Saturday, January 24, 2015

Post-WWII philosophers have lost it

Scientia Salon has another article on scientific realism. This one is on the attempts, by philosophers and physicists, to make quantum mechanics are more "realistic" theory by adding interpretations with hidden variables, Bohmian pilot waves, and parallel universes. At least this article tacitly admits that all such attempts have been colossal failures, altho philosophers cling to a notion of realism that requires such nonsense.

As usual, the moderator says that I am wrong. He defends philosophers believing in scientific realism, even tho it leads them to say nonsense about quantum mechanics.

Lubos Motl attacks a Tom Siegfried essay in ScienceNews, and makes points that apply to the Scientia Salon philosophers as well:
Only armchair physicists, third-class physicists, and "philosophers" may consider these foundational debates about quantum mechanics to be a part of the actual research in 2015. Physicists know that all these questions have been settled since the middle or late 1920s.
I agree with that, altho I would say that they were settled in the 1930s. Here was my response to Scientia Salon:
Summary: Bohr was right in the Bohr-Einstein debates. 80 years of attempts at philosophical realism have just layered conjectures on top of the theory. Those conjectures have either been proven false, become unworkable dead-ends, or imagined outlandish untestable fantasies.
The philosophical realists mock Ernst Mach for skepticism about atoms, but Motl defends his philosophy:
Positivism states that all of our trustworthy knowledge about Nature comes exclusively from sensory experience – from observations, if we use a little bit more physical jargon. In the context of physical theories, it means that a physical theory a priori declares "all objects in the world around us" and words describing them as meaningless. Every physical theory has the right to do so. Every physical theory may work with its own fundamental and auxiliary concepts to describe our experience. The experience is the only "provably real" thing. But the point is that every question about Nature that can't be reduced to our experiences is considered physically meaningless or unphysical.

(The Vienna Circle elaborated upon these important positivist observations and probably was the culmination of philosophers' understanding of the essence of modern science. When other philosophers such as Thomas Kuhn or Karl Popper began to be popular, the degeneration and putrification of philosophy of science was already underway. To return to Mach and his positivist predecessors, they generally erred by forecasting that "something would remain unobservable forever". For example, the founder of positivism Auguste Comte would predict that the chemical composition of stars would remain a mystery forever – just years before spectroscopy answered all those questions. But this error must be seen as a side effect of their important and right understanding that certain questions and claims are physically meaningless.)
That is right, and this form of positivism is entirely rejected by philosophers today.
With a grain of salt, we could argue that about 100 years ago, the philosophers were actually useful for the progress in physics. That's also why most of the greatest theoretical physicists of that time considered themselves part-time philosophers. After the Second World War, the philosophers had largely lost it. The greatest physicists of the post-war generation, the likes of Feynman and Schwinger, to mention two, were no longer admiring philosophy in the usual sense. They diverged. The propagation of the anti-quantum delusions by the contemporary philosophers may be viewed as a revenge against physics – revenge for the fact that science had to completely escape away from philosophy and the best physicists no longer have any intellectual respect towards the contemporary philosophers.
That is correct, as I have also argued that Philosophy became useless in 1950. Nearly every post-WWII philosopher is rabidly anti-science. They refuse to accept XX century physics, and they deny that scientists discover truth. They have diverged from science like astrology.


  1. Roger,
    You can meander on as long as you like about how you hate philosophy, but every math that has ever existed in human knowledge is based in part upon the philosophical premise of abstraction. Math is all based on axioms and logic at its very foundations, and relies on quite a few 'givens'.

    If you want to quote Lubos Motl, the man who was fired from Harvard for his uncontrollable big mouth, and who fervently believes in 'strings' that are by his own definitions indivisible and one dimensional, yet are allowed to cavort around as three dimensional objects and even get tangled up with one another, good grief! You should take to task the basic inability of modern day physicists to even understand what a 'one dimensional' object is, it certainly by blatant observation isn't reality, and it can't interact with anything actual. If you wish to bad mouth certain branches of philosophy, be specific, but quit throwing out the baby with the bath water that happens to contain the foundations of your own abstraction. All calculation (by definition) is based upon the philosophical premise you can model reality with something other than itself. This first step requires one to acknowledge that whatever your model might do, it isn't the actual thing itself, it is a representation, it is not dependent on reality at all, it is dependent on whatever rules or properties you ascribe to it. As such, you will always have some separation or gap between the model and what it represents in reality. Always. This gap is presently so large, you can drive time travel, alternate dimensions of existence, anthropic principals, massless and massive point particles, unfalsifiable fantasies of one dimensional strings, magical quantum computers, and other such drivel through it with room to spare for the cotton-picking Titanic. For people claiming to be brilliant, present day physicists are pretty damn close to incapable of agreeing what their own mathematical constructs even mean ( there is no real consensus on quantum mechanics interpretations, much less the actuality which underlies it). So if you can't get a group of professed experts to even coherently agree upon the functioning of their own theories they claim to have mastered, why take pot shots a philosophers who are calling them out on it? You have no actual physics anymore, you have contradicting 'interpretations' which quite frankly sound far more philosophical than scientific.

    Pretty much the entire field of HEP has become more mathematical metaphysics than science, and it isn't exactly a mystery why funding is drying up to support such nonsense.

    P.S. You want to believe in the 'established' physics which supports the belief of point particles, yet post pictures of bubble tracks below (Bubble chamber tracks). Please explain mechanically how non spinning particles create spirals after they collide.

  2. To be honest CFT, I don't know why he's trying to support Motl, Lubos is probably the worst person to listen to when it comes to science, unfortunately he's one of those 'I'm right and everyone else is wrong' kind of people, the fact he called Brian Cox and Sean Carroll 'Scientists' (he meant it in a sarcastic way) shows that really he is not credible at all. I always find it funny that he calls people who question his stupid blog posts crackpots when really the only crackpot is him *rant over* sorry but I just cannot stand him