Posts Tagged ‘Science’

Solar Roads

October 15, 2015

Solar Roads Versus Objection Mars:

Long ago, when the sun had not set yet on the will of the West to progress, a poet was visiting my home. He read some of his poetry. Humanity had just reached the Moon. The poet loftily declared that we did not need the Moon, we needed to fight hunger.

Later, the malaria parasite mutated, becoming resistant to standard treatment. Now it kills more than 1.2 million people a year. A typical objection to colonizing the Solar System is this:

“as I see it – Scott’s movie (even if I’m a sci-fi fan and I love some movies of him as well: Blade Runner is definitely a masterpiece) is a mere conservative propaganda aiming for people to agree that these extremely expensive missions to Mars are more important than saving African children from ebola, helping Syrian refugees, letting Europe be democratic yet or supporting laws against free guns in the US … Save the “american” astronaut, guys!” The answer is crushing, it holds in one picture:

French Truck On Solar Photo-Voltaic Road: the Future Has Arrived

French Truck On Solar Photo-Voltaic Road: the Future Has Arrived

There is nothing “conservative” about missions to Mars. Quite the opposite: such missions are fully progressive. They force humanity to progress.

Disease in Africa has to do with lack of governance. Lack of hospital has to do with lack of governance. In the Ebola epidemic, the countries that were struck were struck from lack of organized health care.

Senegal got one, just one, imported Ebola case. The patient got cured, and that was it. Even Mali, with better governance, in spite of a Jihadist invasion, was able to contain a few imported cases. Meanwhile, several countries next door, which are intrinsically much richer (Sierra Leone, Guinea. Liberia) saw thousands of deaths, and containment came from the efforts of NGOs, France and the USA (mostly).

When France pulled out of Africa, some particularly smart critic told a senior French government minister that the argument of “freeing” Africa from alleged colonialism made no humanitarian sense: there was no “colonialism” to speak of, and who was going to pay for one hospital every 100 kilometers in the world’s second largest continent? The minister smiled, and said: “this is precisely the point, we will not incur that expense anymore.”

Two capabilities save children in general: a) good governance. b) science.

When considering a Mars mission in this connection, one has to answer if the Mars mission will improve governance and science. Governance itself is a science. A mission to Mars is “expensive”. How much? 100 million dollars? 200 millions? How much would a Mars colonization program cost to launch? Two trillion dollars?

According to the International Monetary Fund, subsidies for fossil fuels are more than 5.5 trillion dollars a year. Enough to set-up a village on Mars, with existing technology.

Now going to Mars would force drastic progress in, say, fuel cells. The technology of fuel cells was invented for the Moon mission. After Obama became president, the research funding on this field was yanked out (probably to send money to businessmen such as Elon Musk).

Mars colonization would force enormously innovative research in energy technology, for example fuel cells, and nuclear energy (both fission and fusion).

Nothing else will.

Syrian refugees? Mars will not save Syrians? Nothing is more removed from the truth. Mars, the god of war, is what is needed in Syria, fighting for Goodness, instead of having Mars fight in the name of the devil Assad, as was mostly done so far.

The 300,000 dead in Syria, the eleven million refugees, have been caused by the rule of a single, cornered man, Assad, son of Assad, and the clique surrounding him. To solve the Syrian refugees crisis, Assad’s rule ought to be terminated, so that he could be replaced by generals open to enough democracy to keep Syrians in Syria.

Unfortunately the Franco-American decapitation strike against Assad was called off by Obama, for reasons so far unexplained. So the massacre keeps on going, with forces under the orders of Assad killing at least ten times as much what the Islamist State kills.

Fossil fuels consumption, should it go on for a few more decades, will bring the global temperature up five degrees Celsius, and massacre the biosphere. It has to stop, but can be stopped only with plentiful, cheap, new energy sources.

That, or massive war (killing billions).

How? Science to the rescue. Without evoking the spectrum of nuclear energy (fission and fusion), Solar Photo-Voltaic (SPV) is here. Normal solar panels were developed for space missions. Without space colonization, they would not have been developed. Yet, solar panels are fragile. Or, more exactly, were fragile until now.

A giant French construction company (Bouygues) deposed patents to cover-up solar cells with various materials to make them tough. Glass can be made as hard as steel. Then Bouygues engineers drove more than a million vehicles above the toughened-up panels in a few test cities (Chambery, Grenoble). Now the first solar road is under construction. Four meters of said road can satisfy a house’s needs. 100 square meters (twenty meters of the linear road depicted) are enough to drive 100,000 kilometers with an electric vehicle. If 25% of French roads were covered, 100% of French electric needs would be covered.

The future, the good future, is here: it’s enough to let science roll. But science needs challenges. Such as Mars colonization. If (very serious) scientists and mathematicians need bananas, such as the Fields Medal and the Nobel Prize, certainly humanity needs bigger motivation, and bigger prizes than that!

You want morality? More morality? Then you need a bigger science. And the way to get a better science is by setting higher objectives, greater passions, more exacting thoughts. Progress, the Will to Progress, is a mood. It cannot be confined to moral progress, because the universe juggles with evil. Moral progress means technological progress.  Mars colonization is no moral objection. Objective Mars is a moral imperative.

Patrice Ayme’

The Folly Of Big Science Prizes

October 6, 2015

The New York Times published an article with that idea, a recurring theme on this site. It had very interesting content, adding to my general position, which the Times had the unusual kindness to publish. Here it is:

Why science prizes? To create celebrities in science, and thus, to make science famous, some point out.

But surely the reason for science ought not to be fame, but the search for truth? Therein the problem: using the celebrity principle, that fame matters most, one overwhelms the very reason for science, which is that truth matters most.

Prizes in science teach the identification of fame with truth.

We Are Far From Understanding Sun’s Thermonuclear Physics. Coronal Mass Ejection, Aug. 31, 2012. Such a CME Would Wreck Civilization, If Pointed At Earth

We Are Far From Understanding Sun’s Thermonuclear Physics. Coronal Mass Ejection, Aug. 31, 2012. Such a CME Would Wreck Civilization, If Pointed At Earth

Civilization depends upon truth, thus science. The confusion between fame and truth brought the near-collapse of civilization before.

Aristotle (320 BCE) taught physics which was obviously false (Aristotle taught that a force had to be continually applied for continuous motion; Buridan overturned this in 1320 CE). I have argued that the very fact that Aristotle’s physics was obviously false taught the suspension of common sense (and that was exactly what the powers that be wanted!)

However, because Aristotle was immensely famous, his false physics was viewed as the obvious truth. In turn, because Aristotle’s physics was so stupendous, Aristotle’s erroneous ideas in politics (that monarchy, thus dictatorship, was the best political system) were viewed as obviously true, too. In turn, these false ideas were used to demolish the idea of the Republic for more than two millennia.

Hence we can see who confusing fame with science advantages: those who view fame as the end all, be all. Naturally enough, celebrities set-up prizes to celebrate celebrity. In turn, such people are the best and most obsequious servants to the established order. And this is exactly why, throughout history, some of the worst tyrants have heaped praise on the few (and especially those they made famous).

There are more huge prizes in science nowadays, because some of the most influential people in the world today have a very dark, sinister and troubling relationship with science.

In turn a reader, “RamS”, had the kindness to offer the following compliment: “This is the best comment, and this is the real issue the author is worried about. It is not the prize but the fame that comes with…”

Here is how The Folly of Big Science Awards, by VINAY PRASADOCT started:

“On Monday, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine will go to a few scientists for work that untangles the intricacies of the human body and may advance treatments for cancer, heart disease or other major illnesses. The prize comes with a sizable check and virtually ensures that the winners’ research will be well funded for the rest of their careers.

Every recent recipient has undoubtedly deserved the honor. But that doesn’t mean that prizes for medical research are a good idea.

The Nobel, along with the Dickson, Lasker-DeBakey, Canada Gairdner and other major awards, honors the scientists who are usually in the least need of recognition and funding, which squeezes out opportunities for other scientists.

More important, by emphasizing the importance of scientific breakthroughs — serendipitous occurrences that rely on decades of research — these prizes play down, and diminish, the way that great medical advances build on one another.

