The Varieties of Crackpot Experience

By Sean Carroll | January 5, 2009 10:58 am

Frank Tipler is a crackpot. At one point in his life, he did very good technical work in general relativity; he was the first to prove theorems that closed timelike curves could not be constructed in local regions of spacetime without either violating the weak energy condition or creating a singularity. But alas, since then he has pretty much gone off the deep end, and more recently has become known for arguments for Christianity based on fundamental physics. If you closely at those arguments (h/t wolfgang), you find things like this:

If life is to guide the entire universe, it must be co-extensive with the entire universe. We can say that life must have become OMNIPRESENT in the universe by the end of time. But the very act of guiding the universe to eliminate event horizons – an infinite number of nudges – causes the entropy and hence the complexity of the universe to increase without limit. Therefore, if life is to continue guiding the universe – which it must, if the laws of physics are to remain consistent – then the knowledge of the universe possessed by life must also increase without limit, becoming both perfect and infinite at the final singularity. Life must become OMNISCIENT at the final singularity. The collapse of the universe will have provided available energy, which goes to infinity as the final singularity is approached, and this available energy will have become entirely under life’s control. The rate of use of this available energy – power – will diverge to infinity as the final singularity is approached. In other words, life at the final singularity will have become OMNIPOTENT. The final singularity is not in time but outside of time. On the boundary of space and time, as described in detail by Hawking and Ellis [6]. So we can say that the final singularity – the Omega Point – is TRANSCENDANT to space, time and matter.

All of the signs of classic crackpottery are present; the vague and misplaced appeal to technical terminology, the spelling mistakes and capital letters, the random use of “must” and “therefore” when no actual argument has been given. Two paragraphs later, we get:

Science is not restricted merely to describing only what happens inside the material universe, any more than science is restricted to describing events below the orbit of the Moon, as claimed by the opponents of Galileo. Like Galileo, I am convinced that the only scientific approach is to assume that the laws of terrestrial physics hold everywhere and without exception – unless and until an experiment shows that these laws have a limited range of application.

Compares self with Galileo! 40 points! There is really no indication that the person who wrote this was once writing perfectly sensible scientific papers.

Perhaps you will not be surprised to find that Tipler has now jumped into global-warming denialism. In just a few short paragraphs, we are treated to the following gems of insight (helpfully paraphrased):

People say that anthropogenic global warming is now firmly established, but that’s what they said about Ptolemaic astronomy! Therefore, I am like Copernicus.

A scientific theory is only truly scientific if it makes predictions “that the average person can check for himself.” (Not making this up.)

You know what causes global warming? Sunspots!

Sure, you can see data published that makes it look like the globe actually is warming. But that data is probably just fabricated. It snowed here last week!

If the government stopped funding science entirely, we wouldn’t have these problems.

You know who I remind myself of? Galileo.

Stillman Drake, the world’s leading Galileo scholar, demonstrates in his book “Galileo: A Very Short Introduction” (Oxford University Press, 2001) that it was not theologians, but rather his fellow physicists (then called “natural philosophers”), who manipulated the Inquisition into trying and convicting Galileo. The “out-of-the-mainsteam” Galileo had the gall to prove the consensus view, the Aristotlean theory, wrong by devising simple experiments that anyone could do. Galileo’s fellow scientists first tried to refute him by argument from authority. They failed. Then these “scientists” tried calling Galileo names, but this made no impression on the average person, who could see with his own eyes that Galileo was right. Finally, Galileo’s fellow “scientists” called in the Inquisition to silence him.

One could go on, but what’s the point? Well, perhaps there are two points worth making.

First, Frank Tipler is probably very “intelligent” by any of the standard measures of IQ and so forth. In science, we tend to valorize (to the point of fetishizing) a certain kind of ability to abstractly manipulate symbols and concepts — related to, although not exactly the same as, the cult of genius. (It’s not just being smart that is valorized, but a certain kind of smart.) The truth is, such an ability is great, but tends to be completely uncorrelated with other useful qualities like intellectual honesty and good judgment. People don’t become crackpots because they’re stupid; they become crackpots because they turn their smarts to crazy purposes.

Second, the superficially disconnected forms of crackpottery that lead on the one hand to proving Christianity using general relativity, and on the other to denying global warming, clearly emerge from a common source. The technique is to first decide what one wants to be true, and then come up with arguments that support it. This is a technique that can be used by anybody, for any purpose, and it’s why appeals to authority aren’t to be trusted, no matter how “intelligent” that authority seems to be.

Tipler isn’t completely crazy to want “average people” to be able to check claims for themselves. He’s mostly crazy, as by that standard we wouldn’t have much reason to believe in either general relativity or the Standard Model of particle physics, since the experimental tests relevant to those theories are pretty much out of reach for the average person. But the average person should be acquainted with the broad outlines of the scientific method and empirical reasoning, at least enough so that they try to separate crackpots from respectable scientists. Because nobody ever chooses to describe themselves as a crackpot. If you ask them, they’ll always explain that they are on the side of Galileo; and if you don’t agree, you’re no better than the Inquisition.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science and Politics
  • http://diracseashore.wordpress.com/ moshe

    As a member of the scientific establishment, your opinion could hardly be trusted, you are too invested in preserving the status quo.

    (sorry, thought you missed one element of the genre).

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  • Tony

    I so wish I had access to a collection of crackpot theories and papers. They would make for some great source material for writing very cheesy sci-fi stories.

  • James Nightshade

    I have little use for the term ‘crackpot’. The great mathematician Cantor would have satisfied nearly all of the qualifications, lacking only the matter of capitalization/typography.

    Anyway, I prefer the word ‘kook’.

  • Stephen

    Whatever you choose to call them, there’s still a fundamental difference between some crazy that claims that RHIC shot down TWA 800, and when someone like Brian Josephson starts hunting for ghosts. The later is far more appalling, and potentially far more dangerous.

  • stand

    Under the circumstances, wouldn’t a self-comparison to Sir Isaac Newton be more appropriate than Galileo? ;-)

    I still have Tipler’s undergraduate physics text on my library shelves somewhere. I seem to recall that in the later chapters he had (what I thought at the time) were some pretty thought provoking things to say about the theoretical possibilities to extra-terrestrial life or something like that. I’m I wrong about this?

    Perhaps it was just good dorm-room conversation fodder which doesn’t hold up to a more mature reading. I’ll have to pull the book out again and look.

    BTW, thanks for the link to the Crackpot Index. I always think about that and can’t remember what it’s called and how to find it.

  • http://stephanhoyer.com/ Stephan

    Tony, they are not hard to find. These guys are desperate. Just Google for “physics forums” and start reading threads. You’ll find many examples of people expounding their intricate crackpot ideas.

  • JRQ

    Standard measures of IQ draw heavily on pattern recognition abilities, so its not surprising when high-IQ types go off about patterns that aren’t actually there when you look closely.

    We really need good pattern-detectors in science — they have the ability to move entire fields when they catch on to important things that others have missed. Its just a mistake to assume that all aspects of scientific competence depend equally on this particular kind of ability.

  • http://notes.kateva.org John Faughnan

    Isaac Newton, I believe, spent a lot of the latter part of his intellectual life as a crackpot — pursuing theories in alchemy and astrology.

    Linus Pauling went wandering off into Vitamin C, increasingly losing touch with the world of science even though he was otherwise highly functional.

    I wonder if there’s a peculiar variety of dementia that affects certain Minds … where the same traits that once produced creative insights now lead into dark and hopeless tangles.

