Where’s the Beef? Part II; or, More Hog’s bison bull

Ben M. writes:

Here are my notes and observations on an article that breathlessly evaluates the Higgs “discovery,” by Michael Tuts, a member of the discovery team.

The article is entitled “Higgs Boson—So What?”

Tuts writes:

“First and foremost is the scientific importance of this discovery. I will recap the importance of this manifestation of the Higgs field, but only briefly, since you have probably read a lot of press on that topic—the Higgs field provides the answer to the question of how the elementary particles acquire their mass, and the fact that many of them acquire a non-zero mass is crucially important to us because it allows the formation of atoms, which in turn beget molecules, which in turn beget us!”

Molecules beget us? Why is this idiot using Biblical language?

“It is one key to the eternal quest to understand where the universe comes from, how it evolved and how we got here. It is hard to think of a more important question to address.”

The boson explains where the universe comes from and how we got here? Where has that been shown? [LA adds: Tuts certainly doesn’t attempt to show it in this article.]

“If you ask me if the discovery of this new particle will make your life better tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, or even five or 10 years down the road, the answer, I suspect, is no.”

Oh wonderful, the discovery has no results or significance in our immediate perception.

“But what about 20 or 50 or 100 years down the road? Then I am confident, with history as my guide, that the answer is yes.”

Certainly, after most people have died, the significance will shine through—what a scam.

“My last point is that the questions we ask are big questions. What is the universe? What are we made of? What is our future fate? Do we live in more than three-space dimensions? These and many other questions like them can inspire the next generation.”

And these questions are tied to the Higgs Boson? How? Where are those links made?

These fools are making declarations left and right with no supporting evidence. They suppose we should take their propositions based on their say-so and authority.

LA writes:

Here are other passages from Tut’s article, with my responses:

Tuts writes:

“As a member of the ATLAS experiment, I could not be more excited.”

Once again, we see how this is all about the scientists’ emotions. Would serious scientists keep telling us about how excited they are, and make their excitement the central focus of this discovery? No. But that’s what the Hog’s bison scientists do.

“If you ask me if the discovery of this new particle will make your life better tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, or even five or 10 years down the road, the answer, I suspect, is no. But what about 20 or 50 or 100 years down the road? Then I am confident, with history as my guide, that the answer is yes.”

This is embarrassing. Did Einstein justify the importance of the verification of the General Theory of Relativity by talking about how it would make people’s lives better? Today’s scientists are incapable of speaking like adults. As a result, everything they say about Hog’s bison leaves us looking askance at them. I’m sure that there is some real science here. But the addiction of the scientists to emotions and hype covers it up, and leaves us with the suspicion that the real science, such as it is, is much less earth-shaking than they would have us believe. Again, it’s like Ida the 47 million year old primate. That was an interesting discovery, but it was very, very far from the epoch making discovery that the scientists claimed it was.

Finally, let us underscore the fact that this article is written by a member of the Hog’s bison team. Therefore the good cop / bad cop argument, advanced by several VFR commenters, that it’s only journalists and affirmative action black-Hispanic lesbian “scientists” such as Ainissa Ramirez who are corrupting the real science with hype, while the real scientists are dealing not with hype but with real science, has been exposed once again as incorrect.

- end of initial entry -

Ken Hechtman writes:

It’s hard to make predictions. Especially about the future. If you’d asked a hundred years ago “What good are electrons? What can we do with them?” the most knowledgeable and imaginative scientists of the time wouldn’t have been able to scratch the surface. If you’d asked 60 years ago “What can we do with nuclear fusion?” every physicist in the world would have been able to give you an answer and that answer would have been wrong.

In nuclear physics, the consumer applications tend to come decades after the pure science discoveries if they come at all. Think of the time lag between the photoelectric effect and television or between the theory of relativity and GPS devices. Tuts isn’t being unnecessarily mysterious about that, he’s just being realistic.

LA replies:

It’s amazing how you and so many others just don’t get the point. A hundred years ago, we didn’t have vast cohorts of journalists and pop physicists telling—no, commanding—the world through a global mass electronic communications medium that the discovery of the electron was the greatest thing since the creation of the world, that it would change everything, and that they should all be dancing in the streets about it. While, simultaneously, the physicists declined to tell the world anything concrete about the discovery itself.

What this shows is that you are creatures of the culture of hype, you swim in it as the ocean and so see nothing wrong with it, and so my criticisms of it bother you.

Patrick H. writes:

We may not have known 100 years ago what use electrons were, but we knew darn well what use electricity was. And as soon as we knew the function of electrons in electricity (where did they even get that name?) we knew darn well what use electrons were.

The Higgs boson is of no use to us. Its discovery is of no use to us. It is such an abstraction of abstractions, that no one can even suggest what use it is to us.

A lot of money has been spent verifying the existence of something that was predicted within standard models. It doesn’t extend our knowledge, create new questions, allow the development of new applications. In other words, a huge anti-climax. A big bag of so what?

Ken Hechtman replies to LA:
Yeah, well, a hundred years ago scientists didn’t need billions in taxpayers’ money to keep doing their work. It was easier to be quiet and dignified under those conditions.

LA replies:

The point I made was not that scientists did not have motives, whether reasonable or unreasonable, for turning science into hype, but that they have in fact turned science into hype.

July 14

LA to Ben M. writes:

I’ve enjoyed your Higgs boson comments. I particularly like your sense of humor about it. Some people think you don’t understand the issues. They don’t see your humor.

Ben M. replies:

They think I don’t understand the physics of the particle. My major in college was computer science, with a minor in physics. My brother has a Ph.D. in mathematics. My last course in physics was in quantum mechanics in which I received an A.

Why do I have an ironic stance towards science? My brother went all the way up to a doctorate in mathematics and attempted suicide when he discovered that at the end of the road there is no ultimate justification for mathematics. He had banked his life on the certainty of mathematics and when it hit him that there is no absolute foundation for any mathematical proposition, he almost went insane. [LA replies: I don’t understand the idea that there is no absolute foundation for math.]

Our sister turned him towards God and he did a lot of reading and contemplation in Francis Schaeffer, C.S. Lewis and many others. He then brought me to Jesus Christ. I was a science nerd who witnessed the healing power of Christ in my brother. Since then “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” has the most beautiful ring for me.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 13, 2012 11:43 AM | Send

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