"It seems to me that to organize on the basis of feeding people or righting social injustice and all that is very valuable. But to rally people around the idea of modernism, modernity, or something is simply silly. I mean, I don't know what kind of a cause that is, to be up to date. I think it ultimately leads to fashion and snobbery and I'm against it."
Jack Levine: January 3, 1915 – November 8, 2010
I am sorry but I don't see that Cialis is relevant to the topic that comment thread is attached to. It is also to be doubted that my reader would really find the link you provide promising that a crane would be necessary for that particular application to be at all practical or even desirable. Please don't bother to try to post another comment on my blog because, as they say, it will freeze over before I let one of your ads past moderation. A.M.
You can get your mop heads nostalgia elsewhere, NPR apparently as the radio says. I was never that taken with them. Despite the command that you must love them and say they were the greatest musical geniuses ever, you really don't have to believe it.
2, The "tests" are all designed to address physical entities with the properties of physical entities, they would be inadequate to address non-physical entities. For all anyone knows, nonphysical entities could interact directly with matter in ways different than physical objects and forces react with other physical objects and forces. It's quite possible that they constantly interact with them or some of them, such as our bodies, and we don't have the ability "to address them in a meaningful, testable way".
That's not just some non-materialists dodge, some way to shield some desired aspect of human experience from the mighty force of science, it's a real problem that current controversies in science run up against whenever the issues require taking human consciousness and decisions into consideration. It is entirely important in the glamour science of cosmology, multiverses, string theory, etc.
Yesterday I happened to come across a column by Max Tegmark, popularizer of certain of those multiverse models, in which he runs smack into the problem and smack into one of the major critics of the entire effort, Peter Woit. The alleged motive of the article, which is an apologia for the entire effort, is to help those who "don't like" multiverses attack the various models, "levels" of multiverse theory. In defense of what I take is Tegmark's preferred model he says:
The Level IV multiverse is also vulnerable to a type-B attack: we can simply reject the notion that there’s an external reality completely independent of us humans, for example in the spirit of Niels Bohr’s famous dictum, “no reality without observation”. A second type-B attack option is to falsify the mathematical universe hypothesis by demonstrating that there’s some physical phenomenon that has no mathematical description.
The first thing to notice is his challenge to demonstrate "that there's some physical phenomenon that has no mathematical description", which, of course is impossible to do scientifically, the only way that would be considered valid in the effort. The rules and procedures of science are supposed to demand mathematical description, Tegmark sets the critics of his preferred model with an impossible task. If anyone tried to do that, the first thing that would happen is that scientists who didn't like it would point out that it was not science, rejecting it for being a pseudo-scientific effort to substitute narrative for measurement. In the comments to the article, Peter Woit presents that point.
About Level IV: What you are doing here is kind of like a monotheistic believer telling me that his hypothesis of the existence of a certain kind of deity is scientifically testable, because if a different kind of deity appears before us tomorrorw with golden tablets, that will falsify his hypothesis. It’s this Level IV, your specific contribution to this, which I continue to claim is grandiose nonsense. You are making strings of meaningless statements, and absurd claims about scientific testability. And I think this is the consensus opinion of your colleagues. I have never met any scientist who takes your views on this seriously. Can you point to even one prominent physicist who agrees with you about this?
I'll, for now, pass by the temptation to go into Woit's opportunistic introduction of atheist snark, which is the habitual first resort within these brawls. In another comment he says, more explicitly:
Again, for about the fifth or sixth time. If your Level IV multiverse is a meaningful scientific statement, it should have testable (at least in principle) implications. The only one you have provided is that it is science because it could be shown to be wrong by finding “that there’s some physical phenomenon that has no mathematical description.” This is just absurd and I don’t think you can identify any serious scientist who would take it seriously. It’s completely unclear what “having no mathematical description” means, as well as absurdly implausible on its face. You are saying “my theory is falsifiable because if something absurdly implausible were to happen it would be wrong”.
Which is, of course, a righteous upholding of what scientists claim science does, though, as Tegmark's article points out, enormous amounts of science isn't about testing and evidence, it's not even about measurement in any real sense. Though it is exactly this kind of thing that these guys, and they include people as popular and adored as Stephen Hawking, demand is science even though it violates the very definition of science as popularly and, as Woit says, professionally understood.
