Science: Progressing Wisdom

Abstract: Pseudo scientific considerations by one of the USA’s most famous pundits are demolished (with the help of Krugman). Science defines progress (all the more as it requires ever more conscience). An occasion is found to reveal that physics’ relativity theory is relatively old.


The continuity of science, or, more generally of natural observations, or even of the most atavistic wisdom, is not appreciated enough. To understand this is important: fast buck artists and the worst potentates, Caligula, Nero, or Putin style, and the most terrible errors of policies, says the lethally unsustainable energy or thoughts systems we are presently enjoying, generally relate from age old wisdom denied.

A particular example of this consists into dismissing the notions of scientific consensus, and scientific progress.

Extending Galileo's Relativity Experiments To Light

Extending Galileo’s Relativity Experiments To Light

Galileo had tried to determine the speed of light, but it was too fast. However, once one knows light is a wave, one realizes that, thanks to precision manufacturing, much can be done deep inside a ship, as Galileo used to.

An example I use all the time is that Buridan discovered inertia and used it for establishing the heliocentric system. In 1320 CE, two full centuries before Copernic… Copernic just studied Buridan’s theory. So what had happened in the meantime? The Catholic Church, with the collaboration of Louis XI (the encaging king), outlawed Buridan around 1470 CE. The truth came out, because greater Poland/Czech/Ukraine (at the time) was inimical to Rome’s religious fanaticism (so Buridan was mandatory in Cracow, where Copernic studied).

So reason is not spastic. It’s the active intervention of intellectual fascism that makes reason spastic.


Making reason spastic in appearance is useful to those who want to deny reason. Such as all those who depend for their comfort upon a small oligarchy holding the world in its talons.

Science, well done, is the temple of reason. Reason inconveniences plutocrats. This is why enormous propaganda, for decades, denied, in the USA, that evolution happened (something established by Lamarck and his colleagues before 1800 CE).

So it’s no wonder that one of the USA’s top gargoyles (festering at the Wall Street Journal and Fox) dismissed the global warming consensus. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer is “not impressed by consensus.” Krauthammer is no dummy, he just plays one on TV. Like Goebbels, he has studied stuff. He is a trained psychiatrist.

Krauthammer appeared on Fox to heap spite on the Obama administration argument that the “97 percent of scientists who study this issue, who agree that climate change is real and it is the result of human activity.” The hammer of the Kraut retorted that:

“99 percent of physicists were convinced that space and time were fixed until Einstein working in a patent office wrote a paper in which he showed that they are not… I’m not impressed by numbers. I’m not impressed by consensus…These are things that people negotiate the way you would negotiate a bill, because the science is unstable…Because in the case of climate, the models are changeable. And because climate is so complicated,” Krauthammer continued, “The idea that we, who have trouble forecasting what’s going to happen on Saturday in the climate, could pretend to be predicting what’s going to happen in 30, 40 years, is absurd.

The answer to this is what I call “Catastrophic Logic” (which allows air travel). But let’s Krugman roll:


“As Chait notes, this logic would lead you to dismiss all science — hey, maybe tomorrow someone will write a paper showing that the germ theory of disease is all wrong, so why bother with sterilized instruments in the hospital? But there’s something else wrong here — the complete misunderstanding of what Einstein did.

Yes, Einstein showed that space and time were relative concepts. But did he show that everything physicists had been doing up to that point was all wrong? Of course not — classical physics was an incredibly useful and successful field, and almost none of what it said had to change in light of relativity. True, Einstein showed that it was a special case — but one that applied almost perfectly at the speeds and accelerations we encounter in normal conditions

So if we had an Einstein equivalent in climate science, he or she would find that existing models were right in 99.9% of what they assert, even though under extreme conditions they might be misleading.

Or maybe the simpler way to put it is, Dr. Krauthammer, you’re no Einstein.”

To be fair about climate science, it depends upon too many factors to be precise beyond the fact we are for sure, lest we do a few things real fast, and real ferocious, that we are facing one of the greatest catastrophe for a few million years, or maybe all the way back to Snowball Earth, more than 600 million years ago.

