinian relativity was mathematically possible, which was already known, and that, under certain assumptions, the only possibilities were Galilean relativity or Einsteinian relativity, which is hardly groundbreaking.

    • Replies: @utu
  103. @Whiskey

    Whiskey wrote:

    The bearded God killers Darwin, Marx, and Freud killed the underpinning of the West long before Einstein or WWI.

    Yeah.

    Of course, Marx turned out to be flat-out wrong, and Freud was… well, not as scientific as the thought he was. I’d actually argue that the Higher Criticism of the Bible ()David Friedrich Strauss et al.) was equally important.

    The larger point here is that what Westerners had thought of as the underpinning of social and personal morality — Biblical Christianity — turned out not to be true.

    It took a long time for this to play out. Kant announced, “I have therefore found it necessary to deny knowledge, in order to make room for faith.” Later forms of philosophical idealism — from Hegel to the British Aboslute Idealists (McTaggart, Bradley, Green, et al.) clearly were motivated by a sort of religious yearning. And, as Robert Crunden shows in his Ministers of Reform, many early American Progressives had been raised in a religious milieu but had lost their faith and refocused their religious sentiments on social reform.

    The West is still working through this: our Woke SJWs are rather clearly seeking some spiritual meaning (that they are not going to find!).

    It is an interesting question whether the West can ever fully come to turns with the truths of Biblical Criticism, evolution, the size and age of the universe, etc. All of those developments were aimed simply at finding the truth, not at providing a solid grounding for meaning in human life, for personal morality, or for social solidarity.

    Maybe the task is just beyond the capabilities of the West, and some other civilization will have to take it up.

  104. Charon says:
    @nebulafox

    Has Einstein been #metoo’d yet?

    Separately: this topic really brings out the bloviators around here..

    • Replies: @Jack D
  105. Hhsiii says:
    @PhysicistDave

    33 year old Ciaramella. Not a boomer.

  106. “The “successively better theories” story, taught in high school now, was invented in the 20th century precisely to account for relativity and quantum. …

    For decades, general relativity was popularly felt as a disastrous disconfirmation of the scientific worldview. Rationalism collapsed as a source of certainty, and never fully recovered.”

    This is so wrong that it casts doubt on the author’s credibility as an authority on anything else he may say in the article.

    Truth, as formulated by American Pragmatist William James was understood to be provisional, a falsework (as I have said before). And James was writing in the 1880’s. Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was just James, warmed over. (Of course, Kuhn was Jewish, and in keeping with the program of Jewish appropriating our European intellectual heritage, he, not James and his peers, had to be credited with this idea,)

    Maybe David Chapman, with his PhD from MIT in AI should devote a little time to the study of the history of Ideas in European Civilization before spouting off. This just confirms what Plato said; men made proud by their expertise in one field deluded into believing that that gives them the right to make pronouncements, with complete assurance, about things about which they know little.

  107. utu says:
    @PhysicistDave

    Yes, Ignatowsky derivation yields two solutions: Galileo and Lorentz.

    While Lorentz derived his transforms from the invariance of Maxwell equations it was Poincare who in 1905 and 1906 papers considered their application to Newtonian dynamics and thus necessitating its modification which he believed was necessary. This was consistent with the Principle of Relativity that he formulated before Einstein. Einstein in his 1905 paper does not deal with “all forces of nature” but “laws of electrodynamics and optics” as he explicitly stated in his First Postulate.

    And it was Poincare who applied the relativistic equation of motion to calculate secular changes in the perihelion of Mercury in 1908 book Science and Method. As we know this correction was in right direction but insufficient to explain the perihelial motion of Mercury so he wrote:

    This cannot be regarded as an argument in favor of the new dynamics, since we still have to seek another explanation of the greater part of the anomaly connected with Mercury, but still less can it be regarded as an argument against it.

    It is possibly however that Poincare’s result in eyes of Einstein confirmed the relativistic nature of the anomaly and stimulated him towards the work on the General Relativity.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  108. Alfred says:
    @Flip

    Hyperinflation is caused by a collapse of confidence in government – not money-printing. The fact that we still have little inflation while so much money is being created our of thin-air proves this.

    • Replies: @Simply Simon
  109. @Flip

    The description of Rathenau as able and moderate seems suspicious to me. A lot of the modern view seems to come from 1918: War and Peace by Dallas Gregor. I haven’t read it, but I’ve seen excerpts describing Rathenau and he is described in ridiculously flowery, idealistic terms.

    The country was in chaos and he was one of the ruling elites managing the utter failure. “Able” isn’t the term that comes to mine. Even in Dallas’ descriptions, he seems quite radical to me — one of those people who lives through ideology and thinks of himself as a superior person who deserves to impose his ideals on the people he governs.

  110. @nebulafox

    There is no reason that QM needs to be nondeterministic if you accept nonlocality, as demonstrated by the De Broglie/Bohmian interpretation of QM. However, nonlocality – i.e. influences faster than the speed of light – mean in the context of relativity nothing less than time travel with all the possibilities for violations of causality that this means. That was the reason, why Einstein was so scandalized by the “spooky action at a distance” of quantum entanglement and why it took so long to be accepted by the scientific community. Even if we can not use quantum entanglement to actually transmit information, the simple fact that faster than light influences exist is highly problematic for relativity.

    But this is only a problem with relativity, no such problems exist if we assume a preferred frame (i.e. the much maligned Aether).

    • Replies: @El Dato
  111. The type of person who gets distressed over the idea that the universe isn’t completely deterministic at the deepest level seems to me to be deeply neurotic. I fail to see how that would panic or shake the faith of anyone with a level head on his shoulders.

  112. @Bardon Kaldian

    Another proof that historiosophical generalizations are wrong.

    I basically agree. I’d just differentiate here a bit more if you don’t mind:

    These are no historio(philo)sophical generalizations, but rather historio-physical generalizations. And historio-physical generalizations are a mistake since Kant managed to draw distinct lines of categorial differences between the nomological field here (natural sciences etc.) and the rest of life there.

    Since Kant’s three Critiques, it is clear, that the field of physics for example (or chemics…) can’t be a reasonable model for life in general since it is just a means to manipulate nature. That’s why Wittgenstein once remarked: If all scientific problems would have been solved, our existential problems would not even have been touched. – They are of a different kind. This distinction between the nomological*** (= counting and calculating, by and large) side of reality and the existential side is the backbone of The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (Habermas).

    ***

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  113. Something happened to art at about the same time.

    Now quality is all relative, which is how Hank Willis Thomas, who ripped off Norman Rockwell for a woke version of the ‘Four Freedoms,’ gets a hideous hunk of iron plopped down in downtown Brooklyn.

    https://nypost.com/2019/11/10/why-brooklyns-newest-public-art-statue-makes-some-think-of-isis/

    I wouldn’t have thought this piece of crap was an ISIS finger when I first looked at it, but now that someone’s pointed it out, I can’t think of it any other way. I guess that’s how ‘conceptual art’ works, huh.

    This imposter, this pantomiming fool, was the guy who wanted to pull down the Columbus statue and others in Central Park and replace them with women. So we ended up with Chirlane McCray’s coven selecting five women and two female impersonators for seven new statues meant to rectify the lack of women statues in the city.

    These were chosen ahead of the top seven choices voted on by the public, including Mother Cabrini and Emily Roebling, who led the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge after her husband fell to caisson disease.

    I’ll bet Hank Willis Thomas did mean it as some kind of crypto Muslim f-u to America. It’s called ‘Unity,’ which is a meaningless title that actually does mean something if it’s an ISIS finger.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  114. For those of you unfamiliar with history of Western thinking about thinking, here’s a brief outline.

    Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz–Rationalists. Writing in the 17th century, believing that truth could be deduced from first principles, as described by Chapman. Spinoza literally copied Euclid’s style of proving Theorems.

    Locke, Berkeley, Hume–Empiricists, 18th century. Abandoned the effort to deduce truth, said truth was to be found by induction from experience i.e. that all learning was by association. Precursors to Pavlov, Watson and Skinner.

    Kant. Dissatisfied with both, said humans not only perceive but conceive through a metaphorical lens that imposes an priori order on their experience, so effort to see the world as it is, “in itself” is vain. The raw data of experience is not the world in it’s pure essence. Consciousness is structured by implicit categories of understanding which render perceptions coherent. Questioned whether synthetic (that is, where the predicate of a proposition contains information not present in the subject of the proposition) a priori (before actual experience of) knowledge is possible. Could not convincingly reconcile the two. Left Western thought in a quandary from which it never recovered.

    Two schools of thought derived from Kant. (1) If we can’t know the things in themselves, then screw it. Let’s just get on with the examination of our experience of being in the world and forget the quest for objective truth entirely. So, existentialism.

    (2) Let’s abandon quest for absolute certainty about knowledge of the world and study the logical structure of our knowledge and our knowing apparatus. So, positivism, logicians and math geeks like Logical Atomist, Bertrand Russell. AI dude Chapman probably falls into this camp.

    Kant then, not Einstein, did everything Chapman credits Einstein with.

  115. Mr. Anon says:
    @Johnmark

    Electric Universe theory has falsified everything Einstein theorized,………..

    And what does the EU theory say? Explain it to us.

    • Replies: @Johnmark
  116. IHTG says:

    Click to read, make this go viral:

  117. Hans says:

    Bull, the art thing I think you’re referring to is the “borrowing” of Heath Robinson’s work by Rube Goldberg – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Heath_Robinson

  118. @Coag

    Kurt Godel’s demonstration …

    Correction: “Kurt Godel’s opinion …”

  119. Mr. Anon says:
    @SimpleSong

    It’s weird if you assume that the World at the sub-microscopic level should behave as it does at the mesoscopic level. But in hindsight, there was never really any reason to assume such a thing.

  120. BB753 says:
    @syonredux

    My favorite version of that song is this one, by Rival Sons:

  121. @Dieter Kief

    I, of course, agree with Wittgenstein, but, you’re, I guess, aware that our current reductionist scientistic climate goes after a unified vision of reality- which is, I suppose, something “normal”.

    During Middle Ages it was an uneasiness with split of Faith & Reason, because most thinking people could not accept the doctrine of double truth. In modern times, although there was acceptance of pluralist world-view in the 19th & most of 20th C, it looks like that the unifying force in human dealings with the world is, at least as a metaphor, strong, even if not prevalent.

    It is best seen in physics, but the general push for it is in other fields, too, from psychology to sociology and economics. Roughly- if you cannot calculate it & find scientific links between the parts, it is not scientific. And if it is not scientific, it is good, sometimes great-but not fundamental for modern human existence.

    On popular level, Precht writes on these things as applied to epistemology & similar areas:

    At least, that’s what I see as Zeitgeist.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  122. @Coag

    As an empirical matter, I don’t think this is a correct assessment of the mood in e.g. Britain between the wars. Didn’t the Oxford Union famously resolve “This House will under no circumstances fight for its King and country,” ? That is hardly the resolution of a country eager to go back to war, even as the “winner” of the recent conflict. Nor do I think the Industrial Revolution owes much ,other than temporal coincidence, to the Napoleonic bloodbaths that preceded it.
    As a moral matter I find this thesis of endless war as the engine of civilization utterly repugnant. The industrial scale Moloch worship you contemplate ,was conceived in Hell itself. It is the worst sort of Satanic nihilism. If your blood-thirst cannot be slaked by the cataclysmic events of the 20th century, it can never be satisfied.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  123. Grumpy says:
    @Dumbo

    I never imagined that in the 21st century there would be a robust flat-earth movement, but about a week ago a current college student told me that she believes more people think the world is flat today than at any time in history.

    • Replies: @Prester John
  124. The Z Blog says: • Website
    @PhysicistDave

    There is no alt-right. The only people using that term still wear denim blazers. Your argument is a strawman.

    Putting that aside, dissidents understand that economics is downstream from biology, culture and institutions. Left-wing groups, like libertarians and communists, just assume people are infinitely malleable, so moving commas around the tax and regulatory code will produce the right citizens.

    It’s both libertarianism and communism are in the dustbin of history.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    , @PhysicistDave
  125. El Dato says:
    @Menschmaschine

    Gerard t’Hooft experimented with making it completely deterministic even without weird additions like pilot waves; I don’t think it went beyond a paper or so. This is way above my IQ grade.

    Even if we can not use quantum entanglement to actually transmit information, the simple fact that faster than light influences exist is highly problematic for relativity.

    I can have “entanglement” also across time (in retrospect, not astonishing): Quantum Weirdness Now a Matter of Time

    But none of this is problematic for GR as it says nothing about that at all; it is just a theory explaining motion and acceleration using geometry (for some reason this universe doesn’t care about the derivative of acceleration or anything higher). It doesn’t even pull in electromagnetism (although there was some hope of explaining charge as movement along a 5th dimension at some point). It’s limited! VERY limited. Obviously a very good approximation of something else.

    I remember my astonishment at the very simple idea that antimatter must exist because it just the “stuff coming from the future” corresponding to “stuff going to future” glimpsed from other reference frames getting a very slight peek at faster-than-light motion due to Heisenberg’s uncertainty relation. Smelled like building a consistent solution across time and space based on constraint satisfaction. Still does.

    • Replies: @Menschmaschine
  126. @Menschmaschine

    Good grief, no. I don’t know the future, but if anything is to replace GR & QM, it is not some “integration” of these, but something conceptually new & superior, with both theories (and, perhaps, more) just lower level derivations of it – and not going back to old 19th C common sense.
    Until then, the sanest approach is that of Freeman Dyson:

  127. Rich says:
    @Andy

    I’d say the massive increase in literacy and governments no longer forcing their citizens to accept the nation’s faith at the threat of imprisonment and/or death probably had much more to do with the death of religious faith than anything else.

    • Replies: @Andy
  128. @Pincher Martin

    That’s the real story. When dealing with science, philosophers almost always get it wrong. That includes philosophers of science. There is a pragmatic, commonsense core to the practice of science that defies the kind of thinking that philosophers engage in. Science has advanced despite philosophy, not because of it.

    That is not only pigheaded and moronic, it is quite easily refuted by even the most cursory glance into history. Everything that you know of as “science” originated as philosophy and presumes an entire organon of philosophical antecedents, without which it never would have arisen. The “truths” of science are the derivatives of a philosophical worldview that must apprehend the concepts of matter, causality, motion, space, and time which science merely presumes.

    That applies only to the theoretical side. The practical side of science is ever worse. Descriptive science is simply the measuring of the shadows in Plato’s Cave, while technology, effective as it has been at intervening in the cave-world, is just man making shadow puppets in the cave.

    Science does not advance independently of philosophy, because science does nothing of its own whatsoever. It only contemplates the objects that philosophy has placed before it. Your very idea that “science” is something that “advances,” by which you intended to deride philosophy, is itself philosophy, albeit of a very bad and shallow sort.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  129. @Coag

    I see what you are saying, but I don’t think you can place Israel’s 1967 conquest of the west bank and the Schlieffen plan in the same basket of ‘healthy nationalism’.

  130. @Coag

    I’d say Russell’s paradox was more upsetting than Godel’s results. Nor do I understand what you mean by saying he demonstrated that all math and logic are mere solipsistic truism. His completeness theorem showed that all truths in logic could be derived from logic’s basic axioms, but his incompleteness theorem showed that this was not true for arithmetic. What this has to do with solipsistic truisms is beyond me.

  131. DodgUSA24 says:

    Modern Times is my favorite book of all-time. Slight side note, but the chapter on the Third World, “The Bandung Generation” describes Obama to the tee. Made me realize in 2006-07 that we were in trouble.

  132. Jack D says:
    @Charon

    Relativity lends itself to bloviation because it’s easy to make (false) analogies with other things – if time and space depend on the position of the observer so does everything else – truth, etc.. People who don’t really understand the math of relativity at all can still “get it” on some level and make these kind of false connections to everyday life – everything is “relative”. Quantum mechanics, for example, doesn’t lend itself to this kind of false analogy. Maybe if Einstein had used a word other than Relativity to describe his theory it wouldn’t have been as bad.

    • Replies: @Pericles
  133. Jack D says:
    @Coag

    This is completely wrong. Future historians will see WWI as the hinge point for the downfall of European civilization. It’s all downhill from there. Western man had finally conquered the land the air and the sea. Western science had given man godlike powers – he could fly thru the air like a bird, he could swim under the sea like a fish, he could travel faster than a cheetah, he could shout and be heard on the other side of the planet. And how did our leaders use these gifts of science? Instead of using them to give rise to an age of reason and prosperity, they unleashed an orgy of death and destruction (which set the stage for the ever greater destruction wrought by Hitler and Stalin). Western man behaved with the amorality of a hardened lifer – the gods gave him a beautiful jeweled comb and his only thought was, “Hey, I can file this down and make a kickass shiv to stab the guards with.” All the moral claims of Western Civilization were forfeited. Europe will never recover from it.

  134. Jack D says:
    @Ghost of Bull Moose

    When my sister was a teenager, she had a job as a supermarket cashier. When they needed a bathroom break they were supposed to raise their hand and the supervisor would send someone to replace them. As a goof, they convinced a dorky new co-worker (for some reason I still remember his name – it was Nolan) that when he needed to go, he was required to indicated whether it was for #1 or #2 by raising the appropriate # of fingers. So all I can see is Nolan signalling that he needs to go #1.

  135. @Coag

    A society in its prime (like Israel)

    Odd that a society in its ‘prime’ should require aid to the tune of $3.8 billion a year (plus whatever is grifted from the US in terms of free weaponry).

    I guess by your lights, the welfare dependent boxheads of New Square and Kiryas Joel are ‘successful entrepreneurs’.

    • Agree: JMcG
  136. “SCIENTISTS PROVE WORLD MAKES NO SENSE”

    Conveniently, Johnson leaves out another scientist of note that is more in line with the world DOES make sense and is part of the rational mindset: Darwin.

    And Galton as well, for what that is worth.

    In point of fact, the whole DNA sequencing, clones, gnomes, etc. would seem to be going a long way toward bringing back the rationalist mindset, that the world does make sense after all, etc. at least in the earthly realm.

    Perhaps that is why the large denial/pushback vs genetics, DNA, etc. is coming from those who would espouse (e.g. Angela Siani, etc) the postmodern viewpoint.

  137. LIGHTS ALL ASKEW IN THE HEAVENS

    The stars are at sixes and sevens,
    Situated askew in the heavens,

    Like the vagabond hippie hitchhiker
    Who hitchhiked a ride with the bikers

    In the film Easy Rider; he too
    Was high, and was likewise Askew.


    Luke Askew in Easy Rider

  138. Relativity lends itself to bloviation because it’s easy to make (false) analogies with other things – if time and space depend on the position of the observer so does everything else – truth, etc.. People who don’t really understand the math of relativity at all can still “get it” on some level and make these kind of false connections to everyday life – everything is “relative”.

    As usual, Dzigan and Schumacher were all over this. Here is a pale imitation by amateur Dzigan/Schumacher imitators.(The text of the skit is 99 percent accurate but the delivery is amateurish. Also a somewhat annoying live audience)

    • Replies: @Jack D
  139. Jack D says:
    @kaganovitch

    Relativity explained: Seven hairs on your head is relatively few. Seven hairs in your glass of milk is relatively many.