Most important to note of all is this
... we can simply reject the notion that there’s an external reality completely independent of us humans, for example in the spirit of Niels Bohr’s famous dictum, “no reality without observation”.
I'm afraid that the idea that there could be "an external reality completely independent of humans" is a complete and absolute non-starter, though it is the biggest of all pretenses made in regard to science. There is nothing apart from the most direct, rawest, and most primitive experience of our own consciousness that is directly available to us, we have no ability to remove us from any consideration of an "external reality". No mater how much Tegmark or anyone else hates the fact there is nothing "independent of us humans" in the external universe, directly available for human consideration. Everything about the universe available for us to discuss is through human minds, human perception, human cultural practices. "Us humans" are stuck in the subject matter of science no less than we are the subject matter of any other area of HUMAN culture. Making believe you can ignore that fact will get you far but not in this kind of argument, not unless you want to distort it by ignoring that very relevant factor.
The entire basis of his article is that this scientific quest is based on some rather unsupported, though universally assumed, assumptions that sit right on the defining foundation of science. From the beginning of his article he says:
Many physicists have explored various types of parallel universes in recent books, including Sean Carroll, David Deutsch, Brian Greene, Michio Kaku, Martin Rees, Leonard Susskind and Alexander Vilenkin. Interestingly, not a single one of these books (my own included) makes any outright claims that parallel universes exist. Instead, all their arguments involve what logicians know as “modus ponens”: that if X implies Y and X is true, then Y must also be true. Specifically, they argue that if some scientific theory X has enough experimental support for us to take it seriously, then we must take seriously also all its predictions Y, even if these predictions are themselves untestable (involving parallel universes, for example). ...So are there parallel universes, or is the universe we observe (the spherical region of space from which light has had time to reach us during the 13.8 billion years since our Big Bang) all that exists? We don’t know. The interesting claim that these books collectively make is that various theories imply that various types of parallel universes exist (see table), so that by modus ponens, if we take any of these theories seriously, we’re forced to take seriously also some parallel universes. Conversely, if we can experimentally rule out any of these theories based on their other predictions, we’ve destroyed the evidence for the corresponding parallel universes. All of these theories, the entire, enormous and very well funded scientific effort to created jillions of universes and an effective infinity of other entities are based on a principle of logical speculation which, I suspect, rests on unanswered and unanswerable questions in the vacuum that made Kurt Godel famous, the thing that, when Eddington pointed it out as where physics were headed, Bertrand Russell's smoldering resentment over the ashes of his world view set him off in his third career as an anti-religious zealot.
Considering that none of this glamorous and fashionable physics and cosmology is based on physical observation, that, as even Tegmark admits, it is all based on ideas contained in the minds of human beings, as, unadmittedly, every scientific and every other idea ultimately is, that it runs smack into problems with the limits of possibility in human's ability to check them is no great surprise. What did they expect to happen when they started inventing universes, jilliions of which are proposed to have entirely different physics than that used to invent them. Even, as Woit has pointed out, demanded to be freed of logical coherence in the manner that science, itself, is founded on.
Calling this reliance on pure logical speculation "science" gets you right back to the beginning with Galileo dropping different weights off of the Tower of Pisa, overturning the logical arguments from Aristotle that had held sway up to that point, demonstrating the power of observation to falsify logic from one of the towering intellects of European history. It is too delicious an irony to be able to point out that it is exactly those scientists who insist on reestablishing the standards of the scholastic period as science, are so frequently the ones who have inserted their ideological war against faith into their science - the number of times the subject of nailing the coffin of God shut with multiverse theory and other purported science of this kind is, literally amazing.
I've been thinking of wading back into the matter of natural selection which demonstrates another problem of science as it is as opposed to how it is supposed to be. And the problem is the same one. Natural selection is not directly observed in nature, it is the product of human thought, it is a framework that was adopted by those whose observations mightily support the idea of the evolution of species but who couldn't come up with an intellectual explanation of how it could have happened. For me, I'd always accepted natural selection because I accepted the physical evidence for evolution, geological and genetic, and those who made careers in evolutionary science and, even more so the popularization of that science, required a belief in natural selection. Only the more I look at natural selection, the more skeptical I become that it is more than a human construct.