Now to expand on what Krugman said.


Einstein’s work in Relativity was such a puny advance to what was known before that, nowadays, Einstein is not viewed by competent historians of science as the main architect of “Relativity”.

It’s also why Einstein did not get a Nobel for Relativity, but for the idea that light travelled as photons (and other contributions to physics)… An idea I do not believe, by the way, to be 100% correct, although Einstein was close enough to explain the photoelectric effect with it!)

The inventor of the idea of Relativity is Galileo, who described it in great detail in the early Seventeenth Century. Galileo observed that, inside a cabin deep in a ship one cannot tell if the ship is moving or not. Galileo suggested in a long list, all the experiences one can think of. Observe the connection between new technology and new science: the ship itself is the (non-) accelerator of the 17C.

For a while, in the late Nineteenth Century, some physicists thought that light was not respecting Relativity.

However, when that was tested by American physicists Michelson and Morley with an interferometer, it was found that light could not detect absolute motion.

The mystery was explained when it was found by Lorentz and Fitzgerald that length contracted in the direction of very high speed motion. That the laws of electrodynamics (summarized and completed by Maxwell) did not respect normal space-time transformations was made amply clear by Poincare’, who proclaimed the “Principle of Relativity” (1904), after publishing the mass equal energy relation in 1900, and discovering the “Poincare’ group”.

Poincare’, the most famous mathematician, insisted that Lorentz get the Nobel Prize in physics. Later, Einstein resumed all this in 1905, starting from Poincare”s idea that the fact that the speed of light was constant was a fundamental law of nature (as the work of Einstein was published by Planck in German rather than French, Dutch, or English, it got great renown).

Thus Relativity Theory was fully in a continuity inaugurated by Galileo 400 years ago. Indeed.


We still use the optics found by the Greeks, and, the idea of numerals, including the zero, was developed by them and the Indians.

Greek thinkers also discerned the idea of evolution, suggested we evolved from fishes, an idea Lamarck revived by ascertaining that apes were our direct ancestor (to the hatred of the church).

In truth, science is as old as our species. We always add new layers. That’s why we have to be suspicious when some come, and claim that all what we knew before is wrong (as the cackling Multiverse turkeys do with both physics and philosophy).

The progress the genus Homo has made, is, first of all, defined by the science we have. All the more as it requires an ever more sophisticated conscience.

Patrice Aymé


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38 Responses to “Science: Progressing Wisdom”

  1. Alexi Says:

    Where is the evidence to support your claim that the Multiverse says “everything we know is wrong?” It is seemingly little lies like this one that goes on to cause big problems. You can do better.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Alexi: What’s your definition of a liar? Somebody that deliberately does not tell the truth. A tendency to lying can often be detected when someone says something important, for no reason whatsoever.
      So do you want to know the evidence? This was a remark, in passing, but pertinent, because the Multiversed, like others we are all too familiar with, literally want their cake to multiply as they eat it.

      It’s apparently a cult, as some get very angry when called to consider their… lie?

      How do the Multiversed lie? Simple: the most sacred notion and principle in modern physics, until the Multiple minds of the Multiversed appeared, has been energy and its conservation. Multiversers deny it. They create a zillions universes per picosecond… To do what exactly?

      To sell books? To hypnotize the young and naïve? Hilarious, demented absurdity is an aspect well known in all and any failing mental system: absurd claims are made (say, in Islam, as the Qur’an has it, somehow, God needs Shatan and Djinns. When asked about them, He, Blessed His Corpulence, gets real angry).

      Since you call me a liar, I have a riddle for you: why do Multiversists believe they can create zillions of zillions of universes in each millionth of a cubic nanometer, per picosecond? I do not doubt you have the answer, as great is your anger, and towering your certainty, about me being the biggest liar ever (as I deny zillions of universes, something not even Hitler did!)?

      In case you wonder, I do have the answer, because as all great predators, I know my preys, the Multiversists, well. But their answer is so absurd, it leaves me speechless…

      Indeed, if conservation of energy is wrong, everything is wrong. The fact it was discovered by a woman, notwithstanding.