  • Bjoern

    @stand:
    The only undergraduate physics book I know of was written by *Paul* Tipler, not the Frank Tipler discussed here…

  • AcademicLurker

    “Isaac Newton, I believe, spent a lot of the latter part of his intellectual life as a crackpot — pursuing theories in alchemy and astrology.”

    I ‘m not sure that either alchemy or astrology had yet been relegated to the crackpot fringe in Newton’s day.

    They were both baseless, but respectable people still studied them.

  • http://liquidthinker.wordpress.com LiquidThinker

    Yes, Tipler. I actually read his “Physics of Immortality” book a long time ago. Although sad, highly speculative and a bit “crackpotish”, as I recall, he did have at least a couple of falsifiable ideas. If memory serves, one was a prediction for the mass of the Higg’s boson (although I think his tie in to the rest of his thesis was, well, loose would be a kind way to put it) and, as evidenced here, an eventually collapsing universe (although again, as I recall, I don’t think he ever made a convincing case that a collapsing universe would be verification of his speculations. In fact, I recall they were simple assertions without justification much like those pointed out in this post.). Sad to see that he seems to have slipped further into crackpottery.

    Although I would have to say that in undergraduate school, I too was like Galileo. For some time I had a beard.

  • stand

    Just so, Bjoern! Thanks for the correction.

  • Jumblepudding

    I went to a Lutheran liberal arts college. Some profs there adore this guy.(for this later work, unfortunately)

  • HP

    I like to think of myself as more of a Benvenuto Cellini type.

  • Winter Solstice Man

    Hopefully this will also finally discredit Tipler’s incomplete views (I am trying to be polite here) on the non-existence of ETI due to his thinking that at least some of them would make Von Neumann machines which should reproduce and populate the galaxy in relatively short order. The “fact” that no alien VN machines have visited Earth is his proof that ETI do not exist.

    Just a few logic holes you could drive a starship through in that one.

    As for Tipler’s Omega Point idea, note that one of the things he says everyone will get to do when we are all merged into One is that everyone can have sex with everyone they’ve ever wanted to do. Projecting one’s sexual fantasies into their so-called scientific theory is not very scientific.

    The guy has gone down a road he will probably never be able to come back from. Even worse, how many will he take with him?

  • http://teknologist.net teknologist

    It’s funny how anyone even remotely tied to Christianity is immediately dismissed and labeled crackpot.

    If both Christianity and Science have holes and gaps that they believe they could fill for each other…a dialog should be developed. If anything, communication will do well to inform the specific stances of each party. More communication is key, not less…and less name calling based on ideological differences. :P

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    Meanwhile, I think it’s funny how a particular religious crackpot is effortlessly equated with “anyone even remotely tied to Christianity.”

    It’s a world full of funny.

  • Elliot Tarabour

    Not that it needs to be further falsified, but doesn’t Tipler’s model of a collapsing universe with ever increasing information content violate the holographic principle?

    e.

  • Greg L

    You are correct, Sean. He’s lost it.

  • TimG

    teknologist,

    What makes Tipler a crackpot isn’t that he’s a Christian, it’s that he apparently thinks you can prove Christianity correct using general relativity. Which is, to put it bluntly, nuts.

  • Winter Solstice Man

    Everyone knows that God is a Presbyterian.

  • http://www.youth.neag.org Tobydyd

    The whole point of Christianity is that of having FAITH in an unseen God. Faith doesn’t exist in the realms of absolutes. In the absence of doubt, you also have the absence of faith. If we believe in a God that we could completely define and understand, wouldn’t that diminish the supernatural aura of said God? I don’t believe he is wrong for wanting to prove there is a God, people have been looking to prove or disprove the existence of God since the beginning of humanity. I, for one, believe that it takes just as much faith to believe in God, as it does to believe God doesn’t exist. The evidence isn’t conclusive either way

  • Sam Gralla

    Wow, that’s totally nuts.

  • ben martin

    Ah, Cosmic Variance. And Sean. And his teeth-grindingly monotonous musings on religion.

    Now I remember why I avoid this blog like the plague…

  • Lilly

    Gee, I hope you’re better at avoiding the actual plague than you apparently are at avoiding this blog.

  • Count Iblis

    John Faughnan has a point, see another example here::

    In later life, Gödel suffered periods of mental instability and illness. He had an obsessive fear of being poisoned; he wouldn’t eat unless his wife, Adele, tasted his food for him. Late in 1977, Adele was hospitalized for six months and could not taste Gödel’s food anymore. In her absence, he refused to eat, eventually starving himself to death. He weighed 65 pounds (approximately 30 kg) when he died. His death certificate reported that he died of “malnutrition and inanition caused by personality disturbance” in Princeton Hospital on January 14, 1978.

  • Giotis

    Remarkable insights! Bush should have appointed him as his science advisor. He has all the credentials and he would had fit perfectly in his administration.

  • Jeff

    Another good example of why we should abandon the tenure system. This guy should be sacked; he’s an embarassment to his colleagues and his university.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/sunclipse/ Blake Stacey

    Has anyone, anywhere, ever, compared themselves to Galileo on legitimate grounds?

    Well, OK, other than having a beard?

    (Incidentally, I noticed that David Brin has been beating a drum about cosmologists changing their stance on the Big Bang: Cosmologists will admit “the Big Bang was an actual explosion (with a center), after all…” and then they’ll change their minds again. To me, this sounds like one part confused-by-bad-analogies plus one part being-deliberately-contrarian, with perhaps an actual insight tangled up in there somewhere. Then again, these days I’m getting paid (not much) to do econophysics (badly); it’s been a while since I’ve had to calculate anything with regard to an FRW metric. Since I recalled our host complaining about the balloon analogy, I figured it might be an item of interest.)

  • Micah

    This is what can happen when you mix fun ideas about evolution (e.g. the technological singularity), especially anthropologically centered ideas, with over-speculation about physics. You become a very speculative futurist. You have at this point used science as a launch pad to make vague predictions about some unguided convictions you’ve developed about reality.

    However, I think there is a problem with the pejorative “crackpot,” even though its totally fun to call people crackpots. I just don’t think that it is entirely useful to follow through with the logic “because Frank Tipler is talking crazy, everything he says is therefore useless and false.”

    Frank Tipler is referring to some interesting topics in that first paragraph. They are topics which are not yet ready to be connected with physics (other than extremely speculatively), but ideas about what comes after humans are, in my opinion, very interesting to think about.

  • andy.s

    Just the sample quoted above, sounds kind of like the fevered outpourings of a schizophrenic, but that kind of stuff usually presents before you hit 30. And it’s too early for a stroke.

    Maybe he’s just smoking a little too much weed?

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  • Fubaris

    Does this quote from Einstein cross the “crackpot line”?

    “For we convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however persistent.”

    How about claims that we’re floating around on a three-brane in a universe with 11 dimensions? That sounds kind of weird to my ears.

    Many Worlds Interpretation? Mathematical Universe Hypothesis?

    I personally don’t believe in free will, but many people consider would consider that the craziest thing they’d ever heard (barring the things that actual crazy people say).

    I agree with Micah that Tipler just got a little florid on his prose, and that you could rewrite the first paragraph in a way that wouldn’t sound crazy without losing any of the content.

    Of course, the fact that he didn’t rewrite it in such a way may indicate that he is indeed crazy.

  • Fubaris

    Or, how about the idea that in an infinite universe (space and/or time) you may exist an infinite number of times, not to mention with a lot of variations.

    If you do more than mention it in passing, it takes on a crackpot tinge.

  • Fubaris

    Last comment. I promise.