All scholarship is, to some extent, built on prior work — but this is especially true in scientific research.”

This is exactly why I have fought the hyper celebrity status of Copernicus and Newton. Copernicus’ work, viewed on a historical scale, is little more than plagiarism from Buridan (who was madatorily taught at the university where Copernicus was an undergraduate). Similarly, although Newton was giant, he invented neither his so-called first nor second law (that was Buridan again), nor the universal attraction law (as he himself insisted he did not).

Mis-attributing discoveries is not just a question of justice. It is a question of falsifying the causality chain of evidence, and the very way the human mind works. Thus it undermines science, by giving the impression “excellence” is just a matter of the solitary genius. In truth, “excellence” is a matter of civilization.

Actually Ms. Tu, who just got the Nobel in Medicine, pointed this out. By reading a two thousand year old treaty, she had realized that her method of preparation — boiling the wormwood — damaged the active ingredient. She then prepared it using an ether-based solvent, which boils at 35 degrees Celsius. When tested on mice and monkeys, it proved 100 percent effective.

Dr. Tu, with two colleagues, were the first human subjects. Suffering no ill effects, she conducted clinical trials with patients.

“We had just cured drug-resistant malaria,” Dr. Tu told New Scientist in an interview in 2011,“we were very excited.”

In spite of her very important success, Dr. Tu was later shunned by the Chinese scientific establishment, for her lack of a PhD. The “PhD” is a stamp certifying one belongs to a tribe.

However, researchers who are truly extremely original tend to not have a network, or less of a network (“scientists” and “thinkers” always exist; simply, in some periods of history, lasting centuries or more, they can all be wrong, in no small part from pleasing the oligarchies above… When the oligarchies themselves do not think that they think enough for all of society… As seems to be happening in the West presently, from lack of a dissenting intellectual class!)

Prasad gives a detailed example of how celebritism masks the thinking process:

“Consider James P. Allison, the winner of this year’s Lasker-DeBakey prize in clinical medical research. His work helped clarify one way cancer cells hide from the immune system.

Around 1990, a team of scientists found a protein on the surface of immune cells and proposed that it stimulated the immune system. Dr. Allison’s lab and a third group suggested that the protein put the brakes on immune responses. A fourth group confirmed that it halted the immune system, rather than stimulating it. Dr. Allison later showed that blocking this protein with an antibody could unleash an immune response in animals that could lead not only to rejection of but also immunity to many kinds of cancers. A decade later, similar antibodies to this protein and other related ones were found to prevail against several types of human cancers.

Dr. Allison’s work is surely impressive. But it occurred alongside and in dialogue with a number of related findings. Researchers analyzed the citations that led to Dr. Allison’s drug and concluded that it relied on work conducted by 7,000 scientists at 5,700 institutions over a hundred-year period. Yet only he was recognized.”

People are social primates, they are ambitious. The most meditative and contemplative ones tend to produce the breakthroughs, those who are more ambitious tend to exploit them.

Prasad: “The prize industry contributes to a deeper problem in scientific research: We throw resources at a privileged few who have already achieved enormous fame.

…80 percent of research funds in basic medical sciences are concentrated among the top fifth of researchers… We especially need to dispel this myth now because the scientific community is in the midst of a replication crisis. Nearly all published medical papers report significant or positive results, but many efforts to duplicate the findings failed… The regular occurrence of false leads also hints at the enormous role serendipity plays in discoveries, which some Nobel Prize winners have acknowledged in their acceptance speeches. In one study of 101 basic science discoveries published in top journals that claimed a drug had promise, just five led to approved drugs.

… science is hard. It’s like exploring an unknown land; we’ll never know whether over the next hill lies an expansive vista or just another hill. A finding that seems mundane or trivial may become immensely important years later… Or we could break up big prizes and give out many smaller awards. This may be more effective in supporting science, a view shared by Terence Tao, a mathematician who won $3 million from the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics but tried to talk the man who gave it to him into spreading it around to more people. Alternately, instead of giving out big science awards, let’s use the prize money to study better ways to fund science.”

I have excoriated the Breakthrough Prize (although Tao himself is a great mathematician competing with computers… Some of the “discoveries” that prize celebrated are probably… errors).

Prize money is not about science. It’s about celebrating the oligarchic principle. If we want a great scientific society, we need a great scientific mood, all over the land. And that means, first of all, no BS.

Today the physics Nobel was given for the oscillation of neutrinos. For the reason that authorities (of physics) had proclaimed neutrinos had no mass (that augmented the authorities of the authorities, as they were talking as if they were gods), it had been decided neutrinos could not oscillate (until major discrepancies were found in the Sun’s output).

Can we colonize Mars? Interestingly, there is a connection with a refined knowledge of neutrino physics. At least, so I think.

We do not just like science, because our species evolved into truth machines. Truth has always been necessary to, although not sufficient for, survival. With existing technology, and the eight billion humans we enjoy, we can neither quite colonize Mars, nor survive on Earth (except as a much more reduced population).

Science is not a call, it’s a life raft. The one and only. And thus less folly in its financing is not just a question of reason, but of morality. Pure and simple.

Patrice Ayme’

Art, Philosophy, Science: Joy Of Knowledge

July 9, 2015

As Ludwig Van said: “O Freunde, nicht diese Toene! Sondern lasst uns angenehmere anstimmen und freundenvollere!” (“Oh friends! Not these tunes! Instead let’s strike more pleasant and friendly sounds”)  [My translation of Beethoven’s 9th lyrics introduction.]

Oh friends, not this Germanoid Greek Euro tragi-comedy! Enough of those critters so unworthy, they can’t conceive of themselves, independently of America!

Considered abstractly, and in essence, philosophy, art, science, and even engineering are extreme aspects of general cognition.

This Is Not Just Art, But Discovery. Grotte Chauvet.

This Is Not Just Art, But Discovery. Grotte Chauvet.

[Chauvet cave is up to 32,400 years old, according to Carbon 14 studies; some of the paintings are 12 meters wide, more than 3 meters tall; the cave was discovered just 20 years ago. Picasso once said after exiting the Lascaux cave back in 1940 that “we have discovered nothing”.]

When intellectual property lawyers describe inventions, they use the term “art”. Was the art innovative?

Each of philosophy, art, science, engineering is both knowledge and method. They are tied together, and go together being the opposite poles of cognition. Science as a body of knowledge, is what is known, for sure. Philosophy, as a body of knowledge, is what ought to be true.

Science as a method is the category (Aristotle!) of all ways to ascertain what is absolutely true.

Science, as a category of established facts, enables a plane to successfully take off, more than once a second, worldwide.

Philosophy, as a method, determines not just what “ought” to be true morally, but what “ought” to be true, as an educated guess. Thus, all and any application of the scientific method, requires the philosophical method. The philosophical method is the first approach, always.

An obvious, and state-of-the-art example, is the notion of infinity, where the debate is not just still on-going, after 25 centuries. Progress is made, in the sense that logical subtleties, which lay uncovered for millennia, were recently revealed. Uncovered for the first time, just as those Chauvet lions. Looking differently at Archimedes’ axiom, 23 centuries old, Model theorists discovered something new about numbers. (Model Theory is a part of pure logic which interface strongly with mathematics; actually I just found, as per Archimedes himself, that it should be called Eudoxus Axiom.) I have proposed to go much further with a different philosophical insight in Number Theory (in still another direction Archimedes could not have imagined).

And what of art in all this? Well, it’s the third pole of cognition, where emotion finds truth, before philosophy and, a fortiori, science, ever can. More than the logos, it depicts, or resounds with, the logics of emotion.

Both art and philosophy need just one fact, one intuition, to make a world. Science finds, painstakingly and patiently, what this world is really made of. Just as patiently and painstakingly, mathematics imagine, what this world is really made of. And then philosophy and art lash back further far out.

Cognition is one, approaches to it, and possibilities, are many. There are many possible worlds in our future minds than we can imagine, and they will blossom, as long we take joy in doing what we do best: “Plus Oultre” (“Plus Ultra”)!

Patrice Ayme’

With Physics Like That, Who Needs Reality?