      • Alexi Says:

        Thank you for you kind answer to my provoking reply. Your appeal to the conservation of energy (CoE) is laudable. But you must remember that CoE only applies to closed and isolated systems. It is starting to look like the Universe is not a closed and isolated system and so CoE would not be applicable.

        This leads me to wonder, why is Energy conserved but Entropy is allowed to augment without limit?

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Well, for me CoE is sacred. People (Hawking, etc.) talk lots about entropy… But nobody knows whether an isolated particle has entropy, or not (De Broglie suggested that; I don’t understand, but would not dismiss his arguments, they may be very deep).
          We clearly don’t have enough of the full picture to answer your provocative question.

      • Alexi Says:

        The energy built into the vacuum of space (known as vacuum energy, dark energy or the cosmological constant) is a baffling trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion times smaller than what is calculated to be its natural, albeit self-destructive, value. No theory exists about what could naturally fix this gargantuan disparity. But it’s clear that the cosmological constant has to be enormously fine-tuned to prevent the universe from rapidly exploding or collapsing to a point. It has to be fine-tuned in order for life to have a chance.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          I will read this, Alexi, and put the answer in an independent comment. You implicitly identify three notions that are distinct, and all unknown. I can’t compute vacuum energy, funny some geniuses can.

          OK, could have been worse, you could have evoked “quintessence”… ;-)…

  2. Ian Miller Says:

    I have never heard of Buridan – maybe my fault. Nevertheless there is strong evidence that Copernicus was significantly influenced by Aristarchus – there is apparently a script surviving where Copernicus acknowledged Aristarchus, then scratched out the acknowledgement! No sharing of honours here! Also, I have been told (I have not got access to the original paper) that Einstein’s paper on special relativity was a little short on references too. The constancy of the speed of light follows from Maxwell’s equations; if light could vary its speed, then those equations would seem to need correction.

    Regarding climate change, the big problem that nobody seems to acknowledge is that while the physics are tolerably clear (There is still a quantum probability for decay of the excited state that I have never seen listed.) solving the resultant equations is essentially impossible, so what they do is make models. The models are little better than guesses, in my view, but there is no doubt whatsoever that the planet is warming and we have problems.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Ian: There was no reference whatsoever in Einstein’s “On the Electrodynamics Of Moving Bodies”. It’s outright dishonest. The paper, even at the time, ought not to have been published. Planck was the editor, and he went ahead. In the greater scheme of things, this exaltation of Germany backfired. Planck’s son was executed by Hitler. Germans would have been less cocky if they had learned it was not Germans who discovered Relativity.

      Asked later, Einstein confided that creativity consists in hiding one sources’ well“.

      Well, maybe for him (Popper made claims to this effect about the EPR, as it seems he suggested the idea TO Einstein!)
      Johannus Buridanus has been referred many times in preceding essays of mine. He is the real Copernic + piece of Newton.
      On META in connection with Buridan:

      More details in Tyranosopher from 2006:

      Regarding climate change what applies, as I said is Catastrophic Logic, the same one that allows plane to fly: wonder what would happen if everything went wrong.
      [I have an essay on this, but I can’t find it.]

  3. Patrice Ayme Says:

    ON BURIDAN, the TRUE COPERNIC, a reminder:

    Clearly Copernic could not quote ANYTHING from Buridan, as ALL of Buridan’s work was put under the “Index of Prohibited Books circa 1470 CE: the Catholic Church, headed by a terrorist in chief called the “Pope”, was playing exactly the same role as BOKO HARAM in Africa!]

    I would suggest to wake up, spit in the Papacy’s ugly snout, and reestablish Buridan at last as the true Copernic…

    [Extract on Buridan from Tyranosopher:

    Jean Buridan (priest, physicist and Rector of the university of Paris) discovered the law of inertia (~ 1330 CE; Buridan’s concept was to become, through Descartes, Newton’s first law of motion (~ 1680 CE)).

    Buridans’s impetus theory massively contradicted Aristotle’s erroneous considerations on motion.

