Free Capitalist Network - Community Archive
Mises Community Archive
An online community for fans of Austrian economics and libertarianism, featuring forums, user blogs, and more.

Is Stephen Hawking the Paul Krugman of Physics?

rated by 0 users
This post has 81 Replies | 13 Followers

Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 139
Points 2,970
Magnus Posted: Thu, Oct 22 2009 12:19 PM

I know very little of the natural sciences relative to my understanding of the social sciences, both in terms of it's epistemological/ontological foundation and in terms of major theoretical insights.

It recently occured to me: What if the "mainstream" intellectuals in physics/biology/chemistry are just as corrupted and mediocre as in economics/philosophy?

Wouldn't that mean that someone like Hawking is dead wrong about something like the theory of relativity and that there is another school of thought out there, similar to the austrian in economics, that advances a completely different way of understanding the universe?

Just a thought. Discuss Stick out tongue

  • | Post Points: 215
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,124
Points 37,405
Angurse replied on Thu, Oct 22 2009 12:26 PM

Whats the point of corrupting theoretical physics? There can't be too much to gain politically.

"I am an aristocrat. I love liberty, I hate equality."
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,551
Points 46,635
AJ replied on Thu, Oct 22 2009 12:28 PM

I think the reason economics and political science are so distorted is that the State has a vested interest in their findings turning out a certain way, or concluding that certain types of policies should be adopted. I don't see any obvious reason why the same would hold for physics, unless/until there is a major public policy issue that will be partially decided based on findings in that field (for instance, global warming in the field of climatology).

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,491
Points 43,390
scineram replied on Thu, Oct 22 2009 12:30 PM

How do you know Krugman is wrong?

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 200 Contributor
Male
Posts 390
Points 7,705

Magnus:
there is another school of thought out there, similar to the austrian in economics, that advances a completely different way of understanding the universe?

Interesting. Anybody?

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 200 Contributor
Male
Posts 481
Points 7,280
DBratton replied on Thu, Oct 22 2009 12:32 PM

Hawking has conceded debates when shown to have been in error. Has Krugman ever done so? Seriously, I don't know. I'm asking.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 139
Points 2,970
Magnus replied on Thu, Oct 22 2009 12:43 PM

Angurse:

Whats the point of corrupting theoretical physics? There can't be too much to gain politically.

Maybe not the politicians, but the intellectuals might.

If you are familiar with some of the insights Hoppe has on positivism you probably know what I mean.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Posts 2,966
Points 53,250
DD5 replied on Thu, Oct 22 2009 12:44 PM
Engineering provides a healthy check on the physical sciences. You can't design and build anything useful on the basis of Krugman type physical science. ############ It just so happens that most Engineering rests on very firm theoretical science that has been mostly developed already by the beginning of the 20th century. All of the improvements in Technology are Engineering innovations, and NOT pure theoretical science innovations like everyone thinks. Those who say that Austrian economics are stuck in the past and that science is something that is always progressing like in the natural sciences don't have a clue.
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 139
Points 2,970
Magnus replied on Thu, Oct 22 2009 12:47 PM

DD5:
Engineering provides a healthy check on the physical sciences. You can't design and build anything useful on the basis of Krugman type physical science.

I guess it's the same with medicine and biology. Fair enough. Still, it doesn't account for more abstract theories of the universe such as "string theory"

 

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,037
Points 17,975
John Ess replied on Thu, Oct 22 2009 12:54 PM

This guy has been claiming just what you described.  His videos are interesting and he has a website with some interesting snippets from his book where he explains things in more detail.  He's actually pretty inflammatory about these topics.  Similar to how economists here react to Krugman and the like.  He even has a healthy skepticism of mathematics like we do as well (though I think his goes beyond ours).  His personal economic views is that humans will become extinct very soon -- which is a bit head scratching, though.

http://www.youtube.com/user/bgaede

his website

http://www.youstupidrelativist.com/WGDE.html

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 100 Contributor
Posts 836
Points 15,370
abskebabs replied on Thu, Oct 22 2009 12:59 PM

I think it was Gauss that once said that if the implications of mathematics and the natural sciences were at all political we would still be debating if 2+2=4. It's strange, I think a kind of market competition survives in the natural sciences, because even those who for example may decry general relativity would still want to apply it for navigational and GPS purposes.