The short-lived apostasy on natural selection by Karl Popper, the famous and influential philosopher of science, intrigues me, though I haven't had the time to do the research necessary to pin it down. He implied that natural selection is tautological, something it obviously risks being, only later to recant in a way that reminds me of nothing so much as the popularized version of Galileo, on being shown the instruments of torture.
Well, when I look at natural selection I see a series of stories and scenarios, not, except in the rarest of cases, attached to specific reports of specific observations but generalized stories in the way of lore. A reason for the death of this kind of animal - usually it's an animal in the popular presentation, fungi don't have the same narrative appeal - is posited because such and such made it die out. No evidence is given that that is how it happened and that a genetic trait was advanced to define the species through that selective scenario demonstrated. Natural selection means it "must" have happened that way and natural selection, with the universal power as determinant of biological truth granted it by custom and dogma, is, if anything, more powerful than the reputation of Aristotle.
Ignored in all of this is that natural selection is both presented within the stories as their motivating generator, the reason that what happens in the story happens, and the stories are, at the same time, used to generate natural selection. People proposing natural selection create scenarios out of natural selection, in which natural selection produces the result created, which is used to prove natural selection.
I might be mistaken, but that looks like the ultimate act of question begging of all times. And that begged question has produced enormous amounts of some of the worst science done in the past two centuries, science that has had the most devastating of effects in the real world where natural selection has never been directly observed. It was the allegedly scientific engine that fueled eugenics laws and the actual mutilation of scores of thousands if not more in its most benign application, the murders of millions in what we must hope for is its most unforgettable, mandated lesson.
Only I am afraid that the power of the tales of natural selection have more power than the far less glamorized reality of history. And that doesn't begin to measure the misery caused by those in the would be social and behavioral sciences who have latched onto natural selection in its most absurdly tenuous assertion. As just an example of the continuing damage flowing from it, consider the excuses given in the form of tales of natural selection for the suppression of women, rape, economic and social domination of women, women reduced to fungible commodities, as parasitic to the male gender all pretending to be science is breathtaking in both their baseless absurdity and in their power to gull and lull, resting on the faith in anything called "science".
If we are going to suffer the results of science, we should insist that scientists match their pretenses of attachment to the physical universe, of rigorous attachment to and restraint by physical evidence. But, even more so, we must insist that they stop pretending to have detached science from its human substrate, with all its limits and all of its less than universally enabling vicissitudes. Humans tell themselves stories that they want to hear and the history of science is full of examples of respected scientists believing what they want to believe even as they pretend that, somehow, by their superior status as scientists, they can leave that all behind. Well, sorry, they put their pants on the same way everyone else does, they're only human no matter what they get paid to use their minds for.
What's going through my head today. For some reason I've been kind of mopey, wondering what life would have been like if I'd done more performing than teaching. Only, I've got to remember how much I hated sleeping in strange places. Not that there's not some of that hand to mouth and mouth to hand stuff in any musician's life.
Someone tell me to snap out of it.
Update: Wendy Waldman's site and store. Support the musicians and you support the music.
Just out of curiosity, I decided to read through one of the books of poetry by Katharine Lee Bates, choosing the first one listed in a bibliography, The Beautiful College and Other Poems
Pageant of fretted roofs that cluster
On hill and knoll in the branches green,
Ye are but shadow, and not the lustre,
Garment ye of a grace unseen.
All our life is confused with fable,
Ever the fact as the phantasy seems :
Yet the world of spirit lies sure and stable,
Under the shows of the world of dreams.
Not an idle and false derision
The rocks that crumble, the stars that fail ;
Meaning masketh within the vision,
Shaping the folds of the woven veil.
Can you imagine anyone saying that about their college education today?
The language is archaic, we might find the sentiments embarrassing, naive and foolish - though I think that's more from the studied and fashionable cynicism we were raised in than any fault with the soundness of it as an aspiration. After looking at Burroughs' preposterous crap that is praised by the academics today, if I've got to live in a confused fable, I'd buy hers over his, anyday.