June 9, 2015

The quest for reality has been exemplified by science. However:

From a recent New York Times op-ed, “A Crisis at the Edge of Physics:”

“DO physicists need empirical evidence to confirm their theories?

You may think that the answer is an obvious yes, experimental confirmation being the very heart of science. But a growing controversy at the frontiers of physics and cosmology suggests that the situation is not so simple.”

In December 2014 famous physicists George Ellis and Joseph Silk, published in the journal Nature…Scientific Method: Defend the Integrity of Physics…Attempts to exempt speculative theories of the Universe from experimental verification undermine science.”

Science is immensely old. I pointed this out for dogs in “Very Ancient Relationships“. The Ancient Greeks had more than six breeds of cattle which had been evolved in Greece, specifically, to genetically modify them in a suitable manner:

Obtained By Ancient Greece Artificial & Natural Selections

Obtained By Ancient Greece Artificial & Natural Selections

[The Greeks were famous for their mix of natural and artificial selection of cattle.]

Ellis and Silk wrote that:

“This year, debates in physics circles took a worrying turn. Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed Universe, some researchers called for a change in how theoretical physics is done. They began to argue — explicitly — that if a theory is sufficiently elegant and explanatory, it need not be tested experimentally, breaking with centuries of philosophical tradition of defining scientific knowledge as empirical. We disagree. As the philosopher of science Karl Popper argued: a theory must be falsifiable to be scientific.

Actually, Ellis and Silk are completely wrong there. The theory that the Earth turned around the Sun, originated by Aristarchus of Samos (a Greek island in sight of Anatolia, presently swamped by refugees). Its competitor was the geocentric theory. However, there was a strong argument against geocentrism: it stretched credulity. Indeed, the Greeks could compute that the Sun was much much larger than the Earth. It made sense that the little thing turned around the big thing as Buridan pointed out (around 1330 CE). To this geocentrists could only reply with silly arguments such as: man and his creator are big, etc.

So Karl Popper was also wrong. In the most spectacular case.

The Heliocentric Theory was a full blown scientific theory, so was the Geocentric Epicycles. However only a careful study of the illumination of the phases of Venus showed definitively that the the latter was wrong. This happened only in the mid-Seventeenth Century.

Ellis and Silk: “Chief among the ‘elegance will suffice’ advocates are some string theorists. Because string theory is supposedly the ‘only game in town’ capable of unifying the four fundamental forces, they believe that it must contain a grain of truth even though it relies on extra dimensions that we can never observe. Some cosmologists, too, are seeking to abandon experimental verification of grand hypotheses that invoke imperceptible domains such as the kaleidoscopic multiverse (comprising myriad universes), the ‘many worlds’ version of quantum reality (in which observations spawn parallel branches of reality) and pre-Big Bang concepts.”

In other words, many leading physicists are arguing for leaving behind the search for evidence, the old fashion way, leaving no stone unturned, just like smart prehistoric men did. Instead:

“These unprovable hypotheses are quite different from those that relate directly to the real world and that are testable through observations — such as the standard model of particle physics and the existence of dark matter and dark energy. As we see it, theoretical physics risks becoming a no-man’s-land between mathematics, physics and philosophy that does not truly meet the requirements of any.

The issue of testability has been lurking for a decade. String theory and multiverse theory have been criticized in popular books1, 2, 3 and articles…. In March 2014, one of the founders of inflation theory, theorist Paul Steinhardt wrote5 in Nature that “the theory of inflationary cosmology is no longer scientific because it is so flexible that it can accommodate any observational result”.

As I said above, Popper was wrong: falsifiability is neither necessary, nor sufficient to qualify a theory as scientific.

Another example of untestable theory was biological evolution through natural selection: they Greeks knew it to be true. One can read the theory explicitly stated in Lucretius’ giant poem about the universe. However the Greeks did not. know how to test it. The only tests they knew were indirect, they had to do with ARTIFICIAL selection.

Still biological evolution was a valid scientific theory, although untestable for millennia, and perhaps even hundreds of thousand of millennia. Many a shaman is bound to have stumbled upon it.

New York Times: “Implicit in such a maneuver is a philosophical question: How are we to determine whether a theory is true if it cannot be validated experimentally? Should we abandon it just because, at a given level of technological capacity, empirical support might be impossible? If not, how long should we wait for such experimental machinery before moving on: ten years? Fifty years? Centuries? …

Are superstrings and the multiverse, painstakingly theorized by hundreds of brilliant scientists, anything more than modern-day epicycles?”

Not even that. Epicycles were useful and observable. They actually are true in some sense, because they reflect Fourier Analysis of periodic motions.

Today’s most brandished “scientific” theories have nothing good about them, and worse of all, they don’t pass the smell test. Just as the Geocentric Theory did not pass the smell test. Just much worse. Theories were a gazillion universes get created in every cubic millimeters are just insane. Arguable even more insane as the worst from Daesh.

And guess what? Both insanities are related. If all what our supposedly best minds, our most rational, most scientific minds can produce, and brandish, is sheer insanity, why can’t Islam Fundamentalists, Saudi despots, North Korean dictators, and hordes of degenerated plutocrats not be crazy too?

So why not go with the flow? There are jobs to be had there. Saudi Arabia is looking for more eight more executioners to execute those who “insult Islam“. No experience necessary. Just a willingness to whip and “amputate”.

Patrice Ayme’

Humans: Naturally Born Scientists

June 5, 2015

Philosophers, through the ages, have tried to distinguish man from beast. The soul was suggested as a possible distinction (that was an old Middle Age theory, later adopted by Descartes). Tool usage was proposed (Bergson). And then language was offered as characteristic of humans. But animals were found to have theories of mind, tools, and language. How is man going to feel proud and different?

What about science? Does the inbred ability to produce it characterize us? I think so.

What Is Science? It Is Not To Be Confused With Scientific Theories:

Science is the body of certain facts. Science is the body of facts which have been proven experimentally to be true.

Curiously, many people do not get this simple statement. Is it because primary school is not taught adequately?

We Have Been Scientists, All Along, Ever More

We Have Been Scientists, All Along, Ever More

Science is the body of certain facts. Science is the body of facts which have been proven experimentally to be true. How hard is it to understand this?

Newtonian Mechanics for example is science because, within its domain of application, all its predictions are, and have been proven to be, indeed, what is observed.

Same thing for classical thermodynamics: facts are predicted, and observed to be true, time and time again. Same thing for continental drift: it predicts that continents are moving, and they are observed to move, indeed. At the exact rate predicted.

Biological evolution, too, is science. It says species have evolved. This is indeed what is observed. Thus, evolution is science. It’s not just a theory. Biological science says even more: that species are still evolving, as observed.

And so on:

Science is the body of facts which have been proven time and time again, to be indeed, occurring.

Then there are so-called “scientific” theories.

Scientific Theories Are Not Science, But, First, Theories:

Theory means: a point of view. Theories are not just facts anymore, but a way to organize them according to a perspective. That calls onto pieces of logic which are not proven. A “scientific” theory can be made of a mumbo-jumbo of facts, and completely unproven, even outrageous hypotheses.

Evolution is science. But scientific theories of how this evolution exactly happens are debatable, and debated. They are not sure. They are just theories. (Is evolution just from “natural selection”, haphazardly, or is there more, such that intelligent steering by Quantum epigenetics, as I believe?)

Most Quantum mechanics is science: it’s a set of rules, a logos, which has been checked, time and time again. However, as soon as one steps a bit away from it, it becomes uncertain (for example the Many Interacting World, MIW, a theory is handy, but it assumes that particles are points; that latter point is not a proven, certain fact).

String Theory, Supersymmetry, Multiverse, for example, are theories which include some “scientific” or “mathematical” facts. But they cannot even be checked, let alone capable of making predictions which are observed.

So those “scientific theories” are not “science”. They make a body of knowledge of some sort, like a game. But they are not allowing to make predictions observed in nature.

