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Murray Gell-Mann, RIP
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I was going to write up something about the extraordinary accomplishments and personality of the great physicist Murray Gell-Mann, but then I realized that I would inevitably just illustrate the Gell-Mann Effect, as named by Michael Crichton:

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them. In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

So I will leave it to more confident journalists:

NYT: Murray Gell-Mann, Who Peered at Particles and Saw the Universe, Dies at 89

Caltech’s press release:

Caltech Mourns the Passing of Murray Gell-Mann (1929–2019)

Here’s George Johnson’s 2000 article on Feynman vs. Gell-Man.

 
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  1. Anonymous[375] • Disclaimer says:

    He was not a big fan of Richard Feynman:

  2. So, what you’re saying is, he’s not dead?

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  3. Polynikes says:

    Never heard of Murray, but as someone who has worked in an industry covered pretty heavily by the media his “effect” has often crossed my mind. It’s laughable how bad the media is.

    They’re not losing their jobs because of technology, but because technology has exposed what frauds most of them are.

    • Agree: Ibound1
    • Replies: @newrouter
  4. Luke Lea says:

    Like Paul Samuelson, his ego got in the way. Wanted to be recognized as the smartest man in the world.

    • Replies: @anon
  5. The point about the Gell-Mann effect, which I had read was a story told by Richard Feynman, was that Feynman saw himself as having unique insights into human nature whereas his colleague and increasingly in Feynman’s eyes, his rival, was socially naïve.

    Murray Gell-Mann, apparently could return the favor. Was it remarked on these pages that the most offensive thing a Gentile can do is notice that a person is Jewish, and the most offensive thing a Jewish person can do is not notice that someone is Jewish? The story goes that Gell-Mann was musing about the disproportionate number of the top physicists being Jewish to which Feynman exclaimed, “What about the Hungarians?”, the Hungarians in question being scientists like Szilard, von Neumann and Teller.

    The story continues with Gell-Mann retorting, “Dick, the Hungarians, they’re Jews!”

  6. Puremania says:

    Some years ago I observed the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect directly, on myself. My friend and I were at Montrose Harbor in Chicago, which was jammed with cars crawling along on the Fourth of July. We were looking for his sister, whose car I wanted to buy. The police pulled us over for some reason, valid or not, but before we could be ticketed, a news van pulled up, lit up the scene, and started filming. The police scattered.
    That night, my image was the opening story of the 10 o’clock news, casting me as a Menace to Society. My offense? “Drag racing”. My friends teased me, because even if it was possible to race there, I would be the last one to do it.
    And yet, I continued to watch the “news”. Doh.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  7. They probably have trouble finding PhDs in physics to work for $40k at the NYT, so they mostly have liberal arts types writing the science-related articles.

    Not being able to confirm the validity of any of that scientific content, my mind just accepted the information as authoritative, unlike with a lot of their political articles.

    The photos were interesting—some in a scary way.

    Even when Gell-Man began wearing leather & Southwest adornments—shedding the horn-rimmed, button-down, Space Age, whiz-kid look—he still had that genius look.

    Too bad his rarefied-to-the-max awards & photos of world-class dignitaries are primarily framed like a typical, vanity-challenged, style-undervaluing academic: mostly matt-free and smushed up against the glass—likely not even UV-filtering glass, even though God knows who signed those things.

    Was it the President of Yale, the President of the United States, the Nobel Committee or all 3?

    This is a science thing.

    Water condenses under glass, causing various types of damage in some cases. While most of those documents won’t stick to glass, photos often will over time if un-matted.

    Gell-Man grew up with modest means, but by the time he had collected all of those irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind, historical documents & photos, he had plenty of money. After the Nobel Prize, Gell-Man was a member of the Millionaire Class, and yet, he wouldn’t spring for a matt and conservation glass very often.

    Or, he didn’t regard his intellectual trophies as worthy of it.

    There is point at which the otherwise admirable, anti-materialistic attitude of old-school academics reaches the point of absurdity. Putting ideas before vanity is the mark of a true intellect, but when your documents & photos could fetch high-roller numbers on the Antiques Roadshow, it’s time for some vanity splurges.

