More falsehoods from Matt Strassler

Sometimes I am amazed how many falsehoods Matt Strassler can fit in a sentence. Below he is attempting to give us lessons on the history and philosophy of science but all we get is some physics propaganda.

First let’s read what he writes and then expose his falsehoods:

Epicycles or a revolution?

There were various attempts to make sense of Michelson and Morley’s experiment. Some interpretations involved tweaks of the notion of the ether.

Tweaks of this type, in which some original idea (here, the ether) is retained, but adjusted somehow to explain the data, are often referred to as “epicycles” by scientists. (This is analogous to the way an epicycle was used by Ptolemy to explain the complex motions of the planets in the sky, in order to retain an earth-centered universe; the sun-centered solar system requires no such epicycles.)

Dear Doctor Strassler,

Congratulations on yet another masterful use of sophistry and casuistry to support your physics doctrines.

This proves once again that you are a master of sophistry and you can assert any falsehood as absolute truth in such a way that none of your readers will suspect that you are spreading falsehoods.

Let’s start by noting some things in your profession that you do not understand or pretend not to understand:

1. You don’t realize that the Standard Model is an epicyclic model no different than Ptolemy’s model.

2. You don’t realize that what is “tweaked” in the Ptolemaic model is not the “original idea” but the mathematical model. In other words, you do not understand the difference between adding an epicycle to the mathematical model to explain a new observation and tweaking the axiom of the model.

3. You don’t realize that only fools prove what they assumed.

We’ll talk about your misunderstandings in more detail later but now let’s look at falsehoods and historical misrepresentations you present with such authority.

You claim that physicists have a shorthand way of dismissing ad hoc modifications of the initial assumptions of a theory by calling such ad hoc suggestions “epicycles”. You say that “this is analogous to the way an epicycle was used by Ptolemy to explain the complex motions of the planets in the sky, in order to retain an earth-centered universe; the sun-centered solar system requires no such epicycles.”

This is a big misrepresentation of historical facts. The sun-centered solar system developed by Copernicus had more epicycles than Ptolemy’s model. All you have to do is to count epicycles in both models. You cannot change this historical fact.

Physics is a legal discipline

There is nothing wrong in not knowing a historical fact. But what is wrong is to try to overrule historical facts by arrogance and authority. You are a proud professor of physics and you will never ever admit that you made a mistake and that Copernicus’ model had more epicycles than Ptolemy’s model; at best you will dismiss this as a “historical detail” that does not change your “physical” argument. And what is your physical argument? There’s none.

I would never blame you for not knowing the history of your own field; physics is a legal field, you don’t need to know the history, but only what is legal. That’s why you are supposed to know the literature — what is legal — but not the history. Physicists are proudly ignorant of the history of physics, their knowledge of history of physics is limited with the historical platitudes repeated in physics textbooks. Physicists repeat physics mythology and lore as historical truth. Your writing is full of such falsehoods.

Furthermore, your understanding of the role of epicycles in the Ptolemaic theory is wrong. You are just repeating official physics propaganda as if it were a historical truth. You may have heard a colleague mention it and you are repeating it without checking its truth.

The Standard Model is an epicyclic model

The Standard Model marketed by physicists as the most wonderful theory ever invented by mankind is nothing more than a collection of epicycles… but instead of using geometric epicycles of Ptolemy you use analytical epicycles called Fourier transforms. Do you deny this fact too? Both geometric and analytical epicycles fit data to sine waves. Spend some time to understand this reality. Your Standard Model is a glorified fit using epicycles to save the observations… just like the Ptolemaic model. And there is nothing wrong with adding epicycles to fit new observations into a model… this is how data is fit into a model even today.

Here’s one of your serious errors. You do not realize that the Standard Model is not a theory but a fit. Both Standard Model and Ptolemaic model fit data to a mathematical model using epicycles.

But there is a lesson to be learned from the Ptolemaic model. First of all, the original Ptolemaic model is a beautiful mathematical model. The theory has been corrupted long after Ptolemy by Doctors of Philosophy — your professional ancestors — working in the Middle Ages in the European universities.