    Thus equipped, Buridan destroyed the false argument that a moving earth would have left things behind. It was a meta jump. Buridan and his student (bishop) Oresme (Paris ~1350 CE) then described the (now so called “Galilean”) principle of the relativity of motion (Galileo flourished three centuries later).

    Thus incited, the two Parisian philosopher-mathematicians-physicists found plenty of arguments in favor of why gravity would make the earth go around and the heliocentric theory (generally attributed to Copernicus (~ 1543 CE) who plagiarized the idea from Aristarchus, Buridan, Oresme, and al.).

    At this point Buridan and Oresme seem to have made cautious at the perspective of the enormity of embarking on an Earth moving through space at incredible speed, leaving Catholic church and tradition behind. Maybe they had too much invested in the old universe. Maybe they feared ostracism.

    Or bodily harm (several philosophers were burned alive in the next 3 centuries, some on flaming piles of their own books). At the last logical instant, Buridan and Oresme concluded that, after all, although it looked way simpler and way better if the Earth rotated on itself and moved around the sun, one may as well prefer to decide it happened the other way, as so it was, according to “scripture”.

  4. Alexi Helligar Says:

    Another good article, Patrice. It was spoiled only by your ending comment about the theory of the Multiverse which you insist on twisting every opportunity you get. It makes me wonder if you are daft or just being crafty.

    The Multiverse does not claim that everything we know is wrong. Indeed, the Multiverse claims that the Universe we know is only a special-kind of Universe, among an infinite and equally real variety of Universes.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Alexi. Funny how two comments from the same person on the same subject, yours truly, can be with radically different tones! I am being crafty, because I have an alternative theory, which predicted Dark Matter (I have been mulling the subject for decades, it’s my life’s work). There are many Multiverse theories, its’ a multiverse of multiverses. However they all have the same root…

      I will still look at the Sci Am article…

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Many torpedoes for the Multiverse…

  5. Paul Handover Says:

    Patrice, you have demonstrated an amazing breadth of knowledge across your many essays. However, I did wonder if you would be happy to declare your educational experience? As in your specialisation at a degree or Doctorate level (I suspect you do hold a Ph’d!)? Best wishes, Paul

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      You are so funny, Paul! You have an Obsession-Compulsion about “qualifications”.

      One of my main ideas, idea #956, is that the authority principle is severely abused. People with Philosophiae Doctor have nothing sacred about them. Goebbels had one (in humanities).

      Do you think Goebbels’ authority in humanities is to be “declared”?
      There were even not just PhDs, but Nobel Laureates, who became Nazis, BEFORE Hitler (who had been sent to spy on them).

      No doubt Hitler, a simple caporal, and gifted painter (he lived off it), was super-impressed when he met some of the most educated people in the world, and they were Nazis… Full of PhDs.

      One should not confuse the message’s content and her bearer.

      This site is about learning to think better. That’s why I go back to the basics.

      The idea that, say, those with PhDs is Idionomics, are the only ones qualified to speak about idiocy, is, well, idiotic.

      OK, let me explain this less provocatively: suppose you knew I had a PhD in physics, so, presumably, as far as bushmen are concerned, I’m qualified to talk about physics. Then, when I barge into, say, philosophy or psychology (is there a difference?), one could say: ahahah, s/he is not qualified to talk about that because her/his PhD is not in that.

      One has to understand that PhDs are a SOCIAL MARK. Some people get PhDs in physics, and all they did was turn screws (besides taking their qualifying exams). It’s even worse, in, say, philosophy. There are schools, there. Overall, more than 90% of the philosophical schools are inimical to science, mostly disqualifying them, as far as I am concerned (I follow Plato/Aristotle there).

      BTW, Socrates fired many broadsides on the Authority Principle, both thrashing it, and exalting it (depending on the situation at hand).

      My educational experience, BTW, is still on-going. The ideas on numbers I hold now would have shocked, baffled, and terrorized me, a few decades ago.