    …..

    Besides that, he was impressive cubed, a rare and major genius in one of the hardcore sciences.

    • Replies: @Hibernian
    , @Forbes
  8. newrouter says:
    @Polynikes

    The “media”(“Journalist” degrees) are like school teachers: They “teach” you math, science, English with their mighty >Education< degrees.

  9. @Anonymous

    My goodness he tattles that Feynman didn’t was his hands after he went to the bathroom.

    • Replies: @Forbes
  10. JimS says:
    @Anonymous

    My understanding is that it was a bit more complex than not being a big fan. He stayed at Caltech until Feynman died, then shortly afterwards went to New Mexico. I always figured it was a bit of a rivalry, with Gell-Mann being correct in his assessments, and Feynman in his of Gell-Mann (e.g. how pompous are you for hyphenating your name and caring about linguistics/pronunciation?)

    Maybe Physicist Dave has more insight? I believe he was in condensed matter, but he likely would have known quite a bit about those two.

    Who now is even left from the golden age of particle theory (i.e. the pre-Witten era)? Dyson?

    • Replies: @Ecotopia Fats
    , @MEH 0910
  11. Lagertha says:

    Caltech has had a loss. Long live Caltech grads and professors…especially, now!

  12. El Dato says:

    Another of the post-WWII Greats departs!

    Ah yes. Gell-Mann. He rubbished the idea of “baryon subparts” (“partons”, a name coined by Feynman as I recall) in an abrasive academic fashion. The promise of such an idea to organize the wild zoo of particles into a coherent whole he considered not indicative of actual reality but mainly a mathematical trick. Still, once the physical evidence of Proton substructure was in, it didn’t take long for him to claim the idea of “quarks” for himself and angle for the Nobel Prize. Which he got in 1969 “for his contributions and discoveries concerning the classification of elementary particles and their interactions”. Wikipedia is less than truthful about what went down at the entry of Quark

    Flexibility of mind takes all!

    From Frank Close’s “The Infinity Puzzle: The personalities, politics, and extraordinary science behind the Higgs boson”, where he also describes the hard jostling for the Physics Nobel Prize. (Good book!)

    That the proton and the neutron are not the ultimate seeds of the atomic nucleus was already suspected, but the hypothesis that quarks might, in a sense, be the seeds of those seeds, as one Russian doll lies within another, was already highly controversial. Gell-Mann was skeptical, but the independent coinventor of the quark model, George Zweig, was adamant that quarks were real. In 1964 Gell-Mann dismissed Zweig airily: “The concrete quark model—that’s for blockheads!”4 Four decades later, Zweig recalls, “I can still hear Murray’s voice.” I too remember how much it depressed me to be told by Gell-Mann himself, in 1968, that quarks were “just a mnemonic,” without physical reality.

    As for the Quark moniker …. not from Finnegan’s Wake? (that sounded too cute in any case). Again from Frank Close’s book:

    In March 1963 Gell-Mann gave a talk at Columbia University about his
    new SU3 [that’s continuous transformation group theory] theory. A couple of weeks earlier another theorist, Gian Carlo Wick, had given an introductory seminar about SU3; upon hearing it, Robert Serber realized that in addition to families of eight and ten, which had already been discovered, there should be a basic family of three (as in SU “three”) and, moreover, the octets and tens could be built up as composed of groups of these more basic entities. As Serber later recalled, “The suggestion was immediate; the [hadrons] were not elementary but were made of [what we now call] quarks.”

    A fortnight later, Gell-Mann was in town. During lunch at the Faculty Club, Serber explained the idea to him. Gell-Mann asked what the electric charge of the basic trio is. Serber had not looked into this, so Gell-Mann figured it out on a table napkin. The answer turned out to be +2⁄3 or –1⁄3 fractions of a proton’s charge, which was an “appalling result,” as no such charges had ever been seen. Gell-Mann mentioned this in the colloquium and said that such things would be a “strange quirk of nature.” Serber remarked later, “Quirk was jokingly transformed into quark.”