    Another Einstien quote (via Dan Falk):

    “His friend, the philosopher Rudolf Carnap, recalls Einstein admitting that ‘the experience of the Now worried him seriously.’ The experience of the Now, Einstein told him, ‘means something special for man, something essentially different from the past and future, but that this important difference does not and cannot occur within physics.’”

    Add a few capitalized words and I think you’re in Tipler Territory.

  • Elliot

    Speaking of Galileo, I think the revisionist attitude of the Catholic Church towards Galileo bears at least a passing mention here if not a full blown post. Perhaps the most condescending and offensive intellectual faux pax in recent memory.

    For those who missed it google around. I can’t do it justice. But clearly the Vatican believes they are the sole arbiters of justice and can conveniently change their stories to fit the times and facts.

  • Brian Mingus

    I wouldn’t make too much fun of crackpots. As I was once told by a beggar on a New York City subway, “you are not exempt.” Mental illness can strike anyone.

  • Chris

    Sort of reminds me of the Asimov story “The Last Question”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Question
    Except that 1. It’s a story, 2. It’s good

  • http://invaderxan.livejournal.com Invader Xan

    Perhaps it’s true what they say — there’s a fine line between genius and insanity.

  • Neal J. King

    I remember hearing a colloquium talk by Tipler at Berkeley over 20 years ago. He was already into the anti-ET dogma. He didn’t mention his God-oriented worldview, but you could read it between the lines.

    He came across as a fool.

  • JaroslawG

    “Recently, after giving a high school commencement talk in my hometown, Denison, Iowa, I drove from Denison to Dunlap, where my parents are buried. For most of 20 miles there were trains parked, engine to caboose, half of the cars being filled with coal. If we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains — no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species.”

    Does that look insane enough ?
    This guy has gone overboard long time ago too but if I am not mistaken he had not yet been sacked .
    To crackpot , crackpot and a half .

  • Reginald Selkirk

    the superficially disconnected forms of crackpottery that lead on the one hand to proving Christianity using general relativity, and on the other to denying global warming, clearly emerge from a common source.

    This may be true for Tipler, but I don’t think it’s a general finding. Strong financial incentive in the form of the Templeton Prize may influence scientifically competent persons to shill for Christianity.

  • http://praxeology.net/anarchist-jesus.pdf James Redford

    Hi, Sean Carroll. In the excerpt of Prof. Frank J. Tipler that you gave, Tipler therein is referring to his previous work on the Omega Point Theory. He wasn’t therein attempting to give a derivation of the Omega Point Theory, so your critique regarding “no actual argument” is a non sequitur. Further, two paragraphs before the excerpt that you gave, Tipler stated “Now let me outline the proof of my three claims above. I can give here only a bare outline. For complete details, the reader is referred to my book [1], and to papers ([3], [4], [5]) on the lanl database (available over the Internet at xxx.lanl.gov).” So your critique of Tipler is also fundamentally dishonest.

    For much more on the physics of the Omega Point Theory, see Prof. Frank J. Tipler’s below paper, which among other things demonstrates that the known laws of physics (i.e., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Standard Model of particle physics) require that the universe end in the Omega Point (the final cosmological singularity and state of infinite informational capacity identified as being God):

    F. J. Tipler, “The structure of the world from pure numbers,” Reports on Progress in Physics, Vol. 68, No. 4 (April 2005), pp. 897-964; available on Prof. Tipler’s website. Also released as “Feynman-Weinberg Quantum Gravity and the Extended Standard Model as a Theory of Everything,” arXiv:0704.3276, April 24, 2007.

    Out of 50 articles, Prof. Tipler’s above paper was selected as one of 12 for the “Highlights of 2005″ accolade as “the very best articles published in Reports on Progress in Physics in 2005 [Vol. 68]. Articles were selected by the Editorial Board for their outstanding reviews of the field. They all received the highest praise from our international referees and a high number of downloads from the journal Website.” (See Richard Palmer, Publisher, “Highlights of 2005,” Reports on Progress in Physics website.)

    Reports on Progress in Physics is the leading journal of the Institute of Physics, Britain’s main professional body for physicists. Further, Reports on Progress in Physics has a higher impact factor (according to Journal Citation Reports) than Physical Review Letters, which is the most prestigious American physics journal (one, incidently, which Prof. Tipler has been published in more than once). A journal’s impact factor reflects the importance the science community places in that journal in the sense of actually citing its papers in their own papers. (And just to point out, Tipler’s 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper could not have been published in Physical Review Letters since said paper is nearly book-length, and hence not a “letter” as defined by the latter journal.)

    See also the below resource for further information on the Omega Point Theory:

    Theophysics (a website on GeoCities)

    Tipler is Professor of Mathematics and Physics (joint appointment) at Tulane University. His Ph.D. is in the field of global general relativity (the same rarefied field that Profs. Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking developed), and he is also an expert in particle physics and computer science. His Omega Point Theory has been published in a number of prestigious peer-reviewed physics and science journals in addition to Reports on Progress in Physics, such as Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (one of the world’s leading astrophysics journals), Physics Letters B, the International Journal of Theoretical Physics, etc.

    Prof. John A. Wheeler (the father of most relativity research in the U.S.) wrote that “Frank Tipler is widely known for important concepts and theorems in general relativity and gravitation physics” on pg. viii in the “Foreword” to The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1986) by cosmologist Prof. John D. Barrow and Tipler, which was the first book wherein Tipler’s Omega Point Theory was described. On pg. ix of said book, Prof. Wheeler wrote that Chapter 10 of the book, which concerns the Omega Point Theory, “rivals in thought-provoking power any of the [other chapters].”

    The leading quantum physicist in the world, Prof. David Deutsch (inventor of the quantum computer, being the first person to mathematically describe the workings of such a device, and winner of the Institute of Physics’ 1998 Paul Dirac Medal and Prize for his work), endorses the physics of the Omega Point Theory in his book The Fabric of Reality (1997). For that, see:

    David Deutsch, extracts from Chapter 14: “The Ends of the Universe” of The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes–and Its Implications (London: Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 1997), ISBN: 0713990619; with additional comments by Frank J. Tipler. Available on the Theophysics website.

    The only way to avoid the Omega Point cosmology is to resort to physical theories which have no experimental support and which violate the known laws of physics, such as with Prof. Stephen Hawking’s paper on the black hole information issue which is dependent on the conjectured string theory-based anti-de Sitter space/conformal field theory correspondence (AdS/CFT correspondence). See S. W. Hawking, “Information loss in black holes,” Physical Review D, Vol. 72, No. 8, 084013 (October 2005); also at arXiv:hep-th/0507171, July 18, 2005.

    That is, Prof. Hawking’s paper is based upon empirically unconfirmed physics which violate the known laws of physics. It’s an impressive testament to the Omega Point Theory’s correctness, as Hawking implicitly confirms that the known laws of physics require the universe to collapse in finite time. Hawking realizes that the black hole information issue must be resolved without violating unitarity, yet he’s forced to abandon the known laws of physics in order to avoid unitarity violation without the universe collapsing.

    Some have suggested that the universe’s current acceleration of its expansion obviates the universe collapsing (and therefore obviates the Omega Point). But as Profs. Lawrence M. Krauss and Michael S. Turner point out in “Geometry and Destiny” (General Relativity and Gravitation, Vol. 31, No. 10 [October 1999], pp. 1453-1459; also at arXiv:astro-ph/9904020, April 1, 1999), there is no set of cosmological observations which can tell us whether the universe will expand forever or eventually collapse.