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
  140. Anon[260] • Disclaimer says:

    Einstein is the quintessential Jewish Hero:

    He is famous solely due to Jewish promotion rather than significant accomplishment that impacts the real world.

    And yet he has been made famous to the point of his name being made to be synonymous with intelligence in gentile language: the imabalance between his reputation and accomplishments, as well as the (((media))) and (((cultural))) concentration alone on his continued reputation and fame, being telling.

    He is known for thought experiments that focus on undermining objectivity in favor of unstable ground, and thereby which undermine the worldview of Jewish enemies at the foundational physical level.

    But, again, with that thought being wholly relegated to a Jewish thought to rather than the real world.

    In essence, Einstein’s accomplishment as the quintessential Jewish Hero was to create a perfect object for Jewish undermining of gentile culture. An object that necessarily only exists in the Jewish mind.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  141. Why is logical positivism absolute or modern or even rational? Who decided this? Logical positivism denied and fought against idealism (in the Platonic sense, not the utopian one) and the possibility of deduction from idealism, and it was ultra-relativistic in its own right. Godel, Einstein’s good friend at Princeton, blew up logical positivism, and he did so in defence of absolute truth. And few of the modern grandees escape, certainly not Darwin, as Godel well knew, yet everyone else seems to have forgotten.

    • Replies: @Roger
  142. @Jack D

    It’s really quite an inspired skit. It captures the pomposity of the shtetl physicist who knows enough to read the newspaper, almost perfectly.

  143. @Buzz Mohawk

    Why the pretending?

    It is similar to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. If you cannot name the ‘whistleblower’ you cannot question either him or Schiff about their conspiracy.

  144. @Pincher Martin

    The exception to this rule might be Charles Sanders Peirce

    And Thomas Reid. Reid’s response to David Hume is instructive.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  145. Goldfinch says:

    At a very well known East Coast college where I studied “Literature” (not “English”, that was a different major) in the 1970’s where “structuralism” and “de-constructing” the texts were all the rage, the professors continually made a big deal about modern physics. The Heidegger Uncertainty Principle and Schroedinger’s Cat were huge favorites. All this in service to the notion that there actually is no such thing as objective truth. From that we were taught, among interesting things, that “the reader makes the text” (i.e. truth is subjective) and it is just as valid to study — as literature — advertising as it is Shakespeare. One of the most pernicious effects of this is that when one destroys the notion of objective truth, one also destroys beauty.

    PS I subsequently learned that the professors taught us cartoonish and exaggerated versions of what Heidegger and Shroedinger actually said.

    • Replies: @Prester John
  146. @PhysicistDave

    The larger point here is that what Westerners had thought of as the underpinning of social and personal morality — Biblical Christianity — turned out not to be true.

    Your atheist slip is showing.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  147. AaronB says:
    @Andy

    Actually, relativity is the essence of religion. That there is some kind of mysterious mutual ground of reality that is beyond the categories of our thoughts and senses where contradictions disappear.

    In Buddhism, relativity is frankly the entire basis of the system. Nothing has independent existence, but only exists relative to e everything else.

    What Einstein overturned was materialist atheism that had gradually been gaining ground since the 17th century. The certainty that our senses and mind give an ultimate picture of reality.

    Einstein basically rediscovered the insights on the religious geniuses about the nature of reality in scientific form.

  148. syonredux says:
    @Jack D

    And, as John Reilly notes, the same sense of degeneration pervaded the cultures of both the winners and the losers of the Great War:

    The reparations themselves, of course, were a humiliating drain on the German budget, but a system of financing with international loans was arranged which worked satisfactorily until the world financial system broke down in the early 1930s. Even arms development was continued through clandestine projects with the Soviet Union. It is also false to assert that German culture was driven to insanity by a pervasive sense of defeat. The 1920s were the age of the Lost Generation in America and the Bright Young Things in Britain.

    A reader ignorant of the history of the 20th century who was given samples from this literature that did not contain actual references to the war could reasonably conclude that he was reading the literature of defeated peoples. There was indeed insanity in culture in the 1920s, but the insanity pervaded the whole West.

    Weimar culture would have happened even if there had been no Weimar Republic. We know this, since all the major themes of the Weimar period, the new art and revolutionary politics and sexual liberation, all began before the war. This was a major argument of the remarkable book, RITES OF SPRING, by the Canadian scholar, Modris Ekstein. There would still have been Bauhaus architecture and surrealist cinema and depressing war novels if the Kaiser had issued a victory proclamation in late 1918 rather than an instrument of abdication. There would even have been a DECLINE OF THE WEST by Oswald Spengler in 1918. He began working on it years before the war. The book was, in fact, written in part to explain the significance of a German victory.

    https://www.firstworldwar.com/features/ifgermany.htm

    • Agree: AaronB, byrresheim
    • Replies: @nebulafox
    , @syonredux
  149. Pericles says:
    @Coag

    Israel is the only modern nationstate today that still has the integrity to fight the nationalist war.

    Post-modern nation state Hezbollah has a pretty good record against them though.

  150. If rationalism (specifically empiricism) produced science and science produced the Theory of Relativity, then if Relativity constitutes “the death of rationalism” that would mean science and all its theories, including (irony of ironies) relativity itself, is itself “irrational.”

    Huh?

  151. @PhysicistDave

    It does. Whether we like it or not. Which is why we must pay close attention to the DJ and Nasdaq. Given the present social, cultural and political instability in this country , one more “Great Recession” (a euphemism for what was in fact a mini-depression) or–God forbid!–worse, then it’ll be Katie Bar The Door.

  152. Pericles says:
    @PhysicistDave

    Lots of alt-righters are recovering libertarians so there’s some more to it than that.

    I’m having some trouble myself to reconcile conventional economics with the current regime of negative interest rates, unlimited money printing, rapidly increasing debt, no measured inflation, and what not. I wouldn’t mind a coherent explanation starting from macro and micro.

    Hypothesis: part of the reason it actually works is that savings are nowadays centralized and, directly or indirectly, under government control and strong regulation. If you’re a fund manager you just have to bend the knee.

    Like that farce during the crisis when the ratings institute (might have been S&P) got crushed by the government for reducing U!S!A! to AA. They had to walk that back of course.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  153. Pericles says:
    @Jack D

    Quantum mechanics, for example, doesn’t lend itself to this kind of false analogy.

    Are you forgetting all the years of pop sci quantum woo?

  154. @Andy

    Henry Adams, grandson of John Quincy Adams, worked assisting his father at the American legation during and after the War Between the States, and met with Darwin there. “Natural Selection led back to Natural Evolution, and at last to Natural Uniformity. This was a vast stride. Unbroken Evolution under uniform conditions pleased every one–except curates and bishops; it was the very best substitute for religion; a safe, conservative, practical, thoroughly Common Law deity. Such a working system for the universe suited a young man who had just helped to waste five or ten thousand million dollars and a million lives, more or less, to enforce unity and uniformity on people who objected to it; the idea was only too seductive in its perfection; it had the charm of art. Unity and Uniformity were the whole motive of philosophy, and if Darwin, like a true Englishman, preferred to back into it–to reach God a posteriori–rather than start from it, like Spinoza, the difference of method taught only the moral that the best way of reaching unity was to unite. Any road was good that arrived.
    Steady, uniform, unbroken evolution from lower to higher seemed easy.
    So, one day when Sir Charles came to the Legation to inquire about getting his “Principles” properly noticed in America, young Adams found nothing simpler than to suggest that he could do it himself if Sir Charles would tell him what to say.
    Ponder over it as he might, Adams could see nothing in the theory of Sir Charles but pure inference…He could detect no more evolution in life since the Pteraspis than he could detect it in architecture since the Abbey. All he could prove was change.
    All this seemed trivial to the true Darwinian, and to Sir Charles it was mere defect in the geological record. Sir Charles labored only to heap up the evidences of evolution; to cumulate them till the mass became irresistible. With that purpose, Adams gladly studied and tried to help Sir Charles, but, behind the lesson of the day, he was conscious that, in geology as in theology, he could prove only Evolution that did not evolve; uniformity that was not uniform; and Selection that did not select. To other Darwinians–except Darwin–Natural Selection seemed a dogma to be put in the place of the Athanasian creed; it was a form of religious hope; a promise of ultimate perfection. Adams wished no better, he warmly sympathized in the object; but when he came to ask himself what he truly thought, he felt that he had no Faith; that whenever the next new hobby should be brought out, he should surely drop off the Darwinism like a monkey from a perch.

  155. Jack D says:

    Reilly seems to think that if Germany had won WWI, it would have just left them better positioned for WWII. I’m not sure that’s true. It’s hard to see a scenario in which Hitler would have risen to power in an undefeated Germany. Without Hitler, I don’t think there would have been a WWII, at least not in the form that we know it. I agree that WWI was a Pyrrhic victory for the Allies as well – it wasn’t just Germany that was defeated in the trenches, it was all of Western civilization.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
    , @syonredux
  156. Laeeth says:

    It’s been thirty years since I looked at physics and I never went that far, but a friend of mine, Espen Haug, wrote a book reinventing fundamental physics and this thought was triggered by talking to him a few years back.

    My understanding is that absolute simultaneity is quite compatible with Einstein’s work and that its loss was a consequence of a choice he made, preferring a reductionist approach. Possibly that loss had a greater impact in the foundations of everything being weakened than was really necessary.

    Our time is notable for a loss of civilizational confidence and I suppose the combination of Darwin, Einstein and what seemed to be the findings from anthropology played a part in the process by which confidence ebbed. Cause and effect, it’s rather hard to say which is which, because it may be that there are rhythms in morale and confidence that don’t lend themselves to reasoning in terms of billiard ball causality and if that be true then demoralised people will tend to come up with ideas that fit how they feel.

    If it’s a rhythm then extrapolation may turn out to be a poor guide to the future, and supposing we were in a time that’s early in a new bull market for civilizational confidence one might expect surprises in new ideas to come in the direction of tending to strengthen such confidence and for the interpretation of old ideas that were associated with its weakening to come into question.

    New bull markets, the mood is miserable all the way up for a long time. The news didn’t get better for a long time after stocks bottomed in March 2009 – reading the papers you would think the situation was getting worse and that policy would only go in that direction too. But the market was discounting the future before it could be truly known. Problems coming to the fore – that was a good thing, unpleasant as it felt, because it’s hard to fix a problem people don’t recognize.

    It’s not impossible the same dynamic might be at work for a rather slower cycle in civilisational self confidence. One test for where you are is what happens in response to problems becoming evident – over the space of a few years. If they are confronted and people start to address them, it might just be a different phase from how it superficially appears.

    • Replies: @Counterinsurgency
  157. nebulafox says:
    @Jack D

    Oh, not just hard. Utterly impossible. And not just because the structural barriers against someone without education or connections attaining power that November 1918 brought crashing down in the German speaking world.

    Hitler was a classic example of a “warlord personality”. Destruction was his natural element. He fed off of social chaos, violence, and decay in an almost vampire-like sense. In WWI, he was genuinely happy, had friends and experienced genuine success for the first time, and took not a day’s worth of voluntary leave until late 1917. That experience made him. He probably felt alive for the first time in his life.

    These warlord personalities differ, like any other group of human beings, on what they really want to do with their ambitions, personal characteristics, etc. What they share are being utter failures in times of normality. They are ill-suited to function, let alone achieve success and stability, in a healthy, desirable society. They become disliked loner/losers. At best, for the higher-functioning ones who attain power and have enough energy, intelligence, and organizational skills to use it, peace confuses and dissatisfies them, as was the case for Hitler around 1937. (Lower functioning ones typically act more as infamous butchers or gangsters.) More often, they’ll flounder and live on the fringes of society-even comfortable society, if they happen to come from a wealthy enough background that they don’t need to worry about starving no matter how much they fail.

    But during times of uncertainty, blood, and pointlessness, they come to life, and their skills are often nightmarishly suited for further corrupting an already morosely grey society on its last legs. Their lack of focus and impotence are suddenly replaced with monomanical energy, vision, and willpower. The oddballs remain what they are, but are catalyzed with their “talents” suddenly in demand. Precisely because of their lack of an ability to fit in with what is now a dying order, they are viewed as charismatic: and potentially, for a society desperately looking for a strongman leader, as history’s actors.

    *Every* society, no matter how polite or civilized on the surface, has these men (and they are always men, regardless of what particularly delusional feminists privately would like to imagine) lying underneath the woodwork. They are the returning primal beings, waiting for a catalyst. Now look at the decades-long attacks that have been launched on social bonds, national cohesion, rule of law, and so much else by the powers-that-be in the United States. It’s not a good path to be on in case a true catastrophe erupts, because these guys will be out there, and they’ll find a fertile base to work with if the wrongs thing happen at the wrong time.

    Back to the point: my guess is if everybody listened to Kaiser Karl in 1916 and just quit and gone home to recover from the slaughter, Hitler would have been discharged back into his torpor and would have committed suicide before 35 when the distance between what he was and what he wanted to be finally overcame him. That specific fate was his particular personality and ambitions at work, but the essential point is that a “warlord personality” wouldn’t have been in demand in Germany. Of course, a “warlord personality” wouldn’t have gotten anywhere had Germany been utterly smashed beyond recognition and occupied, either. Plenty of PODs.

    • Agree: PhysicistDave
  158. syonredux says:
    @Jack D

    He makes an interesting case….

    We should remember that to win a great war can be almost as disruptive for a combatant country as to lose it. There was a prolonged political crisis, indeed the whiff of revolution, in victorious Britain in the 1920s […..] While it is, of course, unlikely that the Kaiser would have been overthrown, it is highly probable that there would have been some constitutional crisis which would have drastically altered the relationship between the branches of government.

    I would go so far as to say this: something very like the Nazi Party would still have come to power in Germany, even if that country had won the First World War. I realize that this assertion runs counter to the historiography of most of this century, but the conclusion is inescapable. Politics is a part of culture, and the Nazis represented a kind of politics which was integral with Weimar culture. Salvador Dali once said, perhaps ironically, that he approved of the Nazi Party because they represented the surrealists come to power. The connection is deep, as with the Nazi affinity for the modernist post-rationalism of the philosopher Heidegger, and also superficial, in the styles the party promoted.

    The Nuremberg Rallies, for instance, were masterpieces of Art Deco stagecraft, particularly Albert Speer’s “cathedral of ice” effect, created with the use of searchlights. As a young hopeful in Vienna, Hitler once passed up the chance to work as a theatrical set designer because he was too shy to go to the interview. But whether he knew it or not, that is what he became. People with no fascist inclinations at all love to watch film footage produced by the Nazis, for the simple reason that it is very good cinema: it comes from the same artistic culture which gave us METROPOLIS and THE BLUE ANGEL. The Weimar Republic and the Third Reich formed a historical unit, one whose advent was not dependent on the accident of who won the First World War.

    Am I saying then that German defeat in the First World War made no difference? Hardly. If the war had not been lost, the establishment would have been much less discredited, and there would have been less room for the ignorant eccentrics who led the Nazi Party. Certainly people with no qualifications for higher command, such as Goering, would not have been put in charge of the Luftwaffe, nor would the Foreign Ministry have been given over to so empty-headed a man as Von Ribbentrop. As for the fate of Hitler himself, who can say?

    The big difference would have been that Germany would been immensely stronger and more competent by the late 1930s than it was in the history we know. That another war would have been brewed by then we may be sure. Hitler was only secondarily interested in revenge for the First World War; his primary goal had always been geopolitical expansion into Eastern Europe and western Asia. This would have given Germany the Lebensraum to become a world power. His ideas on the subject were perfectly coherent, and not original with him: they were almost truisms. There is no reason to think that the heirs of a German victory in 1918 (or 1919, or 1920) would have been less likely to pursue these objectives.

    https://www.firstworldwar.com/features/ifgermany.htm

    • Replies: @nebulafox
    , @Jack D
  159. Pheasant says:

    Look up the Einstien terror.

    Christopher John Bjerknes- read about the real Einstien.

    He was a poor mathematician and Oppenhiemer did not want him working on the Manhattn project because he considered him a third rate scientist.

    Compare him to Thomas Edison and especially Nikolai Tesla.

    Positivism is nonsense and was from the beginning.

    • Replies: @dearieme
  160. don says:

    The theory of relativity was simply a means to deny the results of the Michelson-Morely experiment, which indicated that the earth was stationary (like the bible says). Einstein had to cook up a theory to explain the results. He posited that time dilates, length shrinks, and mass increases, all in order to show the apparatus used in Michelson-Morely was not measuring the lack of movement through ether, but instead was incapable of measuring the movement of the earth – because relativity.

    Scientist at the time thought this was bunk, but he won out. This is the basis for the end of rationality. Einstein said all kinds of things change, but could not state a cause of the change. So he essentially denied causation.

    Relativity is BS and has brought all kinds of garbage in its wake, including black holes, dark matter and energy, Oort clouds, string “theories” and multi-verses.

    But if one accepted a non-moving earth, and followed the results, physics would get back on its feet.

    And maybe, so would the Catholic Church

  161. Pheasant says:
    @anon

    It’s ok. Not everyone here has even an average iq.

  162. Pheasant says:
    @Namu

    In other words governments controlled by thier peoples and not Jews and thier traitorous gentile accomplices should print money.

    I laughed at the part in the excerpt where it said the rentenmark was based on factories ‘that could not be exchanged for cash’- lol from the economy that powers modern Europe.

  163. nebulafox says:
    @syonredux

    There was general sense of malaise and greyness all over the West after 1918: which was ironic, considering the degree of technical and scientific productivity that exploded during the 1920s.

    Pessimism and irrationality was the favorable ideology of the day for a European bourgeoisie on the defensive against the dual attacks of global capitalism and Communism. Fascism was popular all over Europe for a reason, with governments from Warsaw to Madrid falling under its sway. Even in France and England, there were popular native fascist movements throughout the 1920s and 1930s that could have taken power if a few things went differently. It was appealing to many because it seemed to being doing something as an affirmative, youthful, optimistic (if defensive) response against these tendencies of degeneration, while simultaneously being something new, having no time for a prewar aristocracy that was utterly discredited.

    Had Hitler opted for a continental strategy against Britain in 1940 rather than planning to attack the USSR, who knows, maybe he would have gone down as the consummating figure of the era. Even Petain openly ascribed France’s defeated as due to “too much politics”, politics that the Germans managed to free themselves of. But then, if he’d done that, he wouldn’t have been Hitler. He’d already worn that mask before and decided he was done with it.

    One of the reasons Hitler’s message was so appealing was because he knew that the essential view of the capitalists and Communists alike of man as a primarily economic, rational creature was a joke. In limited, safe doses, most people do want sacrifice, ritual, challenges. To his barely veiled contempt in the late 1930s, however, people were content with this dosage level and didn’t actually want, you know, another WWI. But by this time, he didn’t really need to care what anyone thought anymore, and he knew it.

    “Circumstances have forced me to talk almost exclusively of peace for decades. Only by constantly stressing Germany’s desire for peace and peaceful intentions was it possible for me to win the German people their freedom bit by bit and to give the nation the arms which were always necessary as the prerequisite to the next step. It is obvious that such peace propaganda, carried on for decades, also has its dubious aspects; for it can easily lead to fixing in the brains of many persons the notion that the present regime is identical with the decision and the desire to preserve peace in all circumstances. That, however, would lead to a false idea of the aims of this system.”