    There is nothing wrong with assuming that what we consider -1/3, Nature considers to be -1 (which would just mean that the electron has charge -3).

    From the NYT:

    He was born on Sept. 15, 1929, in Lower Manhattan to Arthur and Pauline (Reichstein) Gell-Mann, both Eastern European immigrants. At the time, his father operated a language school. (Born Isidore Gellmann in a small town in what was then Galicia, near the Russian border, the elder Mr. Gell-Mann had studied mathematics and philosophy in Vienna. …

    Does this mean was basically one of the Hungarian Superbrains?

    After quarks were confirmed indirectly in an experiment at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, in Menlo Park, Calif., Dr. Gell-Mann denied that he had ever doubted their existence. He went on to help explain how the tiny particles are permanently stuck together, keeping their fractional charges hidden from view. A “green” quark, a “red” quark and a “blue” quark (the labels were arbitrary) blended to form a “colorless” proton. It was Dr. Gell-Mann who named the theory quantum chromodynamics.

    Making sense of QCD yielded a Nobel for Gross, Politzer and Wilczek in 2004:

    https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/2004/summary/

    Who would have thought that Nature has a force that increases as distance between particles increases. As one were on the bottom of the sea, trying to create tiny gas bubbles.

    Dr. Gell-Mann was an early champion of superstrings, hypothetical particles that, if ever verified, would be even more fundamental than quarks.

    I wonder what his more recent thoughts on the supersymmetric-string approach would have been. It was a promising idea uh … 40 years ago. But instead of yielding a clean system, it apparently has gone nowhere fast and blossomed instead into mathematical extravaganza and self-indulgent speculation about “the multiverse” (which comes in several forms to boot). Meanwhile the important ingredient of supersymmetry died at the hands of LHC data yielding 0 evidence of supersymmetric particles. Sad!

    Gell-Mann Amnesia

    Not a good heuristic. Otherwise, one could not come back to the Unz review. News & Opinion outlets have their weaknesses, blind spots and unreality articles. One has to sniff them out. It’s work!

    • Replies: @Anon 2
    , @Jack D
  13. @Inquiring Mind

    I guess it was Gell-Mann, Feynman, and Yuval Ne’eman, the Israeli physicist who had independently made a similar discovery as Gell-Mann did and they were having lunch. Ne’eman was also a prodigy like Gell-Mann ( starting college at 15 ) as well as an Israeli military intelligence officer.

    After Gell-Mann pointed out all the Hungarians Feynman mentioned were Jews and he left, Ne’eman apparently said to Gell-Mann something to the effect of outside of physics and math, Feynman doesn’t really know much, does he?

    • Replies: @Jack D
  14. anon[166] • Disclaimer says:
    @Luke Lea

    Based on the video above, sounds plausible… “he was quite impressed with some of [my work]” and “It’s not that he didn’t appreciate me, he actually admired me a great deal”.

  15. El Dato says:
    @trelane

    Also, that’s for Quantum Electrodynamics, which comes before Quantum Chromodynamics.

    And for which Schwinger, Feynman and Tomonaga got the Nobel Prize in Physics of 1965

    One never hears the name Tomonaga though. Nor Schwinger. It’s all about Feynman.

    But Feynman Diagrams, hell yeah.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Mr. Anon
  16. The full 2002 “Why Speculate?” talk by Crichton where he defines this amusingly- and recursively-named Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect is prescient and worth reading. He complains there’s way too much useless and unsupported speculation about the future in the media. He also says experts tend to be as wrong in their speculations about the future as anyone else.

    He also explains how he came up with the name, “Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect”:

    “Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I refer to it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)”

    His conclusion of the article is also prescient:

    “Personally, I think we need to start turning away from media, and the data shows that we are, at least from television news. I find that whenever I lack exposure to media I am much happier, and my life feels fresher.”

    http://larvatus.com/michael-crichton-why-speculate/

  17. @El Dato

    It’s all about Feynman.

    I wonder if Feynman died at the right moment for maximum fame, right after the Challenger inquiry?

    • Replies: @PiltdownMan
  18. What’s with the hyphen, anyway? That wasn’t exactly fashionable in 1929 NYC.