***

Subtleties:

There are so-called “demarcation problems“, always. It happens within science: Newtonian Mechanics makes superbly exact predictions about where space probes go as engineers use planets as slings to launch them further. However, if one wants to find out about GPS drift, one has to use the more general version of gravitation of Einstein (the latter reduces exactly to Newtonian Mechanics inside the solar system; so the theory changes from Newton, for rockets, to General Relativity (GR), for GPS).

A more subtle demarcation is found, within the body of any given science. For example, part of Einstein theory of gravitation is science, as it predicts exactly what is exactly observed (say with the Geo Positioning System). However, the same set of ideas when applied to, say, Black Holes, comes short: it runs out of enough ideas to make exact predictions, runs out of experiments to be checked, and observed facts.

Thus the theory of gravitation, GR, is science (the closest one stays to Newton), and also a hoped-for scientific theory (but not as disconnected from reality as String Theory, Susy, Multiverse, etc.). However, GR, as a general scientific theory, has disappointed: the unified theory which Einstein tried to develop did not work. (Instead it morphed into something else the general fiber space theory with Ehresman connections, known as Gauge Theory, also know as Quantum Field Theory, etc.)

Thus:

Science is what we know for sure:

How do we know that a logic is true, for sure? By conducting experiments.

By that token, archery was a science (launched just right, an arrow goes where it’s supposed to). Archery later blossomed into gunnery, ballistics, Newtonian Mechanics. Nowadays we would not consider archery as a science, but it’s among the simplest cases of dynamics.

For millions of years, our ancestors have used plants to help with their health. (Ethology has shown many animals do this, not just upper primates.) At this point, around 60% of our medical drugs come from plants.

The European iceman was found carrying general purpose antibiotics. Not by accident. He died more than 5,000 years ago.

And so on. Science is what is sure. We have been sure for a long, a very long time. If we were not so sure, we could not do much.

An artisan making a work perfectly is a scientist, in the particular domain in which this artisan excels. A prehistoric man striking a stone, just so that the force would split a crystal perfectly along pre-determined planes, was a scientist. A rock scientist. He, or she, was engaging in an application of a science we now know as crystallography. (And also in the theory of the mechanical forces, vector calculus.)

Humanity has blossomed, because humanity has learned how to establish, for sure, certain truths which required artificially devised experiments, and the proclivity to push the last frontier of truth, ever more, by being ever more subtle.

We evolved to become an intentionally scientific, that is, prone to experiment, species.

SCIENCE IS US.

And philosophy and its philosophical method, in all that? It’s the category of all the wild guesses, absolutely indispensable to suggest the next experiments, to feed tomorrow’s truths.

***

Science Is Starting To Address Ethics, And Theory Of Mind:

Long the rage smoldered between the so called “humanities” and science. How obsolete. Clearly science is making inroads in the humanities, and clearly the humanities can ask pointed questions to physics, biology, even engineering. Let’s consider the first point, how science is informing humanities.

There is a science called ethology. It comes from “ethos” which means character. Ethology is the logic of character. Ethos also gave the notion of ethics.

Ethology originally was the study of character of animals, from their objective behavior. A number of methods pertaining to the field were developed, Nobel Prizes in biology and medicine were awarded to ethologists.

Then, in the following decades, it dawned on ethologists that the methods of ethology could be extended to the study of the human character.

This is why I am surprised when I hear that one needs a metaphysics to have an ethics. Instead, ethics is something that is determined by the bottom up (instead of top down).

First, through trial, error, and natural selection, human ethology evolved in the last 500 million years. Nature played scientist to evolve us.

Second, human beings observe, and make theories, even social and ethical theories, and then they apply what is basically the scientific method to them.

The scientific method consists in establishing with reasonable certainty facts. As it becomes ever more subtle, it can address ever more sophisticated domains, which used to be exclusively philosophical.

An example? The Theory of Mind. That is a subject long exclusively philosophical. However, scientific research published in recent years showed that children exposed to a second language have, in the average, a better theory of mind. Here is a fresh example, published in 2015:

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21652258-children-exposed-several-languages-are-better-seeing-through-others-eyes-do

Here is an abstract of the research:

HUMAN beings are not born with the knowledge that others possess minds with different contents. Children develop such a “theory of mind” gradually, and even adults have it only imperfectly. But a study by Samantha Fan and Zoe Liberman at the University of Chicago, published in Psychological Science, finds that bilingual children, and also those simply exposed to another language on a regular basis, have an edge at the business of getting inside others’ minds… Some objects were blocked from the experimenter’s sight, a fact the children could clearly see. With a large, a medium and a small car visible to the child, but the small car hidden from the adult, the adult would ask “I see a small car” and ask the child to move it. Both bilingual and those in the exposure group moved the medium-sized car (the smallest the experimenter could see) about 75% of the time, against 50% for the monolinguals. The successful children were less likely even to glance at the car the experimenter could not see.

Why is this happening? Multilingual children observe that different languages provide with different perspectives, thus different theories (theory means literally, to “see” (horan) a “view” (thea)). So multilingual children are more apt to consider which view others see, when considering others.

Multilingual children have a theory of theories of behavior, and we can prove it scientifically. Epistemics” is now a science. And it informs morality.

We are the scientific species. No science, no man. Now, more than ever. And at last smart enough to understand what it means. It means: “Plus Oultre!”, as emperor Charles Quint put it, five centuries ago. Wherever we arrived, in place, time, or understanding, we have to go beyond. It’s not just what ecology requires, it’s what we are.

Patrice Ayme’

Tech, Science, Thinking, Stalled By Plutocracy

May 26, 2015

TECH STALLED BECAUSE SO IS SCIENCE, & THINKING, AS OUR MASTERS DESIRE

Technology, Energy, Science, Economy all entangled, & Stalled:

Some have observed tech is bringing up more hype than progress: we did not get flying cars, but 140 characters. Productivity is stagnating. The Internet hype led a devolution of thinking, for all to see. Some sites seem popular, mostly because they induce a parody of thinking (even on “academic” sites).

Against the will to stupidity, genius roars in vain.

So much of the “high Tech” is not truly high tech, or at least new tech. It’s no big deal, indeed. The “high tech” monopolies, with their “big data” will allow to make with robots what our ancestors used to have with domesticated animals (an ass, horse, or an ox are clever, and respond to voice commands, like the day after tomorrow’s robots).

There is not enough financing of the possible avenues of futuristic research. Here is one:

Real high tech would mean progress in energy production: this is the core of what defines our species. An obvious possibility, indeed, is thermonuclear fusion. H-Bombs work splendidly, and are very small. Making a thermonuclear engine has been difficult, but propulsion in space could turn around a lot of the difficulty we presently have.

Krugman noticed some of this in “The Big Meh” [I sent wise comments, therefore all censored by the New York Times; the Times later sent me kindly an unsolicited letter to justify its censorship; there is no excuse: the New York Times should not censor serious and cogent comments, this is a misuse of technology].

Krugman: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”… began with some technology snark, dismissing Earth as a planet whose life-forms “are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”… Since then we’ve moved on to much more significant things, so much so that the big technology idea of 2015, so far, is a digital watch…

O.K., I’m snarking, too. But there is a real question here. Everyone knows that we live in an era of incredibly rapid technological change, which is changing everything. But what if what everyone knows is wrong? And I’m not being wildly contrarian here. A growing number of economists, looking at the data on productivity and incomes, are wondering if the technological revolution has been greatly overhyped — and some technologists share their concern.”

We evolved as a technological species: weapon and tool usage precedes the apparition of Homo:

Technology preceded the apparition of Homo Erectus, two million years ago. So we can only conclude that technology, and its attached science, and scientific method, created the ecological niche in which Homo, even homo Erectus, evolved.

The fundamental evolutionary niche our very distant ancestors, pre-Homo Erectus, chose was to improve the quantity and quality of energy at our disposal. They went to explore, far from trees and cliffs, armed with stone tools and weapons, with a bias towards a much more carnivorous diet.

Technology and science are us. This is as human as we get. That does not mean anything goes. Just, that’s how humanity gets going.

Thus, our very evolution is entangled with our mastery of energy. Neanderthals used coal (lignite!) already 80,000 years ago. When our ancestors learned to domesticate animals and then invented agriculture, we improved our mastery of energy considerably. In the last 2,000 years, wood was progressively replaced by fossil fuels.