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @dfordoom
  164. @Bardon Kaldian

    Richard David Precht’s huge success might be perfectly explained by your remarks -kudos for that! -I have met him and talked to him too, he is pleasant and quite charming and not dumb. And I’ve thought every once in a while about the basis of his success. This might well be it: As an old-time “materialist”, he could well be just one more example of Friedrich Engel’s wrong-headed super-materialism = the idea, that you by and large can literally figure out our existence.

    People strife for explanations – or “theories” or “philosophies” – which let them eat the cake of assertion, perfectly represented by the counting sciences, and still have it (= feel existentially released by stating facts, which is a plain impossibility, since facts – don’t speak, have no idea about the world or reality and thus – no idea at all about what is right or wrong…).

    This might well be Precht’s secret sauce of success, because, in the end, he sells his readers half of what is real for the whole of it, and the reward they get (and obviously deeply long for) is – reduction of complexity – maybe one of the most sought after (and thus: precious) goods of our times.

    (If only Precht himself would not lose his temper and clear-mindedness in the course of his enormous success. If I decipher his writings on the German walls right, he is on the brink of losing his temper – and if the devil will, even his mind altogether in a complete socio-political and ecological frenzy).

  165. Very astute.

    That the philosophical foundations of Empricism collapsed in the middle of the twentieth century has gone largely unnoticed outside of academic philosophy, but I think it may be more responsible for the current craziness than the Frankfurt School.

    My take on this here:
    https://tomkow.typepad.com/tomkowcom/2008/05/blackburn-tru-1.html

  166. @Dumbo

    So “the Earth is flat” thing is an attempt to return to old certainties?

    It’s just more postmodernism — as in, “what can we really be certain that we know, anyway?” and “Globe-ism is just a social construct.” It’s all a conspiracy by Big Globe to sell fake spheres to schools.

  167. @Andy

    I don’t think that’s true.

    Reason being, Darwin was not the first one to come up with Darwinian mechanisms for speciation. I have read that Darwin’s own grandfather had previously suggested the same mechanism, but without all the research to back it up. The alternative was Spontaneous Generation. At that time it was widely held (as per Aquinas/Aristotelian worldview) that there were rational and non-magical mechanics for everything in God’s creation. Nothing about the idea of theistic evolution couldn’t be reconciled with the previous worldview, and slip into it as an even more Aristotelian replacement for Spontaneous Generation.

    The mechanics of mutation proposed don’t challenge Christianity any more than heliocentricity or gravity did.

  168. nebulafox says:
    @syonredux

    >Certainly people with no qualifications for higher command, such as Goering, would not have been put in charge of the Luftwaffe, nor would the Foreign Ministry have been given over to so empty-headed a man as Von Ribbentrop. As for the fate of Hitler himself, who can say?

    I already mentioned above that Hitler himself was likely too warped by 1919 to live a normal, stable life, but that doesn’t mean that other Nazis couldn’t have. I can easily imagine Joachim von Ribbentrop living out his life as a boring, rich wine salesman who supports a mainstream center-right Weimar Republic party, had the Nazis never come along.

    >The big difference would have been that Germany would been immensely stronger and more competent by the late 1930s than it was in the history we know. That another war would have been brewed by then we may be sure. Hitler was only secondarily interested in revenge for the First World War; his primary goal had always been geopolitical expansion into Eastern Europe and western Asia. This would have given Germany the Lebensraum to become a world power. His ideas on the subject were perfectly coherent, and not original with him: they were almost truisms. There is no reason to think that the heirs of a German victory in 1918 (or 1919, or 1920) would have been less likely to pursue these objectives.

    I don’t agree at all. WWI and the subsequent chaos desensitized German society to violence and brutality over the course of decades in a way that would have unthinkable to any observer in 1913. Hitler’s ideas were formed in the milieu of early 1920s Germany, first and foremost: he was heavily influenced on his ideas about Communism from White Russian and Baltic German emigres, for example. He realized on a broader level that he had a way better chance of upending the world order entirely than aiming to go retrieve a couple of isolated West Prussian towns from the get-go. He wanted to make Germany into a self-sufficient landmass akin to the United States, invulnerable to any kind of blockade. That had its genesis in seeing the effects of the blockade on the home front during WWI. Hitler spent his leave time in a working-class district of Berlin: he could hardly have not noticed how explosive the situation there already was by 1917. So, when he said there would never be another 1918 on his watch, he meant it, and not just in the fanatical sense of no surrender, ever: he was going to literally prevent the German people from wanting to surrender while he molded them into a vision more suiting his preferences. And until about 1943 or so, he was succeeding: unlike in WWI, during WWII, you could hardly tell there was a war on in much of Germany.

    German aims to dominate Central and Eastern Europe were certainly nothing new, and it is critical to understand that for a brief while, the German idea of an eastern imperium was a reality after Brest-Livtovsk. But Hitler’s vision of merciless racial conquests and genocide to create a Germany that could rival the United States was novel and a direct result of how the war went, combined with Hitler’s unique, singular personality.

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
    , @SFG
  169. @PhysicistDave

    Sure, she might be a little older, but a lot of youngsters know Hayek:

    Mises is a bit more enigmatic.

  170. @dvorak

    I agree. Copenhagen Interpretation is basically physics turned into a caricature of Zen Buddhism.

    If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it fall, does it still make a sound?

    The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics actually attempts to answer the question. The answer is no.

    Because the tree exists as a cloud of statistical probabilities that does not actualize itself until it is observed. So basically it says trees don’t fall at all when no one is around to hear them, they merely actualize themselves on the ground once they are noticed without ever having fallen.

    Einstein was actually on the other side of that debate.

    His general and specific relativity does not imply philosophical relativity, that everything is relative. It is only that things you would have thought were constant (length of time and space) were not, and things you would have thought were relative (speed of light coming out of a flashlight on a bullet train) is actually constant.

  171. @Intelligent Dasein

    That is not only pigheaded and moronic, it is quite easily refuted by even the most cursory glance into history. Everything that you know of as “science” originated as philosophy and presumes an entire organon of philosophical antecedents, without which it never would have arisen.

    Which explains why modern science took off soon after the Greeks began the philosophical investigation of these questions instead of, you know, two thousand years later.

    Oops.

    Modern science could only begin when the first scientists – practical men that they were – started ignoring the philosophical objections to their work.

    Read about the battle between Thomas Hobbes and Robert Boyle over Boyle’s vacuum, for example. On philosophical grounds, Hobbes clearly got the better of the argument. He made a number of strong points about the assumptions behind Boyle’s experiments and arguments that invalidated them. It didn’t matter. Boyle and his fellow scientific practitioners just ignored the old philosopher, and got on with what they were doing.

    And so it has continued to the present day. Since the practice of modern science began sometime around 1600, philosophy has contributed nothing to it – except to try and slow science down or subsume it under what philosophers consider more important questions.

    I think it was Kuhn or some other philosopher of science who admitted that before Newton could begin figuring out the laws of gravity he had to ignore WHY there was gravity – something that Aristotle would never have done. Or indeed would have any other self-respecting philosopher. Only by scientists distancing themselves from philosophical questions could science truly begin.

    On occasion I still hear about some philosopher of science pointing out that, say, falsification is not integral to the practice of science. Or that progress in science is illusory. Or some other grand claim. This causes some scientists to prick up their ears and say, “Oh, that’s interesting.” And then they go back to work as if nothing had been said at all.

    Philosophy is as irrelevant as theology to the modern practice of science.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  172. @The Z Blog

    Left-wing groups, like libertarians and communists,

    A state that allows you to keep your income, property, and firearms is “left-wing”? The Bill of Rights is Red? Coolidge just another Lenin?

    Inasmuch as nationalism employs the modern state, as Mussolini and Mustache did, it lies to the left of any libertarian.

    • Replies: @The Z Blog
  173. NATURE and Nature’s Laws lay hid in Night: God said, “Let Newton be!” and all was light.

    It did not last: the Devil howling “Ho! Let Einstein be!” Restored the status quo.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  174. @Charles Erwin Wilson 3

    Yep. Common sense is a major component to the practice of science, so long as we agree that what we consider to be common sense will change over time.

    Pragmatism is the only way to go in philosophy. Once you start trying to divine absolute truths, you’ll find yourself in a rat’s maze you’ll never get out of.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  175. @Pincher Martin

    Philosophy is as irrelevant as theology to the modern practice of science

    Why then do so many – especially prominent – scientists formulate sentences, that can’t be understood in any other than a philosophical way?***** – And how would you call that: Philosophical self-deception of “real” (=natural) scientists?

    ***** Any sentence of the type “this means, that” or the type “this shows, that” which relate to the existential or the normative sphere are beyond the field of any natural science, because nature itself is indifferent to our human questions such as: What can we hope for, or what does that all signify etc.

    What you claim above might well work exactly as you think, but the other way round: As a frontier for natural scientists, which signifies a realm, in which they don’t have anything valuable to contribute as natural scientists per se.

  176. @Simon in London

    There must be some way outta here/
    Said the (philosophical) Joker to the (scientific) Thief//
    There’s too much confusion//
    I can get no relief***

    .
    .
    .

    (***relkief = real Kief (original misspelling))

  177. Why then do so many – especially prominent – scientists formulate sentences, that can’t be understood in any other than a philosophical way?***** – And how would you call that: Philosophical self-deception of “real” (=natural) scientists?

    I think it’s more accurate to say that most in the audience can’t understand scientific formulations other than in a philosophical way, which is a little bit like saying that just because a third party can’t understand two Kazakhs talking to each other that they must not be using a real language but communicating instead through grunts and gesticulations.

  178. @John Pepple

    I’d say Russell’s paradox was more upsetting than Godel’s results.

    Only if you reject the claim that the set of all sets that are not members of themselves does not exist.

  179. @David Davenport

    Correction: “Kurt Godel’s opinion …”

    John von Neumann did not think it was mere opinion. Let’s see, David Davenport on one hand, John von Neumann on the other. Yep, this is an easy call.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  180. J.Ross says:
    @Pincher Martin

    I don’t have this link and I don’t remember where I saw this, but have you seen the blogged lamentations of the female physicist who’s married to a devoted Hegelian philosophy professor? (They’re so funny that they’re probably fiction.)

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  181. syonredux says:
    @syonredux

    Ezra Pound on The Great War…..

    These fought in any case,
    and some believing,
    pro domo, in any case . . .

    Some quick to arm,
    some for adventure,
    some from fear of weakness,
    some from fear of censure,
    some for love of slaughter, in imagination,
    learning later . . .
    some in fear, learning love of slaughter;
    Died some, pro patria,
    non “dulce” non “et decor” . . .

    walked eye-deep in hell
    believing in old men’s lies, then unbelieving
    came home, home to a lie,
    home to many deceits,
    home to old lies and new infamy;
    usury age-old and age-thick
    and liars in public places.

    Daring as never before, wastage as never before.
    Young blood and high blood,
    fair cheeks, and fine bodies;

    fortitude as never before

    frankness as never before,
    disillusions as never told in the old days,
    hysterias, trench confessions,
    laughter out of dead bellies.

    V

    There died a myriad,
    And of the best, among them,
    For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
    For a botched civilization,

    Charm, smiling at the good mouth,
    Quick eyes gone under earth’s lid,

    For two gross of broken statues,
    For a few thousand battered books.

    Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, IV-V

  182. Jim Given says:

    Steve, I fear that you confuse Modernism and Post-Modernism. The purpose of Modernism was to make Western culture simply one of a universe of abstract possible cultural and dogmatic choices. Here by “Western culture,” I mean the fusion of Greek classics, Christian heritage and medieval learning that is the intellectual inheritance of Europe and the US. The purpose of Modernism was to de-center Western culture – especially Christianity, and call it into question. The purpose of Post-Modernism is to replace Western culture with a clear alternative, godless, Green, globalist, and Communist.

    Relativity theory and Godel’s theorem and cultural anthropology are all Modernism.

    Identity politics and deconstruction and deep ecology and the UN and Pope Francis are all Post-Modern.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  183. The Z Blog says: • Website
    @Reg Cæsar

    I see. You don’t understand any of this.

    Economics is not ideology. That’s boomer-tier thinking.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  184. Jack D says:
    @syonredux

    I read it before and I totally disagree. He says: “There is no reason to think that the heirs of a German victory in 1918 (or 1919, or 1920) would have been less likely to pursue these objectives [than Hitler].”

    I think there is plenty of reason to think so. Nebulafox gives some of them. Hitler was sui generis.

    If it was possible to rewind history, it would be best if the war could have been avoided completely but a truce in 1916 would have been good too. But once the bonfire of war is lit it is very difficult to douse it until all of the fuel has burned out.

    • Agree: Old Palo Altan
  185. @Dieter Kief

    I would just state my position briefly, without going into details (after all, this is just a comments section):

    1. most people don’t have a world-view, or when they have, it is something blurred, barely articulate etc.

    2. those who have, tend to fall into small number of categories:

    a) materialists/physicalists, whether in old fashioned or modern garb: all we experience is simply all that actually is. There is no self-subsistent reality outside of what we experience in our waking consciousness (if we are normal, of course)

    b) “supernaturalists”, for wont of a better word: there is reality which supersedes what we experience & articulate when in waking consciousness, and that reality is not just a projection of altered states of our minds/brains

    c) true skeptics, who leave a possibility that there may be something more universal & all-encompassing, but consider this possibility to be something of secondary importance to us, humans, because even if it does exist, it is either unreachable, or otherwise, our percption of it could be only fragmentary or distorted, as is the case- maybe- with mystics & similar people; so we, as long we remain human- can’t do anything with & about it

    Probably there are some more, but they could be, more or less, categorized under sub-categories.

    As for a), which is the dominant wold-view in modern world, now, there are also various epistemological approaches:

    1. pluralist world-view (similar to Isaiah Berlin’s foxes in “The Hedgehog and the Fox”). These people don’t have an emotional need to possess an articulate unified world-view. They leave it at that.

    2. monist world view, which is somehow “natural”, because pluralism has an innate drive to become schizophrenic in passionate people; what normal men want is, basically, a coherent world-view, which is a diluted variant of monism.

    Reductionist Weltanschauung is, perhaps, a subset of monist world-view, or something else, I’m not quite sure. It boils down to: we need to go further in our investigations, following scientific method; we’ll build new concepts, theories & do experiments; we hope that we’ll succeed in unraveling “mysteries” of everything (nature, man, society, … in all its manifestations) & we will, say, finally understand even arts & religions & wars & all human emotions & … everything, just working with expanding tools of exact sciences. We, human beings are capable of comprehending perhaps everything, or at least so much more than we know now that we’ll become almost super-human.

    This may necessitate genetic modification of homo sapiens, but even that vastly expanded homo sapiens will remain still ruled, and his cognition too, by laws of logic & mental functioning as we know them: linear time, separability of events (not to be confused with properties of nature that quantum entanglement has done with), 3+1 dimensional space-time, …

    Or, radically, as a metaphor: if thermodynamics, which operates with pressure, temperature etc. is reducible, essentially, to statistical physics, so will some further “sociology” or “economics” or “psychology” be reduced, at least theoretically, to superstrings (or, better, their future equivalents).

    That’s modern modern reductionist paradigm in extreme.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  186. bomag says:
    @Dumbo

    protests… protests… What is going on?

    What we should be doing here.

  187. @Jack D

    I don’t agree with this polemic, but it is an excellent example of the genre.

  188. Dube says:
    @MBlanc46

    Putting it simply, for the pragmatists, truth is “what works”. What is relativist about that?

    This succinct formulation circulating through various texts seems the best and truest answer relative to your question:

    Truth is relative to a time and place and purpose and is thus ever changing in the light of new data.

    That’s the adjusted response to C. S. Peirce’s suggestion that truth is the opinion fated to be agreed to by all who investigate. Well yeah, said his friend William James, but what about the need for decisions related to some purpose in the here and now? We’ll make those decisions that pay off, that have “cash value,” said the brash and brilliant James.

    And remember purpose in the analysis: pragmatic truth is relative to purpose.

  189. @Anon

    This is completely wrong. If we go into historiosophical stereotypes, historical Jewish “sin” is not relativism; it is parochial exclusivism.

    • Replies: @Counterinsurgency
  190. dearieme says:
    @Kaganovitch

    Kag is right and Coag is utterly wrong. The popular, and there political, mood in Britain in the 30s was strongly anti-war: anti-rearmament, anti-conscription, pro-pacifism.

    This might not have much mattered if Hitler had turned out to be a nationalist like Bismarck. Alas, only with his invasion of rump Czechoslovakia in 1938 did it become clear that he was an imperialist, like Napoleon.

    The Labour Party dropped its objection to conscription only after Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Such stuff is rarely mentioned nowadays: here’s an exception.
    https://order-order.com/2019/06/05/corbyn-praised-appeasing-hitler-disarming-second-world-war/

    Baldwin, the dominant politician between the wars, said in a speech in the Commons on 12 November 1936, (WKPD):

    “I put before the whole House my own views with an appalling frankness. From 1933, I and my friends were all very worried about what was happening in Europe. You will remember at that time the Disarmament Conference was sitting in Geneva. You will remember at that time there was probably a stronger pacifist feeling running through the country than at any time since the War. I am speaking of 1933 and 1934. You will remember the election at Fulham in the autumn of 1933 [26.5% swing against the government candidate] … That was the feeling of the country in 1933. My position as a leader of a great party was not altogether a comfortable one. I asked myself what chance was there…within the next year or two of that feeling being so changed that the country would give a mandate for rearmament? Supposing I had gone to the country and said that Germany was rearming and we must rearm, does anybody think that this pacific democracy would have rallied to that cry at that moment! I cannot think of anything that would have made the loss of the election from my point of view more certain…”

  191. rdrk says:

    The pseudoscientific nature of Einstein’s theory is discussed in God in the Equation: How Einstein Became the Prophet of the New Religious Era by Corey S Powell.
    The Australian mathematician Stephen Crothers has shown in several papers (here is one youtube presentation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBorBKDnE3U) that the math Einstein used to support his theory is erroneous.
    Einstein’s theory is based on (assumes the validity of) Newton’s idea that gravity is the primary force in the universe, the force that holds the universe together. If Newton’s theory is incorrect, Einstein’s also fails.
    In fact the electromagnetic force in the universe is thirty nine orders of magnitude [1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000] greater than the gravitational force.
    Einstein’s theory(ies) are merely mathematical contrivances based on faulty (Newtonian) assumptions, they are mathematical formulas without a basis in nature.
    That is true of virtually all of what passes as modern “science” which is really, as Hayek among others, has described, scientism, not science itself (logical deductions from observation).
    On the political aspect of this, see Hayek’s The Counter-Revolution of Science , on the scientific aspect see Donald Scott, PhD The Electric Sky.
    When we study quantum mechanics we are studying electrons, positrons, photons, magnetic fields and the like, that is all. Newton’s laws work pretty well for studying the physical aspects of creation but fail when we study of the constituents of physical objects themselves. Gravity, for example, does not apply at the atomic level, electromagnetism does.
    It is the electromagnetic force, not Newtonian gravity, that is Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance”.

    Modern “science” is

  192. dearieme says:
    @Dumbo

    So “the Earth is flat” thing is an attempt to return to old certainties?