    • Replies: @PiltdownMan
  19. @trelane

    I regret that he didn’t last long enough to see a definitive explanation for that, and all the other unexplained numbers.

  20. Mr. Anon says:
    @El Dato

    And for which Schwinger, Feynman and Tomonaga got the Nobel Prize in Physics of 1965

    One never hears the name Tomonaga though. Nor Schwinger. It’s all about Feynman.

    Schwinger devised a way for physics professors to calculate quantities pertaining to particle interactions. Feynman devised a way for undergraduate students to calculate those same things. That’s why he gets all the fame and glory. Somebody realized that Tomonaga had done a lot of what Schinwger had done, but back in 1944 (before any of the others) when he couldn’t exactly publish his work in the Physical Review.

    They all deserved credit for what proved to be a monumental body of work.

    • Agree: JimS, PiltdownMan
  21. I read up most Crichton’s lectures that were on his website in print form 10-15 years ago. I also watched a few of his global warming debates that he did teamed with Richard Lindzen.

    You and he have a few things in common stylistically, as well as both enduring cancer. You both also have/had an interesting habit of heaping lots of undeserved praise upon the targets of your criticism.

    You’re funnier, but he was better at driving a stake through the an opposing view’s BS.

  22. Anon 2 says:
    @El Dato

    Gell-Mann’s family emigrated from Chernivtsi, a multicultural
    city which for centuries was part of Moldavia (one of the
    historic provinces of Romania), and then was seized by Austria.
    During the interwar period the city returned to Romania
    but now is located in western Ukraine, close to the Romanian
    border. Hence, in terms of geographical origin, you could describe
    Gell-Mann as Romanian.

    Richard Feynman’s family, on the other hand, came from the
    former territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Republic),
    a vast entity that encompassed central Poland, Lithuania, Belarus,
    and western Ukraine. After the Jews were expelled from Western
    Europe and forbidden from settling in Russia, by 1550 about 90% ended up
    in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, dominated by the Polish
    language and culture. Feynman’s ancestors emigrated specifically
    from the Minsk region, Slavic territory now in Belarus, roughly 200
    miles east from the Polish border. Hence, in terms of geographic origin,
    you could describe Feynman as Belarusian.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Romanian
  23. Anonymous[156] • Disclaimer says:
    @Inquiring Mind

    […]The story continues with Gell-Mann retorting, “Dick, the Hungarians, they’re Jews!”

    They are natural middlemen. It could be pointed out that almost all of the underlying mathematics used by these theoretical physicists is the product of the Gentile mind. Riemann, Legendre, Lagrange, Fourier, Cauchy, Sturm, Liouville, Borel, Abel, Poincaré, Cayley, Hamilton, et al.

    All of higher mathematics is so, um, Gentile. Fermat, Laplace, Galois, Leibniz, Gödel, Pascal,…

  24. bjondo says:

    idea for feynman diagrams
    taken from football/basketball coaches
    and from bums describing pool shots.

    particles, particles, infinite particles
    we go we know not where
    we find we know not what

    but

    we keep talking
    collecting pay

  25. Gell-Mann was doubtless a great scientist, but Feynman’s contribution is, in my opinion, greater. As much as I personally find Feynman’s showman-clown’s side distasteful, he created, executed & initiated so much novel & fruitful ideas that he may rightly be considered to be among 20th C greats- if not equal, at least close to Heisenberg or Dirac.

    Anyway, such comparisons are almost always rubbish- we may say that Helmholtz was greater than, say, Julius von Mayer, but in most cases these things are plain nonsense. Suffice to say that Feynman craved fame & he got it; he was a very great physicist; he was probably annoying as a colleague & got on Gell-Mann’s nerves; Gell-Mann was not particularly jealous, although he may have shown, sometimes, signs of exasperation of not being in the center of the public eye. But this was not his dominant trait.

    https://www.webofstories.com/play/murray.gell-mann/1

    Though they differed temperamentally, they were both great physicists & human beings, Feynman being more irritating & humane, clownish & big-hearted.

    Personally, I find Feynman’s mentor Wheeler even more fascinating than both of them combined, but that’s just my opinion.