 

Personally, I'd say apply the same critical attitude to science as (I presume) you do Economics, and you'll beigin to see how a self consistent body of thought, though not perfect has been built up in the natural and mathematical sciences.

 

That being said, it's not that for periods of time there have been false paradigms that have wasted resources in their pursuit. Examples are the search for a static frame of reference or "ether" in Newtonian mechanics, or the phlogiston theory of heat preceding the Kinetic theory. Ludwig Boltzmann provides another example of a brillian Austrian Ludwig (probably my 2nd favouriteWink) who was professionally isolated for a long time and whose brilliant ideas took a long time to be accepted, eventually wholeheartedly.

 

I think Thomas Khun's work does apply to the development of Physics for example, but in a more limited sense. For example Max Planck, a brilliant physicist who is often considered the founder of Quantum theory, could never accept it or its later developed form in what we refer to as Quantum Mechanics today. I think it was him that coined the phrase science advances one generation at a time.

"When the King is far the people are happy."  Chinese proverb

For Alexander Zinoviev and the free market there is a shared delight:

"Where there are problems there is life."

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 25 Contributor
Posts 2,966
Points 53,250
DD5 replied on Thu, Oct 22 2009 1:04 PM
Magnus:
I guess it's the same with medicine and biology. Fair enough. Still, it doesn't account for more abstract theories of the universe such as "string theory"
I think most abstract theories like "string theory" have no political implications. They don't affect public policy. Of course, then you have climate change theories, which do affect policy. That's where Krugman would likely be if he was a "scientist".
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,005
Points 19,030
fakename replied on Thu, Oct 22 2009 3:15 PM

how would old political controversies regarding science have shaped science though? I'm sure something had to have happened with galilleo/pope/reformation/counter-reformation era. Also in ancient times how would a socratic-platonic view of the universe jive with a skeptical or sophistic view?  Instead of looking at how science could be corrupted by politics we should look at how the philosophy of science was corrupted since the philosophy is what determines the scientific conclusions (e.g. soviet union banning genetics).

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,124
Points 37,405
Angurse replied on Thu, Oct 22 2009 3:44 PM

Magnus:

Maybe not the politicians, but the intellectuals might.

If you are familiar with some of the insights Hoppe has on positivism you probably know what I mean.

OK. What could intellectuals gain by corrupting abstract theories then?

"I am an aristocrat. I love liberty, I hate equality."
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 100 Contributor
Male
Posts 796
Points 14,585

abskebabs:

I think it was Gauss that once said that if the implications of mathematics and the natural sciences were at all political we would still be debating if 2+2=4. It's strange, I think a kind of market competition survives in the natural sciences, because even those who for example may decry general relativity would still want to apply it for navigational and GPS purposes.

Please find me this quote. I would really appreciate it.

 

"I cannot prove, but am prepared to affirm, that if you take care of clarity in reasoning, most good causes will take care of themselves, while some bad ones are taken care of as a matter of course." -Anthony de Jasay

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 1,687
Points 22,990
Bogart replied on Thu, Oct 22 2009 4:37 PM

There are debates among the members op the physics community:

1. Relativity vs Quantum Mechanics-Ongoing since Rutherford Scattering in the 1910s.

2. What is really string theory?

3. Is the universe finite?  Does all the matter in the universe just suck itself back together.

4. Is the universe deterministic? Are particles in the universe independent? Are there forces acting on things other than the known forces: Strong Nuclear, Electricity and Gravity?

5. Do the Laws of Thermodynamics hold true for sub-nuclear particles?  Which ones?

There are two reasons why I think there is a lack of press on physics:

1. It really does not affect the daily lives of people.  A new addition to string theory or the discovery of hydrogen metal on the moon really will not affect lives in the same way that a new IPOD will.

2. There is a lack of press is in my opinion because there is a lack of excitement as the folks that post new theories rarely battle those sticking to old ones.  Instead the folks posting new and old theories are waiting around to see their work disproven by the next new experiment.  It is hard to keep up with as the experiment dudes are ahead of the theory folks.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 75 Contributor
Male
Posts 1,511
Points 31,955

Bogart:
Are there forces acting on things other than the known forces: Strong Nuclear, Electricity and Gravity?

Don't forget the weak nuclear force.

Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found.

