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I just stumbled upon a really neat little tidbit of history, that actually ties together a lot of different people whom I've had thoughts about over the years, some because I knew them personally, some because I heard things about them that were interesting (some good and bad), some whom I've only met once or twice. But the weird thing is, I never realized how closely connected all these different people are, and it as it slowly dawned on me I realized I had to make a post about all of these interconnections.

Where to start? Well, earlier this year, I went to a wedding in Atlanta, where a friend I hadn't seen in many years started asking me some things about physics. He mentioned that he was reading "The Quantum Enigma" and I immediately let out a groan, and mentally did a "palm-face" kind of thing. I then explained that this was written by two guys, Bruce and Fred, whom I knew well, but they were both idiots and I'd told them to their face that I didn't agree with the basic premise of their book, and my advisor had given a whole lecture retaliating against their accusations that the physics community is hiding "skeletons in the closet" regarding the role of consciousness in physics (which they launched at the weekly seminar preceding his lecture the following week). The two other professors at UC Santa Cruz who spoke out against Bruce and Fred before and after my advisor on that same day, were Anthony Aguirre (one of the founders of the FQXi institute mentioned in the How the Hippies Saved Physics video below) and Michael Nauenberg (who is mentioned by name several times in the video below, and was apparently the person who suggested to Fritjoff Capra while he was a postdoc at my school that he write a book mixing quantum mechanics with Eastern mysticism--one of the many things I had no idea about until seeing this video). I know Nauenberg mostly as a crotchety old man who we call "The Santa Cruz Heckler" because he heckles any string theorists or cosmologists who ever give talks, telling them they aren't real scientists and repeatedly asking "what's the physical meaning of this?". I think the one and only occasion where I've ever agreed with anything that's come out of Nauenberg's mouth was when he shot down Bruce and Fred--although I think everyone present would agree that my advisor did a much better job of that. Wikipedia's entry on "quantum mysticism" says that it was primarily Fritjoff Capra's "The Tao of Physics" that started the whole quantum mysticism movement, and got the new age community interested in quantum mechanics--that I was vaguely aware of.

Anyway, I explained to my friend that Fred is just this obnoxious lab manager who wishes he were a real physicist, and Bruce is this kind but really senile old guy who at some point earlier in his career was an atomic physicist, but doesn't understand quantum mechanics (let alone consciousness) any better than Fred. I once watched Bruce debate an undergrad philosophy major about the nature of consciousness in front of an audience of myself and a bunch of undergrad SPS club members, and it was really sad to watch because the undergrad utterly destroyed him, as Bruce didn't know the first thing about consciousness and had all of these silly naive ideas about free will.

After explaining this, he naturally asked me "ok, well yeah... I kind of thought some of the book sounded a little kooky, but I wasn't sure. So who *should* I read if I want to read a really deep book about physics? Who would you recommend?" I thought for only a moment and then said "this is going to sound strange, because I haven't read it, but I think the book I would recommend the most is Leonard Susskind's book The Black Hole War : My Battle With Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics. It's funny, I somehow *knew* this was the best popular book on physics out there, even though I hadn't read it. My intuition was that it would be from a combination of things--one, Leonard Susskind is one of the deepest and most intelligent thinkers in physics, and always explains things in a very interesting way that exposes the philosophical importance of the ideas, not just the math behind it. He has razor sharp intellect as well as wit. He also explains things in a very down to earth way, that makes complicated things just make simple sense--he cuts right to the important stuff. Also, when he published that book, he wrote another book called An Introduction to Black Holes, Information, and the String Theory Revolution : The Holographic Universe on the same topic, but including all the math and intended for physicists, and that one I did read and found it outstanding. My impression was that the content was similar, but the Black Hole War was written at a level that anyone should be able to understand, whereas the one I read has a lot of stuff that only a physicist would be able to make sense of.

So, I started listening to The Black Hole War on books on tape yesterday. I've only listened to the prologue and Chapter 1, but to my great delight it appears to be everything I'd hoped it would be and more--the ultimate popular book on physics, that both gets things right and exposes what's interesting and deep about physics without watering it down too much. But the best thing about the book that I hadn't realized is that it tells a lot more of the human story behind it than his other book. So it's not just redundant with what I've already read (so far at least).

