March 24, 2013

Fundamentalist Scientists: "Physicists Know Nothing"

Just a bit of fun: This conference report from the Scientific American yesterday is still cracking me up. Physicists Debate the Many Varieties of Nothingness. What could possibly be less falsifiable for scientific investigation than theories about, literally, nothing!? Ah, but apparently there are multiple types of "nothing". How amazing. Who knew? (I can hear Leonard Hofstadter protesting ironically, "My theory has internally consistent logic.")

My favorite part of the recounted debate is when the athiest chimes in about someone being "insufficiently enlightened". Right on! No, seriously. I'm totally with that guy. Skeptics ought to be skeptical. Scientists ought to be scientists. But how in the world anyone could discuss these outlandish theories with such dogmatic confidence and then turn around and criticize the idea of religious faith, that's a mystery to me.

Seriously, scientists. Believe what you want, for whyever you want. But admit it. You're faithers.

Full disclosure: All of this felt especially rich because I'm currently enjoying my way through Stephen Prickett's 2002 book, Narrative, Religion and Science: Fundamentalism Versus Irony, 1700-1999, in which he begins with Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) and proceeds to illustrate similarities in the ways different folks go about constructing their preferred meta-narratives. It's fascinating.

By the way, Prickett's book was next on my list after I finished meticulously devouring Clare Colebrook's Irony (The New Critical Idiom). Not much to say about either right now, except I recommend them highly, if you're interested in their topics. I have really enjoyed both of them, but together they've taken up most of my free time the past couple of weeks.

And all of that is really just to explain (partly) why I haven't blogged anything yet this month.

This, too, shall pass...

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"If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient observation than to any other reason."

-- Isaac Newton