          - Edmund Burke

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 75 Contributor
Male
Posts 1,129
Points 16,635
Giant_Joe replied on Thu, Oct 22 2009 11:39 PM

I've read and I own A Brief History of Time and I've read a lot of  The Road to Reality: A complete guide to the laws of the universe. Now I can't say that I understand all the math and physics, but I think I know enough to trust those guys and say that they are not the "Paul Krugman" equivalent in their fields. From what I understand, Hawking and Penrose were able to show the existence of black holes, mathematically, before any were actually discovered. I think these guys have their bases covered. ;)

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 3,113
Points 60,515
Esuric replied on Fri, Oct 23 2009 12:36 AM

abskebabs:
I think it was Gauss that once said that if the implications of mathematics and the natural sciences were at all political we would still be debating if 2+2=4.

Well, that's still debated, at least amongst philosophical circles. Some claim that the symbol "2" is utterly meaningless, while others claim that the external world remains unproven.

"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 1,687
Points 22,990
Bogart replied on Fri, Oct 23 2009 7:39 AM

Has the existence of the Weak Nuclear Force come back into vogue?  When I graduated college, quite some time ago, the scientists were arguing that it is a product of the Strong Nuclear Force and the Electrical Forces.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 100 Contributor
Posts 875
Points 14,180
xahrx replied on Fri, Oct 23 2009 9:03 AM

Giant_Joe:
I've read and I own A Brief History of Time and I've read a lot of  The Road to Reality: A complete guide to the laws of the universe. Now I can't say that I understand all the math and physics, but I think I know enough to trust those guys and say that they are not the "Paul Krugman" equivalent in their fields.

Yup.  Plus, there's very open debate in their fields, and they tend to either admit when they're wrong, or allow competing theorie to develop in parallel and even inform each other's development until one is demonstrably false.  For example, the new collider they just cobbled together should be able to get to some seriously high energy levels, at which point it's possible some of the more out there theories will be able to make testable predictions.  As has been said, that's the hold up and the advancement: engineering.  Science has been progressing as much as it can, engineering is just reaching the point where we can build the facilities to test the theories.  So it's an interesting dynamic by which improvements in engineering make people think technology and thus 'science' are always advancing when really it's just refinements of existing capabilities, meanwhile the limit of engineering capabilites have been limiting the possibilities for testing the truly advanced theories out there right now, and thus holding up any practical applications they may imply.

And as has also been said briefly, there's a parallel example of a 'science' having massive political implications and it is starting to look just as messed up as economics, namely climate science.  And it's a perfect example of what happens when you try to politically appoint an authority of sorts to preside over what is and isn't acceptable in such a field.  Being the only field of science I know of where it's been necessary to file freedom of information requests to get access to some of the evidence, paid for by tax dollars no less, I'm still surprised people aren't at least more skeptical of the 'scientists' involved, if not the theory of global warming itself.  But when there's a large  political vested interest in the results, that's what you'd expect.  No one honestly gives a damn in any practical way about the details of what the four forces do at higher energy levels.  They could play poker for all we know or care.  When engineering gets to the point where relativistic speeds are possible, then maybe we'll care en masse.  Not before.  And only if it's possible, and we're still around.

"I was just in the bathroom getting ready to leave the house, if you must know, and a sudden wave of admiration for the cotton swab came over me." - Anonymous
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 100 Contributor
Posts 836
Points 15,370
abskebabs replied on Fri, Oct 23 2009 11:23 AM

Solid_Choke:

abskebabs:

I think it was Gauss that once said that if the implications of mathematics and the natural sciences were at all political we would still be debating if 2+2=4. It's strange, I think a kind of market competition survives in the natural sciences, because even those who for example may decry general relativity would still want to apply it for navigational and GPS purposes.

Please find me this quote. I would really appreciate it.

 

I've not been able to find it either, though I remember it as something guido hulsmann mentioned in one of his lectures at Mises U, possibly the first one.

"When the King is far the people are happy."  Chinese proverb

For Alexander Zinoviev and the free market there is a shared delight:

"Where there are problems there is life."

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 100 Contributor
Posts 836
Points 15,370
abskebabs replied on Fri, Oct 23 2009 11:26 AM

Bogart:

Has the existence of the Weak Nuclear Force come back into vogue?  When I graduated college, quite some time ago, the scientists were arguing that it is a product of the Strong Nuclear Force and the Electrical Forces.