Update: Just noticed that I put the adjective in the wrong place, her book is called "The College Beautiful", something that is so unnatural for us today that I didn't even realize I was doing that. I'll leave it as it is to make the point.
Hating football and everything associated with it, I'd not even known the American Imperial Religion's most holy day was last Sunday until I turned on the news and they mentioned it. I missed the robo-Rush indignation over a multilingual rendition of America the Beautiful sung in a Coke ad. Others picked it up and pointed out that the author of what should be the national anthem was a Christian socialist, a feminist, a lesbian and a serious academic, all things that Rush Limbaugh would have slammed her for were she alive and active today. I can only imagine what he'd have done to her for writing this
Children Of The War
SHRUNKEN little bodies, pallid baby faces, Eyes of staring terror, innocence defiled, Tiny bones that strew the sand of silent places, — This upon our own star where Jesus was a child. Broken buds of April, is there any garden Where they yet may blossom, comforted of sun, While their sad Creator bows to ask their pardon For the life He gave them, life and death in one? Spared by steel and hunger, still shall horror blazon Those white and tender spirits with anguish unforgot; Half a century hence the haggard look shall gaze on The outrage of a mother, shall see a grandsire shot. Man who wings the azure, lassoes the hoof sparkling, Fire-maned steeds of glory and binds them to his car, Cannot man whose searchlight leaves no horizon darkling Safeguard little children upon our golden star?
I was aware she'd written some travel narrative, though I'm not a fan of that genre and I'd read some of her poetry, which was, actually, not bad for a minor poet of an idiom that doesn't grab me.
What I hadn't known was that she was also a translator, in fact, she and her mother worked together on a translation from Spanish, Romantic legends of Spain
by Gustavo Adolfo Becquer. In the introduction of that book she showed that she would have probably gotten a kick out of having her most famous poem, in which she crowned her country's "good with brotherhood" sung in a number of languages. Describing her mother she said:
"Mrs. Cornelia Frances Bates (1826-1908), a graduate of Mount Holyoke in the days of Mary Lyon and the widow of a Congregational minister, took up the study of Spanish at the age of seventy-one. Until her death ten years later, the proverbial ten years of "labor and sorrow," her Spanish readings and translations were a keen intellectual delight. Her Spanish Bible, from which she had committed many passages to memory, was found at her death no less worn than her English one. Even a few hours before dying, she repeated in Spanish, without the failure of a syllable, the Shepherd's Psalm and the Lord's Prayer."
I'll bet hearing her song in different languages would have brought a tear to her eye, in joy but also remembering her mother's devotion to the Spanish language. Though, from everything I can see, she'd never have approved of the venue in which it was sung.
There is everything for Rush Limbaugh and his fellow liars and hypocrites to hate in America the Beautiful, they hate beauty, they hate ideals, they hate the possibility of Bates ideals becoming actual, in life, in the life of the United States. Their careers have been dedicated to making millions of dollars by lying us out of making America her ideal of America. They worship America the horrible, concussed and brain damaged by their imperial, materialistic bigotry, an America that couldn't be farther from her song which they turn into a maudlin mockery of what she said.
America the Beautiful
O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed His grace on thee And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea! O beautiful for pilgrim feet, Whose stern, impassioned stress A thoroughfare for freedom beat Across the wilderness! America! America! God mend thine every flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law! O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife, Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life! America! America! May God thy gold refine, Till all success be nobleness, And every gain divine! O beautiful for patriot dream That sees beyond the years Thine alabaster cities gleam Undimmed by human tears! America! America! God shed His grace on thee And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!
William Burroughs might not even be bad enough to be the worst American writer about whom any pretense is made of them being significant. He could be the model of bad writers replacing having anything to say, any ideas, any talent, anything worth reading with massively repulsive, cynical and stupid sensationalism. And when that isn't enough to insert some cheap chance, indeterminacy gimmick into the mix. I read some of the beats back when I was young enough to have time to waste. I don't have any of that anymore. Considering the music that was happening at the time, the alleged inspiration of lots of it, that stood up to time the writing, not. But, then, anyone can tap out or scribble out some words, music has to be done, even if you're drugged up, you've got to be able to do it.
