Tuesday, February 13, 2018

"The science is settled"

W. M. Briggs, "Statistician to the Stars", writes today about the limits of scientific knowledge, and it got me thinking.  Scientists don't believe in limits - that's why so many infinities show up in their equations.  (That's a little humor.  Very little.)

Basically, science (the professional toy of scientists, who are merely human) increasingly is encountering the limits of what is scientifically knowable.  We know that there are multiple infinitudes of possible knowledge.  We also know that human minds can not hold even a single infinitude of knowledge, no matter how much money we spend on public schools.  Thus, science attempts to answer questions of philosophy or religion, such as "why are we here?" and "why is there something rather than nothing?" and "what is the meaning of life?" 

Science can compute no answers to these fundamental questions, so scientists state that there are no answers.  Go read Mr. Briggs' excellent post, for he says it better than I can.

If you don't feel like clicking on the link, here is my comment in response to his posting:

Each human has a limit to the amount and types of knowledge known and understood. Science can not progress beyond that hard limit. Even now, scientists over-specialize like tropical fish. And the culture of science most certainly holds back its own progress. As has been aptly stated, science progresses one funeral at a time.
Example – in quantum physics, the “Copenhagen interpretation” has been the reigning orthodoxy for eighty years. It’s not only wrong, but nonsensical. It was originally intended to be nonsensical, to help break the older scientists of the day from thinking about quantum events as if they were normal-scale events. Schroedinger’s cat was a parody (and paradox), not meant to be taken either seriously or literally. Why does this matter? Because physicists are still taught that the Copenhagen interpretation is literally true. This mind set limits their thinking, and holds back progress. They confuse human ignorance for literal unknowability – if we don’t know the exact state of a particle, then it has no definite state, and exists in a superposition of all possible states.
This error of scientific hubris is the corner stone of quantum computing. It may be the reason that quantum computing is currently a rat hole that billions of dollars gets flushed down. Despite several different manufacturers producing competing products, no quantum computing device has ever shown any benefit, or definitely been shown to act as advertised. (The state of the art has a finely tuned circuit, operating at near zero Kelvin, that utilizes equal currents in both directions. It works remarkably like a circuit with no current at all.) Never mind the fact that human brains have a hard time programming computers to behave predictably, much less in an inherently unpredictable fashion.

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