I believe they have been the electrical and weak force have been shown to be unified as the electroweak interaction for higher energies. This is what Abdus Salam, Sheldon Glasnow and Steven Weinberg were awarded the Nobel prize in Physics for in 1979

"When the King is far the people are happy."  Chinese proverb

For Alexander Zinoviev and the free market there is a shared delight:

"Where there are problems there is life."

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 100 Contributor
Posts 836
Points 15,370
abskebabs replied on Fri, Oct 23 2009 12:05 PM

John Ess:

This guy has been claiming just what you described.  His videos are interesting and he has a website with some interesting snippets from his book where he explains things in more detail.  He's actually pretty inflammatory about these topics.  Similar to how economists here react to Krugman and the like.  He even has a healthy skepticism of mathematics like we do as well (though I think his goes beyond ours).  His personal economic views is that humans will become extinct very soon -- which is a bit head scratching, though.

http://www.youtube.com/user/bgaede

his website

http://www.youstupidrelativist.com/WGDE.html

I had a look at the first video and found it pretty painful to watch, definitely seems like a textbook crank. He is actually totally on the money about the way that the concepts of dots, lines etc lack proper definition, but this is really because they are basic concepts we can't even excape our reasoning of space with. Also, just because a dot is used to specifiy a location, does not mean as he says that mathematicians are implying that a dot is a location. I think he is a little over optimistic expecting perfect definitions, since most mathematicians are not predominantly interested in foundations as much as what follows from them.

 

Geometry and vector calculus are initially built up within a Euclidean framework using exactly the theoretical objects he criticises, yet it is only once the relations and structure of metrics is made clear that we can begin to abstract conditions away from them that we don't "observe" or more accurately cannot imagine. I think Paul Lorenzen and the Erlangen school which Hans Hoppe has cited in his work, made a decent stab at attempting to show how  mathematics formulates from a priori principles.

 

He makes a flimsy alternative citing, that the main characteristic of the dot is shape, yet this is as arbitrary as labelling the cause of an action an instinct, it's a dead end. The notions are necessarily tautological, and mathematics is full of tendencies towards ideals, infinites and infinitesimals. A "dot" could be said to have the shape of a circle, yet we would need to rely on lines and dots to properly express the geometry of a circle, and so we get an infinite regress ad nauseum. Indeed the shape of a dot is arbitrary it is simply the ideal of an object whose dimensions are so small we can ignore its macroscopic characteristics, in physics when we are interested in further including physical properties we call these particles.

"When the King is far the people are happy."  Chinese proverb

For Alexander Zinoviev and the free market there is a shared delight:

"Where there are problems there is life."

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 139
Points 2,970
Magnus replied on Fri, Oct 23 2009 7:04 PM

John Ess:

This guy has been claiming just what you described.  His videos are interesting and he has a website with some interesting snippets from his book where he explains things in more detail.  He's actually pretty inflammatory about these topics.  Similar to how economists here react to Krugman and the like.  He even has a healthy skepticism of mathematics like we do as well (though I think his goes beyond ours).  His personal economic views is that humans will become extinct very soon -- which is a bit head scratching, though.

http://www.youtube.com/user/bgaede

his website

http://www.youstupidrelativist.com/WGDE.html

Very interesting. Thx for posting. I like how this guy starts out with the basics.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 200 Contributor
Male
Posts 414
Points 6,780
MatthewF replied on Sat, Oct 24 2009 4:36 PM

Lee Smolin wrote an interesting book that touches on this topic. I believe it was called The Trouble With Physics...

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,491
Points 43,390
scineram replied on Sat, Oct 24 2009 5:44 PM

Magnus:

John Ess:

This guy has been claiming just what you described.  His videos are interesting and he has a website with some interesting snippets from his book where he explains things in more detail.  He's actually pretty inflammatory about these topics.  Similar to how economists here react to Krugman and the like.  He even has a healthy skepticism of mathematics like we do as well (though I think his goes beyond ours).  His personal economic views is that humans will become extinct very soon -- which is a bit head scratching, though.

http://www.youtube.com/user/bgaede

his website

http://www.youstupidrelativist.com/WGDE.html

Very interesting. Thx for posting. I like how this guy starts out with the basics.