Someone said about the abstract expressionists and their theory of expressing their inner, subconscious selves in their stuff, "Why would I want to see the inner life of a bunch of violent, alcoholic misogynists?" And most of them didn't end up murdering their wives. I'm hard put to think of anything the most superficial of them produced that was as truly bad as Naked Lunch, which I have a hard time believing that anyone has ever read in its entirety.
Call me suspicious but I suspect that now researchers have identified a percentage of the DNA or Europeans and Asians is from Neanderthal ancestors, the popular image of dark-skinned, inarticulate brutes of little brain will get an update with lighter skin and increased intelligence. Perhaps that's already happening in the comment thread attached to the story at Salon. Africans' DNA apparently doesn't contain the Neanderthal genes and, again, call me suspicious, I think that many people will "discover" that's some kind of disadvantage. Oh, and our African ancestors, apparently were mating outside of what used to be called our "direct lineage" as recently as a couple of decades ago. Only this will all probably undergo extensive revision in the next few years. If I could find the book where the discussion is, not long ago the most sciency and up-to-date experts were telling us why we had no Neaderthal ancestry at all. Which was science as surely as this story is now.
One really, really discouraging aspect of the comments is that people are blithely tossing around assertions about IQ, stupidly making assumptions about what various percentages of Neanderthal DNA in living people means for their intelligence. Any group of people who still believe in IQ, something so entirely debunked that it's at flat-earth levels of intellectual validity, should be regarded as anti-intellectual as most of the same people consider the vast majority of humanity, on the basis of their "low IQ".
Also from Salon, evidence of why the Occupy movement may have fizzled in many places, remaining so far as I can see in a few places where they actually decided to do something other than "occupy" public parks.
Jesse Myerson, in a bid to be declared the mostest leftist with the most, writes Why you’re wrong about communism: 7 huge misconceptions about it (and capitalism)
The mishmash of old line Stalinist and Maoist tripe, the brand peddled by those living under the horrible hardship of those non-Communist countries in the United States and Europe, goes so far as to excuse some of the greatest genocides of the 20th century. Genocides, such as the famine in the Ukraine, that are now known to have been engineered and those under Mao caused by his applying his favored "Marxist" ideological faith from the vantage point of not knowing a single thing about how to produce food.
I remember the day that I was sitting there reading about one of Stalins' mass murders and suddenly realizing that those people were as murdered as the piles of corpses in the photos taken in Nazi death camps. To pretend otherwise is as serious a crime against humanity as Holocaust denial. It was the moment that the wool was taken off my eyes and I realized how much of what the pseudo-left peddled was as big a lie as what the neo-Nazis sold. I would never again dishonor the victims by sorting them into categories of greater and lesser crimes against humanity.
Myerson is an attention seeking jerk who should be booted out of any real left, his fans too. He will produce nothing except damage to the left, he will never be anything but a club for the fascists to wield against us as the old communists were in the last century. None of them ever produced a single thing, they, like their sworn enemies, the anarchists, are a complete and utter waste of time for the left. They are not even genuinely leftist, being solely devoted to their ideologies which do not have the real needs of real poor people as their primary goal. If Myerson was big in the Occupy stunt, it's no wonder it failed. It was doomed to.
First I looked for Sheila Jordan videos and found one with her singing with the wonderful bassist, Gildas Boclé. Looking for Gildas Boclé videos, I found his trio with his brother, the wonderful vibes and keyboard player Jean Baptiste Boclé and the wonderful drummer Simon Bernier. Looking for more Gildas Boclé I found out about the wonderful and original guitarist, Nelson Veras. Looking for more Nelson Veras I've found out about the wonderful trumpet player Airelle Besson and a bunch of others who I'll probably be tracking down as well. None of whom I'd known of before this past month except Sheila Jordan.
When You Cough
Airelle Besson : tpt
Nelson Veras : gt
Hubert Dupont : b
Youssef Hbeisch : perc
Please note the important update in the post. It makes the point much more clearly. I will post a better revision of this later.