The First Chapter of the book is about a series of secret meetings that he attended with Hawking (where the famous battle over black holes known as "The Information Paradox" all began) in the upstairs of the house of a guy named Werner Erhard, who ran an organization known as EST (Erhard Seminar Training) and was filthy rich and loved to invite high profile physicists over to his house to have deep conversations. He mentions 3 or 4 regular attenders including Hawking and himself, Savas Dimopolous (whom I've met a few times, my advisor having introduced us) and--to my surprise--David Finkelstein, whom he mentions twice. I knew that Lenny was friends with my advisor (Tom Banks) and figured he would surely mention him in the book, and I wasn't surprised at all that Dimopolous was in there too, since he works at Stanford with Susskind. But I was not at ALL expecting him to start the book off by mentioning (twice in Chapter 1) David Finkelstein, someone who had an enormous personal impact on my life. It may or may not be an exaggeration to say that taking David Finkelstein's Quantum Relativity class with ikioi at Georgia Tech in 1998 was what convinced me to major in physics. But it's not at all an exaggeration to say that he's the man who convinced me that Ayn Rand was wrong and to officially renounce my faith in Objectivism, after ikioi and I invited him to give a talk called "Quantum Objectivism" for our Students of Objectivism club and had dinner with him afterwards. Also, the reason I bought the domain name "spoonless.net" in 1999 (which I've owned for the past 12 years) and adopted "spoonless" as my username is about half related to Finkelstein (in particular his antirealist views on quantum mechanics, which I was fascinated by at the time, later departed from, and now have drifted somewhat back towards) and half related to other things.

So after getting home and googling for this self help guru's name, Werner Erhard, I found more and more additional connections between people that I had never realized were there. Also, before I get to that, let me mention that Landmark Education (which I've met a lot of people who have been involved with, and were in part the inspiration for a circle of friends I spend a lot of time with, called FreedomCommunity) apparently was a direct spinoff of Erhard Seminar Training. And furthermore, the Church of Scientology launched a campaign against him after he allegedly stole a lot of their methods and incorporated them into his own (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology_and_Werner_Erhard).

After reeling from that a bit, then the real fun started once I found Jack Sarfatti's final blog entry at his blog "Destiny Matrix":

http://destinymatrix.blogspot.com/

I had never heard of Jack Sarfatti either, but in his blog post he ties a ton of people I've known or heard about all together, which totally blows my mind. Here are some experps from it:

"Both Fred [Alan Wolf] and I got divorced about same time ~ 1971 and we were room mates. I was too young for that job and was bored and wanted adventure which came soon enough from the CIA with the strange events in 1973 at SRI Remote Viewing Project described in my book" [Fred Alan Wolf is one of the main crazy guys interviewed in What the Bleep Do We Know, along with John Hagelin (also crazy) and David Albert (not crazy at all, but sued them for distorting his words). (On a side note, I found a picture of my advisor somewhere online arm in arm with David Albert at a conference they were at together on the Arrow of Time.)]

"My encounter with Dennis Bardens of British Intelligence in 1974: 'Dr Sarfatti, it is my duty to inform you of a psychic war raging across the continents between the Soviet Union and your country and you are to be in the thick of it.'

"The main thing we did was the Esalen Month in Jan 1976 I think that Gary Zukav writes about in Dancing Wu Li Masters. I brought David Finkelstein there and that's how he met Werner Erhard leading to the big est physics conferences described by Lenny Susskind with Feynman, Gell-Mann, Wheeler, Hawking, Coleman, I think Kip Thorne et-al. I had met David at Yeshiva visiting Lenny Susskind. Finkelstein also worked with Ken Shoulders and Hal Puthoff at a company set up by the Fried Chicken guy William Church as a result of the Esalen month.
We had seminars at the facility on Nob Hill with the Rockefeller-Lanier money."

"I asked Werner in the lobby of the Ritz, he in a silly inappropriate casual outfit, with a woman adorer, what he did. He said "I make people happy." I wanted to run and I said in a strong Brooklyn accent, "I think you're an asshole." Werner got up from his chair a big smile, embraced me warmly and said "I am going to give you money." I had no idea about the message of the est-Training being "You're an asshole." Werner thought I was some kind of Guru I guess."