That is pure crankism right there.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 20
Points 475

I think Austrians should be able to get on board with Bill Gaede's view point on physics pretty easily, there are many parellels in terms of the epistemic structuring of both.

Mises talked about a methodological dualism in HA, but I think this is incorrect.  Physics is also an a priori science, in that the theories are not based upon empirical evidence, but rather are based upon some definition of existence.  In praxeology you start with the existence of human action, ie, the concept of deliberate action.  Economists in other schools, whether explicitly or implicitly, make use of this concept, albeit usually very inconsistently and without fully laying it out.  The Austrians just decided to be rational and consistent, and voila, everything started to fall into place.  Economic data requires economic theory in order to interpret it.  Why should this be any less true for physical data?

So I believe all Bill Gaede is saying, and I agree with him, is that physicists should be rational and consistent.  Every single quantity ever written down in the entire history of physics requires the use of shape as a definition for objects in order to make sense of the meaning of the number.  Whether it be a relationship between the unit of measurement and that which is being measured, and/or a story about the measurement and measuring devices, shape is ALWAYS brought in as if it is something real in order to make sense of the quantity.  There are always different possible physical interpretations for quantities.  Velocity, for example, m/s, could apply to different physical scenarios, like the velocity of a particle, or of the propogation of a wave, etc.  Quantities, measurements, experiments, etc., all require using shape as a definition for objects, and all require that this be done a priori in order to even have the means of interpreting the data.  One cannot even begin to draw conclusions from empirical data without at least implicitly using shape as a definition for objects.

However, what happens all the time, something that is pervasive in all of physics, is reification.  Shape is implicitly used as a definition for an object in order to understand a quantity, and then the quantity is reified into a different shape.  In essence, a conceptual relationship between objects defined by their shape is then transformed into an object.  Some examples would be charge, energy, field, etc.  These are understood relationships between objects which are routinely converted into objects.

It gets worse once you start getting into modern physics.  Now you have notions like bending of space, 4D space-time, virtual particles, black holes, wave-particle duality, wave-packets, zero dimensional particles, 1D strings, 11 dimensions, etc.  These are all irrational (ie, they are inconceivable and thus not open to logical analysis).  The problem is that, understandably, physicists are reticent to predefine anything b/c they don't want the artificiality of the human mind interfering with the pursuit of truth.  The problem is that truth is a concept which belongs to religion.  In engaging in measurements and experiments physicists already implicitly presuppose the validity of shape as the definition for objects.  They shoud just do so consistently.  I'm not trying to say that spooky, weird stuff like black holes and bending of space are impossible, but that the human mind cannot even make sense of those words, so it is useless to introduce them in a scientific theory as if they might be real or as if they can explain observations.  Physics is about explaining consummated events using a theory about physical objects (and explanation must "make sense" within the context of the human logical construct, or it cannot be called "explanation").  The whole theory can be developed without ever doing a single experiment or making a single measurement.  All one must do is first hypothesize the objects involved in the theory by detailing their shape, relationship to one another, and the definitions being used, and then theorize as to the rules which govern the behavior of the objects.  These are all assumptions taken at face value, and if the theory is rational (ie, conceivable), then all you have to do for explanation is be consistent with the rules laid out and the shapes hypothesized.  The explanation can be logically deduced.  Now once you are consistent you can go about interpreting observations, experiments, measurements, etc.  Which theory is "true" is a matter of scienfitic opinion.  The real question is which one do you think best explains consummated events.

It seems to be unavoidable that shape is the basic fabric of the science of physics just as human action is the fabric of praxeology and economics.  It is the meat, it is something which is going to apply in every conceivable consummated event under study.  Its validity is presupposed in the very act of engaging in the science, empirical data cannot be interpreted w/o it, and explanation requires it.

There seem to be two main objections.  One, that this is artificial, but if shape and location as a definition for existence is artificial then so is all of physics as we know it.  Physicists implicitly use shape as a definition for objects in every quantity and equation.  Two, that how can this be considering the overwhelming success of physics in developing technology?  Mathematics can be used to describe, but not explain.  In economics mathematics was recognized by Austrians as not having any explanatory power, probably because of the overwhelming complexities involved in trying to model human behavior.  In physics however, mathematical equations can be used to predict hypothetical measurements with a great degree of accuracy, and such experiments are repeatable.  However, there are different possible physical interpretations for any given quantity, measurement, or experiment.  You can't prove a physical interpretation with an experiment, the physical model is presupposed as part of the theory in order to interpret the experiment itself so that conclusions can be drawn.