However, fossil fuels have become unsustainable. It is not just that they have put so much CO2 in the lower atmosphere, warming it, melting the ice, rising the seas, and into the ocean, making it acid.

The Return On Investment (ROI) of fossil fuels is now terrible. Major oil companies do not make much profits on new fields: they cost too much to find and exploit. Fracking makes money, but only because the states, and others, pay the price. Remember: 5.3 trillion dollars of fossil fuel subsidies out there.

However progress in economic matters is all about ROI in energy. Without energy we have no food, no shelter, we die.

We don’t have flying cars because we did not improve our mastery of energy as much as that would require (the very first plane, part of a French military program, did not fly very far: it used a heavy steam plant; shortly after, the internal combustion engine allowed to take-off more clearly; right now Airbus sells an electric plane, and intents to develop that technology much further).

Fundamental progress in energy technology has been stalled by lack of advances in fission, fusion, and batteries. Only solar photovoltaics is making really spectacular progress.

This stalling of major technological progress where it counts, in energy management is why society, and the planet, are threatened. This stalling is directly related to a dearth of fundamental research funding, itself related to the rise of a non-tax paying plutocracy. We are in whirlpool of disaster, and the greed of an oligarchy is its nature.

Patrice Ayme’

P/S: Latest News: Amazon Inc. just announced it would stop hiding its European profits in Luxembourg, and would set-up tax paying subsidiaries in various countries: it was threatened by incoming British and French laws. However, skepticism is widespread about the fine print in Amazon’s proposal…

The future was not stalled in the past: Contrarily to what happened around the era from, say, 1900 to 1970, when many futuristic technologies were researched; the USA operated nuclear rocket engines, France flew a “statoreacteur” (“ramjet”) plane, etc.; the inception of motorized flight, from the French steam plane, all the way to jet engines, took around 50 years!

 

ADDED VALUE IN THE XXI CENTURY

March 9, 2015

PRODUCING SUPERIOR THINKING TO IMPROVE NOT JUST WORLD SOCIO-ECONOMY, BUT SURVIVAL:

Capital Exponentiate, Decapitate Wealth To Feed Minds:

Piketty’s “Capital In the XXI Century” argues that the return on capital is greater that that on labor: r>g. All economists from the pseudo-left fell on their knees, astounded by the depth of that observation. They obviously never studied history, let alone archeology.

In truth, Piketty’s big deal inequality, that r>g has been known for 12,000 years, as I have emphasized in countless essays, for years. I have even explained the mathematical-psychological reasons why r>g. Piketty has smirked that he discovered r>g when he wrote the book. (A case of arrogant ignorance buttressed by colossal stupidity: that r>g ought to have been the first law of economics. That it took centuries for economists to discover this cannot possibly be a matter of stupidity, but of the will, on the part of economists of not understanding how the masters who fed them got their power from.)

So Piketty claims he just discovered that r>g: maybe economists are not idiots, but they play some on TV? (Some are bound to think that Piketty should be my ally, and thus I should be nicer to him; however, correct philosophy tends to be done by being only friendly to truth.)

Homo Thrived In This Cold Climate For 2 Million Years (Georgia, Tusheti NP.) Thanks To Science & Technology

Homo Thrived In This Cold Climate For 2 Million Years (Georgia, Tusheti NP.) Thanks To Science & Technology

It was so well known, that the return on capital was higher than that on income, r>g, that all reasonably sustained societies had colossal, decapitating taxes on wealth.

By law, hook, or crook. And when this was not the case, when wealth became hereditary in an exponential way, disasters happened. Generally invasion and destruction.

This happened to all the plutocratically corrupt Chinese empires when Genghis Khan’s Mongols came down.

The peaceful variant is revolutions such as 1789 (for twenty years the king had been meekly trying to make the aristocracy pay enough taxes).

When a great Native American, or great Viking chief died, much of their possessions (it could thousands of horses) would be redistributed.

Time to re-learn the wisdom of the ancients.

***

SUPERIORITY OF THE WEST?

Why did the West become so superior? Or China, for that matter?

Technology. Superior technology. Coming from superior thinking. Both the Greeks and the Chinese had colossal contempt for barbarians. (In both cases it went so far that the Greeks lost everything, and the Chinese came very close to annihilation).

Around the year 1000 CE, the Vietnamese (it seems) invented new cultivars of rice, which could produce an entire crop, twice a year. The population of East Asia exploded accordingly.

A bit earlier, the Franks had invented new cultivars of beans. The Frankish Tenth Century was full of beans. Beans are nutritious, with high protein.

Homo is scientific and technological. Thus, two million years ago, pelt covered (tech!) Homo Ergaster lived in Georgia’s Little Caucasus, a pretty cold place in winter. And the population was highly varied genetically (showing tech and travel already dominated).

***

A GREATER OBSESSION WITH FREEDOM MADE THE WEST SUPERIOR:

Here is the very latest. Flour was found in England, in archeological layers as old as 10,000 years before present. It was pure flour: there were no husks associated. The milling had been done, far away. How far? Well the cultivation of wheat spread to Western Europe millennia later. The flour had been traded, and brought over thousands of miles. Most certainly by boat. Celtic civilization, which would rise 5,000 years later, was expert at oceanic travel.

What’s the broad picture? Not just that prehistoric Englishmen loved their flat bread, no doubt a delicacy. Advanced technology has permeated Europe for much longer than is still understood now by most historians. Remember that the iceman who died in a glacier, 5,000 years ago, was not just tattooed, and had fetched in the lowlands a bow made of special wood. More telling: he carried antibiotics.

China and the West diverged, because the philosophies of the Franks and the East were different. The Franks had outlawed slavery four centuries before the great divergence started. This helped freedom, especially the freedom to think of new technology and science.  (Frank = Free.)

The more enslaved a population, the less inventive. It is not just a cultural-psychological phenomenon. It may be epigenetic. The Franks were more ethologically correct, and that enabled to unleash full human epigenetic.

(Being endowed with full human capability, is perhaps why G.W. Bush was incredibly brazen when he became president, going to invade Iraq, whereas Obama was subdued, and just worked, under Summers’ orders, to save the established plutocratic order, like a little boy, obsequious servant of the great white masters; OK, Obama did not descend from slaves, yet he was exposed to the black slave culture, throughout, and somewhat clueless about it.)

The Germans had been obsessed with freedom since ever, and, since in particular, their first contacts with the Romans. All that Germanic freedom led to population explosions, and invasions of Greco-Roman lands, which, for centuries, were systematically cut down by hyper-disciplined Roman armies.

All this was brought into one mold by Consul Clovis, who, as Roman Imperator, and himself son of Roman Imperator Childeric (also elected king of the Salian Franks), made the soldiers of his army understand that they would have to be extremely disciplined too, under the penalty of death (Roman style, a revolting notion for free Germans).

Militarily, the Franks by combining freedom and discipline, were an undefeatable force ever since (the Mongols knew this all too well, thus did not send their scouts west of Croatia; then allied themselves to the Franks to capture Baghdad and Damas).

Free peasants had no slaves, but they needed help: domesticated beasts and mechanical advantage were thus evolved by Frankish society. When Europeans made it to China, they were astounded that people did everything, without using machines or beasts.

So not too many children, but then communal living: Middle Ages villages in Europe were commune-ist regimes. Exploitation of property was divided according to how many could work.

The end result was strong philosophical pressure for ever more advanced technology. Although China was ahead in some tech, as soon as Europe heard of it, it captured it greedily. That philosophy permeated all of Western European society. Peter the Great, emperor of Russia knew this so well, he went to study incognito as a worker in Dutch naval shipyards.

***

AMERICAN ECONOMIC DISCOURSE: A TROJAN HORSE

Does the drive to advanced tech dominate now?

Not as much as it used to.

Why? American plutocracy. And the “Nobel Prizes” of a whole army of obsequious plutophile servants thereof.

Because the spirit of all-conquering technology has been displaced by Capital in the XXI Century. And more specifically its USA monopolistic operators (such as the insufferable Bill Gates, and cohorts of financial operators). Technology is, and will stay, of course, the main and ultimate capital of humanity. That’s how Homo colonized the Caucasus, two million years ago.

