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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on August 6, 2003 02:19:29 UTC

Hi Mike,

I moved this to the top to make it easier to find! I will be gone until next week. (Off to partying on Bourbon Street!) I know my earlier thread will be buried before I return.

I am sorry I "write a lot". I wish I could put things succinctly and clear. One of my problems probably related to the fact that physics and mathematics were the only subjects I was good at and I never really had any practice expressing myself. My BS meter has been running full tilt since I was three years old (long story behind that). Math and physics were the only subjects I could hear over the noise of that meter. Excuses, excuses, excuses! I really don't have any great beef with anyone. I think a lot of what you are seeing as arrogant concern with intellectual ability is actually little more than my reaction to some of the things that go on this forum.

You comment that you do not know what my perspective is. My perspective is that I am not a nut, quack, troll, liar or a phony Ph.D. I am an old man who has spent most of his life trying to understand the universe he finds himself in. The single most important aspect of that search is to separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak. I personally think I have done a pretty good job of that and it has lead to some (interesting to me) insights. So far, communicating those insights to others has been a very difficult and perhaps impossible task; however, it has been both fun and educational to try nevertheless.

"What's wrong after all?" I would say that people are blind to some options which are very real. All I do is ask them to look. I apparently do not understand your definition of "over-confident"! Unless you are referring to your comment that I am not the kind of person who would recognize being wrong. If that is the case, I think you are making a mistake. My real penchant is that I never take a stand on anything unless I have thoroughly examined the issue from every perspective I can imagine. All one really need do is bring up a related issue I haven't considered and I will take their complaint very seriously. (Remember, I have been around for a long time and have considered a lot of trash!)

I am not claiming that I have thought everything out; what I am saying is that issues I have thought out, I have thought out very carefully. Ok, so most nuts claim to be ahead of the professionals! Now how many of those nuts have a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from a prominent university? The fact that I was able to "fool" those guys into thinking that I understood what they were talking about must be quite a talent. By the way, when I was a graduate student, most of the other graduate students considered me to be the best of them. Many of them came to me to get help understanding what was going on. On that note, where did I say that I thought I should be given a voice? I thought I had made it clear that I expected no such thing. I merely put forth what I think; I know I cannot force anyone to think about it. What astonishes me is how grossly it is misinterpreted.

You ask, "would you act rationally and dismiss grand claims based on the probability that they are wrong, or would you irrationally spend you life seeking for a pin in a haystack?" My answer is neither! I don't dismiss any grand claims, I simply ignore them unless they give me a quick and easy method to check those claims (the world is chock full of "B" and the claims don't even have to be "grand" for me to ignore them). Secondly, I wouldn't compare my presentation to looking for a pin in a haystack! It consists of a mere 79 pages of succinct mathematical deduction from some very succinct definitions.

So you have never met a physicist who knows what physics is all about. It seems to me that your experience with physicists is roughly the same as mine and I don't understand your complaint about my characterization of the academy. Furthermore, I agree with your skepticism of philosophers. How can they claim to understand the universe if they cannot comprehend the implications of mathematical relations.

You ask, "so what is physics all about?" I would say that, today, physics is a field just like engineering and chemistry (and yes Harv, just like philosophy). By the way, I have become convinced that Harv is one of those people who believe no new thought is possible (actually surprisingly close to Alan's belief that we knew it all when we were children). (Please, you shouldn't pay any attention to derogatory comments, I know I shouldn't say it but I can't lie and say I don't feel it.) The believers in the catechism of the academy know their answers, their approaches and their beliefs. It is possible those answers, approaches and/or beliefs may be unnecessarily limited; however, the discovery of an alternate possibility is not going to be made by someone who is ignorant of those answers, approaches or beliefs. Nor will it be made by someone who believes those answers, approaches and beliefs can not be questioned. Now, for that very reason, in today's technological world, fundamental innovation ends up being led by a mighty limited cast of characters. I wish I knew some of them!

As to the definition of tautology, let us say that we have no difference of opinion here other than what I meant when I used the word. I don't think we have any real argument here at all; however, with regard to Godel's proof, if you are interested in it, I would love to go over it with you line by line. I don't think the proof is proving what you think it is proving.

With regard to conveying the intended meaning of any communication, the problem boils down to learning the language employed in the communication. The real problem here is that "learning a language" is not an easy procedure at all. In fact, that problem is so difficult that I am confident that it cannot be done on a conscious level. Our minds have to "learn" the language. No one on earth can set down a description of the entire procedure required to identify the exact meaning of a single symbol used as a medium of communication.

This brings us exactly back to my division of thought processes into two very different categories. What I call squirrel thinking and what I call logical thinking. I am of the opinion that, without being able to differentiate between the two, the true problems of communication will never be clear. If you will buy that load of goods, then, making the assumption you understand the division, I will go on with my thoughts.

I hope I haven't put you off!

Have fun -- Dick

I'll be back next week!

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