  26. Sofi says:

    Met him briefly during an interview. First thing he told me is that he was a Nobel prize winner,which was irrelevant to the situation.
    He became so well known during this intervention,i.e.,disliked, that everyone after that referred to the “gellman effect” to indicate obnoxious egocentric,and misinformed, behaviour.

    And no hyphen.

  27. @Reg Cæsar

    From the NYT obit:

    He was born on Sept. 15, 1929, in Lower Manhattan to Arthur and Pauline (Reichstein) Gell-Mann…
    …(Born Isidore Gellmann in a small town in what was then Galicia, near the Russian border, the elder Mr. Gell-Mann had studied mathematics and philosophy in Vienna. He changed his name to Arthur and apparently added the hyphen sometime after 1911, when he was called to New York by his parents, who had emigrated earlier and were having financial problems.)

    Just a European immigrant reinventing himself. Hyphenated surnames had a sort of upper-class European flair to them in those days. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

    The hyphen didn’t have the SWPL connotation it does today, with married couples concatenating their surnames with a hyphen.

  28. @Steve Sailer

    Feynman’s popular autobiography, Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman was published around the same time as the Challenger inquiry. He exited at peak Feynman.

    Feynman was already held in high regard by physics and engineering undergrads by then. His three volume textbook, The Feynman Lectures in Physics, was spoken about with awe by my physics major cousins and EE major siblings in the late 1960s and 1970s. Justifiably.

    Published in the early 1960s, and based on his Caltech lectures, it helped curious and talented sophomores feel they had glimpsed all the commanding heights of the subject. Harvard’s Math 55 rapid survey style course attempts to produce the same effect to motivate math majors in their sophomore year.

  29. @Inquiring Mind

    One would think that bit about Feynman (given his intellect) was b.s. On the other hand, if true, then he comes off as something of a douchebag.

  30. Realist says:
    @Anonymous

    Gell-Mann was a petty, obnoxious, ungrateful little man. He taught at USC, not so prestigious. And from the video Gell-Mann had a bit of a dental problem himself.

  31. Michael Crichton’s analogy about the Gell-Mann amnesia effect is exactly the technique I learned a long time ago to check the veracity of both news articles as well as politicians. If you are a “professional” at something, it is a touchstone on how to figure out of someone is intelligent, a bullshitter, a liar, etc. This works particularly well on politicians because they have to know at least a little about everything. I think it was Mark Twain who said, “it is better to keep your mouth shut and have them think you’re a fool than open it and remove all doubt”.

  32. Jack D says:
    @El Dato

    Does this mean was basically one of the Hungarian Superbrains?

    No. First of all, not even the Hungarian Superbrains were Hungarian – they were Jews (see Unladen Swallow #14).

    But, Gell-Mann was a Galitzianer – a Jew from the part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that ended up under Austrian rule. This was a place that had a history and culture distinct from the Hungarian speaking Jews of Budapest. And if you were an ambitious Yiddish speaking Galitzianer you would learn German and migrate to the imperial capital of Vienna, although the university at Lemberg (Lvov, Lviv) was quite distinguished as well. You were not going to Budapest to be taught in the completely incomprehensible Hungarian language which might as well be Klingon.

    The Austro-Hungarian Empire was just that – an empire. The Emperor of India and the Queen of England were the same person but that did not mean that the people were the same.

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
  33. Anonymous[252] • Disclaimer says:

    Dr. Gell-Mann recalled living in hard times. His father, he said, though intellectually curious, struggled to make a living, finding a back-office job on Wall Street, working for a toy importer and, finally, securing a position at a bank “at a very low salary.”

    Hmmm, according to all the psyshometrician geniuses— you know, the guys with think-tank sinecures or promote “HBD”— he must’ve had a low IQ. Lol

  34. Jack D says:
    @Anonymous

    He accused Feynman of being an egotist but it’s the pot calling the kettle black. All of these guys had big egos.

  35. Hibernian says:
    @Endgame Napoleon

    “They probably have trouble finding PhDs in physics to work for $40k at the NYT, so they mostly have liberal arts types writing the science-related articles.”

