LOL LIGO! Will Sean Carrol and Richard Dawid become the new face of LIGO and physics? Why is the LIGO team associating itself with Sean “science need not be empirical” Carol and Richard “non-empirical confirmation of theories is the future” Dawid instead of Einstein, Newton, Galileo, and Feynman?

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Will Sean Carrol and Richard Dawid become the new face of LIGO and physics? Why is the LIGO team associating itself with Sean “science need not be empirical” Carol and Richard “non-empirical confirmation of theories is the future” Dawid?  Why are they dimissing Feynman, Newton, Galileo, Einstein et al.?

Newton: The best and safest method of philosophizing seems to be, first to enquire diligently into the properties of things, and to establish these properties by experiment, and then to proceed more slowly to hypothesis for the explanation of them. For hypotheses should be employed only in explaining the properties of things, but not assumed in determining them, unless so far as they may furnish experiments.

  • Letter to Ignatius Pardies (1672) Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (Feb. 1671/2) as quoted by William L. Harper, Isaac Newton’s Scientific Method: Turning Data Into Evidence about Gravity and Cosmology (2011)

Feynman: Each piece, or part, of the whole of nature is always merely an approximation to the complete truth, or the complete truth so far as we know it. In fact, everything we know is only some kind of approximation, because we know that we do not know all the laws as yet. Therefore, things must be learned only to be unlearned again or, more likely, to be corrected. … The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific “truth”.

  • volume I; lecture 1, “Atoms in Motion”; section 1-1, “Introduction”; p. 1-1

At the same conference where the LIGO “results” were announced, Sean Caroll and and Richard Dawid also poo-pooed the role of empiricism and experiments in their definition of science.  Why would LIGO associate itself with this?

Sean Carroll (Caltech) made a powerful argument for the normalcy of the multiverse prediction of inflationary and other theories of cosmology. While other scientists, including earlier speakers in the session, suggested that the intense difficulty of collecting data directly testing the multiverse prediction disqualifies it as a “scientific” theory, Carroll argued that this is no different from the reality of the scientific process applied generally.


Richard Dawid followed this up with a new philosophical theory of science, putting an emphasis on non-empirical confirmation of theories, and tracking evolution of credence (e.g. in a Bayesian manner) instead of definitive ‘true’ or ‘false’ answers to fundamental questions.

Why would LIGO seek to announce its results at a conference downplaying the role of empirical observation in physics?

Why no mention of the philosophies of Einstein nor Galileo nor Schrodinger nor Planck at the conference?

But before mankind could be ripe for a science which takes in the whole of reality, a second fundamental truth was needed, which only became common property among philosophers with the advent of Kepler and Galileo.  Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it. Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are completely empty as regards reality. Because Galileo saw this, and particularly because he drummed it into the scientific world, he is the father of modern physics—indeed, of modern science altogether. -Einstein, Ideas and Opinions

Einstein: Truth is what stands the test of experience.

 Einstein: The theory must not contradict empirical facts. . . The second point of view is not concerned with the relation to the material of  observation but with the premises of the theory itself, with what may briefly but vaguely be  characterized as the “naturalness” or “logical simplicity” of the premises of the basic concepts and of the relations between these which are taken as a basis.

Heisenberg: Science. . . is based on personal experience, or on the experience of others, reliably reported (the inflationary multiverse maniac must rely on the non-experience of the BICEP2 team unreliably reported). . . Even today we can still learn from Goethe . . . trusting that this reality will then also reflect the essence of things, the ‘one, the good, and the true.

Schrodinger: The world is given but once (unlike the multiverse maniacs’ multi-failed regimes!  Thus they detest the Nobel Laureate Schrodinger too!)  The world extended in space and time is but our representationExperience does not give us the slightest clue of its being anything besides that.

Albert Einstein: The physicist has to limit himself very severely: he must content himself with describing the most simple events that can be brought within the domain of our experience (unlike failed string theory, LQG, inflation, and multiverse mania, Dynamic Dimensions Theory limits itself to empirically observed phenomena including relativity, quantum entanglement, nonlocality, and probability, time’s arrows and asymmetries, the second law of thermodynamics); all events of a more complex order (strings, branes, multiverses, inflating bubble octopi universes) are beyond the power of the human intellect to reconstruct with the subtle accuracy and logical perfection the theoretical physicist demands.

Planck: Let us get down to bedrock facts (So much for strings, loops, inflation, and multiverses!  )  The beginning of every act of knowing, and therefore the starting-point of every science, must be our own personal experience.

There is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. … It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty — a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid — not only what you think is right about it; other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked — to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can — if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong — to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another.

  • [1]“, adapted from a 1974 Caltech commencement address; also published in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, p. 341

We’ve learned from experience that the truth will come out. Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you were wrong or right. Nature’s phenomena will agree or they’ll disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation as a scientist if you haven’t tried to be very careful in this kind of work. And it’s this type of integrity, this kind of care not to fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the research in cargo cult science.

  • Cargo Cult Science“, adapted from a 1974 Caltech commencement address; also published in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, p. 342

Feynman: I do feel strongly that this is nonsense! … So perhaps I could entertain future historians by saying I think all this superstring stuff is crazy and is in the wrong direction. I think all this superstring stuff is crazy and is in the wrong direction. … I don’t like it that they’re not calculating anything. … why are the masses of the various particles such as quarks what they are? All these numbers … have no explanations in these string theories – absolutely none! … I don’t like that they don’t check their ideas. I don’t like that for anything that disagrees with an experiment, they cook up an explanation—a fix-up to say, “Well, it might be true.” For example, the theory requires ten dimensions. Well, maybe there’s a way of wrapping up six of the dimensions. Yes, that’s all possible mathematically, but why not seven? When they write their equation, the equation should decide how many of these things get wrapped up, not the desire to agree with experiment. In other words, there’s no reason whatsoever in superstring theory that it isn’t eight out of the ten dimensions that get wrapped up and that the result is only two dimensions, which would be completely in disagreement with experience. So the fact that it might disagree with experience is very tenuous, it doesn’t produce anything.

  • interview published in Superstrings: A Theory of Everything? (1988) edited by Paul C. W. Davies and Julian R. Brown, p. 193-194 ISBN 0521354625




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