Cosmology News

Should we be nicer to cosmologist Lee Smolin?

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A reader thinks so, and submits the YouTube below as evidence, noting:

The man is not as compelling a speaker as he is a writer, nevertheless he as a materialist is questioning an aspect of materialism. And as thoughtful materialists question aspects of materialism, I think it good that we take note and understand what they are saying. Thomas Nagel‘s (2012) Mind & Cosmos : Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False was well worth reading, as also was Rupert Sheldrake‘s (2013) Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery.

Lee Smolin, like Sheldrake, proposes a kind of cosmic natural selection whereby the laws of physics evolve, and thus he eschews what he calls “timeless truths.” But Smolin questions the standard materialist model wherein the flow of time and present moment and expression of free will are all denied. He also questions whether the brain can adequately account for the mind. In this talk he warns that the theories of physicists and cosmologists have an effect on the social sciences and on politics, and that this materialist model of time has had a negative effect.

Okay, gentle reader, we take note.

That said, Smolin has been associated with his fair share of crackpot cosmology over the years. How about Darwinian cosmologist Lee Smolin: “theories which embrace the evolution of laws have a better chance …”, Cosmologist Lee Smolin challenges classic physicists’ position on time, citing Darwinian evolution, and Maybe there is no scientific method? (So we can all break camp and go home now?) For stuff like that, it’s a wonder Templeton isn’t giving him a prize too, along with Martin Rees.

That said, he has started to blow cold on the multiverse, which is more or less the whole point of crackpot cosmology. As noted here recently,

(Actually, if you sign on to naturalism, there does not need to be a scientific method. There just needs to be enforcement against people who stray outside naturalism. Inside, it can be a non-rational hubbub. Always remember, our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth, and truth is not always adaptive.)

This could in part be fallout from Ellis and Silk laying the key issues out in Nature recently:

Hey, we’ll watch the file.

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