Piketty, in his book, brushes technology off. Absurdly, he believes that tech can provide only a 1% return. That’s thoroughly stupid: inventing full Quantum Computers, for example,  would have tremendous consequences, as any device could be made hyper intelligent.

Yet, this sort of attitude makes Piketty an object of admiration in USA Academia.

Why? Because USA Academia is plutocratic through and through. Piketty’s ideas do not threaten plutocracy. Quite the opposite: they will allow it to survive. Diminished, true, but alive. My ideas would destroy plutocracy. Let alone the fact that it would take a long time to implement Piketty’s scheme. My schemes, being multi-dimensional, could be implemented faster, and start to bite right away.

(I do agree with several of Piketty’s propositions, such as a world cadastrum, and progressive taxation on capital: I have advocated them for more than a decade!)

***

PLUS OULTRE:

However, a European solar plane just took off from Dubai. It will go around the world on solar power alone. The main force behind this project, the inventor and pilot, the engineer Picard (scion of ancestors just like him) asserts that the global adoption of such technologies would lower energy waste by half.

Europeans, following the Europeans who had migrated to North America, were the richest, most powerful, better nourished people in the world, for five centuries, because their economies produced more ADDED VALUE than any other economies (in particular, better guns).

To re-establish relative riches, Europeans need to focus on what produced that superiority in added value production. That means technological superiority, and this is fed by a more educated population. More educated scientifically, and thus philosophically.

Philosophy, done in a humanly ethologically correct way, is the metaphysics of science. It all fits together. Anything else is an amputation of the possible. Of the humanly possible.

China understands this very well. At least the science part. (Not too sure about the philosophical part; without it, China may well follow the path of fascist Germany. It’s going that way, with a military budget bigger than France, Britain and Japan combined: $145 billion.)

How to do this?

How to add so much value from mind that superiority is re-established?

Well establish the correct philosophy, put it in power, teach it, finance free maximum quality education, free at all ages.

Pay by taxes on wealth, and large incomes, fortunes, in such a way that there would be a practical cap on wealth, as the Roman Republic used to have, when it really worked.

Decapitating wealth is important for the youth: it will show youth that material wealth to excess is such a bad thing, it had to be made unlawful. It will replace mind at the apex of what youth ought to aspire to, and be programmed by.

***

KEEPING A CIVILIZATION GRADIENT WILL SAVE BILLIONS:

Billions of lives, that is.

The usual partisans of insignificance, nihilism and masochism will no doubt whine that Euro-American economic ascendency is a bad thing. They prefer to be haughty slaves than responsible masters.

European scientific superiority led to a reasonably stabled world order. (Except for some populations of the Americas who got exterminated, thus clearing the lands for Europeans.)

In a world where everybody has the same weapons, and ecology is collapsing (still not raining in California, fourth year in a row, in the greatest drought in several millennia), it is to be feared that disorder will express itself as it has in the past: the sort of massacres that make entire populations disappear. That is what Netanyahu is thinking of…

So defining properly Capital in The XXI Century is not just economically and socially important. It is morally important, in the apocalyptic sense of “moral”.

Superior mind is the ultimate capital. Obviously hardly a notion that comes naturally to economists. As what is called “economics” is mostly a fake science, and famous economists are mostly people who have learned to lie about that fact.

When Piketty claims he just discovered r>g, 10,000 years after most of our ancestors, he demonstrates that. More generally, the same critique can be directed at entire fields such as most of theoretical physics and even mathematics, as funding from plutocrats has become ubiquitous. By buying the hierarchy, the plutocrats bought the thinking. That’s what they wanted. Thinking to be directed incorrectly.

We have see this before: this is how Aristotle, or more exactly his sponsors, nearly destroyed civilization. The difference? The stakes are much higher now.

Can I be more specific in my critique, give a hint of what is wrong with Academia? Most thinkers in Academia are too specialized. Right, much science requires hyper-specialization. Say when one is studying Pluto’s atmosphere (the Solar planet not the god of planet finance). One needs hyper-specialized science. However, there is also the science, and the thinking, about big questions. In those fields, hyper-specialization, unguided by the broad picture, can lead to error: look at much of theoretical physics, much of philosophy, much of economics.

It is precisely because Thomas Piketty is obviously pretty ignorant of history, that he believes he just discovered r>g. After 10,000 human societies made the  notion central to their cultures. It is also why economists do not even know that, during most of humanity’s history, money creation was not farmed out to private individuals (the bankers). So they cannot even feel that there is anything wrong with the present money creation system.

Ignorance allows the devil to hide in the details.

Patrice Ayme’

Deep Science Is Always Born Philosophical

February 12, 2015

NO NEW PHILOSOPHY, NO NEW SCIENCE

Philosophy, and science have the same longing, truth. They go at it in, roughly, the same way. However, the data set philosophy uses, even in its mature form, is much more general. This makes philosophy more “meta”, and thus indispensable to create anything really new in science, be it even a new lab method.

So the debate “Philosophers and Physicists” in Scientia Salon is tongue in cheek.

Einstein offered philosophical considerations in domains far from physics. Yet, if one knows him well, one can see how his general philosophy positively impacted his scientific work.

Epistemology, the study of how we come to have knowledge, is a meta-discipline.

Newton: Mathematician, Physicist, “Natural” Philosopher

Newton: Mathematician, Physicist, “Natural” Philosopher

Yet, epistemology is essential to establish new methods in science. A recent example is datation using genetic material: the practice became more precise, because how we came to the previous knowledge was questioned, and then modified into better knowledge.

Edge science is nearly always entangled with practical epistemology. This makes scientists at the edge of science philosophers of science in a practical sense.

Whether the philosophical method has been useful in Twentieth Century science should not be a debate: Frege, Russell, Poincare’, etc., were also full blown philosophers. Many, if not all, of the top, fundamental physicists, used the philosophical method. The Foundational debates were all deeply philosophical always (as early as Aristotle, Averroes, Tycho, Bruno, Galileo, Newton, Laplace, Gauss, Riemann, Maxwell, Mach, Cantor, etc.).

The fight between Einstein and his sponsor Planck about the photoelectric effect was philosophical.

Bohr defended (his view of) Quantum Mechanics with philosophy (thanks to Born’s interpretation it became permanent).

Better: Karl Popper engaged in a correspondence with Einstein about Non-Locality. Out of that came the Popper experiment and the EPR.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popper’s_experiment

Can philosophy be practical? In science? Sure. Even in mathematics: for philosophical reasons, the Dutch topologist Brouwer rejected some infinite methods in mathematics. This brought, half a century later, mathematics that could be used in ATMs and other machines.

Science is after truth. Philosophy is also after truth. Both are also after defining what truth could be, and what propositions may be formulated and which ones may be provable.

Introducing only observables in physics was attributed to Einstein by Heisenberg, in a heated exchange about the Copenhagen Interpretation, where Heisenberg accused Einstein to have taught him that way.

But Einstein had got the notion from Poincare’. As found in Henri’s “La Science et L’Hypothese” plus Poincare’ papers on what Poincare’ called the “Principle of Relativity”, complete with the constancy of the speed of light, which, latest news, is not really constant (as I expected).

Philosophy is also after truth.

Even the truth that there are no truths about some matters.

Science also excels at the truth that there are sometimes no truth about some matters… and science has learned to overcome that: for example there is no definition, stricto sensu, of elementary particle. Elementary, yes, particle, no… But that does not prevent physicists of discovering them, at least in Feynman diagrams.

The difference between the notion of truth in philosophy and in science is just a matter of degree.

Buridanus established the erroneous labeled “Newton’s First Law” in a treaty he wrote about Aristotle. That same Buridan taught students, and established with them the basic idea of graphs, and what became the Oxford Computing School.

Aristotle, fully admirable and experimentally oriented in biology, was spectacularly wrong about inertia. That became a big deal as his students Antipater, Craterus and Alexander established a fascist political paradigm that was to reign until, well, Buridan’s time.

