Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Defects of Physics

I submit to you my reader that physics and indeed all the sciences contain certain built-in defects which are at the source of the abuses of power over people and nature which have arisen in modern times. Shortly we'll start trying to get to know physics' defects better, which in my opinion have a lot to do with experimental control, and its close connection with power. But first I want to clarify the big picture; here I go: Physics is good, but it has certain defects. Physics can do and already has done tremendous good for us, but if its thinking and results are embraced with naive enthusiasm, without discernment, then our own thinking and heart and actions can be distorted by physics' defects. Perhaps it would be fairer to say that there can be a vicious cycle where the shadows in the human heart and the defects of physics amplify each other. At each stage in the vicious cycle we become both crazier and more dangerous. The results have already been catastrophic for both the human race and the environment.

A few analogies may be helpful to understand my point on a more visceral level. The first is from nutrition: starchy foods are very good for us, the staple food of the human race. But if I eat only starch then I will get very sick and perhaps die. The starch must be eaten discerningly, mixed with other things. Another analogy is that of a tainted well: the water is absolutely necessary for life, but if you don't filter it you will eventually sicken. If the impurity is lead, then the tainted water will actually taste sweeter than the healthy water. Physics is like that.

I don't think that the filtering, discernment, or nutritional supplements can come from physics itself. Physics' weaknesses come from a sort of tunnel vision associated with its starting goals, passion, and identity. You have to be able to see outside the tunnel, take a step away from physics' focus, find a balance, and let physics find its correct place instead of taking over.

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