How did these Learned Doctors corrupt the model? Not by adding new epicycles. When there’s a new observations you add new epicycles new epicycles to explain it. But these academic doctors who owned the Ptolemaic model used the mathematical algorithm of the model to prove its fundamental axiom, namely, the geocentric model. You are guilty of the same scientific crime, you routinely prove what you assumed.

Let me explain. As an academic doctor of philosophy you uphold the authority of the algorithm over the axioms of the theory. The algorithm is simply the mathematical methods used to fit the data; physicists call this data reduction algorithm “equations”. For you as a physicist, the algorithm (remember, you call the algorithm “equations”) comes before your axioms and you believe that the algorithm can prove your fundamental assumptions. In other words, you are proud to prove what you already assumed by using mathematical fitting methods. But only fools prove what they assumed. This would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

You don’t realize that it is foolish to prove what you assumed.

You can see with hindsight that Doctors of Philosophy of the Medieval Europe — your professional ancestors, do you deny your ancestors too? — who used Ptolemaic model tried to prove their assumption of a geocentric planetary system because they said the algorithm worked and gave correct results. These doctors said “we assume that the earth is at the center of the universe and we predict correctly the positions of the planets, therefore, the earth must be at the center of the universe”. Then comes Copernicus and uses the same algorithm by assuming the sun at the center, and he makes good predictions too.

Therefore, the lesson to be learned from the Ptolemaic theory is this:

You shall not prove your axiom with your algorithm.

Why? Because algorithm is independent of the axiom.

I don’t think you will ever agree with this law because you are doing the same thing with your Standard Model and market it as the greatest scientific achievement of humankind. You don’t realize that the Standard Model is simply a fit, nothing more. You then market this fit full of epicycles as the greatest scientific achievement of humankind. This is a grotesque double standard: you dismiss Ptolemy’s beautiful mathematical model as a bunch of epicycles and you glorify your own epicyclic model as the greatest theory ever graced this earth.

Why don’t you call yourself a “field physicist?”

The Ptolemaic theory placed the earth at the center of the universe and took this as its fundamental axiom. Your fundamental axiom is the doctrine of the atomic materialism. You are a “particle” physicist and you see the world as made up of particles and your job is to fit nature which is not matterful and not made of particles into your materialist dogma. Do you agree? Of course, you don’t. You will now tell me how you think the world is made of fields, not particle… but you cannot fool us with your sophistry… because we know that you call fields particles when you feel like it. This proves that your fundamental method of investigation is casuistry. You load words with several meanings and use them case by case to save your doctrine.

Why don’t you call yourself a “field physicist” since you claim that there are no particles but fields?

You always fit nature into your doctrine by using casuistry and sophistry and wordplay calling anything and everything particles when it suits you and not-particles when it suits you, case by case, as needed. I have analyzed several of your articles and gave examples of your casuistry.

Nothing changed in the world of academic scholasticism since the Medieval times. European academics who added epicycles to the Ptolemaic model to save data were Doctors of Philosophy and you are also a Doctor of Philosophy working in the same academic hierarchy; you are all in the same profession — this profession is the academic scholasticism — you just call yourself physicist… and you call your epicyclic model “Standard Model” and instead of planetary system you model the “atomic” world.

Learned Doctors corrupt languages

All doctors of philosophy are philosophers who work with languages; either they invent new languages or corrupt the existing ones. Doctors of Philosophy such as yourself are philosophical sophists who vehemently deny that they are philosophers. Take another look at your article about “vacua”, it is a standard linguistic analysis of the word vacuum. Doctors of Philosophy create new words by splitting meanings of existing words and by writing commentary on their new words. For example, they take a word without a plural and invent a plural of it (universe becomes universes, vacuum becomes vacua) and they associate some “equations” to these newly split words and claim to do physics. You recognize this method of splitting meanings as the oldest method of argument in the book of scholasticism. It used to be called hair-splitting, and you are a masterful splitter of hair.

