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Peter Woit on the postmodern turn in science

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From Columbia mathematician Peter Woit at Not Even Wrong on some recent developments in theoretical physics:

…it seems that the field is moving ever forward in a post-modern direction I can’t follow. Tonight the arXiv has something new from Susskind about this, where he argues that one should go beyond “ER=EPR”, to “GR=QM”. While the 2013 paper had very few equations, this one has none at all, and is actually written in the form not of a scientific paper, but of a letter to fellow “Qubitzers”. On some sort of spectrum of precision of statements, with Bourbaki near one end, this paper is way at the other end. More.

Post-moderns are indeed marchin’, marchin’ and they are deadly serious about getting science to a place where the origin and ideological popularity of ideas matters far more than their evidence base—as the recent uproar at Google demonstrates.

Science bureaucrats are mostly hiding out from the problem and can only suggest that serious scientists shout louder than pussycats, as if that were possible, let alone desirable.

Malcolm Muggeridge used to say that fascism is a war on civilization and communism is a war on life. Post-modernism is a war on reality. Post-modern positions on various topics need not be in accord with logic, evidence, or even self-interest. You could say of the fascist or the communist that he is an amoral brute. But he tends to know his own interests. So his false statements can be read for their actual purpose.

Post-moderns want power for the sake of power – power that can be expressed without restraint or reserve in a world without intrinsic meaning where values change constantly and evidence is the enemy.

See also: Post-modern physics: String theory gets over the need for evidence

Cosmic inflation theory loses hangups about the scientific method


Nature: Stuck with a battle it dare not fight, even for the soul of science.

2 Replies to “Peter Woit on the postmodern turn in science

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Are post-moderns the same as liberals and progressives and SJWs or are there differences?

  2. 2
    tribune7 says:

    To channel Sen. Al Franken: An SJW is always a postmodern, but a postmodern isn’t always an SJW.

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