Just look at Newton's law of gravitation.  The equation can get the numbers right consistently, but Newton said himself that he framed no hypotheses as to the causal explanation for gravity.  Equations are just mathematical functions relating hypothetical measurements (wherein every variable represents a quantity).  They say nothing about causation.  When I bring this example up people usually point out anomalies where Newton's equations don't get the numbers right, or isn't as accurate as Einstein's GR, but then I could easily point out areas where Einstein's GR doesn't get the numbers right, such as in the case of the "mysterious force," as NASA dubbed it, acting on the Voyagers.  Just look at how physicists hypothesized "dark matter" when GR said the galaxies should fly apart considering their mass and angular velocity.  Equations are supposed to be falsifiable under the current paradigm, but instead new entities are introduced in order to make sure the equations remain in tact (you all understand the establishment effect).  Now we have "dark energy" to in order to "explain" the accelerating expansion of the universe.

Just because an equation can get the numbers right does not at all mean that the physical interpretation is correct, and certainly not proven.  The empiricist method can be very useful, and can formulate equations which predict measurements with a striking degree of accuracy, but this is simply not explanation, it is a description of hypothetical measurements.  In order to have explanation the entire theory has to be laid out and stuck to consistently prior to any experiment or measurement.  Hell, observations, measurements, and experiments can even be used to develop a theory, but the important part is that at the time of the presentation of your theory, no one gives a crap about how you came up with it, you just present the objects, defintions, intial scene, and the rules.  These are all taken at face value and the explanation deduced.  Then it is up to every individual to decide which theory best explains the world around us.

Okay, that seems to be the gist of it.  Feel free to reply if you are interested because I think of all people Austrians will be able to see this most clearly.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 200 Contributor
Male
Posts 458
Points 6,985
gocrew replied on Sat, Jul 24 2010 5:49 PM

Interesting you should bring this up, because I was just thinking about it the other day.  In my opinion, the state of physics is in bad shape, especially theoretical physics.  The consensus here is that there is no political gain from corrupting physics, and that real world tests put an absolute brake on junk physics.  I don't think it's as simple as that.  The study of physics is still very much stained by government and bureaucratic involvement.  I wrote about it a little here.

As for engineering putting a check on bad physical theories, this is not always the case.  String Theory, apart from not actually being a theory, is a bunch of bunk (see the above).  It is also pretty clear that The Big Bang is unlikely ever to have happened.  The continued inability to resolve the problems of Relativity and Quantum Theory - indeed, the inability to make any real headway in physics at all in the last 30 years or so - points to some significant underlying problem.  Best guess: there is a flaw in the fundament somewhere and we need to go back and rethink things.  The point is, engineering doesn't put a good check on these things.  Sure, GR and QT have made verified predictions, but so did Newtonian physics.  Like Newtonian physics, GR and QT aren't complete, aren't the end of the story, and we need some break through.  This break through has been a long time coming, and it's being held back, I am convinced, by government (see the above).

Hawking has been proven wrong on at least one count - although he admitted it, so that makes him unlike Krugman.  His most famous prediction has yet to be verified, and he seems quite taken with The Big Bang, which is horse dung.  He was, at one point in time at least, quite a proponent of String Theory, which is orders of magnitude more ridiculous than The Big Bang.

So, yes, I think it is likely that Hawking is a Krugman of physics.  Even without direct policy implications for physics, it has still be corrupted by government.

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under - Mencken

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 75 Contributor
Male
Posts 1,008
Points 19,520
Eric080 replied on Sat, Jul 24 2010 7:43 PM

I read your blog post, Gocrew, and it was very interesting.  I see a potential "tyranny of small decisions" going on though with free market science.  Who do you think would take the risk to fund science?  After all, isn't science usually a very risky field where mistakes are more common than break throughs?

 

I definitely see medical corporations and pharmaceutical industries funding biological projects, but it seems like theoretical physics would have a tough time getting funding.  Correct me if I'm wrong, which I probably am cool.

