Thursday, June 7, 2007

A Physics Teacher Begs for His Subject Back

Wellington Grey, tired of what he's seen done to his subject of physics, has written up his complaints.

read more | digg story

Read the article. This is my response...

What you've spotted is symptomatic of a critical trend across society - from philosophy to science, politics, economics, even a quick chat on the corner.

Dumbing down, moving language from the precise and analytical to the vague and general. And you're absolutely correct - this leads away from understanding, certainty, progress towards the dark side - may as well be stoned - I'm certainly not going to understand the world enough to try changing it.

This is definitely the case in the public sphere - muddying the thinking and outlook of the people who have most to gain from clarity and reason.

While in the private sphere science and technology are applied exponentially - manufacturing, materials, communication, medical science, pharmacology etc etc. You can bet that Halliburton is very busy applying strict scientific methods to it's own particular form of scientific progress - bombs for profit. It doesn't take much intelligence to understand that one of the biggest most powerful companies in the world has little to do with human progress - quite the opposite.

So why this strange double standard or mismatch between science for profit and science for the public? What happened to the heights of the renaissance? and the world Expo of 1900? ( bearing in mind that Britain, France, Germany, Japan, US have just lead us through a century and a half of bloodthirsty barbarism, war and colonialism and are now bombing and starving the third world into the stone age - maybe it isn't surprising that these people find it difficult to comfortably wear the mantle of progress - increasingly they are nothing more than war mongers - I personally refuse to accept these patterns of thinking).

Look at economics for example. "The key thing to understand about the economy is" ...(at which point I start listening - ooh! ooh here it comes!) .." { vague, waffly, murky, foggy statements }"....oh dear, the usual dissapointment (must be a nobel laureate talking about how people "feel" in the economy - nice and safe).

So how do you debate that? You can't.

Hence, the economy can carry on as it is, while any debate is bogged in this indistinct, vague, unscientific language and thinking.

Across the board this "battle of paradigms" - if it is actually this explicit - has been lost by US and won by THEM. Who is the US and THEM. Well, who benefits if we can't have a rational discussion about the economy? About politics? about human freedom?

Our core intellectual tools are science and language. This is how bad things are. We've been pushed back so far to the point where we're debating and discussing the way we see and describe our exploitation and atomization. We can't even get NEAR fighting these processes until we can all see it for what is - as near as possible for common ground.

Until then, somone who believes in homeopathy, acupuncture and aromatherapy doesn't give a hoot about the laws of physics or scientific evidence. They're probably comfortably middle class and not really that interested in the scientific understanding of the economy that oppresses most other people - they're not affected.

I note that you don't oppose, in this instance, Global Warming agendas. This makes me smile - I'm not clear on whether you're being careful or polite or whether you actually believe it to some extent.

It strikes me though, that if you're are talking about the effects of social and political currents on the physics syllabus, then, logically, you must also consider the likelihood that the Global Warming agenda is also symptomatic - of a generally downbeat, possibly depressed outlook, where doom and stagnation are the only possible outcomes. There may or may not be "good" (reliable) evidence of "climate change" - but how is it interpretted, what could it mean, and why NOW?

This is important. I hope I've helped. Good luck. We need it.