    There’s a very good reason for that, because that is dependant on the actions of intelligent life. The known laws of physics provide the mechanism for the universe’s collapse. As required by the Standard Model, the net baryon number was created in the early universe by baryogenesis via electroweak quantum tunneling. This necessarily forces the Higgs field to be in a vacuum state that is not its absolute vacuum, which is the cause of the positive cosmological constant. But if the baryons in the universe were to be annihilated by the inverse of baryogenesis, again via electroweak quantum tunneling (which is allowed in the Standard Model, as B – L is conserved), then this would force the Higgs field toward its absolute vacuum, cancelling the positive cosmological constant and thereby forcing the universe to collapse. Moreover, this process would provide the ideal form of energy resource and rocket propulsion during the colonization phase of the universe.

    Prof. Tipler’s above 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper also demonstrates that the correct quantum gravity theory has existed since 1962, first discovered by Richard Feynman in that year, and independently discovered by Steven Weinberg and Bryce DeWitt, among others. But because these physicists were looking for equations with a finite number of terms (i.e., derivatives no higher than second order), they abandoned this qualitatively unique quantum gravity theory since in order for it to be consistent it requires an arbitrarily higher number of terms. Further, they didn’t realize that this proper theory of quantum gravity is consistent only with a certain set of boundary conditions imposed (which includes the initial Big Bang, and the final Omega Point, cosmological singularities). The equations for this theory of quantum gravity are term-by-term finite, but the same mechanism that forces each term in the series to be finite also forces the entire series to be infinite (i.e., infinities that would otherwise occur in spacetime, consequently destabilizing it, are transferred to the cosmological singularities, thereby preventing the universe from immediately collapsing into nonexistence). As Tipler notes in his 2007 book The Physics of Christianity (pp. 49 and 279), “It is a fundamental mathematical fact that this [infinite series] is the best that we can do. … This is somewhat analogous to Liouville’s theorem in complex analysis, which says that all analytic functions other than constants have singularities either a finite distance from the origin of coordinates or at infinity.”

    When combined with the Standard Model, the result is the Theory of Everything (TOE) correctly describing and unifying all the forces in physics.

    Regarding the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (A.G.W.), as Prof. Tipler points out, this is a hypothesis which has been repeatedly experimentally disproven. Recall that it only takes a single experiment to disprove a theory (so long as the experiment and its data are correct). For more on that, see also “The ETS: Completely unnecessary,” David Evans, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), December 19, 2008.

    As you do a good job of pointing out, Sean Carroll, A.G.W. theory is an irrational dogma. Those heretics who insist upon actual scientific empiricism will be accused of engaging in “denialism,” with mendacious criticisms made against them (e.g., your dishonest “paraphras[ing]” of Tipler’s words).

    The reason why A.G.W. theory has become such a virulent dogma is due to the political power that it’s being used to justify. If government and its connected interests could find a way to get as much power out of which sock, the left or the right, a person puts on first in the morning then we would never hear the end of the alleged horrors brought about by putting socks on the wrong foot first, and that if the government doesn’t step in to save humanity from itself then it could well mean our extinction. Anyone who doubted the sock-crisis and pointed out that it’s disproved by the empirical evidence would be accused of being party to “denialism.” Later on they would be charged under state edicts which threaten loss of their tenure (such as A.G.W. heretic Bjørn Lomborg). And if the government’s anti-sock-on-wrong-foot-first efforts managed to actually cause humanity’s extinction, then this result would be cheered (before their own deaths) by those who consider humanity as a cancer, with the sock-crisis regarded by them as merely being one example of mankind’s cancerous ways.

    A.G.W. theory attracts etatists of multifarious stripes. They see in it a means of empowering the government and micromanaging people’s lives. The theory of A.G.W. is a collectivist’s wet dream, as not only do they have their misanthropy confirmed (to the effect that mankind is a cancer), but so also they have a pretext for social engineering.

    It’s very unfortunate that A.G.W. isn’t true, as life loves a warm, carbon dioxide-rich Earth. It would be quite a life-giving boon to humanity and the other critters if A.G.W. had been true.

    I notice how you brought up the issue of I.Q., Sean Carroll, which apparently you found to be a matter in need of explaining, given that Prof. Tipler is easily smarter and far more accomplished than you. But then, Sean, you can’t rationally expect to be much more than what you currently are if you insist on regurgitating noxious etatist pap.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Wow. I think James Redford has provided us with an even better example…How sweet is that?

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    Galileo was fond of leaving windy comments on the blogs of his time.

  • Elliot Tarabour

    Yeah and look where it got him….
    ;)

  • Otis

    There is another well known physicist who seems to have gone off the “deep end.” (http://thesciencenetwork.org/programs/beyond-belief-enlightenment-2-0/sean-carroll)

    He claims that such things as beauty, morality and ethics should be understandable as the workings out of the laws of nature according to equations of motion that they obey. Is child slavery wrong? Well, yes! And that result should not conflict with the equations of motion of physics. Presumably, “child slavery is OK” would conflict with those same laws.

    This physicist believes that we should think of everything that happens in the universe as materialistic particles obeying their equations of motion. It should come as no surprise that this physicist is also a self-described atheist.

    Interestingly, while this physicist believes that the immorality of child slavery should be understandable within the confines of particles in motion, he believes that the existence of the universe requires no explanation. Is all of this any less “crackpot” than Frank Tipler? I don’t think so.

  • http://tyrannogenius.blogspot.com Neil B

    Yeah Frank T. got off on a weird tangent but one of his points is very cogent: that there is no strictly logical way to define “substantive existence” such as to distinguish what we might call incarnate possible worlds (like we feel ours to be) versus Platonically real possible worlds that are not “incarnate”. Logic per se simply doesn’t have the tools to explain what “existing” is in what we want to call the material sense versus say, that there “exist” two roots of y = sqrt(4). IOW, the argument of Modal Realism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_realism) as I often spring on folks here and about. Max Tegmark says he accepts this with his “world made of math” and also the it from bit folks more or less, but they don’t really seem to appreciate the consequences. Ironically I don’t agree with MR anyway because I don’t think everything can be defined in strictly logical terms, but if you do think they can – you have no choice but to be a modal realist, trust me.

    James Redford you are mistaken about AGW. For one thing, a single disproof (or even many) is only relevant in context: after all, classical mechanics is still effectively “true” and used all the time despite being not just “a single disproof” but wrong at its very core. And the arguments you doubters use have rebuttals, such as “CO2 absorption bands overlap those of water and once all the IR is absorbed, it doesn’t matter if there’s more.” That is simplistic and false (and out of date since the early 20th c.) First of all we discovered many fine bands that can let plenty of IR through unless CO2 gets very dense (and would you ever expect two molecules to have identical spectra?!) Also, as the upper atmosphere fills up with more CO2 (and also where there’s less water vapor) the limited absorption there used to be at altitude is enhanced, absorbing IR from lower layers. Finally, there’s the silliness of people like some jackass in Brit news saying 2008 shows AGW to be a flop etc, as if there weren’t both other influences like sunspots as well as the effects of CO2 to contend with.

    BTW Otis that link didn’t work so I will speculate that Sean considers ethics to be a conceptually accessible “world” of insight, that it is in the wrong context to mix together with science – ?

  • http://tyrannogenius.blogspot.com Neil B

    BTW Otis it is indeed preposterous to think that “the” universe requires no explanation. One has to either be a modal realist which is a grand stupefaction but has its problems, or evade the logical asymmetry of one or some possible worlds existing and not others. There just being “this here” enjoying a special incarnate status among possible traits is absurd, whatever anyone may think (I have said, it is like the number 23 being made up in brass numerals, alone among the numbers, despite all of them being abstractions to start with. The same problem BTW applies to any subset of numbers or analogous field of descriptions, mindscape, etc.)

