Friday, 19 January 2018

"All evils are due to a lack of knowledge"


These remarks by quantum physicist David Deutsch, in his recent book, remind me why it is hard to take the views of scientists seriously except when they talk about science.

"What I call optimism is the proposition that all evils are due to a lack of knowledge and that knowledge is attainable by the methods of reason and science. I think the arguments against that proposition are as untenable as ever."

He doesn't realise the elementary fact that human consciousness is the only important and scientifically verifiable thing in the universe and he does not know that evil is ineradicable.

Scrabbling around on the net I find he has also said

“As the physicist Stephen Hawking put it, humans are ‘just a chemical scum on the surface of a typical planet that’s in orbit round a typical star on the outskirts of a typical galaxy’. The proviso ‘in the cosmic scheme of things’ is necessary because the chemical scum evidently does have a special significance according to values that it applies to itself, such as moral values. But the Principle says that all such values are themselves anthropocentric: they explain only the behaviour of the scum, which is itself insignificant.”

He does know that:

“Humans, people and knowledge are not only objectively significant: they are by far the most significant phenomena in nature – the only ones whose behaviour cannot be understood without understanding everything of fundamental importance.”

But any child knows this.

I have read people on Facebook - American Democrats, actually - say that with progress we can get rid of the bad things in human nature. This explains their wish to change human nature and change the world. They think that by changing the world they can eliminate wickedness. It would be a charmingly absurd way of thinking did it not cause so much harm.

They think that we come into the world innocent and bad things happen to us that make us bad.

This is what the people think who are busily remaking the world. The liberals that is, who want to prevent global warming and want to remake sex. 

The other people who are remaking the world are the nihilists, such as the Marxists and Islamists.

And then there are the so called conservatives.


  1. First observation that comes to mind: how is it possible that the chemical scum on Planet Earth is allegedly altering the climate on Planet Earth, which in turn could potentially alter the planetary balance of the Solar System? What a mess...

  2. What is this?

    Bavière : pour juger un islamiste afghan, il décroche le crucifix du tribunal

    Dans une procédure contre un demandeur d’asile originaire d’Afghanistan, un juge des mineurs a fait retirer le crucifix de la salle d’audience. Son message : en Bavière, la religion n’est pas au-dessus de la loi.

    L’accusé, âgé de 21 ans, devait répondre de ses actes devant la justice, parce qu’il avait menacé de mort un compatriote après que ce dernier soit devenu chrétien.

    Le juge Klaus-Jürgen Schmid a décroché lui-même la croix avant l’audience. D’une part, explique-t-il, les symboles religieux ne sont en principe pas obligatoires dans la salle d’audience. La décision du juge Schmid avait en outre une motivation éducative.

  3. These remarks by quantum physicist David Deutsch, in his recent book, remind me why it is hard to take the views of scientists seriously except when they talk about science.

    These days I'm suspicious of scientists even when they're talking about science. Science has become thoroughly politicised.

    1. I am instinctively sceptical of much that is said about climate change, though I do not follow the issue. Academics are curiously incurious. They go in for herd thinking in a big way.

    2. Academics are curiously incurious. They go in for herd thinking in a big way.

      If you want a career in science you follow the herd. If you follow the herd you'll get a nice cushy well-paid high-status job. If you refuse to follow the herd you'll end up driving cabs.

      Scientists are not special people, motivated by a disinterested pursuit of truth. They are just like everybody else. They want money, they want security, they want status. To get those things they'll do whatever they have to do.

      We have to stop worshipping science and scientists. Scientists are no braver and no more moral than plumbers, shop assistants, journalists or politicians.

      If a scientist doesn't want to end up driving a cab he makes sure he supports the party line on climate change.

  4. An you still think the fall of Communism is an American conspiracy? The mechanism you describe is the reason for the fall of Communism, not the cold war. The total abandon of any adherence to common sense and truth. This totalitarian tendency always starts at the top, until it eats up and miss-allocates all resources. In the US it doesn't only apply to scientists. See the latest speech and thought norms at Google. I am sure you'll find plenty of examples in the EU.
    It can only result in a similar fall of the West, unless there is a change in direction, which I strongly doubt, as the millennials seem to live in an 'Matrix'.

  5. Only a very few naive liberals and Democrats believe in the views you describe. Part of the proof is in American incarceration, which is much longer and more draconian than the European kind. For a nation of bleeding-heart snowflakes the US puts a lot of people behind bars for a long time.

    1. For a nation of bleeding-heart snowflakes the US puts a lot of people behind bars for a long time.

      That's a good point. And in practice American liberals go to extraordinary lengths to make sure they live in neighbourhoods that are overwhelmingly non-black.

      Which suggests that American liberals are not motivated by love for the oppressed masses. In fact they're motivated by hatred for those oppressed masses (and fear of them). But they direct their hatred openly towards poor whites whilst pretending to love non-whites.

      What is actually going on is class warfare by the rich against the poor. But of course in America everyone has to pretend that class warfare doesn't exist and can't exist. Identity politics exists to provide a smokescreen for the class war.

      There are no American conservatives. There are left-leaning liberals who combine hatred for the poor with attempts to buy off poor non-whites with freebies and there are right-leaning liberals (who call themselves conservatives) who are more open about their contempt for the poor in general.

    2. I agree that there are no American conservatives. What is there to conserve really? Nothing in the sense that old fashioned conservatives want(ed) to defend social hierarchy, the landed class, the monarchy, the established church, etc.

      You remind me of Steve Sailer's remark:
      "The typical white intellectual considers himself superior to ordinary white people for two contradictory reasons: a] he constantly proclaims belief in human equality, but they don't; b] he has a high IQ, but they don't."

      Still, what has this discussion to do with my blog post? I commented on what some clever and influential people, especially liberal academics, think about the way the universe is constructed.

  6. Oh, and of course science and scientists have their limits, but we owe them a lot in terms of increased life expectancy, improved living conditions, and awareness of the world we live in. Their years of in-depth study do give them knowledge the rest of us don't have. I am surprised that a nonegalitarian such as yourself doesn't see this.