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Stephen Hawking was actually overdue for a critical look


It would have been more constructive, had it happened in Stephen Hawking’s lifetime (1942–2018). Here’s an interview by physicist Brian Keating with journo prof Charles Seife, the author of Hawking Hawking: The Selling of a Scientific Celebrity (2021):

Seife, at his site, says,

When Stephen Hawking died, he was widely recognized as the world’s best physicist, and even its smartest person.

He was neither.

In Hawking Hawking, science journalist Charles Seife explores how Stephen Hawking came to be thought of as humanity’s greatest genius. Hawking spent his career grappling with deep questions in physics, but his renown didn’t rest on his science. He was a master of self-promotion, hosting parties for time travelers, declaring victory over problems he had not solved, and wooing billionaires. In a wheelchair and physically dependent on a cadre of devotees, Hawking still managed to captivate the people around him—and use them for his own purposes.

David Klinghoffer reasonably notes,

As Keating and Seife discuss, much of his fame, too, stemmed from efforts to disprove that God was needed either to account for the Big Bang that brought the universe into existence or to account for the physical laws that govern the cosmos.

David Klinghoffer, ““Anti-Hagiography”: A Critical Look at Stephen Hawking” at Evolution News and Science Today (May 8, 2021)

Hawking’s celebrity made it really difficult to discuss those issues in a forum where both sides were fairly represented.

There’s also the question (yes, it must be raised) of how much of it all was really Hawking’s work anyway: See: String Theory Skeptic Peter Woit Reflects On Stephen Hawking

Anyway, that era is over, it now seems.

Prof. Hawking may not have been much of a physicist, since he was meant to be a mathematician, but he was a brilliant marketer and salesman. He turned disability into celebrity without ever advancing anything in math or physics. It's a shame he ignored his natural ability for mathematics, since he could have advanced the field to at least some degree. His hypothesis of everything, since it was never a theory, was the search for a mathematical formula, not a physics problem. BobRyan

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