  • Sam Gralla

    “general relativity (the same rarefied field that Profs. Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking developed)”

    Now that is a gem =).

  • http://praxeology.net/anarchist-jesus.pdf James Redford

    Hi, Sam Gralla. You wrote:

    “”
    “general relativity (the same rarefied field that Profs. Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking developed)”

    Now that is a gem =).
    “”

    I see you’re taking after Sean Carroll in your mendacious “paraphras[ing]“. Below is the full sentence of what I actually said:

    “”
    Tipler is Professor of Mathematics and Physics (joint appointment) at Tulane University. His Ph.D. is in the field of global general relativity (the same rarefied field that Profs. Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking developed), and he is also an expert in particle physics and computer science.
    “”

  • http://www.gregegan.net/ Greg Egan

    Sam, you cut out a word; global general relativity was developed by Penrose and Hawking. There’s a reason they call a conformal diagram a “Penrose diagram”. And Tipler has made contributions to this field, as Sean acknowledged at the start of his post.

    I agree that Tipler has veered into crackpottery, but that’s no reason to mock or minimise the actual science that he’s done.

  • tresmal

    Frank Tipler is a sad case of a very smart person who’s mind has been overthrown by his obsessions and idiosyncrasies and who…

    “As for Tipler’s Omega Point idea, note that one of the things he says everyone will get to do when we are all merged into One is that everyone can have sex with everyone they’ve ever wanted to do.”

    …is obviously on to something. The man is clearly a genius! A prophet! Open your minds people and see!

    Scarlett Johansson is going to have a very busy Omega Point.

  • http://rabett.blogspot.com Eli Rabett

    For those wishing more there is always crank.net

  • Jennifer West

    Penrose and Hawking developed global geometry. It is not correct to say they developed global general relativity. The wikipedia link attests me this, click on it above if you don’t believe (as you shouldn’t, use your powers of critical thinking folks).

  • http://www.gregegan.net/ Greg Egan

    Penrose and Hawking developed global geometry. It is not correct to say they developed global general relativity.

    Just what this thread needs, some pointless nit-picking over a non-existent distinction regarding an utterly peripheral issue. But despite the phrasing of the Wikipedia article, actual relativists, including Penrose himself, do use the term “global general relativity”. As in this article Penrose wrote entitled “Recent advances in global general relativity: A brief survey”.

    I took Sam’s post to be suggesting that James Redford believed Penrose and Hawking had developed “general relativity” per se, which would be a dumb enough claim to deride as “a gem”. But that’s not what he said. He said plenty of things I find absurd, but talking about Tipler, Penrose, Hawking and their role in global general relativity isn’t one of them.

  • Winter Solstice Man

    What can be more crackpot than billions of people believing that 2,000 years ago a being named God dropped off his only begotten son so that he could do a few magic tricks to a bunch of primitive tribes and then get tortured and killed to “save” them, then come back to life three days later for a quick bite before running off into some higher dimension.

    With all the trolls, wackjobs, and just plain nasty people out there, I am amazed we have progressed as far as we have.

  • Anonymous

    While I agree with your sentiments Sean, please refrain from all the name calling. A lot of your readers, while quite skeptical of claims like those of Tipler, prefer to sigh, shake their heads and move on, having read MANY MANY articles like those across the internet.

    But please, while other readers may get excited and rejoice when they smell blood, there’s no reason not to be civil.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    Anonymous, I’m very much in favor of civility in its place; but I don’t think this is it. There are plenty of people with whom I disagree, but who argue intelligently and in good faith, including many religious people, and I try to engage with them in good faith in return. But people who invoke baryon-number violation to explain the resurrection of Christ, and who twist the facts to deny the existence of global warming (with very real-world implications), and then compare themselves to Galileo and their opponents to the Inquisition, are not among them.

    There is a place for respect, and a place for mockery, and Tipler is clearly in the latter camp.

  • Allen

    Tresmal:

    > Scarlett Johansson is going to have a very busy Omega Point.

    I think this was covered in Futurama, though with Lucy Liu.

    With a enormous computational resources at my disposal, simulating Scarlett Johansson isn’t the LAST thing I’d do. It’s somewhere around 37th. I have a list.

  • Winter Solstice Man

    I throw this Web site into the mix, as it includes a piece by Tipler:

    http://www.archivefreedom.org/

    Humans are such incomplete and fragile creatures.

  • http://tyrannogenius.blogspot.com Neil B

    Heh, I can see Tipler made himself vulnerable but one idea is hard to just dump (albeit might not be true): it is hard to say, our minds could not run as abstractly given programs in the Platonic mindscape. As Jaron Lanier has pointed out, it is not even necessary for a strictly “AI” intelligence to be materially embodied, its “thoughts” and process simply exist just as well in the universe of mathematical possibility. I go further to say: a mind strictly formed as an AI-intelligible process (computational with no mysterian aspect) could not even know it was incarnate through a physical expression (like a brain or computer) or not (just the abstraction itself) because logical processes can’t make that distinction. (It’s the same one I explained above to little avail, concerning modal realism.)

    PS: Down with decollusion!

  • Gioacchino R.

    15th years ago or so I happened to buy The Physics of Immortality at the Princeton University library . After reading it my comment was “this guy is totally crazy”. Now, I have not changed my mind, but I am much more tolerant. In the end, each of us is an enigmatic, transient aggregation of matter, temporarily provided with self-awareness, unable to understand our own origin and unable to modify our “null” final fate.
    Shouldn’t then be all crazy? And is it so surprising if all kinds of “crackpotteries” have been devised by mankind during its long history to survive these otherwise unsurmuntable facts? The rationalistic view that as a physicist I obviously share, has only one distinctive advantage over the other approaches tried over the millennia by the mankind to understand the reality: it gives us the tools to master the world and to change our otherwise extremely painful “natural” condition. In other words , it works in practical terms. But, as the others, it provides us with no answers. Or, you may argue, more precisely bring us to the awareness that there is no answer: we know that we will never know.
    The rationalistic view counterbalance this crude consciouness with a releaving feature, the awareness that we are part of the history of the mankind that is built upon the sum of the contributions of all our individual trajectories. So the sense of our life is not per se, but in the framework of the progress of our species in the centuries (and millennia); our individual legacy survives somehow in the uniterrupted flow of the history of the human community.
    Anyhow, this is a very fragile scenario, not enough for many people as justification of their own existence; so I do not believe that we have to be sharp against people like Tipler, or like the Cristians or the Muslims who do not accept it. They do not want to accept the “null” final fate that instead we “believe” is unavoidable.
    In this frame I would not call Tipler as a crackpot: as many people before (and after ) him, he is desperately trying to find a way out from our inescapable final destination, the death. Therefore, he is not a crackpot, he is a very human being, who shares the same istinctive horror of the dark after the life that likely was felt already by our ancestor millennia ago. And that will accompany us for ever.

  • Anony Mouse

    This blog so often reminds me of the following quote…

    “Great minds discuss ideas.
    Mediocre minds discuss events.
    Small minds discuss people.”

  • Sam Gralla

    Oops, you’re all right–I didn’t see the word global. Apologies! That makes the sentence basically true. However, the marvelous quality of the sentence is not in its truth or falsehood, but rather in the way authority and mystique are invoked. Sean already said that Tipler once did respectable work, and yet became a total crackpot. (I mean, that he did respectable work is the only reason this post is interesting.) The (hilarious) defense is then to explain that not only was Tipler’s work respectable, it was related to REALLY NEAT work done by REALLY FAMOUS people. Maybe then he can’t be a crackpot =).