    They could try baccalaureate graduates in any technical or even quantitative field. The problem is getting the right ones. In a publication that lives in cloud cuckoo land, they’re not likely to do that.

  36. Jack D says:
    @Unladen Swallow

    outside of physics and math, Feynman doesn’t really know much, does he?

    When Feynman was trying to get into Princeton they were concerned because although he had won all kinds of math competitions and such, he score very low on his grad school admissions test because he knew nothing about history or literature, etc. If there was something that he wanted to put his mind to, he could do it and produce important results even if it was completely outside of his field but if there was something that he didn’t care about, he totally ignored it and would know nothing about it.

    One of the things that Feynman didn’t care about at all was Judaism. He knew that he had been born Jewish but it meant nothing to him.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  37. Abe says:
    @Inquiring Mind

    The point about the Gell-Mann effect, which I had read was a story told by Richard Feynman, was that Feynman saw himself as having unique insights into human nature whereas his colleague and increasingly in Feynman’s eyes, his rival, was socially naïve.

    Feynman was also an early PUA (i.e. pick-up artist- RIP Hearitse, wherever you are) in the sense that he was someone who, while not naturally in possession of those personality traits attractive to women, was smart enough to eventually figure out what they were and mimic them until they became second nature (character is what a man does, so sayeth Aristotle).

    As side note, as neuroscience advances in this century, I have no doubt it will locate the specific biomechanics behind Jewish male sex addiction, of which Feynman (at least according to his legend so far as I casually know it) was an exemplar, just as it will locate Celtic alcohol addiction, Chinese greed panic, etc.

    On a more related note, just to show how valuable Hearitste was and how “game never ends”, even as you get older, my wife’s best friend was over just the other day and I overheard the ladies talking about the best friends’s foray into Tinder or Snatchchat or whatever is the dating app de jour and how she was worried the men would not come off as attractive in real life was their profiles led her to believe:

    “What if he’s not as funny as his profile? What if he’s not as good looking?”

    Guess what her first worry was, though (and I quote this pretty much verbatim)?**

    [MORE]

    ** “What if he’s not confident?”

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  38. @JimS

    Maybe Physicist Dave has more insight? I believe he was in condensed matter, but he likely would have known quite a bit about those two.

    Philip Anderson is the Murray Gell-Mann of condensed matter theory, but he’s not famous.

    Who now is even left from the golden age of particle theory (i.e. the pre-Witten era)? Dyson?

    Lee and Yang are still alive.

  39. Forbes says:
    @Endgame Napoleon

    I think you’ll find that the NYT pays substantially more than $40K for their staff writers.

  40. Forbes says:
    @simple_pseudonymic_handle

    Resembles the old Yale-Harvard joke, where the Harvard man insists that the Yale man wash his hands after using the urinal, and the Yale man responds, “At Yale, we learned not to pee on ourselves.”

  41. Forbes says:

    I can still recommend Gell-Mann’s quasi-memoir “The Quark and the Jaguar” (1994) which stands up well with the passage of time. He pretty clearly anticipates where advances in computing power, speed, memory takes scientific inquiry as he discusses the then emerging field of complexity.

    Though, the last third of the book can be ignored as he muses about the future of the environment and related personal political concerns. Where he anticipates technological advance in his own fields of inquiry, he misses the mark regarding technology impacts in those outside it.

  42. Corvinus says:

    “You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories.”

    This phenomenon affects the Coalition of the Left and Right Fringe groups, from SJW acolytes to Alt Right pundits. Mr. Sailer is part and parcel to this trend. Confirmation bias and echo chambers abound.

    • Troll: Desiderius
    • Replies: @Desiderius
  43. MEH 0910 says:
    @JimS

    Steven Weinberg and Sheldon Lee Glashow are still alive.

  44. JimD says:

    The George Johnson article is outstanding, thanks.

    • Replies: @Unladen Swallow
  45. @Jack D

    Almost all the other great physicists appear to have been conventionally high cultured individuals.

    Feynman is a folk hero because he wasn’t.