      So this site is about LEARNING. It’s not about me being qualified to speak like the Oracle of Delphi, because I hold 50 PhDs…BTW, when one knows top intellectuals (I made no mystery that I know a few), they tend to be pretty dismissive about simple PhDS (although NOT so when it is about inter-departmental rivalries; when Feynman found how much that infected the National Academy of Sciences, he resigned).

      I have put out completely educative essays. I will do so today again. Enjoy, and remember: Nature is the only authority worth respecting always.

      • Paul Handover Says:

        Patrice, perhaps in some ways I asked for that! But let me continue a little further.

        I have been a reader of your essays for some considerable time. However, just every so often I would love to know what background information/knowledge/references you employ to support the statements you make.

        It’s not that I doubt the veracity of what you write; far from it! However, it strikes me, reasonably I hope, that your authoritative statements that you frequently make across an incredibly wide range of technological, social, cultural and historic subjects must, from time to time, be supported by others who are experts in those particular fields. It is a common practice when setting out a claim to offer the supporting references.

        I know that you prefer to be an anonymous writer, and I respect that choice. But to be both anonymous and categorical about such an enormous range of subjects pushes on the edge of my belief system.

        Please accept that I write this without the slightest wish to cause offence. Paul

        • Alexi Says:

          Paul, I have found that in intent Patrice is never wrong. In history he is rarely wrong. In social analysis he is almost prescient. In technology and mathematics he wobbles a bit due to a bit too much handwaving dismissal of important aspects of the dialogue. Even when I think Patrice is wrong I always learn something new.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Dear Paul: I am not categorical. An exasperated Alexi accused me of “little lies”, but I retorted, calmly, with a few of my main arguments about the subject of the Multiverse. True, speaking of “cackling turkeys” about some celebrity physicists was (meant to be) provocative.

          The point? It’s all about arguments. I am categorical, true, but I have REASONS. Authority, by itself, is not reason, just sociology, which may, or not be relevant.

          More in a separate comment.

      • Alexi Says:


    • gmax Says:

      $ PAUL: OK, suppose Patrice was just an expensive escort girl in Vegas. Would that make anything she says less true?

      Or are just the whores with PhDs such as Summers, or with Nobel Prizes, such as Obama (elected by the Wall Street plutocracy, nota bene) believable? For you?

      You have to learn to judge knowledge, not just follow oligarchs like a bleating sheep to learn what’s trueand what not.

      Same goes for Alexi, and his universes to the right, the left, etc.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Indeed, the Escort Girrrrrl (EsG?) would prefer that one would address her ideas, not who her sugar daddies are…

        • Paul Handover Says:

          Wow! What a fascinating exchange this is turning out to be. Just back in after taking a dog to the local vet’s office so need some time to re-read, reflect and then ponder! 😉

          But you, Patrice, and Alexi and gmax have made me feel so pleased that I spoke up!

          Seems to me that there are the guts of a post here. Patrice? Or should I pay penance and write it over on Learning from Dogs! 😉 ?

          • Patrice Ayme Says:

            Please do not hesitate to make it a post, Paul! I was thinking of it myself, but, as it is, right now, I don’t seem to have the time. I still did not write my HOLONOMIC TIME, which is authentic creation/research in physics.

            I will write some more about the Authority Principle & Its Creative Nemesis in a separate comment.

  6. Alexi Helligar Says:

    It is clear to me that every Universe in the Multiverse is ONE Cosmos. That is why I don’t find the idea of the Multiverse so revolutionary. Lets look at the instantaneous moment. The next moment where my head is turned slightly to the left vs. the next moment where my head is turned slightly to the right. Both moments are equally real as far as the laws of physics are concerned. I turn my head slightly left, and the Universe goes on. But what changes in physics that makes that Universe any more real than the Universe where my head turned slightly right? Why should I be biased towards one Universe which I observe and caused by turning my head to the right over the one where my head is turned slightly the other way?