    Fearless posting, Sean. I love it.

  • Joseph Brant

    “There is a place for respect, and a place for mockery, and Tipler is clearly in the latter camp.”

    I call bullshit.

    The fact is that you didn’t embark on your ad hominem attack on Tipler until you stumbled upon his writing about global warming.

    You certainly seemed civil enough in that old posting about Tipler’s 2007 book “The Physics of Christianity”.

    It’s okay to write a book about how all humans will be resurrected by some super computer at the Omega Point. And then it’s okay to write a book about how that Omega Point is God the Father. Those ideas are nutty and we can all read the criticisms from other scientists like Lawrence Krauss (who mopped up the floor with Tipler in a debate).

    Just don’t express skepticism about global warming, because THAT”S when Sean Carroll will start to engage in his (typical) ad hominem attacks.

    Now I remember why I rarely come to this third rate blog anymore.

  • http://referenceframe.wordpress.com/ Aaron

    Sorry Joseph Brant, but I think Sean’s point was that there is a difference between eccentricity and dangerous eccentricity. So, believing whatever you like about the end of the universe is fine only until your opinion about said end starts harming others. Certainly there are a bunch of examples, religious wars, etc, that I won’t get in to.
    Right now, here, in public discussions there is a concerted attempt by people to lend the aura of scientific scrutiny to global warming deniers. These people are endangering us.
    So, while I’m Jewish I think Sean would be happy to indulge my overeager-graduate-student questions about GR and string cosmology … so long as I don’t get god involved. Which I wouldn’t.
    Using your PhD (mendaciously) to mislead the less-scientifically literate about religion is a social ill. Using your PhD to mislead people about global warming is a social ill of global, cataclysmic proportions.

    So, to dig in to your post a bit, perhaps we can say:
    Thinking the some ‘omega point’ is god is fine;
    using your scientific credentials to endorse this omega point idea publicly is questionable;
    using your scientific credentials to ‘refute’ global warming is harmful.

    (On point Sean?)

    If we can’t rhetorically attack people deceiving the public, we should all go home.
    I using religion to attack the science of global warming does a disservice to religious people (of all stripes) who believe in the intrinsic value of the living and the Earth.

    I hope you think I’ve been civil about all this.
    -Aaron

  • JaroslawG

    Joseph Brant I completely agree with your point :

    “I call bullshit.

    The fact is that you didn’t embark on your ad hominem attack on Tipler until you stumbled upon his writing about global warming.”

    That is why I quoted another crackpot , namely J.Hansen beside whom J.Tipler looks like a model of mental sanity .
    As the other poster says , Hansen is adequately described by the statement :
    “Using your PhD (mendaciously) to mislead the less-scientifically literate about religion is a social ill. Using your PhD to mislead people about global warming is a social ill of global, cataclysmic proportions.”

    Coal trains = concentration camp trains
    Industry = criminals against mankind
    Talk about halucinating crackpots … and we’ll stay only here in order to stay civil .

  • Winter Solstice Man

    Anony Mouse Says:
    January 7th, 2009 at 4:10 pm
    This blog so often reminds me of the following quote…

    “Great minds discuss ideas.
    Mediocre minds discuss events.
    Small minds discuss people.”

    And so those who post those kinds of quotes to belittle anyone who isn’t up to their standards must be both microscopic and quite transparent.

    From now on I will only discuss events in public forums, never people.
    Certainly people and events are two entirely separate things.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    Aaron– that was part of it, but not the whole thing. Honestly, I don’t think I was that respectful in my previous post about Tipler, in which I called him “crazy.” I must be losing my touch.

    The harmless-eccentric/dangerous-lunatic distinction is an important one, but it doesn’t map directly onto the civil-discourse/mockery distinction. That is more closely related to the good-faith-disagreement/blatant-truth-twisting distinction. If someone believes that God loves them, or that climate models are unreliable, I will respond to them civilly. If someone argues that Jesus decayed into neutrinos before being resurrected, or that increases in global temperature are irrelevant if they can’t be detected by an average person musing about the weather, I see no point in civility. Those people are not seeking the truth, they’re trying to support a conclusion they’ve already reached. That’s the important distinction.

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  • http://tyrannogenius.blogspot.com Neil B

    BTW, there is an interesting relevant thread over at BackReaction about Dawkins’ The God Delusion and related subjects. My basic rebuttal of his idea is that the ultimate reality doesn’t need to be a complex being, a “mechanism” in any sense. It is mechanisms that need guiding ideas, not ideas (like that life should exist etc.) that need mechanism.

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  • Leander

    Spelling mistakes and capital letters are signs of crackpottery ? That’s the silliest thing I ever heard. You can’t really expect anybody with a brain to read your text beyond that and still take it seriously, whether they agree with your position on Tipler or not.

  • Self-Confessed Crackpot

    Sean wrote :

    “Because nobody ever chooses to describe themselves as a crackpot. If you ask them, they’ll always explain that they are on the side of Galileo; and if you don’t agree, you’re no better than the Inquisition.”

    Hang on a min! I’ll confess to being a crackpot at times! ;-)

    Just for a laugh … ;-)

    A bit of satire / parody can entertain & never hurt anyone ..well, okay almost never! ;-)

    Seriously though, we’re all fallible humans.

    Logic is a mental tool like math – and bothcan actuially mislead us -Logic can prove a lot but if the premise are false (or the actors illogical) then the conclusions will be inaccurate too.

    Logic can be used to prove almost anything; eg. 1 + 1 = 11 or one or zero (Hey, place 1 right next to 1 and you have the numeral eleven, add one cat to one mouse & you have one – albeit fatter – cat left, add one particle of anti-matter to one particle of matter and BOOM! y’have nothing ..) ;-)

    There’s a few generalisations there but there pretty well founded.

    Don’t know where I’d rate on the crackpot scale – that’d be a nice addition to the ole points of crackpottery scale. Example :

    1-10 points : you’re not much of a crackpot! (But you have your moments)

    10-20 points : Hmm.. be careful you’re starting toverge on crackpot territory

    20-30 points : Borderline crackpot

    30-40 points : CRACKPOT!

    40-50 points : Major Raving Loony crackpot (Creationist / Flying Saucerist?)

    50-60 points : Moonbat flavoured Fruitcake!

    60-70 points : Aren’t you in a straitjacket yet?

    70-80 points : .. Because seriously now you need to be!

    90-100 points : Pottery not merely cracked but shattered into tiny splinters and scattered to the winds!

    100 + Congratulations you’re officially brain-dead. Go straight
    to your next re-incarnation, hope you get a brain in your next life! ;-)

  • Self-Confessed Crackpot

    Oh yeah if I’m not too being too immodest – feel free to add that ‘un to the points system linked here! ;-)

  • http://mccabism.blogspot.com/ Gordon McCabe

    I wrote an undergraduate dissertation on Frank Tipler’s Omega Point theory back in 1989, and it’s truly remarkable that he’s continued to squeeze as much as he can out of that one idea for the next 20 years. The theory was first published in the proceedings of the 1988 Philosophy of Science Association Biennial Meeting.

    I also notice that James Redford makes something of a habit of long posts in defence of Professor Tipler, one such example occurring on my own blog a year or so ago:

    http://mccabism.blogspot.com/2007/05/physics-of-christianity.html

  • Allen

    I think that the problem is that whenever you try to offer an explaination of all of the reality we perceive, any theory that you come up with that includes an attempt to explain conscious subjective experience is almost by definition going to sound crazy (Chalmers: http://consc.net/papers/facing.html).

