Showing posts from July, 2020

The biggest intellectual nothing burger of the last century?

Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach contained some interesting musings on recursion, computation, self-reference, and so on. But of course is main "oomph" was that it was going to use all of these musings to explain consciousness. And the explanation? "This is it -- this is what consciousness is . Consciousness is that property of a system that arises whenever there exists symbols in the system which obey triggering patterns somewhat like the ones described in the past several sections" (385). Can you imagine someone in a real science, one that makes real discoveries, offering an "explanation" like that? "Planets just are those celestial objects that move in the sky in that funny way." "Atoms just are those things that cause chemicals to form in the patterns they do." "Evolution just is the process of new species coming into being." Such a phony would be laughed right out of the scientific community. In a real s

All Those Great Scientists Burned at the Stake...

Add a website analyzing Grateful Dead song lyrics, I ran across the following comment: "'That's it for the other one' always made me think of the greats who were burned for believing 'controversial' beliefs that have since become accepted fact." I think this is notable because of how widespread this nonsense is. I actually encountered a PhD economist who casually threw out the “fact” that “lots of great scientists were burned at the stake.” I can think of exactly one figure who might, by some stretch, be called a scientist, who was burned at the stake: Giordano Bruno. And the only charge against him somewhat connected to a scientific idea regarded his belief in an infinity of  “worlds,” hardly something that has become an “accepted fact.” One person, who was not even really a scientist, but more a speculative cosmologist. And yet educated people continue to believe that lots of scientists were killed for their findings. I even ran across one person online