    It makes sense to say that both Universes are in their own ways equally real and see where that thinking takes me. It turns out that it seems to address a great deal of problems raised by Quantum Mechanics.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Alexi: The topology of the Multiverse, as considered in its various versions by physicists, is disconnected. Not so with the universe. However, I should be humble, because apparently you can create the universe by just turning your head. That means in another universe, I’m in ashes. 😉

      The Multiverse solves no problem of QM (I know the cackling turkeys cackle otherwise). This was the initial reaction to Everett by Europeans in the early 60s. Wheeler got so struck by that cold shower, that his student had to leave (academic) physics. However, the Multiverse solves all the problems of history, I must admit, because, not only Auschwitz did not happen, in most of those universes out there, but neither did physicists.

      • Alexi Says:

        Creating a Universe by turning my head is trivial. Turning you to ash much less so. 🙂

        The multiverse actually solves multiple problems in multiple areas of physics, including QM. The multiverse is multiversed. To such a degree that it is starting to take on the mantle of fact. Though this would be premature.

        There is a serious debate going on. You might want to get involved in the discussion and quit the insults and handwaving.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          I’m very serious. Multiverse people believe a zillion universes per nanometer. Call that whatever you want. I call it more extravagant than angels on a pin.

  7. Patrice Ayme Says:

    @ Paul:
    My essays are full of links to the most authoritative sources (when I use Wikipedia and it’s not completely kosher, I mention it).

    For example my “Axiom of Choice: Crazy Math” had four links (which themselves linked all over the place). Agreed to fully appreciate what I said, one had to have a (number of) graduate classes in mathematics. However, although I know the average person is more than half a dozen years of hard math removed from it, I tried to make the CREATIVE argument of mine understandable.

    My essays are not written just as to inform knowledge, but inform the ability to question knowledge. If I say something that brings you beyond the edge of credibility, Paul, I have done a good job. Then you can form a question. That’s how debates work. And that’s why they are useful.

    The meta-question: “Are you god, oh my god, how do I know for sure you are god, and I can believe in you?” although funny, is the exact opposite of the apology of reason I am trying to make.

    As it turns out I am going to put out a long essay on Quantum Tunneling today, mostly written by the eminent physicist, Matt Strassler. (Then you can write to him, and ask him if he got a PhD, about what, where, with whom, etc., and how his career is doing… to see if he is qualified, hahaha).

    QT tunneling is first year Quantum Mechanics, but could/will be taught in preschool… Be it only by me, the great categorical authority from outer space (did you think of this possibility? PhD from Alpha Centauri? ;-)!).

  8. Patrice Ayme Says:

    @ Paul GMax, Alexi: I do think that the Internet will allow us to turn around the authority argument.

    Who should have authority? Doctors in medicine or pharmacy. However, they are best automatized, scientific studies have shown (for run of the mill situations).

    The same would extent to judges…

    In matters of pure thinking, only truth is the authority. And authority is determined through debate,

  9. Paul Handover Says:

    Patrice, Gmax and Alexi, thank you. It’s been both a pleasure and a privilege to share my musings and have your responses. Genuinely!

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      So are we (you) going to write about it in a post? I think it’s a genuinely important subject.

      • Paul Handover Says:

        Yes! Absolutely! Allow me some thinking time and I will offer a post over on Learning from Dogs.

        • Paul Handover Says:

          It will be a two-part essay with the first part coming out tomorrow. I have called it Progressing Wisdom. 😉

          • Patrice Ayme Says:

            OK, I will keep my eye out for it, and will try to contribute. I have pneumonia, a gift of my wonderful toddler (who herself got it at preschool, she is out of it, thank to a robust treatment from her pediatrician…) So I’m a bit slow…
            Will bring out something on Amundsen Sea glaciers today, let’s I spent too much time at the doctor again.

  10. Progressing Wisdom – the preamble. | Learning from Dogs Says:

    […] essay has been prompted by a fascinating exchange of views and comments on a post recently published by Patrice Ayme.  More of […]

  11. Progressing Wisdom – the essay. | Learning from Dogs Says:

    […] May 11th, Patrice Ayme published an essay entitled Science: Progressing Wisdom.  I found it deeply engaging. At the same time, I was frustrated because there was a part of me […]

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