Monday, January 2, 2017

Awe for the Second Law of thermo

Harvard psychology professor (and popular Jewish atheist science writer) Steven Pinker writes:
Why the awe for the Second Law? The Second Law defines the ultimate purpose of life, mind, and human striving: to deploy energy and information to fight back the tide of entropy and carve out refuges of beneficial order. ...

The biggest breakthrough of the scientific revolution was to nullify the intuition that the universe is saturated with purpose: that everything happens for a reason. In this primitive understanding, when bad things happen — accidents, disease, famine — someone or something must have wanted them to happen.
So science eliminated all these diverse purposes for bad things, and unified them into one central purpose that explains them all?

This is like ancient Judaism discovering that river gods, weather gods, and all the other gods could be combined into one true God. Or early scientists discovering that all known energy sources could be trace to the one Sun.

Scott Aaronson endorses Pinker's essay and adds:
Again and again, people imagine that, if their local pocket of order isn’t working how they want, then they should smash it to pieces, since while admittedly that might make things even worse, there’s also at least 50% odds that they’ll magically improve.  In reasoning thus, people fail to appreciate just how exponentially more numerous are the paths downhill, into barbarism and chaos, than are the few paths further up.  So thrashing about randomly, with no knowledge or understanding, is statistically certain to make things worse: on this point thermodynamics, common sense, and human history are all in total agreement.
He doesn't realize it, but he is making an argument for political conservatism. The policies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have led us downhill into barbarism and chaos. We need a government that is willing to go back to what has worked before, and make America great again.

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