"Yes. I gave Fritjof $1500 that he needed to pay his lawyer for a Green Card. I also brought my then room-mate Gary Zukav to Esalen and wrote all of the rough draft of the physics parts of Wu Li Masters for him and helped him with the editing in later drafts."

"George was a "spook" who managed Tim Leary when Nixon let him out of prison."

"Indeed Nick Herbert's FLASH paper led to the no-cloning theorem so important in quantum computing today."

"Fred Wolf and I were edged out probably because they thought we were too crazy? Finkelstein sort of took over and I was the guy who brought him there in the first place. It was the usual academic shark cut-throat back-stabbing both Fred & I left SDSU for."

"I am cc'ing this to some of the participants who I am still in touch with. Fred Wolf recently spoke to Werner who now lives in London. I also ran into Stan Klein only a few days ago who is doing very interesting brain research with Stapp. I think Fritjof Capra is still in Berkeley and Stan Klein is in touch with him. Unfortunately Tim Leary, George Koopman and Robert Anton Wilson have died. I think Gary Zukav lives on Mount Shasta. You should also talk to David Finkelstein."


It turns out, this whole post is an interview he did a couple years ago with a science historian at MIT named David Kaiser, who was writing a book called "How the Hippies Saved Physics". Here is a lecture he gave at MIT on the book, it sounds really good! And he mentions even more people I know...



http://forum-network.org/lecture/how-hippies-saved-physics

After watching this video, lots more became clear to me. He talks about FQXI, which Anthony Agueirre helped found and Garrett Lisi, a personal friend of mine, who used to have an active lj here, was one of the main initial recipients of their funding. Both Jack Sarfatti in his blog and this guy in the video also mention Garrett.

Nick Herbert, whom they both talk about a lot, happens to be another guy whom I have met personally. Actually that's a funny story, I met him in Robert Anton Wilson's apartment, actually I think when we shook hands we were just walking in together.

Sarfatti it seems is clearly one of the crazy guys, similar to the What the Bleep people, but Nick Herbert is sort of borderline. Like Capra, he's kind of halfway crazy, and exaggerates a lot of things, but at least seems like he understands some physics, like Bruce and Fred. But I don't think he has that great of a grasp on it, personally. One thing that annoys me in the video, that I disagree with, is the premise. The main premise seems to be that, since Nick Herbert (one of the "Hippies") was able to get a paper published saying that he thought he could send communications faster than light... and that since that prompted a real physicist to respond by proving that you couldn't, that they contributed greatly to physics. While that may be true in a sense, the way I interpret it is more that everyone knew you couldn't do that, but the fact that a bunch of annoying new agers went to the trouble of trying to claim that you could, this made it worth proving that you couldn't. But it did attract more attention to Quantum Information, which overall is a good thing. He sort of glosses over the fact that what the hippies contributed was just that they were totally wrong.

I found this paper online, which was written a couple years ago by the referee who approved Nick Herbert's paper for publication... defending his decision to do it, since many physicists think it was never worthy of publication...
http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0205076
"Abstract: I was the referee who approved the publication of Nick Herbert's FLASH paper, knowing perfectly well that it was wrong. I explain why my decision was the correct one, and I briefly review the progress to which it led."

"Early in 1981, the editor of Foundations of Physics asked me to be
a referee for a manuscript by Nick Herbert, with title “FLASH —A superluminal communicator based
upon a new kind of measurement.” It was obvious to me that the paper could not be correct, because it
violated the special theory of relativity. However I was sure this was also obvious to the author. Anyway,
nothing in the argument had any relation to relativity, so that the error had to be elsewhere."