If know that you will never admit that you corrupted a historical fact about epicycles to fit your physics doctrine into nature. You will never admit that you were wrong. You will just dismiss the historical record as a detail which is overruled by your physics. What is your physics in this case? There is none.

Here are a few more issues that you don’t understand.

You write that “tweaks of this type, in which some original idea (here the ether) is retained, but adjusted somehow to explain the data, are often referred to as ‘epicycles’…”

In the Ptolemaic model the original idea or the axiom is not adjusted. Only the algorithm is adjusted. This is a very important distinction.

As new observations become available, the model is adjusted by adding new elements into the mathematical model. Some of these elements can be epicycles. This is how data fitting works. Even today the same method is used. NASA uses numerical integration to fit data and they continuously adjust their algorithm to make their ephemerides more and more accurate.

But what do physicists do? Physicists are Doctors of Philosophy they do not adjust the algorithm, they “tweak” the axiom by defining new amendments. This is the legal method, it is the opposite of the mathematical method.

In the legal method, or legal logic, the practitioner adds an amendment to modify the original law or the axiom. That’s why we say that physics is legal. Physics uses the legal method to modify or “tweak” as you say, the original axiom.

Do you understand the difference? I am not sure that you do. When you add a new epicycles to the model, you are applying a scientific method by fitting the new observation to the model. The model gets more accurate. When you tweak the axiom with a new amendment you are using legal sophistry to save your doctrine and make it fit to the new observation. The original axiom is now loaded with several meanings and becomes sophistry.

You are a legal sophist because you continuously add new amendments to your doctrine of atomic materialism. Your observations routinely contradict your sacred doctrine of atomic materialism by telling you that there is no absolute indivisible, so you tweak your doctrine with a new amendment and you call field “particles”. This way you save your doctrine and you save the observations contradicting your sacred doctrine. This is legal sophistry. This is academic scholasticism. When your field amendments break down, you call probabilities “particles”. When that breaks down you tweak even further and invent new particles and new forces… You use sophistry and casuistry to fit contradicting observations to save your doctrine. You didn’t believe me when I told you that you were a Doctor of Philosophy continuing the scholastic tradition of your medieval ancestors.

Let me know when you understand the difference between adding a new epicycle to the model (a perfectly scientific method) and inventing a new amendment to save the doctrine (a legal sophistry and the fundamental method of academic scholasticism and physicists).

You exposed yourself without realizing as an academic doctor of philosophy using legal logic while pretending to use mathematical logic.

Is physics a stealth religious cult?

The historical evidence is indisputable.

Newton founded physics on his arbitrary assumption of atomic materialism (Today this should be stated as “particle/wave materialism”). Atomic materialism is the assumption that defines nature as supernatural. If Newton simply assumed the supernatural and declared as much to the world, we could not say that physics was a religious cult.

But Newton assumed atomic materialism then defined himself as a prophet and claimed to have received a message from God telling Newton that God created a Newtonian world with “solid, massy, hard, impenatrable movable particles”. Today physicists deny that they believe in atomic materialism as defined by Newton. Today physics teaches a quantum mechanical nature. In this view, some dubious things called “particles” which is understood to be matter act sometimes as particles and sometimes as waves based on the interpretation of one experiment according to Newtonian atomic materialism.

Newton then invented a convoluted system of the world and invented as many absurd qualities as necessary to fit nature into his initial assumptions. He marketed his absurd system of the world based on the occult force and intelligent matter as the true laws of nature.

This behavior makes Newton the Grand Master and the false prophet of the Cult of Newton and makes practicing physicists the priests of the Cult of Newton happily perpetuating their atomic materialist faith Newton revealed to them and keep finding “solid, massy, hard, impenatrable movable particles” in ever expensive machines as prayer to their Master Newton.

It goes without saying that physicists will deny that they believe in an atomic world made of absolutely indivisible units. Physics is not science but it is legal. Physicists uphold the authority of legal logic. In legal logic precedent has the highest authority and it is always true and cannot be questioned. To fit the erroneous precedent to new observations that contradict it physicists use casuistry and sophistry.

