Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Brilliant men have political blind spots

U Texas complexity theorist Scott Aaronson rants:
I’m ashamed of my country and terrified about the future. When Bush took power in 2000, I was depressed for weeks, but I didn’t feel like I do now, like a fourth-generation refugee in the United States — like someone who happens to have been born here and will presumably continue to live here, unless and until it starts to become unsafe for academics, or Jews, or people who publicly criticize Trump, at which time I guess we’ll pack up and go somewhere else (assuming there still is a somewhere else).

If I ever missed the danger and excitement that so many European scientists and mathematicians felt in the 1930s, that sense of trying to pursue the truth even in the shadow of an aggressive and unironic evil — OK, I can cross that off the list. ...

There is no silver lining. There’s nothing good about this.

My immediate problem is that, this afternoon, I’m supposed to give a major physics colloquium at UT. The title? “Quantum Supremacy.” That term, which had given me so much comedic mileage through the long campaign season (“will I disavow support from quantum supremacists? I’ll keep you in suspense about it…” ), now just seems dark and horrible, a weight around my neck. Yet, distracted and sleep-deprived and humor-deprived though I am, I’ve decided to power through and give the talk. Why? Because Steven Weinberg says he still wants to hear it. ...

And there were Jews who stupidly supported him. I’ve been emphatic, in all my previous posts, that I don’t see Trump as a Hitler figure. ... But what Trump has decisively shown is that the United States is not special in its anti-authoritarian, anti-loon defense mechanisms — i.e., that there’s nothing about its people or its institutions that protects it from the darkest forces that have ever gripped human civilization.
Scott is starting to persuade me of the merits of parallel universes, because he seems to live in one.

The NY Times says that Peter Thiel has become an outcast in Si Valley because he endorsed Donald Trump. Academia is even more saturated with Trump-haters. If anyone is the loony authoritarian seeking to stifle his academic freedoms, it is Hillary Clinton, not Trump.

Trump or the Alt Right would never bother him about giving a talk about "quantum supremacy". Only the Clinton partisans and the Ctrl Left go around trying to pressure ppl to disavow support from various groups. Only the Ctrl Left would try to make him feel bad about a lecture title.

Scott has been a victim of the Ctrl Left persecution, when he said that he only agrees with 98% of their feminist propaganda. They have attempted to shame and humiliate him.

It is funny how he can be a brilliant complexity theorist, and have such political blind spots.

Speaking of Weinberg, see Lubos Motl's rant against him for saying goofy things about quantum mechanics. Weinberg probably voted for Clinton also. He might dare to criticize the most successful scientific theory of the last century, but he would never dare to express public support for Trump.


  1. I thank God that we live in a democracy where we have a secret ballot. I still won't dare tell people whom I work with that I voted for Trump, or else I would get reactions like Scott's reaction.

  2. Strange thing about democrats...they don't actually understand what the word 'racist' actually means. They seem to conflate it with 'I disagree with you' and use it very frequently.

  3. See to see what is going through Aaronson's head. Whatever you think about his politics, he is a fascinating human being.