    But it’s not an old certainty, it’s a 19th century hoax popularised principally by Washington Irving. Its purpose was to disparage the Roman Catholic church – a fine and noble ambition, but one that should not to be pursued by telling lies.

  193. @Dieter Kief

    If only Precht himself would not lose his temper and clear-mindedness in the course of his enormous success.

    Perhaps he should change his name to Pertolt Precht.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  194. @Jim Given

    I agree and add: Modernity is not necessarily secular. – Cf. Erich Fromm’s work, or that of Robert Spaemann or – Ernst Jünger and Tom Wolfe (and the late Jürgen Habermas of course (I know that this an unpure mixture (Ernst Bloch)).

  195. Old Jew says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Did your wife go to “Babes-Bolyai University” in Cluj ?

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  196. @nebulafox

    Re Joachim (von) Ribbentrop. What you say might have happened had he remained in private life after a German victory is demonstrably true in this rather surprising way: his children took up precisely the family’s role in Wiesbaden, both as “champagne” (actually Sekt, a rather horrible but very popular German ersatz champagne) merchants and as leading member’s of the beau monde of Wiesbaden and Rhenish society. Remember that their mother was an heiress of the Henkell family, and thus the Ribbentrops become no mere sellers of wine, but owners of a very substantial sekt making empire.
    They have consistently married into the local nobility and are very closely related to a former German Defence Minister, a Baron Guttenberg and, through his wife, a direct descendant of Otto von Bismarck, to the wider German nobility of the Prussia that was.

    Goering was a brilliant, brave, and immensely charismatic figure who would have wrapped whatever world he found after a German victory around his little finger. Hess was an oddball, but his family was rich, and he would have done just fine. The military men would have pursued their careers with greater or lesser success, and the lawyers the same; Schacht would have been a financial king-pin under any regime; Speer a highly succesful architect and perhaps even a set designer in the films of an uncontroversial and genial film-director called Leni. Neurath would have made a good Reichskanzler, while Papen (who had married a Boch & Villeroy heiress) would have likely simply retired to his estates and lived on even longer than he actually did (he died in 1969).

    Rosenberg would have written ever more turgid speculative works of historical philosophy while Schirach would very possibly have gone to live in the USA (after all, he was descended from a signer of the Declaration of Independence)

    Perhaps only Sauckel and Steicher would have been entirely unknown to history – along with their Fuehrer himself.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    , @Jack D
  197. Bull, the art thing I think you’re referring to is the “borrowing” of Heath Robinson’s work by Rube Goldberg

    Goldberg started his career about the same time as Robinson, an ocean and a continent away. He was pulling a “Weird Al” on his engineering profs at Berkeley. Though he shared the same basic premise with Robinson, so did Leibnitz with Newton, Darwin with Wallace, Adams with LeVerrier and Galle.

    Their styles were otherwise very different. Do you have evidence that one knew of the other, and copied him? If so, please share it.

  198. @Reg Cæsar

    He has already, I assume…in foro interno. And now he crusades for all these big reforms like making schools just with the help of – you guessed it already: Pedagogical reforms such as social learning and group learning and ecological learning…

    The one great idea of his I could agree with lately was to immediately stop all cruise ships to minimize climate change. I’d add motorboats to his mix – ahhh – what a perfect and joyous peace over Lake of Constance in the summertime!! – I’d gladly call it the Richar-David Precht Quietness out of pure gratefulness!

  199. @Old Palo Altan

    Re Joachim (von) Ribbentrop

    Or, as Month Python called him, Ron Vibbentrop.

    http://www.montypython.net/scripts/minehead.php

    Sekt… merchants

    Does that make them champagne national socialists?

  200. @El Dato

    The assertion that the question of faster-than-light quantum influence presents no problem for General Relativity is of course wrong, as the desperate attempts to get around it that you describe only show too well.

    t’Hooft proposes Super-Determinism – supposedly some grand cosmic conspiracy forces the experimenters and their apparatus, no matter how cleverly randomized, to make exactly the right settings to produce somehow the correlation between the quantum entangled particles. A truly out there hypothesis, nevertheless some bother to refute it – for this astronomical “experiment” for instance the most recent time that such a conspiracy could have been engineered is pushed back to at least 7,8 billion years ago ( https://arxiv.org/abs/1808.05966 ).

  201. Jack D says:
    @Old Palo Altan

    You forgot Himmler. He would have gone on to a distinguished career as a chicken farmer.

  202. J.Ross says:

    First, there was all these comic book movies. Recently, great directors spoke out about all the comic book movies, especially Martin Scorsese.
    But what Scorsese fails to realize is black people being afraid of total extermination, which scientistically proves that comic book movies are good.
    [drops mic]

    https://www.indiewire.com/2019/11/chadwick-boseman-calls-martin-scorsese-marvel-slam-1202188636/

    The mystery that Scorsese is talking about is in Black Panther. If he saw it, he didn’t get that there was this feeling of not knowing what was going to happen that black people felt. We thought, you know, “White people will kill us off, so it’s a possibility that we could be gone.” We felt that angst. We felt that thing you would feel from cinema when we watched it. That’s cultural. Maybe it’s generational.

    (just now on radio, Sean Hannity’s advertising CBD [marojuana derived oil]? What?)

    • Replies: @Pericles
  203. SFG says:
    @Sean

    I’ve often thought that, yes. The more influence women have, the worse it is for autistic people, mostly men. We’re now expecting guys to read social cues before even asking a girl out, which means lots of autistic guys will never get laid.

    Psychology Today is surprisingly realist–they have a whole evo-psych section.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  204. @Jack D

    This is completely wrong. Future historians will see WWI as the hinge point for the downfall of European civilization. It’s all downhill from there.

    What about going three decades back, into the brief but intense scramble for Africa — which might haunt Europe for many generations to come, more than the centuries-long New World colonialism ever has, given the sheer strength in numbers the sub-Saharan Africans are gathering?

    • Replies: @Jack D
  205. SFG says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    You’re a sub, Buzz? I prefer to do the abusing myself…

    (yes, that was a joke)

    • Replies: @Buzz Mohawk
  206. Speaking of WWI:

    Legendary Canadian sportscaster Don Cherry was fired today after asserting on the air on Saturday night that immigrants dishonor veterans by neglecting to wear poppies on Remembrance Day.

    Cherry steadfastly refused to apologize.

  207. SFG says:
    @nebulafox

    “Herr Doktor Bohr, thank you for your work on atomic physics. Rest assured you will have full German citizenship and a place on the new German Culture Monument with Einstein and Haber being built in St. Petersburg. Moscow, I am afraid, is too radioactive right now. Before that, there will be a reception with Gauleiter Rathenau in Warsaw; I am sure you will wish to attend.”

    • Replies: @nebulafox
    , @Pericles
  208. @Goldfinch

    “…the professors taught us cartoonish and exaggerated versions of what Heidegger and Shroedinger actually said.”

    Would that they had stuck to “literature” instead of venturing into terra incognita.

  209. @Grumpy

    Not surprised. Several years ago the freshman class at Harvard was queried as to why it was hotter in the summer than it was in winter. Most of ’em didn’t know.

  210. Jack D says:
    @nebulafox

    This is important to keep in mind – all totalitarians are sociopathic liars – when they say they want peace, they mean war. Keep this in mind when Putin and Xi speak.

    2nd, this quote is from a speech that Hitler gave to the press. At the end, he sums up:

    in liberal countries the function of the press is seen as the press plus the people against the government. Here it must read: leadership plus propaganda and press, guiding the people!.

    Again, this still holds true today. Not only is this true in places like China & Russia, but in the US it alternates according to whether the Democrats holds power or not – when they don’t, the American press is a “liberal” press in opposition to the (Republican) government, but when they do, the press “guides the people” in concert with the policies of the (Democrat) government.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
  211. Roger says:
    @kijkfaas mcgee

    Logical positivism is rational because it sticks to what can be proved or empirically demonstrated. No, Godel did not blow it up.

  212. Anon[251] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Did you see the Don Cherry thing. That was the least ranty rant I have ever seen.

  213. @Jack D

    Bormann too, was unlikely to be a historically important figure sans 3rd Reich.

  214. @Old Jew

    Yes.

    In fact, she passed the three-day entrance exam three years in a row. You see, a close relative had run off to America before their revolution, and this meant that no matter how high she scored, she was not allowed into college.

    Only on the third try, after the overthrow of Ceaușescu, was she allowed in.

    They did not tell her until later that she had passed the entrance exam three years in a row, and that it was because of her uncle in America that she did not get in until the third time.

    When she graduated, they offered her the Ph.D. program in mathematics. Instead, she herself moved to America and eventually met me. I am the beneficiary of this complex history.

    • Replies: @Kaganovitch
    , @Dieter Kief
  215. @PhysicistDave

    Economics matters, and nobody understands it. Simple as that.

    Counterinsurgency

  216. @AnotherDad

    Along with WWI you could also count the Civil War, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf Wars as stupid, promulgated by “leaders” who obviously had no regard for the mass murder of countless innocent people.

  217. Odin says:
    @Roger

    Yes, logical positivism was a philosophy that did reconcile rationality with weird physics like relativity and quantum mechanics. Then philosophers rejected it all.

    Isn’t applying the Verifiability Principle to itself the step that rejected—nullified—logical positivism?

  218. @SFG

    I’m a switch.

    Sometimes, after a long day of mastering and conquering the irrational world, it is good to come home to some mathematical discipline.

  219. @Dumbo

    Evo Morales just resigned after protests. Weird protests in Chile. New leftist/peronista government in Argentina after months of protests. Lula released from prison in Brazil during the presidency of his nemesis, furthering protests there too. What is going on?

    Well there’s the zeitgeist. It looks like the entire world’s capital stock is being depleted (with China and the Russian Federation being two possible exceptions), and this could be due to the increased fraction of the world’s population that is unable to perform productive work in an industrial economy _as well as due to_ changes in transportation and communications that made cities uneconomic except for support of population that had also become economically unproductive thanks to the population boom in non-Western countries. Zeitgeist says “Boo!”.

    In Latin America the decline could be specifically due to increased population fractions of mestizos, or simple transfer of power to mestizos as industrial civilization loses its power internationally — as it is losing its power in the US.

    But these are research questions, not research conclusions.

    Counterinsurgency

  220. @J.Ross

    No I haven’t seen them, but from the way you describe them, they sound pretty funny.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  221. @Mr. Anon

    Back in the late 1950s up to the mid 1960s, any time one tried to apply logic, especially ethical logic, the answer was usually “but everything is relative” and the common ground for discussing such matters was rejected. Real relativity had nothing to do with it — it was just a pretext for rejection of settlement by anything short of a resort to force that the rejecting person knew would not be taken. Sort of a paleo-Postmodernism.

    Counterinsurgency

    • Replies: @dearieme
  222. @Alfred

    Unfortunately, the Leftists are trying their best to undermine confidence in the government and the economy.

  223. anonymous[684] • Disclaimer says:
    @Charles Erwin Wilson 3

    wwebd said, in reply to Mr Wilson’s dismissive comment from earlier today ——- Actually it is not an easy call.

    First off, von Neumann was more or less autistic (despite what unreliable biographers have said about him), not a real genius – the fact that he could see stadiums full of digits exponentially faster than most people of his era were able to see a single row of digits did not make him a genius, it just made him the winner in the Autism Division in the competition to “have useful insights on tractable mathematical problems.” Real geniuses do not proceed from an autistic beginning. Remember that, if you remember nothing else I have ever said. (That being said, von Neumann ended well – the story of the last months of his life is inspiring! – you should read about it someday).

    Second, Godel himself was not confident in his own conclusions. The poor little fellow spent the last years of his life attempting to prove his intuition that the universe is a spiral of sorts, turning about and about and never changing. I think he may have been almost right, but I think it is much more likely he was sort of an idiot savant, a crackpot, for 99 percent of his life, and had he not had the good luck to be a contemporary of actual non-Sperger thinkers in the limited fields of logic which he found most congenial, the best he could have hoped for in life would have been to be a sad little bookie who made a few shillings more than the other bookies.

    Mr Wilson, you may be very intelligent, but you waste our time with ad hominems.

    And yes, Godel was a first-rank logician, but so what! Logic at its best is a team game, not an individual sport.

  224. @Lot

    Non-Euclidean Geometry doesn’t falsify Euclid. It’s not Anti-Euclidean Geometry. If anything it affirms his counterintuitive but ballsy insistence on the Fifth Postulate.

    • Agree: PhysicistDave
  225. @The Z Blog

    You don’t understand any of this.

    Lack of clarity has that effect on readers.

    Economics is not ideology.

    Ideology is not human.

    https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2011/04/russell-kirk-errors-of-ideology-briefly.html

    The most hardcore libertarians would abolish the state, and that would lead to the return of what preceded the state, mostly clan governance. But going back is reactionary by definition. It’s as right-wing as it gets.

    That’s boomer-tier thinking.

    That’s marketing language. To paraphrase Maynard Keynes, you’re just a slave of some defunct market researcher.

    It is not good to let outsiders define you.

  226. @Roger

    Occam’s chainsaw is just as useless as his butter knife and far more dangerous.

  227. @SFG

    That’s always been expected. It’s not that hard for autists to look up IOI’s when the time comes.

    Worked for me.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
  228. nebulafox says:
    @Desiderius

    Same. And when I was a child, I just created scripts inspired by whatever I read in books or saw on TV. I thought that was what everybody did.

    It’s like a foreign language. You can learn it with effort and time. You’ll never be a native speaker and that does have drawbacks, but you can also learn things that most native speakers don’t, because they never have to pay attention to all the underlying rules of their language.

  229. syonredux says:
    @anonymous

    First off, von Neumann was more or less autistic (despite what unreliable biographers have said about him), not a real genius

    Dunno….

    Nobel Laureate Hans Bethe said “I have sometimes wondered whether a brain like von Neumann’s does not indicate a species superior to that of man”,[19] and later Bethe wrote that “[von Neumann’s] brain indicated a new species, an evolution beyond man”.[185] Seeing von Neumann’s mind at work, Eugene Wigner wrote, “one had the impression of a perfect instrument whose gears were machined to mesh accurately to a thousandth of an inch.”[186] Paul Halmos states that “von Neumann’s speed was awe-inspiring.”[18] Israel Halperin said: “Keeping up with him was … impossible. The feeling was you were on a tricycle chasing a racing car.”[187] Edward Teller admitted that he “never could keep up with him”.[188] Teller also said “von Neumann would carry on a conversation with my 3-year-old son, and the two of them would talk as equals, and I sometimes wondered if he used the same principle when he talked to the rest of us.

    Lothar Wolfgang Nordheim described von Neumann as the “fastest mind I ever met”,[192] and Jacob Bronowski wrote “He was the cleverest man I ever knew, without exception. He was a genius.”[193] George Pólya, whose lectures at ETH Zürich von Neumann attended as a student, said “Johnny was the only student I was ever afraid of. If in the course of a lecture I stated an unsolved problem, the chances were he’d come to me at the end of the lecture with the complete solution scribbled on a slip of paper.”[194] Eugene Wigner writes: “‘Jancsi,’ I might say, ‘Is angular momentum always an integer of h? ‘ He would return a day later with a decisive answer: ‘Yes, if all particles are at rest.’… We were all in awe of Jancsi von Neumann”.[195] Enrico Fermi told physicist Herbert L. Anderson: “You know, Herb, Johnny can do calculations in his head ten times as fast as I can! And I can do them ten times as fast as you can, Herb, so you can see how impressive Johnny is!”[196]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_von_Neumann#Cognitive_abilities

  230. anonymous[684] • Disclaimer says:
    @syonredux

    Yes I have read those testimonials, all from second-rate thinkers who were actually praising themselves by pretending they were entitled to make judgements on whether Janni was brilliant or just a freak show who got lucky. Of course they were gonna say he was brilliant. If he was just the numero uno Spergster of his day, which he was, that would just have made them look bad.

    I have read what his daughter thought of him, and I have read what Feynman thought of him, and I have read some of his published works.

    Spergerville was where he was born and it is where he made his money.

    Not a genius, just a very very lucky freak.

    Until the last year or two, when he turned to theology —–

    but there is no point in explaining those things here, people who care find out about things like that elsewhere than on Unz.con threads.

    • Replies: @dearieme
    , @syonredux
  231. @Buzz Mohawk

    My mom grew up a few kilometers from Kolozsvar/Cluj.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  232. nebulafox says:
    @Jack D

    The funny thing is that I strongly doubt Adolf Hitler was a sociopath. I can point to some Nazis that I do think were genuine sociopaths, and Hitler didn’t fit the profile at all.

    > Not only is this true in places like China & Russia, but in the US it alternates according to whether the Democrats holds power or not – when they don’t, the American press is a “liberal” press in opposition to the (Republican) government, but when they do, the press “guides the people” in concert with the policies of the (Democrat) government.

    Most Chinese I met expressed genuine incredulity that people in the USA are actually naive enough takes what the media has to say at face value. Growing up in an authoritarian society does give you the advantage of immediately assuming that everything official has an agenda of some kind, and that you need to read between the lines to figure out what is really going on.

  233. @syonredux

    What weight can this testimony possibly have against the axiom ” real geniuses do not proceed from an autistic beginning”? Have you already forgotten what you were in no uncertain terms tasked with remembering?

  234. nebulafox says:
    @SFG

    Well, Einstein would have ditched Germany the moment a right-wing authoritarian dictatorship came to power, whatever its stripe. Even if it wasn’t at all anti-Semitic: which was unlikely given the nature of the European hard-right, but for the sake of argument…

    But most of those brilliant scientists would not have, and that’s the real point. Even more critically, Germany would have still remained the center of education for younger generation of students from places like Hungary or Poland. (Even Oppenheimer got his doctorate in Germany.) Without an outright volkisch party like the Nazis in power, I can’t see Germany seriously eclipsing its eastern neighbors in anti-Semitic attitudes, especially since they’d already had right-wing authoritarian governments well before 1933.

    It’s also worth pointing out that a run-of-the-mill German military dictatorship likely would have kept the “understanding” they had with Moscow ever since the early 1920s going, even as they crack down on Germany’s own Communists. Stalin’s willingness to humiliate and purge the heartburn-inducing Old Bolsheviks probably wouldn’t hurt his image in Zossen, and without Nazism gaining such an ideological grasp on much of the military (particularly the junior officer corps), the predictable racial attitudes about Slavs and Jews remain petty enough to not disturb official policy.

  235. anonymous[684] • Disclaimer says:
    @Kaganovitch

    Mr Kaganovitch dude, if you wish to be funny, please change your screen name.

    I know who the most famous Kaganovitch was, and I literally know millions of things that you probably do not know.

    Wake up.

    Read about the last months of poor Janni’s life, reflect on them, and then if you want to be funny at the expense of people like me who know what genius is and what genius is not, have at it.

    If you choose to do so, I would also recommend you not rely on the testimony of people who admitted they were exponentially less intelligent than poor Janni.

    You are welcome for the good advice.

    By the way, I lived in Moscow for almost a year while the real Kaganovitch was still alive.

    It literally chills my blood to think I may have ridden the Metro with the beribboned evildoer.

    Wake up.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @kaganovitch
    , @Jack D
  236. @anonymous

    Wow, the fever swamp raises its champion!

