Larry Krauss BHA Darwin Day 2017 Lecture (from February)

Larry Krauss giving BHA Darwin Day 2017 Lecture
(From 10 or 11 Feb, Euston or Camden)

[These are just contemporary notes recorded whilst watching the video. Not edited into any coherent piece in sentences.]

Dawkins intro too flippant about “something from nothing”. Krauss actually no better than “all things complex from almost nothing”. (Empty space ain’t so empty, as Krauss himself says later. His previous book admits as much, but the “Science-PR-Machine” doesn’t.)

Hmmm, “illusion of design is an accident of our (particular) existence” …. anthropic perspective is therefore real, man!

However, proper scepticism – not over-claiming here. That’s a good sign. (He is a good communicator, so long as he reigns in his arrogance about what is known, and people understand his barbed asides simply as gags for a laugh and not to be taken as valid arguments against the things he attacks or dismisses.)

Anyway: Evolution requires a “population – a population of galaxies in his case”. Good, some hope of an evolutionary explanation to come.

And “Goldilocks / Fine Tuning” – anthropic again. Not special in any privileged sense, but specifically real in terms of it actually being our perspective. Not merely a trivial or tautological statement.

“The kind of nothing that is not nothing. Space and time themselves – and even the laws of physics – are emergent and quantum variables” of this not-nothing.

“Redefinition is simply learning.” OK, it’s why Dennett says hold-off on your definitions while you can (and science generally says always be prepared to change them).

“Plato is his favourite philosopher(!) – really the cave”. (I think this may be the limit of Krauss philosophical knowledge, apart from his “sex with small boys” joke.)

(Aside – This scientist says and does – “apocryphal stories useful even if not true”.)

(Why is he describing Faraday / Electrical & Magnetic fields / Maxwell / Speed of Light / Einstein / Relativity / Time-dilation / Space-time / Feynman / Quantum-mechanics / Fermi / Standard-model-forces-and-particles / If-it-works-copy-it? Ah – increasingly not mental crutches in Larry’s opinion, unlike Faraday’s pictures of rays?!? OK progress is finding two things explained as manifestations of some same new underlying physics and so on. Honestly no difference in the nature of explanation between Faraday and Feynman’s diagrams – both models (crutches of some kind) on which to hang stories of what’s going on.)

Progress – “evolution of physics” (our physical understanding actually – see anthropic) is where “two correct but mutually inconsistent statements brought together by a better statement”. OK, but that’s anthropic. But where is he going with this in terms of cosmic evolution? Ah “the Muon experiment” – OK proves relativity time dilation – OK “Herman Minkowski – unification of explanation of time and space as one thing”. But why is he telling us this whole story?

Ha! He notices that implicit question.
“don’t worry I am leading somewhere”.

“Myopia” (anthropic perspective). Ah. He’s selling superconductivity “spontaneous-symmetry-breaking” as a “Higgs explanation of the particle appearance of mass. So now even EM and weak nuclear forces are unified as electro-weak”, etc. “Accident of the Higgs field frozen in the state it happens to be in our universe. LHC proof of these Higgs postulations. LHC engineering stats.”

“Humanity searching for reality” (evolving better models of reality, I’d say). He’s giving Darwin credit for this process – greatest observing and explaining scientist. Hmmm. I’d agree about the status of Darwin, but not that Krauss story is demonstrating this, he simply states it (in the context of this Darwin Day audience).

“We, and the universe that supports us, are simply a Cosmic Accident. The one we’re in is a natural selection – Cosmic Natural Selection.” Hmmm. Using Darwin’s words doesn’t make this true or explain why.

He even says it himself. We ARE choosing to believe this universe was made (evolved) specially for us. Pure accident it was this one, sure, but Higgs values and the particular set of standard model and cosmological constants are precisely why this is the one we’re in. That’s no accident.

As Dawkins says, great science communication, but like “Something From Nothing”, “Greatest Story Ever Told (So Far)” seems to be a fraud, a denial on this evidence. Great rhetoric and a great potted of the history of the evolution of “our model” of fundamental physics in there, but.

He knows his physics, but no evidence he knows Darwin (or Dennett or metaphysical underpinnings of his physics). A very entertaining “act” nevertheless.

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[Post Note: Here, an antidote to that negative opinion, when he writes at length his rhetoric can afford to be more honest than the “Science-PR-Machine”:

“So this is where we are. Are great new experimental insights just around the corner that may validate, or invalidate, some of the grander speculations of theoretical physicists? Or are we on the verge of a desert where nature will give us no hint of what direction to search in to probe deeper into the underlying nature of the cosmos? We’ll find out, and we will have to live with the new reality either way.”

Hat tip to @ChrisOldfield and @LogicalAnalysis.]


Also published on Medium.

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