(Incidentally, I do think Nick is a very entertaining guy, he's a real fun person to hang out with. I just wouldn't expect him to come up with any interesting ideas in physics. Nor would I ever expect Jack Sarfatti or Fred Alan Wolf to)

Oh, and the How the Hippies Saved Physics guy also talks a lot about Esalen, which is a place various friends of mine have visited, and where some have worked. Apparently lots of these people used to hang out there, and they eventually got Richard Feynman to come. I also think I remember Susskind mentioning that Feynman came to some of those secret meetings at Werner Erhard's house, because there was some story about ordering a Feynman sandwich he tells... where he asks Feynman what a Feynman sandwich would be like and Feynman says "it's like a Susskind sandwich but with less ham." And then Susskind replies "but at least a Susskind sandwich has less baloney." He mentions that that was the only time he remembers one-upping Feynman in terms of wit. I can't remember for sure if this was at Erhard's house but I think so.

At the end of Susskind's first chapter in The Black Hole War, he goes home from the meeting with Hawking where Hawking first told him that he thought information would be completely erased in black holes, and even that information was being erased all of the time in empty space due to microscopic virtual black holes. And he says "as soon as I got back, I went to my friend Tom Banks and we talked about it, and eventually figured out why it bothered us so much... erasing information means increasing entropy, which means you end up producing a lot of heat!" Soon after that, they published a paper arguing that Hawking's proposal violated the laws of thermodynamics, which was the first shot fired in the great war (which Hawking eventually conceded, although not until several decades later--in fact, he conceded it while I was in graduate school, just before I started working with Tom Banks, a couple years before Lenny wrote the book).

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
easwaran
Mar. 19th, 2011 06:30 pm (UTC)
Wow, lots of connections. You actually know Robert Anton Wilson?

I remember reading a book by Fred Alan Wolf, PhD, when I was in high school and into the quantum mysticism stuff, but that book sorta turned me off of it, because he said that electrons were conscious.

I'll have to check out those Susskind books.
vaelynphi
Mar. 19th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
I, too, read a book by Wolf, and it had the backfiring effect of turning me into a hardcore skeptic. Indeed, it's half-responsible for me renouncing religion too...
spoonless
Mar. 21st, 2011 01:14 am (UTC)
lol, I just found a video of a talk that Fred Alan Wolf gave this year in Turkey, at something called "TEDxReset":

http://vimeo.com/20100445

That was painful!

After Wolf had finished explaining for most of the last half of the talk how to do some kind of cheesy "Sufi dance" that "you can do with your kids at home" where you flip your thumbs upside-down in an alternating way, at the end he's asked "so I've got a question for you, are you saying that when I do this..." *does cheesy thumb dance* ... "I'm creating matter?" But then he never answers the question, he just shows how to do the thumb dance again, with a few extra tips. What exactly was the point of the whole thing?
spoonless
Mar. 21st, 2011 01:35 am (UTC)

Wow, lots of connections. You actually know Robert Anton Wilson?

No, I wouldn't say that I knew him. I was only over at his apartment that one time, invited by a friend of Nick Herbert's, Bruce Damer. He was literally on his deathbed by that point, I wrote a post about it the day after, and I think I mentioned that I thought he probably had at most another 6 months to live. Sure enough, he died a few months after that.

He had a tradition of having a gathering of friends and acquaintances over every Friday night, to read poetry and exerps from his books. (I think possibly when he was younger, he would read some, but by that point, it was just his friends who would read to him). I helped read a portion of The Illuminati Papers out loud to him, we took turns. I remember having a very awkward moment as I was reading and he mentioned the "quantum ERP paradox", and I paused after reading "ERP" and came very closed to saying "that should be EPR", and also glanced over at Nick Herbert to see if he noticed that the acronym was in the wrong order... but I decided to choke it back upon the realization that it could hurt his feelings or sound snarky to point it out, when we were there trying to give a dying man some peace.
spoonless
Mar. 21st, 2011 02:22 am (UTC)

I remember reading a book by Fred Alan Wolf, PhD, when I was in high school and into the quantum mysticism stuff, but that book sorta turned me off of it, because he said that electrons were conscious.


I'm glad that the book I read on quantum in high school turned out to be David Z Albert's, instead of something like that. I think it helped me get what was going on when I got to college more, having a good conceptual framework to start with and keeping an eye open for the interesting philosophical paradoxes.

Just out of curiosity, what would you say about Fritjof Capra's books (assuming you read any of them)? I have the impression they are a good deal less ridiculous than Fred Alan Wolf's, although I haven't read anything by either.