    First off, von Neumann was more or less autistic (despite what unreliable biographers have said about him), not a real genius

    You begin with a slur. Do you think a slur is persuasive? And next, you assume I am ignorant, because the fact that we disagree means you think you know something I do not know. Really?

    the story of the last months of his life is inspiring! – you should read about it someday

    For someone impugning von Neumann’s genius, I confess that I am surprised that you have stumbled onto a truth. The blind squirrel and the acorn come to mind. I have read both about von Neumann, and what von Neumann wrote. Have you?

    but I think it is much more likely he was sort of an idiot savant

    Why do you think anyone cares about what you think? Stupid people have many thoughts. No one cares.

    And yes, Godel was a first-rank logician, but so what!

    Godel’s theorems proved that no axiomatic system can be complete and consistent. Godel’s proof rang the death knell of Hilbert’s program and logical positivism.

    Logic at its best is a team game, not an individual sport.

    And that claim is based on what? Team logic? Even a sophomore such as you should recognize that you need to dig deeper than your superficial analysis to presume to contradict von Neumann, or deprecate the genius of Godel.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  237. @Roger

    Logical positivism is rational because it sticks to what can be proved or empirically demonstrated.

    Except that logical positivism’s foundational premise can nether be proved nor empirically demonstrated. You have been sold a pig in a poke. Feel free to embrace your delusion, but do not presume to criticize astrologers, snake-oil salesmen or cargo-cult believers. You are all fellow travelers.

  238. @Kaganovitch

    the axiom ” real geniuses do not proceed from an autistic beginning”?

    You are joking, right?

    • Replies: @SFG
    , @kaganovitch
  239. anonymous[391] • Disclaimer says:
    @Charles Erwin Wilson 3

    You are assuming you are much more intelligent than I am.

    Maybe you are right, maybe you are wrong.

    By the way, I am fairly certain you are wrong, but miracles occur, and I could be wrong.

    It gladdens my heart to see that you care : you are intelligent enough to know that God inspires those who God wants to inspire!

    And if I am more intelligent than you, miracles or not, my young friend: listen to this

    poor Janni was just a freak-show exhibit for most of his life.

    he never understood the world half as well as I do, because he was a denizen of Spergerland and I, with all my faults, am a humble person who knows the truth

    God loves us all, as described from the first day in the Garden of Eden, and as transcribed not only in the holy books of Christianity and Judaism but in the hearts of those who are simple and who respect the world

    and poor Janni was not such a person until the last months.

    I hope you understand.

    To understand my worldview, you should also know that I consider Spinoza to be a simpleton, and Kant to be the Widmerpool of his day.

    Hope that helps.

  240. SFG says:
    @Charles Erwin Wilson 3

    Plenty of autistic geniuses. Monomania helps when you’re trying to do something unique.

    • Agree: Desiderius
  241. Jack D says:
    @adreadline

    Without the millions of dead European men from WWI and WWII and their missing descendants, it would never have occurred to Europeans to import immigrants from Africa. Europe was always an exporter of immigrants, not an importer.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  242. Mr. Anon says:
    @Johnmark

    That is not proof. And, evidently, you can’t explain this theory you buy into.

  243. Jack D says:
    @Kaganovitch

    Its real name is Kloiznberg. All those other name are phony, like calling NY Nueva York or Niuyue.

    • LOL: kaganovitch
  244. @Jack D

    Without the millions of dead European men from WWI and WWII and their missing descendants, it would never have occurred to Europeans to import immigrants from Africa. Europe was always an exporter of immigrants, not an importer.

    Of course that’s just innumerate horseshit.

    The number of men killed in WW1 and WW2 was nothing compared to drop off in breeding that came with, first, increasing women’s liberation that defined itself as being equal to men in education and the labor market and, later, the introduction of birth control. The drop off in birth rates had nothing to do with the men killed in wars.

    You really think that the one to two percent of people killed in WW1, relative to the population of the countries involved in the war, and the three to four percent of the people killed in WW2 for the same affected countries, made a difference?

    And the wars were both one-off events.

    What’s more, the countries with the largest numbers killed off in both of the world wars did not later open their borders for labor. Think the Ottoman Empire in WW1 and the Soviet Union in WW2.

    The U.S., by contrast, hardly lost any men in both wars. Less than a third of a percent of the population. That didn’t stop the country from throwing open its borders in 1965.

  245. Jack D says:
    @anonymous

    Poor Jancsi indeed. Perhaps the greatest mathematical mind of the 20th century but he could not process his own impending demise at the young age of 53. In his desperation he turned to priests who tried to give him false comfort-the show wasn’t over after all. It would continue in Heaven where he would sit beside Jesus. He knew on some level that this was bullshit but he was grasping at straws in a way that a healthy Jancsi never would have. Shame on that Black Monk for exploiting the desperation of a dying man.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  246. dfordoom says: • Website
    @Coag

    If Africans had the IQ, time preference, self-inhibition, and other characteristics of westerners then their heroic age of war would catalyze their societies much as the Thirty Years War or Napoleonic Wars spurred on western nationstates to new heights. (Wars in which up to 30% or more of national populations died)

    Maybe the problem with western civilisation today is that not enough people died in WW2. If 30% of the US population had died the US today would be absolutely overflowing with national self-confidence. And no wonder Britain is such a mess – their casualties were pitifully low. The West was just not trying hard enough.

    On the other hand Paraguay lost half its population in the war of 1865-1870. That’s why Paraguay is a superpower today and the United States isn’t.

  247. Anon 2 says:
    @syonredux

    But these days any 7-year-old with a calculator can extract cube roots
    much faster and more accurately than von Neumann ever could.
    In the age of machine guns there is no longer any reason to admire
    someone who is good with a bow and arrow.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  248. nebulafox says:
    @Jack D

    Here’s an interesting alt-timeline:

    A more assertive, no-nonsense German dictatorship takes power in late 1923 or 1924 after an even worse period of internal strife, however bad it had to be to make this happen. They enact martial law and start a vicious crackdown on anti-government radicals. What they really want are the Communists gone, but they are grounded enough in reality-and also want to send the right message for foreign consumption-to know that something has to be done to at least cull the far-right, too. So, the Weimar deep state set up a new secret police bureau, Ohkrana style, but at German rather than Russian levels of efficiency. The results are nasty, but extremely effective. The people don’t complain, because order is returning and the economy begins to improve in the mid-1920s. (Later on? Well, at least demagogues will tread more lightly during the Depression.)

    Hitler, after his starring role in Munich the previous year, is obviously high on the purge list: he “disappears” from his prison cell one day and is never heard from again. Heinrich Himmler, though, is let go after his arrest after giving a written signature promising not to engage in terrorist movements again. The authorities view him as an insignificant 20-something flunky who got caught up in the wrong crowd and seems to have learned his lesson. He’s spooked enough that he decides to emigrate to South America for a fresh start, and he works his way up from being a humble farmer to a minister of agriculture in the Argentinian government.

    He died in his bed in his 90s, surrounded by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Nobody would have ever guessed what he’d be capable of in different circumstances.

    Peak Hannah Arendt.

  249. dfordoom says: • Website
    @nebulafox

    Pessimism and irrationality was the favorable ideology of the day for a European bourgeoisie on the defensive against the dual attacks of global capitalism and Communism

    You can see the beginnings of that before the First World War. The growing interest in the occult. Cubism appeared several years before the war. The decadent literature of the 1890s. And the literature of the time was not exactly cheerful. Joseph Conrad for instance.

    There are several possible explanations but Darwinism was likely to be a factor. And Freud’s early books in the 1890s.

    Also possibly colonialism which encouraged an interest in non-European cultures – that could have been a factor in the rise of cultural relativism.

    The fear of cultural degeneration was also a bit of a thing in the 1890s.

  250. Anon 2 says:

    IMHO a growing trend in physics today is toward the dematerialization
    of the world so much so that the talk of the universe as a simulation is
    beginning to make sense to a lot of people. Several examples:

    As I pointed out earlier in this thread, Rutherford’s 1911 discovery that almost
    the entire mass of the atom is contained in a tiny nucleus, about 1/100,000 the
    atomic size, meas that the solidity of matter is an illusion – our bodies and
    everything around us, even solid steel, are mostly empty space.

    The standard reductionist program in which molecules are reduced to atoms,
    atoms to electrons and nuclei, nuclei to protons and neutrons, the latter to
    quarks and gluons which can be described quantum-mechanically in terms
    of wave functions (i.e., probability clouds) or more precisely, in terms of
    relativistic quantum fields – ultimately means that these seemingly material
    particles are reduced to mental mathematical functions.

    One can show, using simple relativistic models of the Universe, that the total
    energy of the Universe is zero. If the energy is zero, then by virtue of the
    mass-energy equivalence, E = mc^2 = 0, the mass of the Universe is 0.
    In what sense can something whose mass is zero be said to exist?

    As of now, there is still no Theory of the Universe. All we have is simplified
    mathematical models such as the Big Bang model. I sometimes present
    a simple version of the proof that E = 0 to my students. In the simplest
    case you write that E(Universe) = Mc^2 + (-GMm/r), and substitute the
    average density of the Universe. The first term is always positive, and
    the second, which is the gravitational potential energy, is always negative.
    The two cancel out. So if the Universe came from nothing (ex nihilo), it’s
    still nothing! It’s like 0 splitting into +2 and -2. I hope that by showing
    that the Universe is still a BIG NOTHING, I’m not driving my students
    to nihilism. However, more and more the Universe appears as a Grand
    Illusion whose purpose is to hide the true nature of reality. Physics is
    then reduced to elucidating how this camouflage is constructed, and why
    we are so easily deceived. Some would say that only mystics can penetrate
    the Veil of Maya, and discover the true nature of Reality or the Mind of God
    but the key point is that the physical universe (incl. our bodies) exists in
    order to deceive us as to who we truly are. We’re talking Hermeneutics of
    Suspicion on steroids!

  251. @anonymous

    Read about the last months of poor Janni’s life, reflect on them, and then if you want to be funny at the expense of people like me who know what genius is and what genius is not, have at it.
    If you choose to do so, I would also recommend you not rely on the testimony of people who admitted they were exponentially less intelligent than poor Janni. You are welcome for the good advice.

    OK, so on the one hand we have the testimony of several people known for their extreme right tail intelligence like Fermi, Ulam, Bethe,Wigner etc. As supporting evidence for their intelligence ,we have the opinion of their peers as demonstrated by their appointments ,Nobel prizes etc. Additionally they have a substantial record of accomplishment e.g. 1st nuclear reactor, discovery of stellar nucleosynthesis, Manhattan Project etc. These people are unanimous in considering Von Neumann a genius.

    On the other hand we have Anonymous 680 , for whose extreme intelligence there is little evidence, albeit he has a self proclaimed ability as a genius dowser, for which in turn there is also distressingly little proof. The sum total of the evidence Anonymous 680 marshals against Von N’s genius, is the axiom ”real geniuses do not proceed from an autistic beginning” along the premise that Von N. was autistic. There is a dearth of probative material to support either of these notions. I note in passing that Stanisław Ulam, who was an intimate friend of Von N.’s and spent many months in his company describes him as anything but autistic, whereas Anon 680 who is vanishingly unlikely to have ever laid eyes on Von N. ,who died more than 60 yrs.ago, describes him as autistic.

    Although not explicitly articulated, there is an implied axiom at work here too. Fermi et als opinion of Von N. is not to be relied on- “I would also recommend you not rely on the testimony of people who admitted they were exponentially less intelligent than poor Janni.” Whereas Anon 680’s opinion of Von N. should be credited because of his self-proclaimed status as a genius maven. We can thus derive the axiom ‘When assessing genius, accuracy is a first order function of bombast’.

    What can I say? It’s a tough call.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  252. @J.Ross

    That’s hilarious, but unfortunately probably too good to be true.

    A 33-year-old female German physicist writes on Reddit about her marital problems with her insane American Hegelian husband who keeps a photo of Herr Hegel by his bedside? And who walks out on her after a fight about the superimposability of the left and right hands?

    I don’t know. Sounds like a story for the internet. But, as they say, the best fiction can resemble truth.

  253. @Laeeth

    It’s not impossible the same dynamic might be at work for a rather slower cycle in civilisational self confidence.

    For one thing, we’re in a classical Kondratiev Winter [1] now. New economically important concepts and equipment exist, and some are in the demonstration stage, but none of them are quite economically feasible yet. Government on all levels is clamping down heavily on change (e.g. the cities are being kept in existence although they are clearly costing more than they are worth economically) to maintain the relevance of the current political establishment, but that sort of thing lasts only so long, as the USSR (and for that matter the Bakfu and Imperial China) found out.
    Next has so far always come the Kondratiev Spring. Doesn’t mean its on the way this time, but, well, could be. Also doesn’t mean the transition will be easy — usually K Winters are marked by major wars as people fight over the scraps of what they see as permanent Winter.

    Counterinsurgency

    1] https://www.kondratieffwavecycle.com/kondratieff-wave/

  254. @don

    Einstein had to cook up a theory to explain the results. He posited that time dilates, length shrinks, and mass increases, all in order to show the apparatus used in Michelson-Morely was not measuring the lack of movement through ether, but instead was incapable of measuring the movement of the earth – because relativity.

    But I was thinking of a plan
    to die my whiskers green
    and always use so large a fan
    that they could not be seen.
    Lewis Carrol

    There is something to this idea — the possibility of a fundamental error in the basics. As I understand it, faster than light communication has been demonstrated between “quantum coupled” elementary particles. If that’s the case, the interpretation of “speed of light” as “speed of causality” has been experimentally disproved, or at least chipped away at, and there _is_ some fundamental conceptual error.
    Not that any attempts to replace Einstein’s work have been all that productive as yet, or that they ever will be. But wouldn’t it be interesting if the establishment’s need to retain Einstein’s reputation was having the same effect on consideration of his work as did politics on consideration of human differences did back in, say, 1968? I’ve actually seen stranger things believed in real life for much less serious policy reasons.

    Counterinsurgency

  255. @Bardon Kaldian

    If we go into historiosophical stereotypes, historical Jewish “sin” is not relativism; it is parochial exclusivism.

    Wouldn’t it be more like “breaking the Law”?

    Counterinsurgency

  256. @PhysicistDave

    Economics matters, but the economists have sold it to the highest bidder

  257. @Charles Erwin Wilson 3

    Charles Erwin Wilson 3 wrote to me:

    [Dave]: The larger point here is that what Westerners had thought of as the underpinning of social and personal morality — Biblical Christianity — turned out not to be true.

    [CEW{: Your atheist slip is showing.

    Hmmm…. you are not aware that during the last five centuries Christianity has had a bit of trouble adjusting to modern science?

    Exactly how long did the Catholic Church take to admit that the earth really did move around the sun?

    And how long did it take fundamentalists to admit that evolution was true? (Oops — they still haven’t!)

    Look: you can argue that a sufficiently sophisticated (or sophistical) form of Christianity can co-exist successfully with modern science. Maybe. But as a matter of historical fact, things have not gone well.

    And it goes way, way deeper than the canonical seven days of Creation, the Virgin Birth, and all the rest. The world of Christianity is a world in which the earth and the beings on it are of central, divine importance.

    In fact, there are, give or take, a couple hundred billion stars in the Milky Way. There are something like a hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe. We now know that a large fraction of stars have planets.

    Even if one is wildly pessimistic about the number of planets that have life and what fraction of those have intelligent life, it is very hard to maintain that there are less than a million other intelligent species in the observable universe (that would be less than one per hundred thousand galaxies!).

    So… did Jesus die a million times over for each of those species to save them from their sins? Or does God have a whole bundle of “Sons,” one for each planet that has an intelligent species (the Holy Trinity is really a Holy Myriad)? Or (what I think most Christians still implicitly believe) is the earth so special that Jesus died here alone but for the sake of the entire universe?

    Such questions start to sound not just impious but rather silly. Christianity was created for the famous three-tier world: Heaven above, earth in the middle, Hell down below. It does not fit in the Universe as we now know it, just as fairies, flying reindeer, and the Easter Bunny do not fit in that world.

    You don’t believe me? Look at the historical statistics on self-proclaimed Christians in countries that have access to knowledge of modern science.

    No, you do not have to be an atheist to see which way the wind is blowing. Just honest.

    • Replies: @donvonburg
    , @dfordoom
  258. @utu

    utu wrote to me:

    Einstein in his 1905 paper does not deal with “all forces of nature” but “laws of electrodynamics and optics” as he explicitly stated in his First Postulate.

    Yes, but he postulated that everything about nature had to work so as to make relativity work. And that was key.

    From the 1920s onward, basic discoveries in physics were driven by the heuristic principle that no matter what theories we worked out, they could not be truly correct unless they were consistent with relativity.

    That is why Einstein matters. All of fundamental physics had to obey Dr. Einstein. It has worked out rather nicely.

    utu also wrote:

    It is possibly however that Poincare’s result in eyes of Einstein confirmed the relativistic nature of the anomaly and stimulated him towards the work on the General Relativity.

    That is not my recollection: I think Einstein was motivated by finding a replacement for Newtonian gravity, since Newtonian gravity is inconsistent with relativity.

    • Replies: @Menschmaschine
    , @utu
  259. @Pericles

    Pericles wrote to me:

    I’m having some trouble myself to reconcile conventional economics with the current regime of negative interest rates, unlimited money printing, rapidly increasing debt, no measured inflation, and what not. I wouldn’t mind a coherent explanation starting from macro and micro.

    Interesting (and rather scary!) question.

    It’s been known for a long time, at least since Mises’ 1912 Theory of Money and Credit, that the value of money is determined by supply and demand, just like any other good. If the supply explodes, the value tends to go down, but in principle a corresponding increase in demand could maintain the value.

    More importantly, the way our banking system works, new money goes first into the capital markets and only later spreads throughout the economy as a whole: the current stock-market bubble is what you’d expect.

    So, in principle the answer is that the increase in supply may have been partially met by an increase in demand (perhaps more foreigners holding dollars?) and the inflation necessarily hits prices in asset markets first, creating bubbles, before kicking up prices all across the economy.

    Each bubble is different, but the current one does have me very, very worried.

    • Replies: @Lot
  260. @Buzz Mohawk

    Congrats – to both of you. This is a moving story. Reminds me of Herta Müller /The Appointment // The Hunger Angel and Franz Hodjak – no English books….

  261. dearieme says:
    @Pheasant

    So much for Einstien. But what about Einstein?

  262. @PhysicistDave

    And it goes way, way deeper than the canonical seven days of Creation, the Virgin Birth, and all the rest. The world of Christianity is a world in which the earth and the beings on it are of central, divine importance.

    This, is true.

    In fact, there are, give or take, a couple hundred billion stars in the Milky Way. There are something like a hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe. We now know that a large fraction of stars have planets.

    Even if one is wildly pessimistic about the number of planets that have life and what fraction of those have intelligent life, it is very hard to maintain that there are less than a million other intelligent species in the observable universe (that would be less than one per hundred thousand galaxies!).

    So… did Jesus die a million times over for each of those species to save them from their sins? Or does God have a whole bundle of “Sons,” one for each planet that has an intelligent species (the Holy Trinity is really a Holy Myriad)? Or (what I think most Christians still implicitly believe) is the earth so special that Jesus died here alone but for the sake of the entire universe?

    So often the scoffer inadvertently asks a very good, even central, question the believer does not.

