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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on August 1, 2003 22:06:12 UTC

Hi Mike,

I absolutely agree with almost everything you have said. The only place where I think you make a mistake is in your judgment of my motives and/or thoughts. I definitely do not think that my perspective is the only acceptable perspective; however, I also do not think it is anywhere near as unacceptable as many would prefer be believed. You think that I am over-confident. What that implies is that you think I am wrong. As Dizzy Dean used to say, "it isn't bragging if you can do it"!

Now, it is certainly your prerogative to believe I am wrong. And I fully understand the evidence for that position. The world is certainly full of nuts and, when I stand back and look at my position from the perspective of a working scientist, I find little evidence achievable on a cursory level which could be used to discriminate between myself and them. Scientists don't have the time to check out every nut so it is rather ridiculous to believe any serious scientist would expend much time looking at my work.

I have one further problem the other "nuts" actually lack. I know you won't believe it but it's the truth none the less, the mathematical techniques I use are at the edge of what the average professionals are taught. This means that there are many professional physicists who find my work over their head. Yanniru (Richard Ruquist) is a prime example of that (and, Richard, that really is not an insult no matter what you think). If that is a fact, and I hold that it is, then you should be able to understand the additional burden imposed on my work. Most of the best physicists use the, should one say, "lesser" members of the academy as a blocking network. That is to say they presume that if one cannot convince the peons, the work certainly can not be worth looking at.

The problem with that circumstance is that no scientist worth his salt wants to support a "nut". If they can absolutely find no way to discredit his work, they would rather ignore it. No serious professional can afford "nut" attached to his resume. Add in the "fact" that what I have done "cannot possibly be correct" and success at reaching the big boys is practically non-existent. I accept that and don't really find it irrational at all.

I don't much care to discuss the other possible perspectives because I am somewhat familiar with most of them and really have little to contribute other than "it is possible they are correct and I certainly have not explored the limits of those perspectives". Let others, more qualified than myself worry about those perspectives.

With regard to getting down to your level and contemplating your ignorance, I always stand ready to explain anything I know to anyone who has a desire to understand; however, to do a good job at that, one must know what the other party is familiar with and what he is ignorant of. Without that information a good explanation (meaning one he can understand) is very difficult to achieve.

Finally, my purpose is not to impress anyone. If that were my desire, I know of a number of ways to achieve it which are much easier than explaining things to people: at my age, I have found that my best bet to impress people is to spend time on my roller blades; that seems to impress most everybody I meet (and it wouldn't hurt me a bit as I could use the exercise). I certainly would not expect "posting on the internet" to be a reasonable way to impress people. And you are entirely right, it takes very little time to become convinced that most people have no idea what physics is all about. So, yes, I think I do understand how you feel.

You make the statement, "... the intended meaning of sentences cannot be conveyed that easily, if at all." In doing so, you are bringing up a problem near and dear to my heart. The consequences of that fact are subtle and far reaching and I would very much like to talk to someone about the only mechanism I can conceive of which takes that fact into consideration. If you are interested, we could discuss the issue.

Further on, you make the statement, "I can tell you this much though: in my book, 'physics' can't possibly be a 'tautology', because not everything that is true about 'tautology' is true about 'physics'." Once again, I agree with you 100%, even with your explicit examples. My posting has, rather recently, become somewhat sloppy. I used to always qualify my statement with the phrase "most all of modern physics" is a tautology for exactly that reason; however, no one on the forum seemed to pay the least attention to that qualifier so I started leaving it off. To my knowledge, you are the first party to bring attention to that issue. And yes, with a tautology, those kinds of errors do not crop up.

What I present is a tautology and, when it produced both quantum mechanics and relativity (special and general) without producing a conflict of any kind, the question of "why?" came directly to the forefront. That is exactly what lies behind my realization that Einstein had made a subtle error. Go read

That paper is on a low enough level that a high school student should be able to follow it. If anything in that paper doesn't make sense to you and you are interested in understanding it, I will do my best to explain any part of it. By the way, "tautology" is not a philosophical term; nor is it abstract, elusive or ambiguous. The specific definition is "needless repetition of an idea in a different word or phrase". In science, any argument which can be shown to be a direct consequence of your original assumptions (most often specified in your definitions) and thus has no real new content is generally referred to as a tautology. Essentially, it is an argument which contains no information other than what is stated as accepted in the opening of the argument.

Mathematics is, in a very real sense, the most significant tautology ever constructed. The importance of a tautology is that acceptance of the underlying definitions is acceptance of everything else as the steps can be traced exactly. The most common mistake (and the reason tautologies have such a bad reputation) is that many people use them as a defense of their underlying definitions which they are not by any stretch of the imagination.

Finally, I find that you mention exactly the reason I post: i.e., "... people have to keep most of their wisdom to themselves for want of words that allow them to express themselves". The interactions I have had with the people on this forum have been very educational; particularly when it comes to those thing which to me seem obvious. After reading their cavils, I am usually led to solidify those arguments which, prior to the discussion, I had no reason to think required solidification.

Paul, who has a Master's degree in mathematics, is the only person to make any serious effort to understand what I am doing. He and I spent almost a year kicking the details back and forth. As it turns out, there are a significant number of things which the discussions on the forum have clarified for him. When one talks to many people who all have a different perspective, it leads one to see different ways to present an idea. I would say that nothing clarifies ideas in a persons mind more than trying to explain those ideas to others; in that respect, I have found posting to the forum very valuable. At least I think Paul has gained a lot and I know I have.

Now, I am sorry I have written so much without really saying anything. I have tried to clarify exactly where I am coming from in order to give you the opportunity to decide whether or not any of my thoughts raise your interests. Don't take anything I have said as an attempt to interest you as it really isn't. I have no intention of suggesting my interests are the only ones worth talking about; however, they are, by definition, the things I am interest in.

Have fun -- Dick

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