    I’m very willing to believe that human behavior can be explained via the computational powers of the physical brain. The only problem is that I haven’t seen a plausible explanation of how the physical brain, made up of inanimate particles, can produce conscious subjective experience. And that’s really a big problem, since conscious subjective experience is the part of reality that is closest and most real to us. So if a theory of reality doesn’t explain that, then that theory has a rather large hole in it.

    The only sane sounding approach is to deny that we have subjective experience, or to say that it is not what we think it is, that it is actually an illusion (e.g. Dennett). But the illusion of consciousness is still consciousness. So then the problem is explaining how a mechanistic bio-bot can have the illusion of subjective feeling (Chalmers: http://consc.net/papers/moving.html). But, any other approach leaves you sounding like a crackpot…

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  • http://tyrannogenius.blogspot.com Neil B

    Hello Allen, and thanks for visiting my blog too. Well, look (as O says): it is not sane to deny that we have subjective experience, it is literally pathological. Our experience is what our existence literally consists of, it is what the world shows itself “through.” How can someone pinch him or herself and not admit, there is this funny “something” that bothers me that is not given to me as numbers, as calculation? We aren’t mechanistic anyway, look at the weird way the universe works: how can a structureless particle like a muon decay at all with no mechanism to mark time, and worse: some decay at different spans than others. The universe doesn’t owe us, least of all logic grease monkeys, to make sense on our terms. It is just that weird way, and honest people (like Chalmers) will admit it.

    Reread my comment at January 7th, 2009 at 11:48 am about the limitations of AI – it isn’t just “conscious experience” that such a mind couldn’t conceive of, it’s substantive reality!

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  • Geordie

    They have a name for this Omega Point idea in classical philosophy. It’s Pantheism, and it is heresy for all monotheists. If you like your matter sprinkled with good and evil at the subatomic level, then you might be more comfortable with Zoroastrianism than Christianity.

    Personally, I worship Shroedinger’s cat. No I don’t.

  • Jimbo

    YO, `Stand’ & Mike Brotherton: You have Frank confused with Paul Tipler, who did write some very successful undergrad physics texts.
    Talk about a polarizing topic…I have known about Frank Tipler for sometime now, and was saddened to see such a distinguished relativist become a godster….similar to Don Page. Talk about a Connecticut yankee in King Arthur’s court. I suspect he has suffered alot since his Physics of Immortality came out. No need to pile on poor ostracized Prof. Tipler.
    SU(2) as CMB ?…C’mon.

  • JC

    the Ubiquitous Crackpot, Blessed Be He, for what would these blogs be without them

  • Winter Solstice Man

    Tipler is from the Deep South – Andalusia, Alabama, to be exact – so this would explain his obsession with xianity right through his physics.

    Anyone who says I am stereotyping has never actually visited the South, or even America in general for that matter. Churches and religious fanatics abound everywhere. Oh there is plenty of religious freedom – so long as you are some mainstream variation of Christianity.

    Tipler is just doing his best to force his religious views on the rest of us through the guise of being a tenured physics professor.

    At least Tielhard de Chardain had a real excuse for his original version of the Omega Point: He was a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest first and foremost.

  • Dallas

    This crack pot is coming to my school, a small liberal arts college, to give a lecture on “The Physics of Christianity” pretty soon. Even worse, he’ll be doing it in the science hall, as if he’s got anything actually scientific to say. I don’t know whether I should write a letter to the physics department/president of the school or just wait until the lecture and grill him in the Q and A (I have a slight fear that he may skip that portion though; I wouldn’t be surprised from someone shilling complete hogwash).

    Does anyone have some suggestions on what action I should take?

  • http://praxeology.net/anarchist-jesus.pdf James Redford

    Gordon McCabe, you are incorrect in your statement at position January 10th, 2009 at 3:52 pm regarding Prof. Tipler’s Omega Point Theory being “first published in the proceedings of the 1988 Philosophy of Science Association Biennial Meeting.” In actuality, the Omega Point Theory was first published in Frank J. Tipler, “Cosmological Limits on Computation,” International Journal of Theoretical Physics, Vol. 25, No. 6 (June 1986), pp. 617-661; doi:10.1007/BF00670475.

    For much more documentation on this, see:

    Theophysics: God Is the Ultimate Physicist http://geocities.com/theophysics/

  • http://praxeology.net/anarchist-jesus.pdf James Redford

    Dallas, in answer to your query, yes, here are the actions you take: begin by studying in-depth Prof. Tiplers Omega Point Theory. Since the only way to avoid the conclusion that the Omega Point exists is to reject the known laws of physics (of which have been confirmed by every experiment to date), and hence to reject empirical science, there exists no rational reason for thinking that the Omega Point Theory is incorrect. Indeed, one must engage in extreme irrationality in order to argue against the Omega Point Theory.

    From this study, you will be in a better position to inform others as to the iron-clad (according to the known laws of physics) veridicality of the Omega Point Theory.

    A great place to begin your study is the below paper (see also the Theophysics website previously linked to above):

    F. J. Tipler, “The structure of the world from pure numbers,” Reports on Progress in Physics, Vol. 68, No. 4 (April 2005), pp. 897-964. http://math.tulane.edu/~tipler/theoryofeverything.pdf Also released as “Feynman-Weinberg Quantum Gravity and the Extended Standard Model as a Theory of Everything,” arXiv:0704.3276, April 24, 2007.

    Out of 50 articles, Prof. Tipler’s above paper was selected as one of 12 for the “Highlights of 2005″ accolade as “the very best articles published in Reports on Progress in Physics in 2005 [Vol. 68]. Articles were selected by the Editorial Board for their outstanding reviews of the field. They all received the highest praise from our international referees and a high number of downloads from the journal Website.” (See Richard Palmer, Publisher, “Highlights of 2005,” Reports on Progress in Physics website.)

    Reports on Progress in Physics is the leading journal of the Institute of Physics, Britain’s main professional body for physicists. Further, Reports on Progress in Physics has a higher impact factor (according to Journal Citation Reports) than Physical Review Letters, which is the most prestigious American physics journal (one, incidently, which Prof. Tipler has been published in more than once). A journal’s impact factor reflects the importance the science community places in that journal in the sense of actually citing its papers in their own papers. (And just to point out, Tipler’s 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper could not have been published in Physical Review Letters since said paper is nearly book-length, and hence not a “letter” as defined by the latter journal.)

    Also keep in mind that Prof. Tipler’s foregoing paper details the correct quantum gravity Theory of Everything (TOE) properly describing and unifying all the forces in physics, so in addition to proving the existence of God (according to the known laws of physics), it’s a very important paper even without that, to say the least.

    For more prefatory material describing these matters, see my above post at position January 6th, 2009 at 10:14 am.

  • Caligula

    James Redford, people that have little to say often use up a lot of words to not say it with. Would it be possible for you to take the time to write less? More words doesn’t make anything more true.

    Oh, and “[...] in addition to proving the existence of God (according to the known laws of physics) [...]“… Heh. Heh heh. You jest, yes?