    I have wondered this for much of my life.

    It is a question that, so far as I know, the Bible does not directly address. Therefore, I believe, from the standpoint of soteriology it is not essential, but for us curious humans, it can be consuming.

    Like most people of my generation I grew up on science fiction, in novels, movies, television (radio serials were a little before my time and comic books interested me little) and that was a universe in which extraterrestrial life seemed a given. Later, I was interested in UFOs, Erich von Daniken, the whole thing. In fact, the first time I ever picked up a Bible, it was to verify or disprove various ancient astronaut theories.

    I find it pretty tough, though not absolutely impossible to believe a sane and rational Creator would create a universe of billions of galaxies each with billions of stars soley for the use of one tiny insignificant planet around one insignificant common star in one insignificant galaxy for the activity going on for a few thousand of its evident billion years. I do not believe that the earth is ~6000 years old or that the entire universe was created in six literal days, not because that is too little time for an omnipotent God to do so, but actually because it is far too long. An omnipotent and omniscient God would not have needed 600 microseconds to have created the Earth and its solar system, let alone six days. At best, I’m an old earth creationist, figuring that God might as well have taken tens of millions of years because after all to Him, that’s all in due time. Still, there is some evidence that creationists might have a point about a few things: dinosaurs might well have lived a lot longer than we think, after all the coelecanth is still here, and the horseshoe crab.

    My guess is that over the billions of years of the universe there well might, probably have been, many other species to have equalled or excelled ours in cognition and civilizational achievement. However, they might tend to have short lifetimes, often destroying themselves utterly or being wiped out by disasters beyond their control. And they might also be much less common than we think-it could be one every thousand, or ten thousand, or million light years over the space of a million Earth years, and each one might on average have a few centuries or millennia of real technological achievement before sinking back to the level of, say, Australian aborigines or mountain gorillas. And if nothing material can be transported between two points faster than the speed of light in a vacuum, which seems to be the overwhelming consensus today, then none of these civilizations might ever know of each other’s existence in MEST space. Certainly unless you had two civilizations at a similar high level of development across relatively short distances-perhaps from here to Alpha Centauri or Tau Ceti, the possibility of interaction would be nil.

    In the Book of Revelations, we are told that our age will end with divine intervention at a time when if Jesus Christ did not return, the armies of Man would exterminate each other and humanity root and branch. That’s the reason that the Christian Zionists and their harebrained idea of speeding up the Second Coming by forcing God’s hand is such a vicious and blasphemous one. God will not be forced into anything by human wiles, and to want to speed up the most monstrous holocaust in human history instead of doing what we can to prevent it is evil beyond comprehension. That is probably the common end of sentient civilizations, they exterminate themselves back to the Stone Age or out of existence entirely.

    It may be that God has indeed created thousands or millions of civilizations and that God in the person of the Son has had to incarnate into different worlds but only once in each one for his finished Work to be done. It may be that some worlds never fell in their garden of Eden, and it may be that some entire worlds, not just cities in them like Sodom and Gomorrah had to be destroyed utterly, or that some were not worthy of a Savior and they are being left alone for reasons God only knows. We do not know, and in a universe where faster than light spaceflight is not feasible, going out and exploring them doesn’t seem to be an option. It may be for our own good that we are isolated from other lifeforms-maybe out there there is life so terrible that contact with it could be much worse than we can imagine. Perhaps there are creatures out there that make the beings in Alien or Predator seem like harmless puppies in comparison. Perhaps any physical contact between alien life bearing worlds would result in the certain death of one or the other or of both from something like a bacteria or virus that neither would have any defense against.

    We just don’t know. Maybe someday we will.

  263. dearieme says:
    @Counterinsurgency

    Yes, I can remember meeting a university social scientist who claimed that Einstein had proved that everything is subjective. He was spectacularly dim, mind.

  264. dearieme says:
    @anonymous

    Eugene Wigner wrote, “one had the impression of a perfect instrument whose gears were machined to mesh accurately to a thousandth of an inch.”

    I’m mildly surprised that a physicist should think that a “thou” was a particularly demanding accuracy.

  265. Jack D says:
    @anonymous

    You have to give the man credit. He was just about the only Old Bolshevik to die in his bed an old man.

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
  266. @PhysicistDave

    From the 1920s onward, basic discoveries in physics were driven by the heuristic principle that no matter what theories we worked out, they could not be truly correct unless they were consistent with relativity.

    Umm, might this have something to do with the fact that there has been not much progress in fundamental Physics since the 1920s?

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  267. Lot says:
    @PhysicistDave

    “ the supply explodes”

    It is not correct to take data on monetary aggregates and draw the conclusion that the supply of money has exploded.

    It also isn’t correct to assume asset price increases require money supply increases.

    If sellers of stocks tomorrow decide they are worth 20% more than today, and buyers agree, the price will increase 20%, and this can happen concurrently with a decrease in trading volume.

    The Austrian/Goldbug crew has been predicting inflation for 30 years, and has been wrong again and again. Maybe in 2088 after 100 years of failed predictions Ludwig Paul III will finally just maybe consider revising the theory behind the prediction.

    Until then… Zimbabwe! Hyperinflation is coming!!

    • Agree: Dieter Kief
    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  268. Jack D says:
    @donvonburg

    On theory for why we don’t hear the signals of other civilizations broadcasting thru space is that anyone with any sense is hiding and not giving away their position like an impending victim in a slasher movie.

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
    , @Anonymous
  269. Andy says:
    @Rich

    I don’t know if literacy itself leads to atheism/agnosticism. Northern Europe and North America had almost universal literacy for more than a century now, but the drop in religious belief started is a phenomenon of the last few decades. I think evolution, which slowly crept in the general population, was a factor

    • Replies: @dfordoom
  270. @Jack D

    No, I was only talking about those who lived to be tried at Nuremberg, and not even all of them.

    But I’ve little doubt you are correct.

  271. Pericles says:
    @Jack D

    Himmler Fried Chicken with its distinctive greeters at the door.

  272. Pericles says:
    @J.Ross

    (just now on radio, Sean Hannity’s advertising CBD [marojuana derived oil]? What?)

    Conservatism yo!

  273. Pericles says:
    @SFG

    In the Radioactive Moscow scenario, maybe they would have just set up Israel, migrated the Chosen to their homeland, set up some R&D joint ventures in Tel Aviv … You know how it goes.

  274. c matt says:
    @Mr. Anon

    Reminds me of an animated cartoon when I was a kid where some construction worker finds a frog that can sing, and dreams of using it for fame and riches. The frog would only sing when he was alone with the worker, and he went broke trying to push his novelty act. In the end, he puts the frog in a concrete corner stone of the building he worked on. Years later, a futuristic construction worker (flying around in a space suit) is demolishing the building, and removing the corner stone, finds the frog who starts singing again. He sneaks off with the frog in tow with the same look on his face the original worker had . . . .

    Anyway, these scientific discoveries and their “impact” on human nature tend to remind me of that singing frog and the construction workers.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  275. @Jack D

    It has always been remarkable to me that “Iron Lazar” lived out his days in the middle of Moscow , with no protection , unmolested. There were ,at minimum, hundreds of thousands of people with reason to kill him and yet he died well into his nineties , in bed. In contrast, Rezso Kastner (also a Kloiznberger btw) , whose sins were like jaywalking compared to mass murder, was gunned down in the street in Tel Aviv when he was 51. Russian friends I have asked tell me I just don’t understand Russian/Ukranian fatalism. Others tell me Ukranians are not as vindictive as Jews. To me it remains inexplicable.

  276. Gabe Ruth says:
    @PhysicistDave

    Not sure who thinks economics don’t matter besides radical primitivists, which is by no means the whole crew. Even they don’t think it matters because of the ultimate destination, not because it had no meaning in our current state.

    It’s more that they recognize that our rulers hold power over the regular people of this country and others by keeping the economy as a hostage. There seems to be no way of wresting that control from them, so if anything is to change by choice rather than grim necessity, the economy is going to have to be reintroduced to reality, to own the neo-libs.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  277. @Flip

    During this time Germany was experiencing another problem: the Bolsheviks and Nationalists were having a hot civil war within Germany. There were a lot of people from other countries coming to take advantage of Germany’s inflation to get what they could for almost nothing in their own currencies. A lot of them stayed. Those who keep a society functioning were being played by those who control the economy. That group – bankers is a generic term – were worried about a resurgent Germany and introduced problems through ignorance and on purpose. I see a lot of similarities between Germany then and the USA now. Here it is One Hundred Years since the Armistice of The Great War and Germany, having become the combination of a great communist state and a great capitalist state is the top European State. Numbers people love to see recurring cycles, some things are different and some things are the same, but a hundred years later a similar game is being played.

  278. @Bardon Kaldian

    If the superstring scenario would be realized, human beings – or human minds – would no longer be necessary. There could be museums then showing some humans, as an antiquity. Like oldtimer-museums now. Or like Venice now, almost…

  279. @Coag

    we enjoy the fruits of war won by our legendary ancestors all across this continent.

    War is the number 2 reason we sit on such prime real estate. The number 1 reason by a big, big margin is disease. European diseases took out 90-95% of the natives, jumping ahead of European settlement, and leaving those who survived culturally broken. Sure, there was some resistance but taking over the land was pretty much pushing on an open door.

  280. Pericles says:
    @anonymous

    [Von Neumann was an autist, not a real genius.]

    [Gödel was an idiot savant, a crackpot]

    Mr Wilson, you may be very intelligent, but you waste our time with ad hominems.

    Lol, well trolled indeed. The one about logic was good too.

  281. @PhysicistDave

    our Woke SJWs are rather clearly seeking some spiritual meaning (that they are not going to find!).

    Scott Alexander had an interesting post recently on New Atheism: The Godlessness That Failed. His thesis was that New Atheism, which made a big splash in the 2000s was an attempt at hamartiology. “‘Hamartiology’ is a subfield of theology dealing with the study of sin, in particular, how sin enters the universe.” New Atheism said the bad stuff in the world came from religion. After a few years, it transitioned into “atheism plus”, where the problem is religion plus all the other oppressions that now concern so many people. Now, it is simply “social justice”.

    Wokeness is a faith about where evil comes from and how to stop it.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  282. syonredux says:
    @anonymous

    Yes I have read those testimonials, all from second-rate thinkers who were actually praising themselves by pretending they were entitled to make judgements on whether Janni was brilliant or just a freak show who got lucky.

    Oh, I get it. You’re engaging in parody. Pretty funny.

  283. syonredux says:
    @Anon 2

    But these days any 7-year-old with a calculator can extract cube roots
    much faster and more accurately than von Neumann ever could.
    In the age of machine guns there is no longer any reason to admire
    someone who is good with a bow and arrow.

    It’s a good indicator of mental wattage.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Anon 2
  284. utu says:
    @PhysicistDave

    “That is not my recollection: I think Einstein was motivated by finding a replacement for Newtonian gravity, since Newtonian gravity is inconsistent with relativity.” – What was Einstein thinking in 1905-1907 about gravity we do not know. But we know what Poincare was thinking and he realized the incompatibility of Newton gravity with Lorentz transforms which imply that c must be invariant and thus faster than c interactions are not permitted while Newton gravity implies almost instantaneous interactions. Actually Newton was not quite happy with this problem as he wrote the following:

    “It is inconceivable that inanimate Matter should, without the Mediation of something else, which is not material, operate upon, and affect other matter without mutual Contact…That Gravity should be innate, inherent and essential to Matter, so that one body may act upon another at a distance thro’ a Vacuum, without the Mediation of any thing else, by and through which their Action and Force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an Absurdity that I believe no Man who has in philosophical Matters a competent Faculty of thinking can ever fall into it. Gravity must be caused by an Agent acting constantly according to certain laws; but whether this Agent be material or immaterial, I have left to the Consideration of my readers.”

    According to Poincare the requirement of a universal space-time geometry with the speed of light c as the critical speed implies that the gravitational force must be propagated by gravitational waves with a speed equal to c , just as electromagnetic waves carry the electromagnetic interaction.

    5 June 1905 Sur la dynamique de l’électron, C.R. T.140 (1905) 1504-1508 (Comptes Rendus de l’Académie des Sciences, France)

    Mais ce n’est pas tout: Lorentz, dans l’Ouvrage cité, a jugé nécessaire de compléter son hypothèse en supposant que toutes les forces, quelle qu’en soit l’origine, soient affectées, par une translation [a change of inertial frame in Poincaré’s language], de la même manière que les forces électromagnétiques, et que, par conséquent, l’effet produit sur leurs composantes par la transformation de Lorentz est encore défini par les équations (4).

    Il importait d’examiner cette hypothèse de plus près et en particulier de rechercher quelles modifications elle nous obligerait à apporter aux lois de la gravitation. C’est ce que j’ai cherché à déterminer; j’ai été d’abord conduit à supposer que la propagation de la gravitation n’est pas instantanée, mais se fait avec la vitesse de la lumière. (…)

    Quand nous parlerons donc de la position ou de la vitesse du corps attirant, il s’agira de cette position ou de cette vitesse à l’instant où l’onde gravifique est partie de ce corps; quand nous parlerons de la position ou de la vitesse du corps attiré, il s’agira de cette position ou de cette vitesse à l’instant où ce corps attiré a été atteint par l’onde gravifique émanée de l’autre corps; il est clair que le premier instant est antérieur au second.

    In this article, Poincaré also refers to the previous work by Pierre-Simon de Laplace, Count of Laplace. Laplace had already considered the possibility that gravitation propagates at some finite speed, but he did not question the basic space-time geometry.

  285. Jack D says:
    @syonredux

    The same 7 year old in a go cart can beat Usain Bolt but we still admire champion runners.

  286. MEH 0910 says:
    @PhysicistDave

  287. dfordoom says: • Website
    @PhysicistDave

    The world of Christianity is a world in which the earth and the beings on it are of central, divine importance.

    Look: you can argue that a sufficiently sophisticated (or sophistical) form of Christianity can co-exist successfully with modern science. Maybe. But as a matter of historical fact, things have not gone well.

    Sadly true. The possibility of any Christian revival is close to zero.The Christians who have tried to adapt Christianity to modernity have failed very badly. Once you accept science then Christianity becomes an optional extra and it’s an extra that most people aren’t going to bother with. Religion has to be about more than just moral rules and feelgood stuff and virtue-signalling (in that arena it has lost every battle with liberalism). It has to be an all-encompassing view of life.

    The Christians who have rejected science, the American fundies and their ilk, have made fatal compromises with capitalism and feminism and as a result they’re equally doomed. If they hadn’t embraced vicious right-wing economic policies and feminism they might have had a chance.

    Of course in the long run the scientific worldview leads to alienation, nihilism, degeneracy and misery.

    Could a new religion succeed where Christianity has failed? Maybe. But such a new religion has not shown any signs of emerging so far.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
  288. dfordoom says: • Website
    @donvonburg

    I grew up on science fiction, in novels, movies, television (radio serials were a little before my time and comic books interested me little) and that was a universe in which extraterrestrial life seemed a given.

    I think it’s quite likely that we’re alone in the universe.

    I find it pretty tough, though not absolutely impossible to believe a sane and rational Creator would create a universe of billions of galaxies each with billions of stars soley for the use of one tiny insignificant planet around one insignificant common star in one insignificant galaxy

    Maybe we’re not just one tiny insignificant planet around one insignificant common star. Maybe the entire universe is there for our benefit. Who knows? God doesn’t have to explain to us why He does stuff.

  289. @Jack D

    You’ve given us this before, Jack D, but I love it every time.

  290. @donvonburg

    “sane and rational Creator”?

    “Sane” is the very definition of the uncreative. Since God is the Creator of everything outside of Himself, He is everything other than sane.

    Therefore , however difficult it is for our sanely limited imaginations to conceive, of course everything else created is for our benefit; for our playful enjoyment, to be precise.

    It is God, us, and the sandbox.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  291. J.Ross says:
    @PhysicistDave

    … so by “many on the alt-right” you mean that one Jewish guy with the circled pitchfork logo, who was going to found a political party, couldn’t get followers, and ended up arrested? There are tons of economics book in the /pol/ book mega, and the major economic authorities I see in discussions that would qualify as “alt-right” are Sowell, Hayek, Rothbard, and Hazlitt. Sowell and Hazlitt are the most frequent choices in recommendations for a first or standalone reading.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  292. anonymous[391] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jack D

    what would ernest borgnine say said —- Jack D – I appreciate your vigorous defense of a certain mistaken world-view, but I have seen the faces of dying men and they have looked into my eyes and seen that this world is God’s world and they are his children. I have seen joy in the eyes of dying men, and poor Jancsi was joyful in his last days because of people like me.

    And, whatever you think a black monk is, I am the opposite of that, I have seen the faces of angels and have helped in ways you would also have helped, dozens of good men making this a better world for those they cared about.

    Thanks for reading/

  293. anonymous[684] • Disclaimer says:
    @kaganovitch

    wwebd said: Thanks for reading.

    In real life, I have discussed the truths that only God first understood with dozens of people in literally 20 or so languages. If you have done that in 3 or 4 languages, well, I will be impressed.

    I have never considered the math club kids, with one or two exceptions, to be my intellectual equals, no matter how hard they tried.

    I am not extremely intelligent but I have conversed with angels, and that alone gives me the right to confidently explain why I do not consider poor Janni to be anywhere near my intellectual equal.

    By the way, Ulam was – or would have been – very happy to read my translations, from one Slavic language or another to the English language, of various Slavic poetic geniuses.

    Fermi was autistic too by the way. Nice guy in his way, but …. well, if you are born in Italy and you have the opportunity to live a nice Italian life, you really have to be a lot more talented than Fermi was if you are gonna give that up just to be a respected “physicist” ……

    Just saying.

    Pasteur was not a fool for spending his life on “math”, LaPlace was not a fool for spending his life on “math”, my close relative Alexander Graham Bell ( uncle of my grandmother’s cousin, in case you care) was not a fool for spending his life on “math”, and I could name about a dozen other scientists who you have heard of, even if you do not care about science (I do, but only in the way someone who has seen an angel and spoken with an angel does), who were not foolish for spending their lives on “math”.

    Poor Janni was, up until almost the last year of his life, a poor little autistic dude who was wasting his time on his autistic pleasures.

    You see, I care about people who I never met.

    It is not a tough call, my young friend, to know if I speak the truth or not …..

    although I admire your rhetorical skill ….
    that was good, saying that it is a tough call.But it wasn’t.

    I was right and you were wrong.

    Not a tough call at all, I have spoken as a respected equal with angels, and poor Janni was just an academic mathematician for most of his life, afraid to work on math problems that did not seem to be tractable….

    well I have enjoyed talking with you.
    Not many people know how to amuse someone who can simultaneously translate Proverbs 8 into 20 or more languages,
    and who also know more about math than the average person could ever imagine!

    And you amused me, with your passionate support of poor Janni!

    Thank you, and God bless you!

    • Replies: @anonymous
    , @kaganovitch
  294. @Lot

    Lot wrote to me:

    It is not correct to take data on monetary aggregates and draw the conclusion that the supply of money has exploded.

    That seems not to make any sense — if M1 has exploded, then M1 has exploded! Monetary aggregates are numerical measures of the supply of money.

    Lot also wrote:

    It also isn’t correct to assume asset price increases require money supply increases.

