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Revisionist Physics

Fascinating reading (for those with an interest in, but who have always been just slightly bothered by, modern quantum physics): Interview with Carver Mead. (Other links on revisionist physics.) Mead comes tantalizingly close to an almost Austrian view of scientism and the hyper-mathematicism of modern science. Mead critiques the substitution of “mathematical description” for “intuitive understanding”. Of some of the mathematics, he says: “It’s conceptual nonsense. You can calculate stuff with the theory, but the words people put around it don’t make any sense. That had the effect of driving the more conceptually-oriented students out of physics. We have ended up with more and more mathematicians in the physics departments. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with mathematics—it’s the language we use to express the precise relations of physical law. But there is an increasing tendency to mistake the language for the physics itself. Once we lose the conceptual foundations, the whole thing becomes a shell game.” This will sound familiar to those familiar with the Austrian-Misesian critique of scientism-positivism-empiricism-monism. Mead could benefit from reading Ludwig von Mises’ The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science and Hans-Hermann Hoppe‘s Economic Science and the Austrian Method.

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