Thus truth in philosophy, politics, society and science are entangled.

This stays true to this day: “High Energy Physics” was long well financed, in part because the leaders of the military-industrial complex cannot fail to have noticed that they need “high energy”.

So why all the recent aggressivity of second, third, of even lower order physicists against “philosophy”? Simply because incoherent Quantum Field Theory and complete flight of fancy (SUSY, Strings, Inflation Now, etc.) have ruled physics, under the chimp like mood “shut up and calculate”, in recent decades.

Many philosophers of science have directed sharp critiques at this contemporary elite thinking in physics, and their judiciousness has made physicists furious (because they feel threatened, they remember the cancellation of the SSC).

Some insist upon labels. So and so was employed officially as a philosopher: ‘what did he do, I did not read him, I can’t read him, so why does it matter to scientists?’

Feynman was a practical philosopher. He needed his philosophy for his physics. Actually some of his “proofs” in physics use a special, Feynman-made notion of “truth”. According to Feynman-truth, Feynman discovered some things. But somebody with a different notion of truth would view physics differently (Feynman would agree with what I just wrote; actually he basically wrote this, in particular cases, say about E = mc^2, or “virtual””particles”).

French philosophers of science such as Bachelard and then his successor, Canguighelm, were actually scientists: the former as a physicist, the second was a Medical Doctor.

In turn, the one some would view as a glorified parrot, Thomas S. Kuhn, used Bachelard’s notion of “epistemological rupture” (coupure or rupture épistémologique) as re-interpreted by Alexandre Koyré to develop his theory of paradigm changes.

Wikipedia lists nearly 1,000 French philosophers (and they miss quite a few!) Many of these were of a scientific or mathematical background.

 

Here is an example: I claim the Multiverse error is based in a philosophical subtlety, which was missed by everybody. I feel that Planck nearly spotted explicitly the nature of the error, and it’s Einstein, his protégé’, who instigated it (this is rather ironical, as, in the end, without realizing it, Einstein came to be opposed to himself in the debate on the Foundations of Quantum Physics).

A lot of the progress in science, and even technology, has to do with questioning how we know what we think we know. That’s essentially philosophical. The more fundamental the scientific questions, the more one has to question how it is that we got to these conclusions.

 

Here is another example: the end of Cretaceous mass extinction. Alvarez, the geologist son of Alvarez the Nobel in physics, asked his dad how one could prove that there was an impact. The dad answered: Iridium, it’s rare on Earth, but found on asteroids. So Alvarez went to look for Iridium, and found it, thus demonstrating there was an impact.

However, I scoffed. I knew there had been other impacts. I also knew there was the Deccan Traps hyper-volcanism at the same time. The numbers, about the magnitudes did not fit. So, philosophical question: how sure were we that the Iridium did not come from the center of the Earth? I did not see the Alvarez and their followers even consider the question.

Yet, it was impossible they were not aware of it. So this was fishy scientific logic.

Science is about certain knowledge. How do we get there? By making alternatives impossible. The asteroid extinction conclusion cannot pretend to be science, because a (more probable!) alternative was not excluded.

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/trapped-by-super-traps/

 

By the way, latest news show that my point of view is winning: yes Iridium can come from the core, yes the extinction’s chronology seems volcanically driven.

In other news, Coel, one of the scientist-professors-commenters and writers at Scientia Salon, said, basically, that scientist are practical epistemologists.

Coel also made a broadside against those who are ravaged by superstition to the point they demand respect for their superstitions, by confusing respect and tolerance (a point I long made).

Should we entertain those fanatics (= those who come from the fanum, the temple), we would have to respect Abraham the would-be child killer, because we are tolerant? Of what? The veneration for those who bind children to offer them to gods, or dogs?

Knowledge, and the search thereof, is more united than it looks.

Knowledge died in Antiquity because epistemology died. And that died, because fascism (“Hellenistic Kingdoms) blossomed.

Patrice Ayme’

 

Philosophy: All About Intuition

January 4, 2015

Philosophy without intuition is like air without oxygen. Sure, one can consider it. But it’s devoid of life sustaining content.

What is intuition? Does the fish crawling in the mud, searching for food, go according to intuition? Or is the fish making inferences? In Scientia Salon, confronted to that notion of mine, professional philosopher Massimo Pigliucci sneered that [when thinking about intuition] “thinking about fishes was not useful”.

Still fishes crawl, and they think.

Not An Obsolete Point Of View

Not An Obsolete Point Of View

In Latin, “intuitionem” means to look at, to consider. “Inferre” means to carry over.

People love to consider their faculty of reasoning is beyond that of animals. It makes them feel special. Anything else would be fishy, assuredly.

That’s definitely a form of speciesm. When a trout and a moray eel, or a grouper, establish a cooperative strategy for fishing (the grouper and trout are fast, the eel sneaks in cavities were prey tries to flee) do they intuit, or infer?

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/diving-into-truth/

In an attempt to make themselves more noble, some philosophers invented the notion of “Socratic knowledge”.

When Socrates killed in combat four men, and desperately fought a rear guard action to (successfully) save a friend, after an Athenian defeat, was he using Socratic knowledge, or a type of behavior a lion does intuitively understand? Socrates obviously survived thanks to vitally important thinking, but not of the sort one has put in writing. Yet.

Philosophy is not exact science. Exact science uses bits of strictly defined logos (=logic), supported by incontrovertible facts. The philosophical method, instead, is all about guessing.

Guessing is crucial for science. No guessing, no science. All science starts with using judiciously the philosophical method. Guessing can rest on just one fact. Exact science rests on statistics, giving rise to incontrovertible theories about what the facts are, instead.

An example is the changed mindset in Greece after a giant meteorite landed in the north of country, more than 2,400 years ago. It was visited for centuries, and it made many Greeks realize that heavens was full of rocks (so the Moon is a rock, and thus the Earth another big rocky ball, etc.)

Inference is a point by point diagram. Quantum Physics shows us that this is not how the world works: the Quantum embraces the totality, and then determines the solution, establishing thus the point by point carrying on. This is exactly how electrons are carried around the chlorophyll molecule.

This is how mathematicians establish mathematics. Research mathematicians even endow terms in equation with personalities, using expression like “this guy”, “those guys”, etc… They play with their expressions exactly as my five year old daughter plays with her dolls: she pretends (as she puts it), and they pretend, just the same (I am a research mathematician, by the way, and talked in the best departments; I sneer when I see the likes of Hawking repeating what I exposed, to them, decades ago; there were Quantum loopholes in the standard General Relativity “Black Holes” reasoning).

Guessing the behavior of mathematical terms as if they were little guys with feelings is how mathematicians do it (trust that many of them not to tell you this, it would look undignified; dignity is everything to academic types, their mortgage depends upon it, let alone their self-worth).

When philosophy is fully deductive and thoroughly proven, it’s called science. When science is in the process of being guessed, it’s a philosophical debate.

It took 135 years to verify French mathematician Adhémar’s theory of the glaciations from the variations of Earth orbit (published 1842). What was it before that? Just inference, or intuition? I say both.

In truth, Adhémar’s theory was incorrect in the details. However he correctly predicted the existence of Antarctica (but with more ice than it has). Yet, Adhémar’s basic hunch, that glaciation arose from Earth’s orbit, and different insolation in the northern, versus the southern hemisphere was right.

So Adhémar got the first order of the theory right.

Take myself as an example: I suggest a number of first order theories.

1) For example I suggest that Lamarckism, that is, teleological evolution, really happens, because, well, our main physical theory, Quantum Physics, is teleological. The Quantum considers where things are going to find the solution.

How do we go from Quantum to life? Very simple: DNA, RNA and other molecules or crystals making the architecture of life are exquisitely delicate, full of hydrogen bonds, where hydrogen atoms are tunneling about, Quantum Mechanically. Those Quantum processes depend upon the space in which they deploy. Change the space, and the teleology changes.

All this is guessing, but it is very well informed guessing, and it suggests experiments.

2) Another example: I suggest inertia has to do with Quantum Entanglement. Now that’s really wild, but there are reasons for it. I do not know whether this is reasoning as a scientist, or a philosopher, or both.

