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Posted by Aurino Souza on August 13, 2002 13:20:06 UTC


I'm not an authority on Dick's ideas. Besides, Dick could hardly find a worse advocate for his ideas than Dick himself. Ever since I met him I've been trying to make him see how his arguments sound nonsensical because of his careless use of language; he doesn't seem to be concerned about the problem and apparently likes to think that any failure in the communication process can always be blamed on the receiving side. I was hoping he would understand what I meant when I told him he shouldn't believe the stories he tells himself; he hasn't replied so far, I suppose he could care less.

That said, I am especially interested in two particular issues, and I have never, ever seen anyone with the required intelligence and knowledge deal with them. Those issues bother me quite a lot, because I happen to be very interested in science but I'm not ready to follow it as a religion, which is what I think most people do. It perplexes me that a lot of people can agree with science while at the same time confessing to being unable to understand it. Maybe it's just me, but when I'm in the mood for that kind of thing I go to a church. Anyway, let me get to the two particular issues.

Issue #1: any physicist knows that a good deal of physics is true by definition, but no physicist knows how much of it is not. For instance, it's pretty easy to see that no experiment can "prove" that the definition of acceleration is "true" (Harv's ignorance notwithstanding). It's also easy to see that as physics gets increasingly complex it becomes extremely easy to lose sight of that issue. Let me point out that, if you think about it, it's somewhat silly that people marvel at the fact that Einstein discovered that gravity affects the propagation of light. Silly because Einstein didn't discover it, it was already implied by everything that was known at the time Einstein published his ideas. All Einstein had to do was work out the consequences of what he knew; in other words, realize that his theories had to be true by definition!

It's my experience on this forum that only Dick and myself, and nobody else, understand that issue. Which is too bad as it is as simple as it is important. But I'll refrain from telling myself stories about why that is so.

Issue #2: the language, stupid! When physicists decide to borrow words from our everyday vocabulary, they should at least be respectful to everyone else by making it clear what they mean. As it is, though, they distort the meaning of our words to suit their equations, and in the process create much confusion even amongst themselves. That is why so much of physics sounds like nonsense, because that's exactly what it is when it gets translated to everyday language!

In my experience, the average physicist's attitude is, too bad for the everyday language. Which could only be OK if they stopped using it. But then, most physicists are nerds, and that means we should take everything they say with a huge grain of salt.

Since I doubt this post will make much difference, I'll just finish with a quote by Niels Bohr:

"Anyone who's not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it"

I maintain the one can only be shocked by things that don't make sense. In my book, if you're shocked by any theory that means you're not being able to make sense of it. And that means someone has not done their homework!

Dropping water on a wet spot for the 100th time,


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