A physicist will be teaching Newtonist atomic materialism to his student in the morning; write a paper in the afternoon claiming that what is observed is not matter but waves in fields; he would then write a blog post explaining that what he called waves in fields are not really material waves but probability waves. He would then continue to call probability waves “particles”.

This physicist fails to understand the reason why keeps digging himself deeper and deeper in a casuistic hole. The reason is simple: he is unwilling to give up his Newtonian faith of atomic materialism. He cannot say that he is not observing “particles” so he keeps renaming them something else but keeps calling them particles. After all he is a “particle” physicist. Whatever he observe he will call particle. He is a charlatan.

How is it that most people still believe these charlatans who call themselves “physicists” and believe fair tales these charlatans invent and sell to the media?

Densytics and physics

Can densytics explain all phenomena that physics tries to explain?

What are the phenomena that physics tries to explain?

- How many angels were dancing on a God particle three seconds before God created the universe by dividing infinity by zero?

- What is god thinking at a given moment stated mathematically with group theory, category theory and symmetry breaking in infinite dimensional string theory?

Densytics cannot explain these religious ruminations favored by the standing army of doctors of philosophy doing business as physicists but we can explain with densytics

- orbital motion.

Physics cannot explain orbital motion except as forceful and dynamical fantasy invented by Newton.

Physics and fame

Sabine at Backreaction realized that in physics authority is proportional to fame. She does not say it in so many words, but she is obviously wondering why a physicist such as Lisa Randall who is a relentless marketer and promoter of herself has so much authority than Sabine herself. The answer is simple. Physics lives in symbiosis with Big Media, Big School and Big Government. The government pays the school who pays the physicist and gives physicist authority; physicists supply mythological  content to the media and the media gives back fame… This reminded me the following draft which I am publishing now…

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Lisa Randall’s physical attributes, anatomical specifications and her affiliations with organized religion have no relevance in her work. Remember, all humans are human.

On the other hand, I may make a legitimate connection, for instance, with Newton’s appearance and his science, namely, the elaborate wig Newton wears and the kind of book he writes. The wig is an authority symbol symbolizing Newton’s grand master status in the scholastic hierarchy.

But today there are no such visible authority symbols. We are living in a more sophisticated society. In our society there is only one authority symbol: fame.

Why? Because the only unit the Big Media understands is fame. The only criteria the Big Media uses to judge and to evaluate human beings is fame. Consequently, the only unit the audience of the Big Media uses to judge other human beings is also fame. Most people who buy Lisa Randall’s book buy it because she is famous.

So someone with manufactured fame such as Lisa Randall, gets all the attention, while a physicist working in the trenches, or teaching and doing useful scientific work gets no credit at all. A previous commenter mentioned that he has been writing about extra dimensions without getting the recognition enjoyed by Lisa Randall.

And when you look at history, you would see that it was Newton who created the scientist as a deity institution. Before Newton only tyrants and rulers were allowed to deify themselves. Fame is deification for the people. Newton invented the category of the modern shaman to which both Lisa Randall and Brian Greene belongs. That’s why Newton is buried in Westminster Abbey in the most elaborately baroque tomb ever for a scholastic doctor to be buried in.

Is academic physics a quantitative hard science?

if physics were a quantitative science, mathematics used by physicists should be strictly about manipulation of quantities. But physicists use the equations as vehicle for casuistry filled with qualitative terms. If an equation has more than one interpretation it is casuistry, not a relationship between quantities. This means that if an equation cannot be reduced to a proportionality (all terms in a proportionality are quantities) it is casuistry and sophistry. Therefore, it is clear that physicists corrupted mathematics and turned it into their vehicle of casuistry. The professional ancestors of physicists used Latin as their vehicle of casuistry, today’s scholastic doctors doing business as physicists use Mathematics as their vehicle of casuistry.

How corrupt is physics?

Is it a coincidence that there are so many books about how corrupt physics has become?

