Ralph D, particle physics, and BS

Jorge.E.Pedraza at williams.edu Jorge.E.Pedraza at williams.edu
Wed Jun 21 09:09:34 MDT 1995


Raul,

I was beginning to think I wasn't going to get a reply, which would have
been extremely disappointing.

I'm not a detractor per se of science, just a certain (I think dangerous)
hubris of many of its practitioners/defenders.  You are absolutely right
that modern medicine and the modern distribution of goods--food, water,
electricty, tv? oops! scratch that-- (especially in times of natural
catastrophe) has saved the lives of many millions.  But the historical
catastrophes of technologically amplified war and oppression (pogroms,
colonialism, corn laws, Somalia etc) I think one could argue,
counter-balance this contribution very significantly (i.e. EVEN
numerically.)

The nuclear bomb is *in itself* evil.  Good.  Why, how did it get built?
Who built it? How did this theoretical knowledge get translated into this
practical consequence?  I cannot respect Science as a mode of thinking
until it is able to take responsibility for this kind of thing..to see
itself clearly in the light of this problem.  It's just the tip of the
iceberg...our environment, as you said, and I think the notion of what
environment means is worth considering (is it a scientific term?
mathematically describable? or is it mere shamanism?) is in fact ALREADY in
deep crisis.

The conundrum of observation.  precisely.  Physics proceeds as if there
were no one to observe the world, not even cats.  The simultaneous
explosion of all the nuclear material in the world (we could multiply the
stocks by 100 fold first) could theoretically provide important insights in
to the nature of things ("Cool! we could recreate the great Singularity and
see (!) what happens.")  Wonderful.  If the only alternative to the
cultural structure that enables this kind of method is shamanism,
then...hey... I'm off to Sedona....

What is the physics of the human being? of society? of culture? of thought?
of ethics?

Shamanism is dangerous too...don't get me wrong.  And weird mixtures of
shamanism and scientific methodism (Nazism for example) can be extremely
dangerous.  But we need to start bridging these thought worlds in
politically, socially responsible, genuinely reasonable ways.

Jorge










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