Maybe quantum mysticism was your equivalent of what Objectivism was for me, something that appealed a lot to my philosophical prejudices at the time, and was a learning experience, but ultimately I view as pretty embarrassing. I don't think I would have bought any of it if I had read the quantum mysticism stuff in high school though... even when I read David Albert's book, I was very skeptical and kept thinking "surely all of these paradoxes have some natural simple explanation, and this is just a case of scientists not being clever enough to see how it's just an ordinary classical theory". By the end of the book, I was convinced it was really interesting and not easily explained, although at that age, my inclination was that something like Bohm's interpretation was likely the right answer, and the more bizarre interpretations were too complicated and bizarre to be true.

I think if I would have read something about quantum mysticism in high school, I would have felt even more negative towards it than I would if I read it now, so I guess we must have come from pretty different early philosophical prejudices which is interesting.
easwaran
Jun. 7th, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC)
Fritjof Capra never seemed as wacko to me at the time as Fred Alan Wolf - but in retrospect I understand that most of what he was doing was pushing a bunch of metaphors that didn't really add up to much of anything. I actually was also into Objectivism in high school - I don't quite understand how I reconciled both of those things.
vaelynphi
Mar. 19th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
An Introduction to Black Holes, Information, and the String Theory Revolution : The Holographic Universe

I just bought this book; it's great.
(Deleted comment)
spoonless
Mar. 21st, 2011 12:58 am (UTC)
Hmmm, what does Nick Herbert say in "Faster Than Light"? Does he still defend his FLASH paper where he suggested that you could do faster than light communication with a simple tabletop laser experiment? Or does he admit that it was wrong, but sees it as having been a useful step towards understanding why such things are impossible?

Checking Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Faster-Than-Light-Superluminal-Loopholes/dp/0452263174

I get the impression the book is likely filled with a bunch of misinformation (see Lubos Motl's review of it in the comments).

Nick was a very entertaining guy, he tells a lot of jokes and comes across as pretty charismatic. But a couple times when he showed up at our physics seminars at UCSC, he asked some pretty stupid questions which made me think he doesn't really understand physics very well.
spoonless
Mar. 21st, 2011 01:03 am (UTC)

Jack Sarfatti: Heard about him via the final one...

Interesting, what does RAW say about Jack Sarfatti.

I have to admit, I haven't read any book by any of these people. But if I were to read any of them it would be Robert Anton Wilson. Currently I'm reading Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum", I've heard that some of RAW's books deal with similar topics.

I just watched this video of a TEDxReset talk given by Fred Alan Wolf, and I must admit, I haven't the slightest clue what he is talking about:
http://vimeo.com/20100445

(I'm not sure what TEDxReset means, but it appears to be some kind of independent version of TED that took place in Turkey this year.)
Kirby Urner
Mar. 21st, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC)
Connecting the Dots
Useful piecing together of the puzzle here, for me too.

I hang out with Cal Tech alumni some, so hear about Feynman a lot,
also Linus Pauling (chemistry).

I recommend this movie on Hulu as perhaps showing where some of
these "secret meetings" took place in San Francisco, although in
the case of Hawking somewhere more convenient than the top floor of
that house might have been indicated.

http://www.hulu.com/watch/151134/transformation-the-life-and-legacy-of-werner-erhard

I've also put a pointer back to this blog post in a meandering
filing regarding a new Wittgenstein Study Group in Portland.
More dots connected therein.

Said pointer:
http://dir.groups.yahoo.com/group/WittrsAMR/message/4169
spoonless
Mar. 22nd, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
Re: Connecting the Dots
Thanks for the links! Yes, that fills in more interesting gaps.

I don't have time to finish watching it right now, but I just watched the first 30 minutes of that Werner Erhard video, very fascinating. I can definitely recognize some familiar themes in Werner Erhard's style, based on my own experiences with a spinoff of a spinoff of his group, FreedomCommunity. Somehow I never realized where these techniques came from.

I just got to a part where they say "Werner Erhard acknowledges having other influences", and then they flash a shot of him walking on the beach with an Indian guy. Is that by any chance Maharishi Mahesh Yogi? If so, that introduces even more interconnections, him being where John Hagelin whom I mention above, got a lot of his ideas. Not to mention being the spiritual advisor of the Beatles and lots of other celebrities.