I almost didn't listen to Krista Tippett's program this morning when I heard Brian Greene was going to be on it. I find Greene almost as hard to take as I did Carl Sagan late in his career as Dr. Science. Though Greene hasn't become quite as annoyingly mannered and isn't yet surrounded by the kind of glamour Sagan and his publicity folks generated, he is as prone to those two sins of celebrity scientists, being unaware of the rather large leaps of presumption he makes and being rather prone to discussing things in absolute term for which he has no more intellectual qualification than any other non-specialist. You can add a third one, being naively unaware of the implications of what he is saying for him, his science and even for the ideological basis on which he is saying them.
I'll start here with the first of those because it was actually my entree into the brawl with materialism, free will. It arose out of a section of the conversation that got onto the fashionable idea that there are parallel universes being generated all the time, in some of the more extreme versions of this least parsimonious of all results of elevating probability mathematics into a creator god, whenever anything happens it generates entire universes that express all possible probabilistic calculations of alternative outcomes.
Dr. Greene: Right. We sit there, the math jumps out of the page, kind of grabs us by the lapel, slaps us in the face, and says, look at me. What this is telling you is there might be parallel universes. And we say, oh, that’s curious. Let’s think about that, investigate it. So that’s the typical rhythm of the way in which these ideas surface. This idea that you’re referring to comes out of quantum mechanics, which is this new way of describing the fundamental particles of nature that emerged in the early part of the 20th century. And the new idea is that you can only predict the probability of one outcome or another. Newton wouldn’t have said that. He would say tell me how things are and I’ll predict how they will be. Period. End of story. Quantum theory says, no, no, no. I can tell you there’s a 30% chance of this, 50% chance of that, 20% chance of that outcome over there. In fact, one of the proposals is that every outcome happens, they just happen in distinct realities in parallel universes. Ms. Tippett: So somewhere, all of those possible outcomes were made manifests. Dr. Greene: That’s right. So basically, any outcome allowed by the quantum laws of physics would see the light of day, but the light would be flowing through a different universe.
And if you don't believe that this kind of materialism has turned probability into a creator god, you may not be aware of these guys, who seem inevitably to be atheists who devote their lives in science to try to debunk most peoples' idea of a creator, have also calculated Boltzmann Brains into existence along with these other jillions of universes. And, as they make these improbable seeming products of their probabilistic god some kind of disembodied flesh, they also reject the idea that people possess free will. The evidence of that is where the conversation goes right after that.
Ms. Tippett: OK. So all of this science, um, without wanting to raises a lot of really basic philosophical — ancient philosophical questions about destiny and fate and choice. Do you — I understand that’s not what you’re studying and the mathematics doesn’t speak to that, directly... Dr. Greene: Well, it sort of does. I mean, when you ask the question about choice, I presume you were indicating things like free will. Ms. Tippett: Yeah. Dr. Greene: And, you know, by no means would I say that we have got the be-all and end-all mathematical description of reality. We’re struggling to get there. But as a snapshot, if you look at the equations that we have today, there does not seem to be a place anywhere in those equations where you say, oh, OK, and here is where human free will comes in to how things are going to evolve. Right? There’s no term in the equations where that happens. Ms. Tippett: OK. We’ll come back that (laughs). Um, I mean, so I keep — well, let me just do it. I keep thinking of another thing Einstein said, that science is good at describing what is, but it doesn’t describe what should be. And, there’s a way in which the way we’ve tended throughout human history to talk about something like free will or fate or destiny or choice or, you know, just the human condition, is in terms of what should be, what we can control. What life we create. Dr. Greene: Right. So, we live our lives as if we do have control. And I think it’s the only way that you can live. You tell yourself this interesting, perhaps untrue, story that when you reach out for the glass, you’re making a choice to pick it up. And I do it, too. I sort of felt like I just picked that glass up because I made a choice. But fundamentally, I don’t think that I did. But putting that to aside, yes, we feel we have control, we act as though we have control, and then Einstein’s quote comes into play, because once you have control, you can shape the future. And you can shape the future according to distinct values. And, yeah, I think that is the only way that we humans can live, at least, you know, in this epoch, you know, until we evolve to some other form. And sure there is no way to look to science to tell us how to shape things from some sense of value judgment.
