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Einstein sticking out his tongue

The strangeness of quantum mechanics has inspired an inappropriate outburst of mysticism in scientific thinking. (Photo: public domain)

I’m a big believer in science, but in recent years a lot of mystical ideas have crept in – mostly by way of quantum mechanics, a “science” which is rapidly acquiring the characteristics of a mystical religion. To make matters worse, cosmologists have decided that the quantum world is a microcosm of the cosmos at large, thus migrating those mystical quantum beliefs into the macrocosm. Now our descriptions of the universe (dark matter, dark energy, string theory, parallel universes, large numbers of dimensions) begin to resemble mystical beliefs as well. I got to thinking about all this (and some other stuff) and wrote up the following list of – admittedly opinionated – complaints about modern scientists.

My beefs: (or is it beeves?)

  • Modern scientists are addicted to wild speculation and prefer this activity to figuring out how things actually work. Getting an answer would end the enjoyable guessing game – not to mention those lovely grants. Witness NASA’s fondness for taking pictures of the solar system rather than actually going anywhere; witness the search for life on Mars, which deliberately is not going where the life-sustaining water is, but instead carefully plans to go where there is not a drop. (A neurotic fear of biological contamination is the lame excuse. Come on guys, have you sterilized the probe or not? If this is a legitimate concern, how are we ever going to find life on other worlds? Why are we even looking?)
  • Modern scientists are ridiculously fond of spectacular catastrophic explanations for virtually everything; no more slow-and-steady processes for them. Witness the asteroid which annihilated the dinosaurs (and just about everything else) and the ash-spewing super volcanos which completely froze all the oceans (and just about everything else) and the gas-guzzling black holes which eat up entire galaxies (and just about everything else) and the “Big Bang” which blew an entire universe (literally everything else) into existence in an instant. (Very counter-intuitive, this last one.)
  • Modern scientists love to get all hysterical about things – like small amounts of carbon dioxide which may or may not be causing global warming – and then indulge in great dramatic prophesies of imminent utter cataclysmic ruin, doom, starvation, floods, over-population, disease, and anything else their numerous (mostly leftist) neuroses are causing them to fret about.
  • Modern scientists worship and adore complexity, probably because it makes for better speculation opportunities and brings in the big grant money. Apparently, doing pointless research while making pompous announcements of “significant breakthroughs” – all at the taxpayers’ expense – beats the hell out of working for a living. They have reversed the old notion of applying Occam’s razor: where once they chose the simplest explanation because it is most likely the right explanation, they now choose the most complicated explanation because it is more “interesting” – and offers better prospects for securing another grant.
  • Modern scientists place too much faith in numbers and calculations. Instead of thinking and working the logic, they skip thinking and simply work the mathematics forgetting that math is often like computers: garbage in, garbage out. Witness the mathematical climate model that predicts Scottish weather for – wait for it – the Sahara desert.
  • Worst of all, modern scientists are mystics. They cheerfully accept even the most absurd paradoxes (presumably, because such things fondly remind them of fuzzy old Einstein) and no longer require much in the way of hard evidence before they start believing fervently in some new idea or theory. Apparently, all one needs to impress one’s peers is a dramatic hysterical speculative quasi-religious presentation of the catastrophic effects of not believing the new idea or theory. Witness the whole global-warming thing.