I should also watch that Wittgenstein movie at some point--I'd definitely consider myself a fan of his, and enjoyed reading Wittgenstein's Poker which gives a lot of fascinating biographical information about him and Karl Popper, and all of their interconnections with the Vienna Circle. Also read Tractatus at some point, although not carefully enough to understand most of it.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 22nd, 2011 01:56 am (UTC)
FWIW (maybe not much, coming from a physics-major-turned-philosopher), I think David Albert's book is a fabulous introduction to what is interesting about quantum theory.

Also, do you really think David F is an anti-realist?
firmament
Mar. 22nd, 2011 01:57 am (UTC)
Egads, that was me, by the way.
spoonless
Mar. 22nd, 2011 07:08 am (UTC)
In case you didn't see it, I mentinoed in a comment to someone else that David Albert's book was the first book I ever read on quantum mechanics, and reading it in high school helped a lot when I got to college. I sometimes wonder if some of it would sound overly simplistic now if I went back, but I definitely have fond memories of it.

Regarding Finkelstein, yes--obviously there's a lot more to his view of quantum mechanics, but at least within the context of the interpretation of quantum mechanics, I think he fits in the antirealist camp.

There are of course, so many definitions of realism that you could find any number of them that either apply or don't apply to his theory. But one of the mantras I remember him repeating the most is "there are no such thing as objects" and "there are no such thing as states". Granted, he believed in some kind of replacement for objects/states, namely actions or processes. So maybe you could call him a realist about processes? And maybe you know more about process metaphysics or how that is supposed to work, but I don't know anything other than the few things he told us while I was taking his class and what I read in his book.

At any rate, I think when you're trying to categorize various interpretations of quantum mechanics, the antirealist/realist designation I think is usually based on whether you're a realist about either particles or the wavefunction. Or more generally, whether you believe that there is some state that you're measuring, or if it's just all measurements and outcomes,with no "state of the world" being measured. I think Finkelstein would wholeheartedly side with the antirealists on any of these phrasings.

I'd be curious to hear your reasoning though if you think he's not an antirealist.
bob_the_normal
Mar. 25th, 2011 02:27 am (UTC)
Really interesting post! Long time since I've been on LJ, but this post was fun to read through. I watched that video you posted first (the "Hippies" video) and when I read your comment I agreed with your skepticism about how he put a positive spin on what the "hippies" did. I think it's good to have someone sincerely playing "devil's advocate" in any area, but I'm not convinced the "hippies" were on the other side of a reasonable interpretation as much as off on a completely irrelevant tangent.

And after watching the Fred Wolf video... what the hell? I've seen more "reasonable" presentations claiming the "secret world order" is hiding free energy from the world on YouTube.

I think I can help with the weird "dance" thing - he says "you're creating matter" but what I think he means is that this is a physical dance that represents what happens (theoretically) when matter is created. I don't know enough QM to tell what theoretical physical process he's mimicking, but I do know that if he's not intelligent enough to explain what he's doing to the audience clearly it's somewhat doubtful that it's worth hearing. Also, vague "connections" to religious traditions looks to me more like a cheap shot for attention into an already-proven-gullible audience by trying to legitimize religions with physics. It bothers me when people do that.

Still, the optimist way of looking at it would be to say that maybe Wolf is just one of the genuinely crazy people in this group, like there are in any group, but that overall the group did have a reasonable stance (if you could get any of them to give you that stance clearly). So, I wouldn't count them completely out, but from the "evidence" so far they're about on par with those YouTube conspiracy theorists (i.e. they're going to be the butt of jokes).

Anyway, thanks for the post... it's all very interesting to read/hear about even if I don't have the time to really look into it completely myself. I do wish there were legitimate and practical ways of having meetings to discuss these more philosophical topics in physics, but when I have thought about planning such meetings the number of practical difficulties in keeping people with agendas (like Wolf) out is too overwhelming.