  46. @JimD

    He wrote Gell-Mann’s biography around the year 2000.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  47. @Jack D

    Thank you for insisting upon what we less-than-always-enamoured with Jews will also insist upon: that a Jew born in Hungary or Poland or Germany or anywhere else is a Jew and not a Hungarian or a Pole or a German.

    I was struck by Gell-Mann’s mother’s name: Reichmann. I have no idea (none at all) if this is a common Jewish name or not. So I ask you, who might well know: might there be a family connection with Tadeusz Reichmann, who won the Noble Prize for Medicine in 1950? His family came for a town midway between Poznan and Warsaw, while Gell-Mann’s mother was from the Ukraine, but I presume that well-educated Jewish families (as both were) did not stick to one place once they had started up the ladder. Indeed, Tadeusz’s father moved his young family to Kiev, where he worked as an engineer.
    Both Tadeusz and his brother Adam, a lawyer, moved strikingly up the social ladder when they married sisters, members of a distinguished family of the Dutch nobility.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    , @Jack D
  48. Anon[389] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anon 2

    Feynman’s father was not from Belarus, as has often been claimed. He was from Minsk Masowiecki in Poland, not the big Minsk in Belarus.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
  49. @Unladen Swallow

    I gather that the New York Times has paid first-rate writers for a lot of obituaries for aging eminences like Gell-Mann, and then they stick them in inventory and wait for the bigshot to pass away. That’s a pretty impressive level of investment rather than relying on Just-in-Time obituary writing

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
  50. @Steve Sailer

    This is the general practice in England as well, although knowing the right people can get you surprisingly large coverage for a Daddy of less than nation-wide import, particularly in the Daily Telegraph.

  51. @Puremania

    Gell-Mann effect = fake news. He was ahead of his time.

  52. @Old Palo Altan

    What about Pinch, does he count?

  53. @Corvinus

    You don’t come into someone’s living room and insult them, especially when you’re dead wrong and he’s been such a gracious host, even to sick sons-of-bitches like yourself.

    Get out.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
  54. @Abe

    character is what a man does, so sayeth Aristotle

    I.e. fake it till you make it. Roissy is on gab now, and I think there is a link there to his archives if you have need of them.

    The real intellectual dark web is Roissy and Moldbug and their descendants, not two-third wits like Peterson and Shapiro, who regularly shit their pants in public and are beholden to TPTB.

    Sailer’s in a different category all together.

    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
  55. Anon 2 says:
    @Anon

    Re: Feynman’s origin

    That’s interesting. Can you recommend any source materials
    that substantiate the claim that Feynman’s family was from
    Minsk Mazowiecki (a town near Warsaw), and not from the
    other Minsk (in Belarus)? I’ve seen Feynman listed as having
    Polish ancestry before. I saw him up close once, and unlike
    Gell-Mann, he didn’t look Jewish at all (e.g., he was reasonably
    tall, about 5’11”), and he refused to be classified as Jewish.

    It seems that many famous individuals from Central and Eastern
    Europe try to conceal their ancestry due to the stigma attached to that
    type of origin in the United States. And yet the majority of the Europeans
    live east of Berlin. For example, there are about 240 million Slavs in
    Europe, and only 120 million Germanics (incl. 20 million
    Scandinavians). This means that in the long run Germanics were
    destined to become a junior partner to the Slavs, as Hitler found out.

    • Replies: @Anon
  56. Corvinus says:
    @Desiderius

    I’m not going anywhere. This is a forum where ideas are exchanged, even ones that you do not prefer.

    One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up.— Arthur Koestler

    • Replies: @Doc Dynamo
  57. Anon[382] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anon 2

    http://polandnotbelarus.blogspot.com/?m=1

    He was of Jewish origins, he just wasn’t Belarusian.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
  58. Jack D says:
    @Old Palo Altan

    The Hungarian Jews were quite patriotic, tending to take ridiculously Hungarian names like Attila, but (some) ethnic Hungarians refused to accept them. Ethnic identity develops in the face of rejection and disappears with acceptance. America is killing Jew (ish identity) with kindness better than anti-Semites ever could, although they sure did a number on Petschauer.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attila_Petschauer

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
  59. @Desiderius

    Is Moldbug still writing somewhere?

