Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id JAA16470 (8.6.9/5.3[ref firstname.lastname@example.org] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from email@example.com); Sun, 17 Mar 2002 09:18:35 GMT Message-ID: <3C945734.E95D4209@clara.co.uk> Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2002 08:43:32 +0000 From: Douglas Brooker <firstname.lastname@example.org> Organization: University of London X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.5 [en] (Win95; I) X-Accept-Language: en To: email@example.com Subject: Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence References: <F42tNV1HINcKPey7ZyZ0001f9cf@hotmail.com> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com
Scott Chase wrote:
> >From: <AaronLynch@aol.com>
> >Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> >To: email@example.com
> >Subject: Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence
> >Date: Sat, 16 Mar 2002 14:17:30 EST
> >In a message dated 3/16/2002 11:45:46 AM Central Standard
> >Time, Douglas Brooker <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
> > > Lawrence DeBivort wrote:
> > >
> > > > Good morning, everyone,From another list...
> > > >
> > > > -----Original Message-----
> > > > From: email@example.com
> > > > [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]On Behalf Of nargess
> > > > sabeti
> > > > Sent: Saturday, March 16, 2002 7:41 AM
> > > > To: email@example.com
> > > > Subject: Re: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence
> > > >
> > > > Glenn Bradford <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > > >
> > > > Richard Dawkins, in a Forbes article written three
> > > > years ago, speaks his
> > > > mind on the notion, popularized by Fritjof Capra
> > > > and others, that the
> > > > science of quantum mechanics is converging with
> > > > religious mysticism.
> > > >
> > > > DAWKINS:
> > > > [A] kind of marriage has been alleged between
> > > > modern physics and
> > > > Eastern mysticism. The argument goes as follows:
> > > > Quantum mechanics, that
> > > > brilliantly successful flagship theory of modern
> > > > science, is deeply mysterious
> > > > and hard to understand. Eastern mystics have
> > > > always been deeply
> > > > mysterious and hard to understand. Therefore,
> > > > Eastern mystics must have
> > > > been talking about quantum theory all along.
> > > >
> > > > Similar mileage is made of Heisenberg's
> > > > uncertainty principle ("Aren't we all,
> > > > in a very real sense, uncertain?"), fuzzy logic
> > > > ("Yes, it's okay for you to be fuzzy,
> > > > too"), chaos and complexity theory (the butterfly
> > > > effect, the Platonic, hidden
> > > > beauty of the Mandelbrot Set--you name it,
> > > > somebody has mysticized it and!
> > > > turned it into dollars). You can buy any number of
> > > > books on "quantum
> > > > healing," not to mention quantum psychology,
> > > > quantum responsibility,
> > > > quantum morality, quantum immortality, and quantum
> > > > theology. I haven't
> > > > found a book on quantum feminism, quantum
> > > > financial management, or
> > > > Afro-quantum theory, but give it time.
> > > >
> > > > The whole dippy business is ably exposed by the
> > > > physicist Victor Stenger in
> > > > his book, The Unconscious Quantum, from which the
> > > > following gem is taken.
> > > > In a lecture on "Afrocentric healing," the
> > > > psychiatrist Patricia Newton said that
> > > > traditional healers "are able to tap that other
> > > > realm of negative entropy--that
> > > > superquantum velocity and frequency of
> > > > electromagnetic energy--and bring
> > > > them as conduits down to our level. It's not
> > > > magic. It's not mumbo jumbo. You
> > > > will see the dawn of the 21st century, the new
> > > > medical quantum physics really
> > > > distributing these energies and what they are
> > > > doing."
> > > >
> > > > Sorry, but mumbo jumbo is ! precisely what it is.
> > > > Not African mumbo jumbo but
> > > > pseudosc! ientific mumbo jumbo, down to the
> > > > trademark misuse of the word
> > > > energy. It is also religion, masquerading as
> > > > science in a cloying love
> > > > feast of bogus convergence.
> > > > --
> >Hi Douglas.
> >My earlier use of the phrase "the ineffable Quantum of being"
> >a few months ago was also in reference to some of the mystical
> >interpretations of quantum mechanics.
> > > and memetics is a science?
> >Just suppose that Eastern mysticism got attached to quantum
> >physics in the early days, so that a substantial fraction of
> >the physicists reading their first quantum physics books were
> >asked to swallow a lot of mysticism. The word "quantum"
> >would have gained a very bad reputation among serious
> > > sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.
> >Perhaps this is the old strategy of the best defense
> >being a good offense.
> Dawkins is right on the money. "Quantum" seems to be a popular adjective to
> attach to a lot of goofy ideas making them more trendy in pop culture. It's
> like a vague allusion to QM has hybridized with various kooky pet theories.
The migration of a word from a narrow scientific context to a much wider
one would seem to be a
perfect subject for memetics. One one extreme, the physicists; one the
the 'kooky pet theories'.
Question 1: describe the migration (or expansion) of the use of
Question 2: explain the migration
In many of the social sciences there is a tension in the discipline
between its prescriptive and descriptive urges. It's internal politics,
perhaps. Linguistics is a good
example. (and maybe the positive-natural law dichotomy in legal
theory.) Prescriptivism is not much in fashion these days. But
fashions, by definition, change.
Dawkins sounds as if he comes from a prescriptivist school of memetics.
It's a bit like a lab scientist criticising germs because they are bad.
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