[ Note: Please read the update below before continuing ] Which is where this becomes, in the most certain of fact, extremely dangerous. A culture in which free will is not assumed in people is a very dangerous place to live. That is the real life lesson of the political history still within living memory, it was the basic assumption behind all of the great genocidal regimes of the 20th century, regardless of where they are placed on the imaginary line of political identity. In both fascistic regimes, especially the Nazi regime and the "Marxist" regimes, the devaluation of life into a manifestation of bio-chemistry is what allowed them to murder on an industrial scale. We have the writings of the theorists of those political regimes who the despotic establishments based their systems on. The consequences of those materialist views of human life provided no barriers to convenient depravity, in some cases depravity based on not even convenience but whimsy and paranoia. I won't spare the tender feelings of genteel atheists by lying about that for them, it is as much a denial of those genocides to deny the bases of them as it is for the actual results of them.
That is what the evidence available indicates you can expect when a mechanistic, materialistic definition is given to living beings and, especially for our purposes, human beings. Brian Greene's blithe unawareness of that implication of his denotation switcheroo, taming free will so it isn't a problem for his materialism, is astonishing considering that during the same program Greene has to admit that his area of science, the thing that his popular presentation of has made him famous, string theory, has no basis in evidence, whatsoever.
Audience member: Hi, Dr. Greene. What’s the best evidence we have for string theory right now? Some of the best and most credible evidence that you know of we have for string theory? Thanks. Dr. Greene: Yeah. The evidence of string theory — that string theory is right, good. So other questions that you guys would like to (laughter). No, if you — so, the quick answer to your question is absolutely nothing. String theory is a completely mathematical undertaking, and at the moment, there’s no experiment that we can point to, which would say there is the evidence for this idea. And for that reason, string theory really should be called the string hypothesis. Theory in science is a very specific meaning. And string theory does not rise to that level, as yet. Now, having said that, let me just point out that we have tested quantum mechanics. Greene then goes on to present the basis of his faith that if only there were ever any evidence that string theory will win out. What he doesn't say is that the same evidence produces other theories which students adopt largely based on which side of the country they go to school in and with which proponents of which theory their academic qualifications were gathered from. And there are people who look at the same evidence and they are string theory skeptics.
Compared to the speculations of these guys pass off as entirely respectable, and, remember, THEY were the ones who came up with Boltzmann brains, and the parallel universes are even more of a leap of faith, a faith which they've sold to large swaths of the so-called educated public, the lessons of 20th century history are real in every sense, more profoundly real, more absolutely and reliably real, in every sense real, as D. T. Suzuki may have put it.
As is generally the case in programs when celebrity scientists are the focus, much is made in the program about the cultural importance of science in modern life and while that is true it also points out the danger of refusing to value the greater and more rich truth of history. History is not based in speculations of what the probability god will do, it is based on what has become as real as it can possibly be, in the real lives of real beings. And if there's something obvious about those who service this god of probability, they are a jealous priesthood, one which will not grant real legitimacy to the work of any they see as rivals, secular or religious. And being arrogant, they dismiss, entirely even the entirely secular academic studies, such as history, which do, in fact, study reality in a much richer complexity, one which doesn't depend on massive layouts of public resources for giant super-colliders and massive research budgets. And even though that has been done for their faith, the project to confirm the sect Greene promotes would require a collider larger than the solar system, or so I read from some of the scientific skeptics of his faith.
When materialists go after free will, when they insist on reducing the mind to chemistry, they are playing with lives, real, actual lives and on the scale of millions if not more. And, as mentioned here yesterday, they insist on exempting their own thoughts from that view of thinking because it would make it impossible for their thoughts to be any more than a result of a chemical process, based on the particular chemistry present in their materialistic brains, not having the full range of possible chemical combinations available when they come up with their new arrangement of molecules. In fact, I would think that the probability of two of them coming up with the same idea, arrangement of molecules is infinitesimally small. Perhaps the idea that even two of these guys are talking about the same thing is an illusion and there aren't even two string theorists who are even talking about the same thing. No, wait, if there is something obvious about bio chemistry in a living being, no string theorist could hold the same idea for more than a short period of time before their brain chemistry altered the idea of string theory they articulated a few minutes before. And that is only a slight peek into the consequences of materialism for science, its ability to produce a reliable idea on the shifting sands of biochemistry under the operations of probability in living beings, oh, sorry, biological systems open to constant new inputs and the deaths of parts of the system. Recovering an idea in a form that was reliably consistent would seem to make science, as Greene and all other scientists imagine it, impossible.