Not even wrong: the failure of string theory and the search of unity in physical law
Peter Woit, 2007

The trouble with physics: the rise of string theory, the fall of a science, and what comes next
Lee Smolin, 2007

Brankrupting physics: how today’s top scientists are gambling away their credibility
Alexander Unzicker and Sheilla Jones, 2013

Farewell to reality: How modern physics has betrayed the search for scientific truth
Jim Baggott, 2013

Fairytale physics: A Conversation between Jim Baggott and Mike Duff

Do you know others?

Bankrupting physics

The state of physics as described in Bankrupting physics by Alexander Unzicker and Sheilla Jones:

A particularly worrying symptom of the current state of affairs in physics is the so-called discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN. The media-hyped announcement in 2012 has been followed up by a series of announcements each installment making the case that the big sensation is “increasingly more likely”. But what was actually discovered were a number of unexplained signals obtained by extensive filtering methods, raising many questions for everyone who takes a sober perspective. Nobody can claim to oversee the analysis of the massive pile of data produced by CERN’s collider experiments.

Nevertheless, these signals are pushed to serve as evidence for the long-theorized Higgs boson supporting the “standard model” of particle physics, although this standard model is not even a well-defined theory. Such an interpretation speaks more of desperation to validate the past six decades of research and to shore up a model that is wobbling precariously under the weight of all the bits and pieces glued onto it to make it work.

I can hear the protests of physicists who conveyed the message in good faith. But they had little choice. The CERN particle search is the most expensive experiment ever conducted, and the thousands of scientists doing high-energy research there had to celebrate any outcome as a breakthrough, if only to justify the billions of dollars of public money being spent.

The limitless boundaries of physics

In the limits of science, Sabine Hossenfelder, a doctor of philosophy doing business under the trade name of “physicist”, reveals many interesting things about her profession, and since we had nothing better to do this weekend than writing a useless commentary on a useless academic apologia of physics, we wanted to highlight and comment on some of them.

* * *

Sabine wants to enlighten us by revealing to us the limits of science but all we learn from her article is that casuistry in physics has no limits.

Sabine asks

Where are the limits of science?

I reread the article by paying close attention to sentences where the word science occurs and after a painstaking scientific analysis I figured that Sabine uses this absurd definition for science:

science is the absolute true knowledge with error bars

There are other hidden assumptions that Sabine assumes secretly but fails to reveal to us because probably she believes that they are self-evident truths known to all of her readers. Some of these self-evident truths not worth mentioning are these:

– science is practiced only in the academia

– in the academia science is ordered in a hierarchy defined by a scientific hardness coefficient

– physics has the hardness coefficient of 1 and it is the only hard science and therefore physics is the only true science that can reveal true knowledge about the world (but with error bars)

– the rest of all sciences have hardness coefficients which are only a fraction of 1 and they are all soft sciences.

– social sciences are the worst and they are called “softies” and they probably have a hardness coefficient of 0.000001 which can be safely considered to be zero as compared to physics

Considering all these self-evident truths, it seems to me that it is a waste of Sabine’s time to defend physics against softies in such a long apologia of physics.

Furthermore, Sabine is a practitioner of physics — the only hard science with the coefficient of 1 — and therefore Sabine is not a softie. But an investigation of the limits of science is not physics. One cannot talk about “the physics of the limits of science” because science is not a physical quantity and therefore it is outside of the realm of physics. So everything Sabine says here is her opinion and by trying to defend physics as a hard science against the softies Sabine lowers herself into the ranks of softies.

But even though Sabine is not qualified to give professional advice outside of her narrow field of physics where she obtained a license to practice and teach, she is writing with the pretense that her status as a physicist gives her the right to pontificate in every subject on earth as long as she strategically distributes the word science throughout her pontification. There are several words we can use for someone who is projecting her limited professional expertise to realms where she is nothing more than a layman. A charlatan comes to mind, but of course we don’t want to use that word in relation to a practitioner of the hard science of physics with the hardness coefficient of 1.

Physics has the hardness coefficient of 1 but it is still better to be a softie than to be a physicist because a physicist is an underpaid apparatchik in the hierarchy of the Brotherhood of the Vis and does not fit the definition of a free-thinking scientist as used in any field except in physics itself.