However, let’s suppose for a moment this idea turns out to be true: at some point, someone, would have had to have the idea first. And the first idea, the first hunch, is the hardest. The first imaginative hyperjump into another world of possibilities.

3) Still another example: Dark Matter, I propose, has to do with remnants of incomplete Quantum Collapses. That too is an example of informed intuition, necessary in the first step towards checking whether this is true, or not. And whether it can become science.

Newton was not obsolete when he called his activities “Natural Philosophy

Inventing new thinking without using the philosophical method is impossible. Old truth: that’s science. Emerging science arises from philosophy.

Patrice Ayme’

Why Stupidity Is Loved, & Science Is Tribal

December 10, 2014

People love to be stupid, and not just because it is easier than being intelligent. Being stupid is lonely and embarrassing in individuals, so it is better practiced in groups. Not only is that smarter, but it provides with the joy and brainlessness of the collective.

Yes, group stupidity happens in science too. Entire fields of science, such as phrenology, studying the shape of a skull to elucidate the intelligence therein, were completely idiotic.

Yes group stupidity happens in philosophy too: see Immanuel Kant, and his grotesque assertion that to be moral is to obey authority.

Yes, group stupidity happens in much respected theology. The Dominican Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), dedicated, as Saint Dominic was, to the extirpation of heresy, and most specifically Albigensianism, argued that the Old Testament, and the New Testament (Romans, 13), were all for the death penalty.

Thus, in his Summa theologiae II-II, q. 11. a. 3, the Saintly Thomas of Aquinas writes: “Therefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death.”

Heretic” is Greek for “exerted a choice”. If you exert mental choice, says Thomas, you should die.

Thomas made in writing this death threat, many times. The clincher? This, arguably, depraved maniac, is still viewed to this day, as a “philosopher”, a “thinker” of sort, and a moral authority. Is this stupid, or is it criminal?

The answer is that it is tribal.

The very monstrosity of Thomas of Aquinas binds the Catholic tribe together. To respect such a monster is an initiation rite, a high moral hurdle.

When the Nazis strove for power, they found enormous support among (a vast subgroup of) Nobel winning scientists and great mathematicians. Lenard (Physics Nobel 1905, and a collaborator of Einstein!) invented the notion of “Jewish science” (very bad, and all too relative).

That was crucial to demonstrate that the Nazi tribe had brains, and thus was respectable.

Human beings are nothing, if they don’t get mentors, themselves forming a connection to the supporting structure in a tribe. Thus, when individuals express an opinion, it’s actually a tribe which speaks.

No space to go in the details, but tribalism, in that case German tribalism, is why Einstein’s “miraculous” papers of 1905 were published without any reference, as if he had invented them all by himself; Planck saw to it. It totally backfired.

Viewing science as a tribal phenomenon is the fundamental revelation of the science of science. This explains why most papers in biology have been recently revealed to be false. Or why all theoretical physicists at Princeton are string theorists or supersymmetry artists of some sort. Neither strings, nor super-whatever have ever been observed, but the super stringy tribe was able to pull all the strings, and now it is in command of not just of this non-physical physics, but of the very definition of physics itself.

This errance of tribes following false prophets, explains why science can err so persistently, sometimes.

Witness: the Ptolemaic system (why would the much more gigantic sun rotate around the Earth at a frantic speed? It was easier to explain it all by a rotation of the Earth on itself, at a more sedate pace, as Aristarchus had proposed).

But not just this. Tribalism provides the pleasure and power of the group. As the case of the strident Nazi scientists and philosophers shows, thinkers are not insensitive to the basest rewards. Then a small, greedy minority can provide cover for the most criminal enterprises.

Some of the (rare) scientists claiming that there is no problem with increasing CO2 by 1% every single year, are generally revealed to be financed (directly or through institutions) by fossil fuels interests. Great geophysicists such as Allegre and Courtillot, heads of the very respected IPGP, are example of fossil fuel propelled loud deniers of the most basic of common sense.

Reading some of the preceding, Massimo of Scientia Salon objected that:

“Patrice, this very barely made it through my filter. Wasn’t there a way to express your thoughts without starting with “people love to be stupid”? Really? They *love* to?”

Yes, with all due respect, let me insist: yes, people do love to be stupid, just as they love initiation rites.

This is actually initiation rites are often quite stupid and demeaning: stupidity itself is what has to be achieved.

People love to not be smart, because lack of smarts is the ticket to tribe appurtenance. Lack of smarts is how the tribe is defined: that’s the central point of intellectual fascism. Indeed the tribe provides not just a refuge, but a space to blossom with lack of smarts. Even better: as it provides a definition for the tribe, lack of smarts provides a cover, a roof over the tribe.

This is the fundamental reason why people engage in drinking alcohol, and especially drinking it to excess. Same with smoking that poison lethal in the smallest quantities, nicotine. People know it’s bad, and not smart. Therefore it’s ideal for defining a tribe.

Hence telling drug addicts that what they are doing is not smart is not going to be effective: being silly is what they want to exhibit.

Indeed, people love to belong to a tribe. It does not really matter which tribe. The more not smart the definition of a tribe, the better defined it gets.

If some don’t believe me, I have a multiverse to sell them each time I spin an electron differently (unbelievably many theoretical physicists belong to that church of the multiverse). Call me the ultimate spin doctor. The multiverse tribe is very well defined, because short of wanting to kill one’s own son to satisfy a deity, it’s up there in the absurd, not-smart scale.

Wanting to kill one’s son for the deity is the definition of Abraham, the founder of the faith of most religious people today, or, at least, of the noisiest.

Let’s give more detail about what happened with Einstein:

Einstein famously wrote a paper “On The Electrodynamics Of Moving Bodies.” There was arguably nothing there which had not been published before. As the Dutch Lorentz, discoverer, with the Irish Larmor, of the “Lorentz transformations” of Relativity, and according to Henri Poincaré, of the “most ingenious” notion of local time, put it:

“Indeed, for some of the physical quantities which enter the formulas, I did not indicate the transformation which suits best. That was done by Poincaré and then by Mr. Einstein and Minkowski […] I did not succeed in obtaining the exact invariance of the equations […] Poincaré, on the contrary, obtained a perfect invariance of the equations of electrodynamics, and he formulated the “postulate of relativity”, terms which he was the first to employ. […] Let us add that by correcting the imperfections of my work he never reproached me for them.”

So why did Planck, editor of Annalen der Physik, allowed such a short-circuit, Einstein presenting himself as discoverer of Relativity? One can only suspect German nationalism, as all the physicists who elaborated Relativity before that were non-German (there was even an Italian whom Einstein knew personally, and a couple of Americans). It worked very well: to this day, Relativity is attributed to Einstein (although it’s Poincaré who discovered, demonstrated and published E= mc^2 in 1900…).

Planck, discoverer of the Quantum, not so subtly boosted the aura of Germany, by attributing to Einstein the Theory of Relativity. That was in 1905. Within nine years, the German Empire made an enormous attack on the French Republic, hoping to conquer all of Europe before Great Britain could join the war.

The main engine in this attack was German tribalism, the Prussian way (that is, very racist).

Tragically, Planck’s eldest son was killed in World War One, while his second son was made prisoner by the French. Then German tribalism went completely berserk. Planck went to see Hitler, and told him that Nazism was going too far, and destroying German science. His second son, to whom Planck was very close, opposed Hitler, and was assassinated by the Nazis in 1945.

Tribalism is fundamentally a war strategy, and thus nothing true intellects aiming to the full truth, ought to engage in.

The science of science, and the philosophy of philosophy have to become more aware of it. Tribalism needs to be broken, and direct democracy, direct thinking, is how to break it.

Patrice Ayme’


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GrrrGraphics on WordPress

www.grrrgraphics.com

Skulls in the Stars

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because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

Patrice Ayme's Thoughts

Striving For Ever Better Thinking. Humanism Is Intelligence Unleashed. From Intelligence All Ways, Instincts & Values Flow, Even Happiness. History and Science Teach Us Not Just Humility, But Power, Smarts, And The Ways We Should Embrace. Naturam Primum Cognoscere Rerum

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