UPDATE: I mixed up the sections of the interview while putting the edit I posted up. Here is the even more telling exchange about free will.
Audience member: Thank you, Dr. Greene. Thank you for all your work and the way it’s informing my guild. I’m a theologian. So I have two questions, really. I either did not understand or am not convinced or persuaded by your conversation about free will. Because it sounds as if your proposal situates us in a very deterministic universe. And that we are simply, in some sense, almost robots acting out of these general laws. And that there’s no novelty within this very, very complex and creative entity that we are as conscious beings. That’s my first. Dr. Greene: So, yes, it is hard to accept (laughter). But I wouldn’t… Audience member: So, can you say something… Dr. Greene: ...I wouldn’t go as far as to say there’s no novelty. but yes, free will may go away. Female three: So, free will, meaning choice. There’s no such thing as choice? Dr. Greene: That’s right. Audience member: I do not choose to love. I do not choose to extend myself. I don’t choose to live, to get back to Camus. Dr. Greene: Well, it all depends on what you mean by choose. So, if by choose, you mean that you could have done otherwise, then I would say yes. But I would say that you need to redefine the meaning of the word choose. Choose is the sensation of choosing. Now it is the fact that the laws of physics were just playing themselves out, and that is fundamentally why you did what you did. But to choose is to have the sensation of making that choice. And we all have that sensation. And that is a definition which I think works well. It does require a little bit of rejiggering of your intuition to recognize that it may be the case that it — the laws of physics that are behind the scenes doing it all. But yes, that sensation of choice is real. And that’s what we should redefine free will to mean. Audience member: Free will to… Dr. Greene: Free will is the sensation of making the choice. Even though, behind the scenes, the laws of physics were pulling the strings (laughter). Audience member: Thank you. I’m still not persuaded (laughter). My second question, though, has to do with positing the divine reality, which, you know, let’s use the God word. Why do you keep positing it above and beyond, since we in the theological guild are not doing that anymore? Dr. Greene: Well if you use the word God to mean a being that is composed of the same stuff that we see in the world around us, governed by the same laws that that stuff is governed by, then God is a perfectly coherent and sensible idea. And if that’s what you mean by it, then we’re talking the same language. But if you mean what traditionally is meant by God, which is a being that can intercede, that can cause things to happen that are not governed by the laws of physics, then we are talking different languages. And I should say I’m not saying that that idea is wrong. It may be right. It may be that God is behind it all. Maybe God set it all up and, you know, there’s some variations of these ideas where God sits back and lets it all play itself out. And that could well be what’s going on. What I really mean to say is not that the idea is wrong, but as a scientist, I find it profoundly uninteresting, because it gives me no new insight into any of the deep questions that we’ve been talking about here. Doesn’t help me calculate anything. Doesn’t help me gain some insight into these big mysteries. It simply takes one mystery and uses another three-letter-word to re-label that mystery. And that is why I don’t find it interesting. Not that it’s wrong, I don’t find it interesting.
This section shows just how intimately Greene's desire to debunk God is tied into his materialistic insistence on destroying the meaning of free will. It's hard to decide what is the more basic desideratum, insisting on the supremacy of materialism and so their professional prestige or destroying God. Those are the overriding motives, and they don't mind rather naively and ignorantly killing off free will and with astonishing insouciance, the possibility that thoughts can surpass the peculiar biochemistry that they insist on to achieve truth or their still cluelessly insisted on objectivity. You can't get an objective and universal result from the specific, particular and randomly incomplete components that go into that result. Certainly not one that someone with different antecedent components has to or even possibly could agree with.