A soft scientist, defined as soft by physicists of course, is an academic who practices science with softer doctrines than dogmatic doctrines of physics faith, and consequently is a better scientist because he is open to think for himself and is also a better human being.

Sabine the philosopher

In this article Learned Doctor Sabine Hossenfelder compares academic philosophers with academic physicists. She assumes secretly a cartoon stereotype of philosopher invented by Newton and she secretly assumes an idealized image of physicists as perfect scientists who never ever define a symbol in their equations multiple times. (The opposite is actually true. I dare Sabine to come up with one legal physics equation where all symbols are uniquely defined.) Then she arrogantly attacks philosophers as idiots who argue with “empty words”. Sabine’s problem is really with philosophers who dare to write on subjects physicists claim ownership. We are supposed to believe that this academic turf wars between two types of Learned Doctors is a scientific issue.

This stereotype of philosopher as scholastic sophist was invented by Newton. Why did Newton define philosophers as anti-science even though he himself was a Doctor of Philosophy? Well, of course, to define himself and his followers as true scientists.

How did Newton define philosophers?

When Newton entered Cambridge as a student the place like all educational institutions in Europe was ruled by Doctors of Theology. Their professional cousin, Doctor of Philosophy who were known as Peripatetics, were not as powerful as they are today. Sabine has in mind this cartoon stereotype of hair splitting peripatetic philosopher and uses it as her straw man. She is referring to a cartoon stereotype of philosopher invented by Newton and his disciples to glorify themselves and their profession. Sabine is trying to sell us this physics propaganda as history.

What is the historical fact?

Newton successfully combined philosophy and mathematics for the first time under the cover of the same book and created a new academic field called natural philosophy which morphed into physics in the nineteenth century.

Newton and his disciples and his successors are Doctors of Philosophy by profession. These Learned Doctors are nothing more than corrupt academics and professional sophists. They don’t even deserve the title of philosopher. Physicists are more like slick lawyers than philosophers.

After Newton’s successful coup to replace Aristotle with himself as the new master of the European scholasticism they defined Doctors of Philosophy they supposedly replaced during the scientific revolution as the anti-science who spent their time writing commentary with empty words.

And Newtonians defined themselves as scientists who did not deal with casuistry and sophistry but worked only with quantities expressed in mathematical symbols. We all know this claim is bogus. Newton and his disciples defined themselves as true scientists who modeled nature with the precise language of mathematics while continuing their philosophizing by using the authority of mathematics.

Today, these Learned Doctors corrupted even mathematics and turned it into their vehicle of sophistry and casuistry. Sabine is still trying to fool us into believing that academic physics is a quantitative science.

Newton also initiated the academic turf wars between DOT and DOP because Newtonians grabbed the right to philosophize on cosmogony and cosmology from the ownership of DOT. Today your creation mythologies are designed and served to you by DOP. The more important academic turf war is not between philosophers and physicists but between DOP and DOT. These two types of Learned Doctors are still fighting the same war with each other for the soul of recruits to fill their classrooms. In our time, mostly due to Newton’s authority and because Newtonism has become the state religion, education is ruled by DOP. Don’t forget DOP and DOT are teachers, they both want to increase their market share.

Sabine Hossenfelder like all academic physicists is a philosopher by profession and practices philosophy with the language of mathematics. She is the modern representative of scholastic philosopher Newton branded as the anti-science.

Newton and his disciples are the Doctors of Philosophy; they have always been DOP; DOP are philosophical sophists who spend their time inventing creation mythologies for the rulers who pay them through grants channeled through schools where DOPs are perched. That’s why Sabine is still trying to sell us the same physics propaganda she learned from Newton. She thinks that by insulting philosophers as wordsmiths she is elevating herself and physicists to the level of scientists. DOP invented the art of sophistry and doublespeak and physicists are DOP; physicists are expert sophists. Sabine and academic physicists are philosophical sophists and charlatans doing business as physicists. Not to mention that physicists build all the mass destruction weapons in the world. What a despicable people these physicists are!