"And it may be said with strict accuracy, that the taste a man may show for absolute government bears an exact ratio to the contempt he may profess for his countrymen." - de Tocqueville
  • | Post Points: 50
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 266
Points 4,465

 

http://scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=326

Here's an interesting article comparing libertarianism with Many-Worlds Theorists.  I especially like the commentary below.

 

Also, there was recently a pretty famous scientist who claimed that gravity didn't exist.  That's pretty obscure.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,037
Points 17,975
John Ess replied on Sat, Jul 24 2010 8:40 PM

Nothing Krugman ever says, at least in the NY Times, sounds very technical.

He seems like someone who says one thing in the classroom and another thing in his column; perhaps because of his political opinions and perhaps because people who read that column aren't interested in difficult stuff like numbers and models.  I often wonder if the people who read his college textbooks also read the articles.  Even if not, it's the books that get into the colleges and not the articles.

On the other hand, most people who like Hawking seem to be nerds who are at least interested in digging into it.  It's also not really political, so there's no reason to dumb it down.  Though, maybe he is in some lobbyist group for wheelchair-y guys.

On a side note, did anyone else see when Geraldo had on Michio Kaku... the guy that is always talking about aliens and wormholes and extra dimensions... to talk about the earthquake in Chile?  Theoretical physicist is the same as geologist, amirite?  I kept expecting him to talk about how the earthquake is caused by aliens in the 8th dimension bending space-time or something.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Posts 366
Points 5,635
yessir replied on Sat, Jul 24 2010 11:46 PM

unlapped_dog, 

Can you refer to some sources for more reading? you make very interesting points.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Posts 285
Points 4,140
Think Blue replied on Sat, Jul 24 2010 11:48 PM

This is relevant to my interests.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Posts 366
Points 5,635
yessir replied on Sun, Jul 25 2010 12:08 AM

 

 

 

Does anyone else find it sometimes frustrating that so much of our education seems to have been started in midway....for example to really understand economics I now realize i need to learn some epistemology, (no theory of knowledge was ever touched upon in high school but economics was...)  

I've learned calculus but won't be able to really tell you what a number is, etc..

You learn about events in history without the relevant knowledge of the historical method or for example economics through which you can interpret the history etc

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 20
Points 475

@yessir

Jon Ess posted some of these earlier:

YT:

http://www.youtube.com/user/bgaede

his website

http://www.youstupidrelativist.com/

book:

http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/why-god-doesnt-exist/5194649

I haven't been able to find much more than that, besides some posts on a forum at www.thunderbolts.info

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 1,899
Points 37,230

Science inherently searches for skeptics, peer-review is based on this concept. But peer-review is not the be all, end all of the scientific method. Some people in this thread could benefit from a kowledge of the difference between physical sciences and social "sciences."

 

If you think the data should fit the explanation you are entirely wrong about the scientific method (as it is supposed to be practiced). It is the exact opposite, the explanation should fit the data. And if it doesnt make sense (to you) that is a fault of the human mind, not so much the scientific method.

Also, you cant bring certain theorys into the debate and claim they debunk established science (once again, if you have the data to do so go ahead), as they are still contested theories, i.e. string theory and dark matter/energy. 

Modern physicists don't call Newton wrong in his interpretation of gravity, they think of his theory as incomplete in the light of new evidence provided by einstein.

In States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for evil. Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. ... In short, a law everywhere and for everything!

~Peter Kropotkin

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,491
Points 43,390
scineram replied on Sun, Jul 25 2010 8:44 AM

I don't think such thing as The Scientific Method exists. I'm sort of a methodological pluralist.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,360
Points 43,785
z1235 replied on Sun, Jul 25 2010 9:05 AM

unlapped_dog:
It seems to be unavoidable that shape is the basic fabric of the science of physics just as human action is the fabric of praxeology and economics.

Shape of what?

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 200 Contributor
Posts 468
Points 8,085
Wibee replied on Sun, Jul 25 2010 10:57 AM

I prefer less media coverage on sciences.  Get too much BS with medical science coverage already.  Like for example, there was a recent article about a breakthrough in battery tech, but it really wasn't digging deeper, the battery comment was just a a guy commenting on the tech.  It may not even be battery practical.  

  • | Post Points: 20
Page 1 of 3 (82 items) 1 2 3 Next > | RSS