    If sellers of stocks tomorrow decide they are worth 20% more than today, and buyers agree, the price will increase 20%, and this can happen concurrently with a decrease in trading volume.

    Yes, of course. But under our monetary system, it is just a fact that increases in the supply of money first go into capital asset markets. This is what happens when the Fed adds to “high-powered money” and also when commercial banks expand upon that monetary base.

    Those funds flowing into capital markets increase the demand for capital assets and thereby push their prices higher than they otherwise would be. Each of these steps is just elementary economics. (You do have to know how the Fed and the banking system work, but, at least when I was young, that was standard material in any intro econ text.)

    Of course, other things can push stock prices higher. But increases in the money supply, given the structure of our monetary system (money created by the Fed and commercial banks and then injected into capital markets), do indeed inflate capital-asset markets.

    Lot also wrote:

    The Austrian/Goldbug crew has been predicting inflation for 30 years, and has been wrong again and again.

    Anyone who thinks he can mechanically predict the markets or the economy is a fool. As I have said, every bubble is unique.

    But if you insist on goosing the financial markets, you are likely to create a bubble. And contrary to your ridiculous claim of “after 100 years of failed predictions,” that has happened again and again and again and again in the last 100 years — 1929, the dot-com bubble, 2008, and, in all likelihood, 202_.

    Again, every bubble is different, and, yes, human greed and stupidity play their roles. But, when the monetary authorities insist on driving capital markets into drunken binges… it does not end well.

    You exhibit the problem with the alt-Right to which I alluded: the belief that mouthing off about identity politics is a substitute for learning elementary facts about how our monetary system (mal)functions.

    It isn’t.

    • Replies: @Lot
  295. @don

    don wrote:

    Relativity is BS and has brought all kinds of garbage in its wake, including black holes, dark matter and energy, Oort clouds, string “theories” and multi-verses.

    Let’s not forget that other piece of bunk derived from relativity: E=mc^2 and its application to nuclear weapons.

    But since you know it is all bunk, you know that nuclear bombs do not really blow up: it’s all just fake Hollywood effects — right?

    Next time Little Rocket Man does a fake nuclear bomb test in N. Korea, can we arrange to have you stand at Ground Zero to prove what a fake Einstein was?

    (Although, somehow I suspect that you are really just “pulling our leg”!)

  296. @The Z Blog

    The Z Man wrote to me:

    There is no alt-right. The only people using that term still wear denim blazers. Your argument is a strawman.

    Hey, Z Man! Yeah, I actually was thinking of you when I wrote that. I know you are now claiming to be post-alt-Right or something like that, but your views, more than Sailer’s (remember: Steve is a civ-nat), are what are usually thought of as alt-Right.

    Sailer knows a decent amount of economics, as do many of the commenters here. But, yes, I do think it would do you a world of good to actually learn some real economics.

    The Z Man also wrote:

    Putting that aside, dissidents understand that economics is downstream from biology, culture and institutions.

    Overly simplistic. People gotta eat. Economics does not completely determine all other aspects of human life, but it does influence all of them.

    One major example: people nowadays spend years and years in schools that provide very little education simply because they feel they need the credentials provided by the schools to get a good job. And all that bizarrely pointless schooling is a major (not the only) cause of the alienation and despair, the SJWs and ideological idiocy, and the cultural collapse of our society.

    Economics -> schooling -> culture.

    And, yes, the decision to create the education-government complex was itself partly a cultural-ideological decision, but that too was influenced by economics: e.g., the push for universal high school in the 1930s was (partly) motivated by the tight job market due to the Great Depression (see e.g., Palladino’s Teenagers: An American History).

    Everything influences everything. No single Prime Mover. C’est la vie.

    The Z Man also wrote:

    It’s both libertarianism and communism are in the dustbin of history.

    Old ideas keep coming back under new names. Personally, I like to call myself a Thoreauist or radical Jeffersonian, so no one will associate me with Gary Johnson and Bill Weld.

    But, I am thinking about taking up the banner of “Tolkienism”: I think I could live with the government of the Shire.

  297. anonymous[391] • Disclaimer says:
    @anonymous

    and may I also add, as someone who has spoken with angels as an equal and someone who also cares enough about you all to engage in conversation with you…

    why do I bother?

    because I know what God thinks about you — poor little Janni would have listened to every single word I said on the subject with the admiration that good man had for the truth ……

    Don’t ever insult someone like me again, please.

    God bless you, my friend!

  298. @Menschmaschine

    Menschmaschine wrote to me:

    Umm, might this have something to do with the fact that there has been not much progress in fundamental Physics since the 1920s?

    I’m afraid you are a hundred years out of date, son!

    The work that built on Einstein’s work included de Broglie’s hypothesis of matter waves, which led to quantum mechanics, pretty much all of cosmology, all of elementary-particle physics (from neutrinos to quarks to the Higgs), all of stellar structure theory, and, of course, the theory of nuclear fission.

    Without Einstein, there is nothing there.

    I think what you may be thinking of is that we have not discovered much new in terms of the fundamental laws of physics since 1980.

    And the main reason for that is that between 1900 and 1980 we discovered all of the physical laws that seem to describe what happens in the ordinary world we live in: everything from atomic structure and molecular bonding to what makes the sun shine and how the universe began.

    And Einstein’s work was pivotal in all that work.

    We discovered more about the nature of the physical world between 1900 and 1980 than in all of previous human history. Again, while this involved the work of thousands of physicists, a good case can be made that the single most important individual was Albert Einstein.

    If you really think that there has been no important work in fundamental physics since the 1920s, well, I feel sad for you. It is too bad you know so little about science.

    (And, yes, everyone, I am of course very familiar with the remaining questions: dark matter, how to quantize gravity, and all the rest. But without Einstein, we would not even know to ask those questions.)

    • Replies: @Menschmaschine
    , @Rupert
  299. @donvonburg

    donvonburg wrote to me:

    My guess is that over the billions of years of the universe there well might, probably have been, many other species to have equalled or excelled ours in cognition and civilizational achievement. However, they might tend to have short lifetimes, often destroying themselves utterly or being wiped out by disasters beyond their control.

    Well, you raise a lot of interesting questions, to which I of course have no definitive answers. If we got together for dinner, no doubt we would chat well into the night chewing over such questions.

    dvb also wrote:

    We just don’t know. Maybe someday we will.

    An excellent slogan indeed. I wish people of all philosophical bents would take it to heart.

    For the record, while I do not think the traditional version of Christianity can be sustained, I do not know what the ultimate nature of reality is, whether some Higher Intelligence plays some central role in the universe, what the nature of consciousness is, etc. As dvb says, “We just don’t know. Maybe someday we will.”

  300. Anon 2 says:
    @syonredux

    With the advent of calculators, being able to extract cube roots mentally has become
    an outdated skill. Dozens of skills become outdated every year. For example, being
    a great keypunch operator was a wonderful skill to have for millions of women from
    the late 1950s till the early 1980s, and then suddenly nobody needed them anymore.

    True, some of those skills may turn into useless sports – in 21st century America
    nobody really needs to run very fast but we enjoy watching those who do, so
    we turned it into useless entertainment.

    Conversely, thousands of medieval men would’ve been great at programming,
    except for the minor detail that computers decided not to materialize on our planet
    until 800 years later. I’m sure I have all sorts of skills that will be in great demand
    500 years from now. That doesn’t help me now.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  301. Anon 2 says:
    @dfordoom

    I recommend that you take a look at A Course in Miracles (1976),
    often referred to as the Third Testament. So far it’s been translated
    into over 25 languages, and has been gaining thousands of new adherents
    every year. Marianne Williamson is a big fan of the Course, and so are
    many other famous people.

  302. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jack D

    Yes. along with the idea that probably sending out millions of watts of RF willy-nilly is probably a communications mode that a civilization would only use for a short time if at all. They might quickly transition to using low level RF as we do from cell towers, or light beams, or-who knows? Stuff that would quickly be lost in the noise floor from any substantial distance, or not even penetrate the planet’s atmosphere.

    Or they could be using a type of modulation that we just wouldn’t think of and so may have routinely encountered but never attempted to decode.

  303. @PhysicistDave

    At the late 1920s the two cutting edge theories to explain the basic fabric of our world were General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Now, nearly a century later, they still are. All work that has been done since has been filling out details, but there has been no fundamental progress.

    The logical way to proceed is to create a unified theory that encompasses that which is described by GR and QM. But this seems to be impossible – there is simply no way to make relativity compatible with QM. The only way to make progress is therefore to ditch relativity and to replace GR with another gravitational theory that does not rely on it – which is very much possible by going back to the preferred frame concept.

    You seem to love relativity so much that you seem to be willing to accept this stagnation of fundamental physics. I am not.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  304. syonredux says:
    @Anon 2

    With the advent of calculators, being able to extract cube roots mentally has become
    an outdated skill.

    Sure. But the ability to do them with von Neumann’s level of ability is highly impressive.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
  305. dfordoom says: • Website
    @Andy

    I don’t know if literacy itself leads to atheism/agnosticism. Northern Europe and North America had almost universal literacy for more than a century now, but the drop in religious belief started is a phenomenon of the last few decades.

    The decline in religious belief in Europe began a lot longer ago than a few decades. By the beginning of the 20th century religion was in steep decline.

    I think the decline began quite a while back in the US as well. The decline has certainly taken longer. The very high visibility of the Religious Right back in the 80s disguised the fact that Christianity was losing ground among the mainstream and had almost entirely vanished among the elites.

    I think evolution, which slowly crept in the general population, was a factor

    I think you’re probably correct. It fits the time scale and it’s plausible.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
  306. @Menschmaschine

    Menschmaschine wrote to me:

    The only way to make progress is therefore to ditch relativity and to replace GR with another gravitational theory that does not rely on it – which is very much possible by going back to the preferred frame concept.

    Hmmm….. you know, you are not exactly the first person to have thought of this! I thought of it decades ago, as have many other physicists. (And Bob Heinlein actually alludes to it in his 1956 juvenile sci-fi novel, Time for the Stars.)

    The problem is:
    A) The evidence for the principle of relativity and against a preferred frame is really quite overwhelming.
    B) No one has managed to ever make that idea work.

    Menschmaschine also wrote:

    You seem to love relativity so much that you seem to be willing to accept this stagnation of fundamental physics. I am not.

    Good. You have a go at it: the more the merrier. I wish you luck. You’re gonna need it: I’m afraid the odds are against you.

  307. @Roger Sweeny

    Roger Sweeny wrote to me

    New Atheism said the bad stuff in the world came from religion. After a few years, it transitioned into “atheism plus”, where the problem is religion plus all the other oppressions that now concern so many people. Now, it is simply “social justice”.

    They started out rather interesting and then too many became simply obnoxious. Dawkins really is smart and has interesting things to say aside from religion. Chris Hitchens and Sam Harris, not so much.

    I used to call myself a “New Atheist”: now, I just tend to say that I am a non-believer in traditional religions.

    It is, after all, a bit silly to make central to one’s identity what one does not believe in. Better to focus on what does matter to me: individual liberty, objective truth, bourgeois morality, etc.

    I do care if people are giving children nightmares by trying to literally “scare the Hell out of them.” But, if someone calmly believes that there is a Higher Intelligence looking over the universe, well, I am skeptical but happy to chat about what he thinks.

  308. @J.Ross

    J. Ross wrote to me:

    There are tons of economics book in the /pol/ book mega, and the major economic authorities I see in discussions that would qualify as “alt-right” are Sowell, Hayek, Rothbard, and Hazlitt. Sowell and Hazlitt are the most frequent choices in recommendations for a first or standalone reading.

    Well, I was friendly with Rothbard, who, contrary to many of his critics, was a friendly and welcoming fellow. And, I once met Tom Sowell, who is an incredibly decent gentleman. So, I hope you’re right.

    I suspect we are simply using the term “alt-Right” a bit differently. To me, the stereotype of “alt-Right” is the Z Man (see our exchange here) or counter-currents’ Greg Johnson, not Sailer or Derb. Perhaps you are using the term differently.

    In any case, I have a great deal of respect for Sailer and Derb: if I do not always agree with them, I take everything they say seriously. But I do not think I am on the same side as the Z Man or Greg Johnson, although I will admit that they can be… provocative.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
  309. Anon 2 says:
    @syonredux

    In general, in view of the horrors that humans have inflicted on each
    other in the last several hundred years, I think academic intelligence
    is overrated, if not outdated. What we need now more than ever is the
    ability to get along with each other, i.e., emotional intelligence.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  310. Rupert says:
    @PhysicistDave

    Dave, I’m curious what the discovery was in 1980 that makes that the cut-off date?

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
  311. Rupert asked me:

    Dave, I’m curious what the discovery was in 1980 that makes that the cut-off date?

    Oh, I just wanted a nice round date that encompassed, the creation of quantum chromodynamics in the early 1970s (the theory of the strong force between gluons and quarks), the “November Revolution” of 1974 (the charmed quark and all that), and the discovery of the tau lepton by Perl et al. in the mid-1970s. I suppose I could have been a bit tighter by giving the date as, say, 1977.

    All of that happened right before I entered grad school: elementary-particle physics seemed really hot back then. Alas, it was pretty much the peak — most of what has come since was confirming what we already knew by 1980 (the major exception is the tiny but non-zero neutrino masses — we still are not sure what to make of that, though it fits into the existing theory easily enough).

    By the way, our friend Menschmaschine is more or less correct when he says:

    At the late 1920s the two cutting edge theories to explain the basic fabric of our world were General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Now, nearly a century later, they still are.

    But perhaps two groundbreaking theories of that sort in one century is more than we should expect: as much as each of us physicists would like to be a Newton or an Einstein, that obviously cannot happen.

  312. @Gabe Ruth

    Gabe Ruth wrote to me:

    It’s more that they recognize that our rulers hold power over the regular people of this country and others by keeping the economy as a hostage. There seems to be no way of wresting that control from them, so if anything is to change by choice rather than grim necessity, the economy is going to have to be reintroduced to reality, to own the neo-libs.

    Yeah, but it is hard to understand how, as you put it, the economy can be “reintroduced to reality” unless you understand how money and finance actually work and how the existing money-banking cartel has produced ongoing instabilities in the system (see, e.g., Rothbard’s The Mystery of Banking or America’s Great Depression).

    Similarly for the government-education cartel or the government-medical cartel. People who choose not to learn how actual free markets work think that existing “crony capitalism” is really a free-market system and then end up falling for the siren song of socialism ( I suppose the good news is they are so ignorant they do not know what socialism is either!).

    It’s true that the neo-cons/neo-libs tend to act as if there are no problems that cannot be solved by (very modest) deregulation and lower capital-gains rates.

    But to see why they are wrong, to see why systematic government distortions of broad, crucial areas of our economy (money and finance, education, medical care, retirement planning, attempts to replace the family such as “daycare,” and of course the military-industrial complex) not only impact GDP but also profoundly corrupt our society and destroy individual human lives, it really is necessary to really learn economics (something the neo-cons and neo-libs are no more willing to do than many on the alt-Right).

    People like Tucker Carlson are nibbling around the edge of the idea that the universities are not only corrupt and counter-productive but rather that the mega-universities and the goal of a university education for all bright people should never have been pursued at all. And, unfortunately, too few on the alt-Right have learned enough economics or history to understand that the whole society we live in today, starting with how a large fraction of Americans earn their living and the organizations in which they work, is economically awry as well as socially destructive.

    True economics is not about better calculations of GDP or the CPI. It is about understanding how free individuals can voluntarily coordinate their actions and bring about a free, happy, and prosperous commonwealth. As one of the other posters here suggests, that is what you will learn if you read Hazlitt, Rothbard, Mises, Sowell, Hayek, et al.

    I hope that poster is right (and I am wrong) that those are the authors that members of the alt-Right are reading.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  313. @PhysicistDave

    Some excellent comments here, PD.

  314. syonredux says:
    @Anon 2

    In general, in view of the horrors that humans have inflicted on each
    other in the last several hundred years, I think academic intelligence
    is overrated, if not outdated. What we need now more than ever is the
    ability to get along with each other, i.e., emotional intelligence.

    Eh. I’ve never been impressed by used car salesmen.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
  315. nebulafox says:
    @PhysicistDave

    Literally speaking, “alt-right” means you are on the Right but disagree with Conservatism Inc. So, in a sense, everybody from libertarians to paleocons are “alt-right”. The complete lack of tolerance for any dissent from the official line within the post-Cold War GOP, particularly during the Bush II/Rove years, didn’t just result in a complete vacuum which was a key factor in Donald Trump’s rise. It means that just about everybody who is vaguely against the modern progressive gender but is unwilling to swallow GOP orthodoxy (i.e, you have the ability to empirically think) finds themselves at the fringes of the “alt-right” in one way or another, regardless of how they identify themselves ideologically.

    Even outright lefties like Scott Alexander that have a brain pulse and a willingness to be honest will talk about things like IQ in a way that do not pass SJW muster.

    But, you know, what a term “means” is very different from what is actually means…

    Side note: I know very little about economics and would like to know more someday. (I’ve got a very, very long list to make up for lost time…) What’s the best crash textbook or course you know of out there?

    • Replies: @Lot
    , @PhysicistDave
  316. nebulafox says:
    @dfordoom

    >The very high visibility of the Religious Right back in the 80s disguised the fact that Christianity was losing ground among the mainstream and had almost entirely vanished among the elites.

    More than disguised: I think that’s part of why the Religious Right was so hot. You see a very similar dynamic in the Islamic World. My own parents got a lot more interested in religion when we relocated to a more liberal environment and we were surrounded by much more affluence.

    In 1930s Japan, a lot of the radical right-wing groups of junior officers that regularly assassinated civilian officials they didn’t like weren’t just against the Communists, but against the market capitalism and materialism of modern Japan, too: they wanted to get back to hardcore traditional, austere values. The fact that they were losing was part of why they were so virulent, and in some sectors of society, so popular.

    Problem is, you can’t turn back the clock like that. We’ve reached a stage of scientific knowledge that puts us in a different philosophical plane from the religions that were created 2000 years ago, just as Christianity and Islam fit their new age in a way the old pagan cults didn’t. We need new ideas, but nobody seems to have the originality or courage for them anymore.

  317. Lot says:
    @PhysicistDave

    Money is what people use for money. The aggregates are the sum of what *could* be used for money, or else converted to money (eg short term deposits).

    Consider a silver dollar. You can, in theory, use it for money. Take a roll of them to Chase to pay your credit card bill, and they will take them.

    But since nobody in their right mind does this because a silver dollar is worth $14 melted down, are they actually money?

    “ Those funds flowing into capital markets increase the demand for capital assets ”

    The Fed doesn’t helicopter drop money, it buys and sells government debt. Asset prices don’t rise because money “flows into capital markets” but because the lower rate on bonds make other assets more valuable.

  318. Lot says:
    @nebulafox

    “ What’s the best crash textbook or course you know of out there?”

    College econ textbooks are similar as the curriculum has been the same for ages. Newer ones are more cutesy and full of pictures though.

    Grab a few random ones online for $5 each (including shipping) and see which one you like best. If you never have had a class before, start with Introduction to Microeconomics textbooks.

    • Disagree: PhysicistDave
  319. @anonymous

    Dude, you need to know; what you see on the shrooms is not real.