Later.
spoonless
Mar. 25th, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC)

I think I can help with the weird "dance" thing - he says "you're creating matter" but what I think he means is that this is a physical dance that represents what happens (theoretically) when matter is created

Yeah, that's about what I would guess too, although I feel that an ordinary honest person trying to explain something, if asked the question he was asked at the end, would have just said "no, I'm not *actually* creating matter with the dance right this minute, but I'm representing how it was done in the early universe." All he had to say was something like that, but instead he chose to evade the question. It gives the impression that he knows better, yet he wants the gullible in the audience to continue interpreting what he's saying differently.

Also, he made such a big deal about their being a connection between this Sufi dance and the matter creation at the beginning of the universe, that it makes you wonder if he really thinks that somehow, God inspired the people who created the religion to put elements into the dance representing matter creation which only God could have known about. Perhaps this is his thesis? But then why doesn't he spell that out, instead he just makes very vague statements presumably intended to lead people to certain bizarre conclusions without actually saying it himself and therefore opening himself up to attack by critics who could shoot down his arguments, whatever they may be.
spoonless
Mar. 25th, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC)
Regarding the actual matter creation, I think the only real connection to having one up thumb and one down thumb is that matter and antimatter have to be created in pairs, which have opposite spins. And you sometimes represent spin up or spin down in physics by a thumb pointing up or down. How he could see this connection as more than a coincidence I don't know.
bob_the_normal
Mar. 26th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC)
How he could see this connection as more than a coincidence I don't know.

I'd blame it on drugs, but to be fair (to drugs) it's probably just that he's crazy.

I do not think he's trying to be misleading though... he is convinced of his ideas, and I think in this case the avoidance is entirely subconscious. It's depressing to watch though. Anyone can fall victim to their own beliefs, especially as they get older, and as someone who highly values critical thinking, becoming like that is a nightmare.

Later.
Kirby Urner
Mar. 31st, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC)
re "weird dance" etc.
I lurched through some of the Fred Wolf video but didn't get to the much discussed dance number yet. The discussion reminds me of when Carlos Castaneda of Yaqui Mexican fame showed up teaching Tensegrity as a kind of calisthenics, very Richard Simmons (it seemed to some viewers). Kenneth Snelson wasn't wild about this apparent dilution of the purity of meaning, but then the waters were already muddy by then.

I might flip it around and give to any discipline the challenge of figuring out what its dance forms would be. Those saying "but we don't HAVE to dance" are reminded by the anthropology department that body movement vocabularies are a mandatory part of a subculture, so it's not a matter of "if" just "what". How do you walk and talk if you study wu li particles all day.

In Python Nation (a hangout), I invented a dance designed to celebrate the apocalypse, a play on Y2K and 2012 (Mayan Y2K) and py3K, the latter being Guido's planned apocalyptic breaking of backward compatibility within Python 2.x (we're talking computer language here **).

"I'm spoofing the apocalyptic mindset, ala Y2K, suggesting we write a PEP for a new snake dance called The Writhe. I suppose this is one of those "you had to be there" jokes. My audience seemed receptive. Watch YouTube for examples."

http://mybizmo.blogspot.com/2008/10/ppug-20081014.html

Kirby

** http://rigaux.org/language-study/diagram.html (choose "messy full" for more geography)
Jack Sarfatti
Jan. 29th, 2012 08:26 pm (UTC)
Am I crazy enough to be right?
See this John Archibald Wheeler video
https://plus.google.com/106693178329983269459/posts/YR5z4HaeAsJ
People can judge how crazy I am on http://stardrive.org
also Facebook, Twitter, Google + ...
Jack Sarfatti
adastra1@me.com
Jack Sarfatti
Feb. 26th, 2014 09:47 pm (UTC)
Libel
"Sarfatti it seems is clearly one of the crazy guys, similar to the What the Bleep people" Such flippant statements without due diligence is academic dishonesty.

That is libel. No I do not support what is in What the Bleep.
I defend Einstein's theory of relativity from numerous crackpots.
I know orthodox quantum theory, but like Henry Stapp, Roger Penrose, Stephen Weinberg, Brian Josephson, Antony Valentini of Clemson University, I am looking for extensions of it with signal nonlocality that agree with observations on brain presponse by Libet, Radin, Bierman.

Jack Sarfatti
jacksarfatti@gmail.com
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