    • Replies: @Desiderius
  60. @Corvinus

    Corvinus– you’ve never had an idea in your life. Every one of your posts is just the liberal talking point of the day, which you deposit on our doorstep like a cat leaving a dead mouse.

  61. @Jack D

    John von Neumann is my favourite Hungarian Jew: he knew European history, loved good music, and died a Catholic.

    Your link puzzles me. Did you read it to the end? The story of his absurdly dramatic death is shown to have been a lie told by the little wrestler who claimed to have been in the same camp.

  62. Anonymous[122] • Disclaimer says:

    Never knew either of the men, but Feynman is easy to see why he clicks with people. Wasn’t even aware of his schtick when I did a TAD in Los Alamos in late 80s. But reading his two joke books, it’s easy to see why. I actually read the second one first, the one that has the Shuttle investigation in it.

    I think Dick was a curious guy and at heart a simple scientist/technician. Remember he had started in math at MIT, went to EE because math was too applied and then settled on physics. While he did a lot of abstract theoretical physics (stuff I find rather useless, super particle stuff), he also was one o the last, like Einstein, who did solid state physics as well as high energy.

    In some ways, I think of Feynman as like Linus Pauling. If you read the double helix, they were frantic and scared of Pauling beating them to the structure. He had made a lot of discoveries in protein structures. Similarly Feynman was well down the road on superconductor theory before Bardeen, Cooper, and Schriefer combined forces to beat him to BCS breakthrough.

    If you read the stuff about the Shuttle, he really anticipated a lot of the management issues that were endemic to the program and continued into second crash (and are probably still there). And part of why he could recognize this was from being part of a big integrated science and even chem engineering effort during the war. There’s a letter from Dick where he mentions picking up a book on chem E and reading it on the plane and being innocently fascinated by it.

    While he wasn’t the sort of student of human nature or connections of fields that you are, he had good instincts. Especially for cutting through BS long words to basic insights.

    Never knew either of these physicists but did run into “the general” mentioned in the Feynman book. Good guy, wish I could have talked to him longer.

  63. @Chrisnonymous

    Not yet.

    But there are several sites writing about him and his archives are readily available.

  64. Anon 2 says:
    @Anon

    Thank you! That’s fascinating! The 1906 passport application whose
    photocopy you attached provides clear evidence that Feynman’s father
    was born in Minsk Mazowiecki, a town 25 miles east of central Warsaw.
    I wonder if Richard Feynman’s numerous relatives are aware of this fact.

    Interestingly, Ben-Gurion was born in 1886 (around the same time as Feynman’s
    father) in Płonsk, also a small town near Warsaw, except to the north. In 1905
    Ben-Gurion became a student at the University of Warsaw. Oddly enough,
    Netanyahu’s father Benzion Mileikowski was also born in Warsaw (in 1910),
    and partly grew up there. No wonder that in the early days of Israel, when
    few people were native speakers of Hebrew, Polish was one of the official
    languages at the Knesset. To add one more name, the Nobel laureate Isaac
    Bashevis Singer was born in 1902 in Leoncin, also a small town near Warsaw
    (about 25 miles northwest), and grew up in Warsaw. He recounts in his memoir
    that his childhood in Warsaw was about as near as one could come to
    paradise on earth. So Feynman, Ben-Gurion, Netanyahu, and Bashevis
    Singer are all associated with Warsaw. Magic Dirt anyone?

  65. @Prof. Woland

    Whenever I talk to a tradesman about doing some work for me. I ask a lot of questions. And I always ask a few questions to which I know the answers to see if I am being bs’ed.

  66. @Prof. Woland

    “the technique I learned a long time ago to check the veracity of both news articles as well as politicians. ”

    Not to mention blog posters

  67. Romanian says: • Website
    @Anon 2

    Gell-Mann’s family emigrated from Chernivtsi, a multicultural
    city which for centuries was part of Moldavia (one of the
    historic provinces of Romania), and then was seized by Austria.

    Like Mila Kunis :)) though I had no idea of Gell-Mann’s origins.

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