    • Agree: PhysicistDave
    • Replies: @anonymous
  320. @nebulafox

    nebulafox asked me:

    Side note: I know very little about economics and would like to know more someday. (I’ve got a very, very long list to make up for lost time…) What’s the best crash textbook or course you know of out there?

    My list here is longer than intended, and, since you asked for a crash course, I’ll say that I would start with Rothbard’s Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays, followed by White’s The Clash of Economic Ideas: The Great Policy Debates and Experiments of the Last Hundred Years. Those two books give a good sense of what actually matters in economics and what is actually worth learning more about.

    In more detail:

    The classic pop/easy-reading intro is Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, but that may well be below your level.

    Rothbard said that the best econ textbook ever written was the third edition (“third edition” is important!) of Alchian and Allen’s University Economics. I’ve read it and used it with my kids, and I agree. (Murray did add that most American undergrads would not, alas, be able to handle it.)

    Alchian and Allen are weakest on macro and, especially, on banking. The best intro I’ve seen to banking theory is Rothbard’s The Mystery of Banking.

    The best general intro to macroeconomics may well still be Henry Hazlitt’s classic The Failure of the “New Economics”: An Analysis of the Keynesian Fallacies and the essay collection he edited, The Critics of Keynesian Economics.

    Iain McLean’s Public Choice: An Introduction is far and away the best intro to the formal economic aspects of politics I have ever seen: I don’t even know what McLean’s own political views are, but he writes clearly and the book is very readable. By the way, in my opinion the book has about as much math as is actually useful in econ (i.e., not that much).

    My kids’ favorite econ book was Lawrence White’s The Clash of Economic Ideas: The Great Policy Debates and Experiments of the Last Hundred Years, which does a very good job of explaining why economic debates matter in ordinary human lives: everything from business-cycle theory to the socialist-calculation debate. (While White is in the “Austrian” tradition, as I recall he did not get along with Rothbard: I think their main difference was over banking. In any case, this is a good book.)

    I’ve argued that the real reason economics matters, aside from the simple fact that humans have to eat, is that non-free-market economies inevitably become so corrupt as to corrupt the society at large and the individual citizens. You can allocate resources by the impersonal forces of the market or by the very personal forces of graft and corruption: that is really the only choice.

    To see how an economist with broad social and historical interests applies that sort of insight to human affairs, I think the best intro is Rothbard’s essay collection, Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays.

    [MORE]

    I’ll also mention two books by non-economists that are highly relevant to understanding economics. First, Randall Collins’ Four Sociological Traditions (please note: not the accompanying “Selected Readings” book) does a nice job of placing the economic way of thinking in a broader context of serious though about human society. (Collins does make Marx sound better than he was, mainly by shunting Marx to the side and focusing on Engels, who was, after all, smarter than Marx!)

    The other is the brief essay, The Human Condition: An Ecological and Historical View by the dean of world-history studies, William H. McNeill. I’ll just say that McNeill sees the actual relationship between politics and economics clearly, shorn of any ideological obfuscation.

    Finally, I would recommend looking at Rothbard’s Man, Economy, and State (the “scholar’s edition” with Power and Market), which was intended to be a readable textbook version of Mises ‘ treatise Human Action. However, the book sort of grew out of control, and I think it is fair to say really could not function as a textbook! On the other hand, just browsing through the book and reading interesting sections or footnotes can be informative. Happily this is available for free online.

    Contemporary econ grad students would probably say that I am wildly out of date and showing my complete ignorance of mathematical economics. To which I would reply, as a theoretical physicist I do not find mathematical economics difficult, but I do find it largely unilluminating and unimpressive. With occasional exceptions, it smells to me of “physics envy,” or, to use the phrase of my own mentor in physics, the Nobelist Richard Feynman, “cargo-cult science” (Feynman was particularly critical of Samuelson’s famed Foundations of Economic Analysis).

    A subject should be made as precise as possible, but not more precise than possible, Pretending to use math when it is really meaningless, or at best uninformative, is just a con game.

    • Replies: @BraveNewWorldPlease
  321. @Lot

    Lot wrote to me:

    The Fed doesn’t helicopter drop money, it buys and sells government debt.

    The market for government bonds is a key capital-asset market, and pretty universally recognized as such.

    Lot also wrote:

    Asset prices don’t rise because money “flows into capital markets” but because the lower rate on bonds make other assets more valuable.

    The interest rate is just inversely related to the asset price as a mathematical fact (literally as the reciprocal for bonds of infinite period): these are not two separate facts.

    The bond price/interest rate is determined by supply and demand, like any other price in the market. And when the Fed starts pouring money into the bond market, yes, that flow of money into the bond market increases demand for bonds, which raises their price, which mathematically is equivalent to lowering the interest rate.

    What I’ve just written is just introductory financial economics, not controversial in the slightest.

    If you’re not aware of this, sue whomever you took econ from!

  322. @Rupert

    Somehow my reply failed to link to your question. See my November 13, 2019 at 11:06 pm GMT post.

    Sorry.

  323. Anon 2 says:
    @syonredux

    Re:Used car salesmen

    Emotional intelligence used to be a hot topic 15-20 years ago. It even had its own
    NY Times bestseller in 2005 – Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter
    More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman. And then it just disappeared. Nobody seems
    to be talking about it anymore (obviously it’s about more than salesmanship).

    It would be interesting, for example, to work out the average EQ’s for different
    countries, not that anyone would agree on the definition. It’s clearly a more
    complex concept than that of the IQ.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @syonredux
  324. @Anon 2

    A lot of the emotional intelligence advice was just to have a high IQ about your emotions.

    I thought the concept sounded interesting and I was always hoping somebody would put forward an example of somebody who had a higher EQ than IQ. Oprah? Barbara Walters? But nobody ever seemed to want examples of the concept in action.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
    , @Dieter Kief
  325. Anon 2 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Daniel Goleman used to be everywhere, but now he is in his 70s so no longer
    as active as he used to be. Thus there seems to be no one to push and develop
    the concept anymore.

    Correction: The first edition of Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence actually
    came out in 1995.

  326. @Lot

    Lot,

    Another rather important point you are overlooking:

    You wrote:

    The Fed doesn’t helicopter drop money, it buys and sells government debt.

    You neglect the fact that when the Fed adds to the monetary base (yes, by buying government bonds), commercial banks can, and usually do, expand multifold upon that addition to the monetary base.

    Most of the money supply in the USA is not the “high-powered money” created by the Fed but rather the money created by the commercial banking system when they expand their loans multifold to build upon the base provided by the Fed.

    And commercial banks do not restrict themselves just to government bonds. As everyone knows, they inject money into capital markets via making home loans, loans to small businesses, etc.

    Capital markets are complex, and, as I keep saying, every bubble is different. But, under our monetary and financial system, expansion of the money supply does indeed show up first in injection of the newly created money into the capital markets.

    Again, this is elementary, non-controversial financial economics. The finance pages are full of this.

    The one thing that established academics and journalists tend to overlook is that what goes up must come down: the party is always more fun right after the punch bowl has been spiked. But you inevitably pay for it with a hangover the next morning.

    You’d think more than a century of this would cause even dimwits to catch on.

    Maybe they (or you) don’t want to?

  327. syonredux says:
    @Anon 2

    Re:Used car salesmen

    Emotional intelligence used to be a hot topic 15-20 years ago. It even had its own
    NY Times bestseller in 2005 – Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter
    More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman. And then it just disappeared. Nobody seems
    to be talking about it anymore (obviously it’s about more than salesmanship).

    Dunno. Used car salesmen really know how to emotionally manipulate people….

  328. anonymous[684] • Disclaimer says:
    @kaganovitch

    kaggie and engineer dave – I never indulged in mushrooms. You should not insult people who may be much more intelligent than you …. because it is better for you to be humble, than proud.

    I am just someone with one in a million intellectual skills who has thought much about what is true, and what is not.

    And I pray a lot, which means I try to understand what God wants for this world.

    You need to understand that in a country the size of the United States, there are hundreds of people who have one in a million intelligence, and every once in a while you are lucky enough to meet one of them.

    Janni was an autistic freak who only had real insights in the last few months of his life.

  329. @Old Palo Altan

    Dear Old Palo Altan,

    you might be interested in this interview below in the NZZ with Jürgen Habermas about his new book –

    – you might also risk a glimpse at the comments

    https://www.nzz.ch/feuilleton/juergen-habermas-im-gespraech-was-heisst-saekulares-denken-ld.1521269

    I found one systematically relevant remark in “Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie”, which ties the Frankfurt School from now on (to eternity, hehe) to iSteeve and Charles Murray. I explained that in one of my answers to Frenk to the Basel biologist and co-commenter Frenk.

    There’s another interesting NZZ article online – a comment by editor in chief Eric Gujer about Germany. Below it, there’s a commenter Peter Berger writing about God and all, but he might not have been quite right. Almost the same mistake as the one you repudiate here.

    (I did enjoy it when you called me Dieter)

    ((Any thought about my parallel between the Anabaptist Neo-Gnostics at Münstr 1535 and Transgenderism?))

  330. @Steve Sailer

    The public was only so-so comfortable with Goleman because he did speak about IQ too.

    In the years that followed it became clear, that emotions had become the undisputed basis of our public discourse anyway, so there was no need to risk to bring up the touchy subject of IQ – the farther away from it, the public dicourse could stay the better it was – that was (and still is) the new maxim of our days of the Coddled Western Minds: Emotions reign.

  331. @Dieter Kief

    Well then I shall address you as Dieter once again!
    A link to the Erich Gujer article would be appreciated (or just a date).

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  332. @Old Palo Altan

    Thanks Old Man***

    Here’s the Gujer-link –

    https://www.nzz.ch/international/der-andere-blick-wie-unliebsame-meinungen-diskreditiert-werden-ld.1522172

    Two things I briefly mention now, because I’m awaited at the breakfast table –

    1) I think inner-worldly transcendence is an issue. What do you think?

    2) Any ideas why the French did not really fight against the Germans in WW II? (You recently mentioned that you do know the French upper class quite well, so I thought I might as well ask you this question, which I find quite interesting.

    ***
    I hope you don’t mind?!

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
  333. @Dieter Kief

    Hallo Dieter,

    I misunderstood you and thought that this Peter Berger had commented on the Gujer article (which, along with its comments, including yours, I found very refreshing: good to know that so many Germans and Swiss too I suppose are aware of the disaster which Mad Miss Merkel has arranged for them), but it must be that he wrote his own article. May I try your patience by asking for a link to that too?

    You will need to enlarge a bit upon “inner-wordly transcendence” before I can make any sort of sensible comment.

    The French in 1939 were at a loss: they were going nowhere fast, while the country they had defeated was a mighty and unified presence on the world stage; if anything even more threatening than Wilhelmian Germany had been in 1914. So the war was entered into in a state of doubt, self-disgust, and foreboding. The last thing anybody wanted was another four year stalemate and a final bleeding out of the nation’s strength. So once the German breakthrough was clear, most everybody breathed a sigh of fatalistic relief and said “Enough, and thank God for it.”
    So far, so good.

    But the Right was not just resigned; much of it was ecstatic. Not because it was pro-German, but because they saw the ignominious defeat of the hated Republic as a chance for an eventual restoration of the monarchy. Petain was himself no monarchist, but he was for a restoration of Order and the old virtues, and for the time being that was enough. What was needed was time, and a Germany willing to leave the French alone for the period needed to establish roots for the New Order.
    Once this was seen to be illusory, the more traditionally nationalist and Catholic “collaborators” changed their tune. It was the leftist pro-Germans like Laval and Doriot who remained bitterly loyal to the end.
    My own impression too is that it was more the members of the upper bourgeoisie than the aristocrats who were willing to work with the Germans. For one thing they were less bothered by the prospect of a hard fate for the Jews.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  334. @Dieter Kief

    I now see that Berger responds to the Habermas interview which, with its comments, I shall look at tomorrow.

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
  335. @Old Palo Altan

    Hello Old Palo Altan!

    Thank you for these views into the French society of WW II from up close.

    The French were exhausted. They were tired of warfare etc.; there were hopes to regain some of the royal traditions (this might have been the flimsiest part of their hopes). That’s all plausible.

    Did they also hope that Germany would defeat the Bolsheviks? – I think that this was a point of some importance for Churchill and the US – but for the French? German historians miss out on these questions completely.

    The next aspect might be only loosely related to what I’ve written above:
    I found it astonishing just how welcome Ernst Jünger was in Paris in WW II. – And after the war too. It seemed as if the French had practically no problem with him.

    I’ve posted a thought about Jünger and Albert Hoffman (discoverer of LSD in Basel) in the LARB, because T. C. Boyle did write about Hoffman in his novel Outside Looking In.

    This Boyle/Jünger/Hoffman corespondence (Benjamin) does touch an aspect of my thoughts about inner-worldly transcendence. The funny part, in this case, is the dichotomy of the flesh and the spirit**** – funny really because it becomes more obvious here than at least I would have hoped for. I’m in Freud’s traces here in that Freud was always skeptical about the transcendental powers of our biology (that’s one reason why he claimed, that the civilizing process is leaning strongly (=necessarily) – and rightfully so! -towards frustration, restrictions etc. pp.). Boyle shows just that in Outside Looking In. – Now before I rewrite my LARB comment, I’d rather drop the link:

    https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/infancy-of-the-counterculture-on-t-c-boyles-outside-looking-in/

       
    Bruckner’s Messe Nr. 1 d-Moll and Te Deum in Konstanz’ Jugendstil Gebhard-Kirche last Sunday: A great reason to live! 

    ****This whole flesh and the spirit business is the core reason for the Gnostic’s success. That’s the hippie-part of Gnosticism – I’d say it’s strongest drive.*****

    ***** This discovery is the core of Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Holloywood – with a – worldly – Zen-Buddhist monk (=servant) as one of it’s main characters. – Btw. – Steve Sailer was the only critic who understood this aspect of Brad Pitt’s role. – Those Jesuits at his school did a good job!

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
  336. @Old Palo Altan

    “Dabei lernen wir, wenn alles gut geht, unterprivilegierte Andere in unsere Lebensformen einzubeziehen oder diskriminierte Fremde als gleichberechtigte Andere in einer gemeinsam erweiterten Lebensform anzuerkennen.”

    I laughed as I shook my head at this, and was planning a response when your own first comment came under my eyes, and I realised that you had already (with Spaemann) pointed out its dangerous absurdity entirely satisfactorily.

    And that Peter Berger has nothing to say: the stalest sort of anti-religious pamphleteering, as you and others quickly pointed out.

    I was on the other hand pleasantly surprised to see Cardinal Brandmüller mentioned – another 90 year old, and still active (in his case, heroically against the Heretics now reigning from Rome).

  337. @Dieter Kief

    The French typically change regimes after each major defeat. The hope of a monarchical restoration was certainly there, but everyone who longed for it understood that it would only happen after the cleansing of the nation which the ignominious defeat of 1940 had begun.

    As for the Bolsheviks: of course their destruction was desirable, and a good number of Frenchmen joined the Waffen SS precisely to help that much desired result along (including a relation of mine, who may have been one of those still in Berlin in May of 1945, fighting on even longer than the Germans themselves did). But since the Germany which had defeated them in 1940 was actually in a sort of alliance with Russia at that point, I doubt that it was something in the forefront of people’s minds.

    No the French never have a problem with intelligent and creative people (until now of course when everything is corrupted). Jünger was an outstanding person in every way, who, of course, also admired French culture, so he got along with everybody in occupied Paris (perhaps even with the mother of a great friend of mine in Wiesbaden, who spent the entire war there as a secretary for the SS). I don’t need to tell you that Mitterrand was loud in his praise of him and was happy to appear at his side as late as 1995. But of course Mitterrand never fully “liberated” himself from his early rightist predelictions.

    Jünger’s LSD and other drug related adventures were only not destructive because of his fundamental sanity – the same could be said for Albert Hoffmann (that they both lived to be 102 is also evidence of rock solid constitutions, mental and physical).

    I sometimes wonder if Jünger became a Catholic because he did not want to miss out on the greatest “trip” of all.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  338. @Old Palo Altan

    Thanks.

    I’m no big drug proponent myself, but I do see the connection of Hoffman’s and Jünger’s interest in LSD (at least…) and the kind of naivité that comes along with the mystics. I mentioned already that my No. 2 all-time favorite writer is Heinrich Seuse. The all-encompassing feeling of unity of mysticism – or the oceanic feeling of Freud – the ability to dive deep down into our existence – – – – (and this is now the important part) – without getting lost (as Jünger managed to accomplish – and as Seuse excelled in…) – that’s the Holy Grail of our earthly strivings, as far as I can see – or the archimedal point of our existence. And of course, there’s a three-letter word for it, too, and with good reason.

    Have you any idea why Robert Spaemannn’s quite reasonable argument about the Biblical “love thy neighbor like yourself” imperative has been ignored by his fellow theologists? (I have sometimes the idea that present-day theology is one of the most spiritless fields one could think of. I don’t know how this came about.

    One last thought about the French’s reluctance to fight the Germans: Ok, the Bolsheviks and the Germans were allies for a short while, but who would have been there to believe this? – It’s obvious now, that neither Stalin nor Hitler did believe in this partnership. So – this might – deep down inside – have been the impression of the French as well: Let them have whatever they want: – Maybe they even remembered the fate of Napoleon… (I know, that this is a bit speculative, but I hope you don’t mind anyhow).

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
  339. @Dieter Kief

    “Dabei lernen wir, wenn alles gut geht, unterprivilegierte Andere in unsere Lebensformen einzubeziehen oder diskriminierte Fremde als gleichberechtigte Andere in einer gemeinsam erweiterten Lebensform anzuerkennen.”

    I laughed as I shook my head at this, and was planning a response when your own first comment came under my eyes, and I realised that you had already (with Spaemann) pointed out its dangerous absurdity entirely satisfactorily.

    And that Peter Berger has nothing to say: the stalest sort of anti-religious pamphleteering, as you and others quickly pointed out.

    I was on the other hand pleasantly surprised to see Cardinal Brandmüller mentioned – another 90 year old, and still active (in his case, heroically against the Heretics now reigning from Rome).

  340. @Dieter Kief

    I fear that I am a very uncontemplative sort of Christian, one who much prefers the objective and cool worship of the traditional liturgy to vague interior swoonings of whatever description. What would I want with the latter, so brief, so unstructured, when the right performance of the former, coupled with a sincere attempt to live a moral life, assures me the clear vision of God for all eternity?

    Speamann was not listened to, he was not even heard properly, by the degraded theologians of today’s apostate Church because they do not believe. The message of Christ, that we love our actual neighbour, the man next door, is anathema to them because they hate the West and its peoples. They theoretically love the peoples furthest away from the West, both geographically and existentially, and particularly those least likely to be truly transformed by Christ, like the uncivilisable Indians of Peru (thus the egregious Francis and his Pachamama worship). But in the end what they most love about the non-Christian “refugee” is that, in sufficient numbers, he will overwhelm and finally destroy that “Christendom” which is the special object of their loathing.

    As for the French: I don’t think they were thinking that far ahead. They were simply exhausted and were relieved when the war, for them, was over in a matter of months. One should never underestimate their dislike of the English either: they were free of them too, and some might even have delighted in the thought of partaking of the imperial spoils once Britain too had fallen.

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