  • http://crackpotwebsites.com peter ravens

    in response to tony – you’ll find all you want at http://crackpotwebsites.com

  • NickM

    I dipped into Tipler’s Physics of Immortality and like everyone else thought it was utter balderdash. But I am not impressed by the ad hominem arguments against Tipler’s views on global warming. I haven’t read Tipler’s original piece but even despite Sean’s crudely sarcastic paraphrase you can discern the outline of a perfectly sensible argument. This is that the gold standard for settled science (especially in the physical sciences) is confirmation through verified predictions, not consensus amongst experts, or post hoc explanation. And the expected confirmation has not yet come for climate models presuming high CO2 sensitivity. None of them predicted what Hadley and the others are now observing – a dip in the smoothed long term average global temperature measurements. See http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/

    Even if Tipler had no credentials at all as a physicist he would still deserve the courtesy of having his views represented accurately and fairly.

  • pat

    Global Warming was real. Anthropomorphic global warming of any consequence is likely a hoax, perpetuated by many scientists and statisticians playing well outside of their respective fields. Herd mentality, as so often prevails in scientific circles. Other than that I concur.

  • http://praxeology.net/anarchist-jesus.pdf James Redford

    Hi, Caligula. Why would you even bother responding with such a post? (That is, your post at position January 17th, 2009 at 6:56 am.) What is so difficult about you reading for yourself an article published in the Institute of Physics’ Reports on Progress in Physics, of which has a higher impact factor (according to Journal Citation Reports) than Physical Review Letters, which is the most prestigious American physics journal (one, incidently, which Prof. Tipler has been published in more than once)?

    Some people act as if I’m asking them to sacrifice to Molech their first-born child, and those people are supposed “atheists.” Get ahold of yourself already. Think rationally: if God and eternal life don’t exist, then you have nothing to lose by reading this verboten text published by one of the world’s leading physics journals, and of which text received the highest praise by the referees (to here quote again):

    Out of 50 articles, Prof. Tipler’s above paper was selected as one of 12 for the “Highlights of 2005″ accolade as “the very best articles published in Reports on Progress in Physics in 2005 [Vol. 68]. Articles were selected by the Editorial Board for their outstanding reviews of the field. They all received the highest praise from our international referees and a high number of downloads from the journal Website.” (See Richard Palmer, Publisher, “Highlights of 2005,” Reports on Progress in Physics website.)

    Reports on Progress in Physics is the leading journal of the Institute of Physics, Britain’s main professional body for physicists. Further, Reports on Progress in Physics has a higher impact factor (according to Journal Citation Reports) than Physical Review Letters, which is the most prestigious American physics journal (one, incidently, which Prof. Tipler has been published in more than once). A journal’s impact factor reflects the importance the science community places in that journal in the sense of actually citing its papers in their own papers. (And just to point out, Tipler’s 2005 Reports on Progress in Physics paper could not have been published in Physical Review Letters since said paper is nearly book-length, and hence not a “letter” as defined by the latter journal.)

    So in answer to your rhetorical question, Caligula: do I jest? I jest about a lot of things. One of the things I jape about is the irrational superstition of those who call themselves atheists. A superstition so strong that it keeps them from even honestly considering that God exists and that there’s a completely rational explanation for God’s existence. But no, I’m not being jocular about God having been proven to exist according to the known laws of physics. Since the only way to avoid the conclusion that the Omega Point exists is to reject the known laws of physics (of which have been confirmed by every experiment to date), and hence to reject empirical science, there exists no rational reason for thinking that the Omega Point Theory is incorrect. Indeed, one must engage in extreme irrationality in order to argue against the Omega Point Theory.

    Rationality is my only God. All else is error and destruction.

    Unfortunately, often those who style themselves as atheists come to that position out of what they legitimately view as irrationalist strains within the religionism they see being practiced. So they’re clever enough to figure out that religion, as it is often practiced, is a sham, yet they err in cutting off their inquery at that point.

    That is, they’re not interested in what Jesus (whether he be a man who lived or some fiction of a conspiracy) said, but simply interested in finding fault in anything connected to this position which they hate. That Jesus could literally be their greatest ally hadn’t occurred to them. If one actually bothers to conduct a comprehensive survey (as I have done) of Jesus’s words and actions, then one finds that no more rational person has walked the Earth before or since Jesus (at least given what history records). And that by far.

    Humanity is still at a barbaric level compared to the morality preached by Jesus Christ. But then, the morality of Jesus Christ is the morality of the future. It is the morality of the ultimate technology: God. Because of that, the Christic ethic of the Golden Rule, or as a corollary, each to their own, cannot become popular now, due to humanity’s infatuation with the false God of statism, of which is a substitute-God and a substitute-parent. But if the state be a parent, then it is Saturn: the god who eats his own children.

    Humanity will once again needlessly have to go through the meat-grinder. It will be more bloody this time than in the past, which is saying quite a lot. Again, all of it needlessly. None of this has to happen. But it will, because most people hate truth above all else. Truth is the most hated thing upon the Earth.

  • Caligula

    Hello, James Redford. QED, although you really didn’t need to provide *quite* that much evidence in your post at January 23rd, 2009 at 4:17 am.

    What makes you think my question was rhetorical? (Now *that* question is rhetorical, because I have better things to do with my time than wade through your walls of text to find the few sentences to which it could be reduced.)

    You may think I’m just being unnecessarily mean, but seriously: WRITE LESS. Focus. Stay on-topic. You may not be the utter loon you appear to be, but you’re certainly not doing yourself any favors.

    And don’t make unwarranted assumptions about what people have, and have not, read or studied. I *earned* my Interpreter’s Bible *and* my physics knowledge. I’m not calling you a loon *just* because you type too much.

    > Rationality is my only God.

    Whahuh? (Also rhetorical.)

  • http://geocities.com/theophysics/ James Redford

    Hi, Caligula. So if your prior tergiversations weren’t rhetorical, then they were out of cowardice. At any rate, whatever your motivations are, you are still tergiversating, since the most direct response to another person whom one disagrees with is to state what is factually wrong with their position, which you have now repeatedly avoided doing.

    The reason you have repeatedly avoided specifying what is actually in error with Prof. Tipler’s Omega Point Theory is because there is nothing wrong with it, at least going by the known laws of physics (i.e., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Standard Model of particle physics). And since the only way to avoid the conclusion that the Omega Point exists is to reject the known laws of physics (of which have been confirmed by every experiment to date), and hence to reject empirical science, there exists no rational reason for thinking that the Omega Point Theory is incorrect. Indeed, one must engage in extreme irrationality in order to argue against the Omega Point Theory (as you have amply demonstrated).

    Regarding the “Interpreter’s Bible” which you say you earned, that sounds swell. I’m glad to hear that, as that suggests that you may be ready to raise yourself to the next level. For the crown to your theological (and moral, and political) edification, see my following article:

    James Redford, “Jesus Is an Anarchist,” revised and expanded edition, June 1, 2006 (first published on December 19, 2001) http://praxeology.net/anarchist-jesus.pdf

    Pertaining to your question of “Whahuh?” (which you state is “Also rhetorical”) in response to my statement that “Rationality is my only God,” I’ll go ahead and explain that to you because it’s obvious that you’re at least somewhat curious even given your disclaimer to rhetoricalness, since if you were completely incurious then there would have existed no motivation on your part to even respond with a question (however rhetorical).

    God (i.e., the Omega Point, to use the physicists’ technical terminology) is the most rational state obtainable. It is the state of infinite informational content (i.e., an infinite number of bits of information). At the moment the Omega Point is reached, all fallacies which are logically possible to refute will have been refuted, and all veridical knowledge which is logically possible to be known will be accepted. The Omega Point is the most rational state logically conceivable.

    As well, the Omega Point is the most pleasurable state logically conceivable, and infinitely so. The reason is because conscious actors unavoidably seek out what they anticipate will be a more pleasurable state for themselves. (This also applies to people who sacrifice themselves to save another, for in that case they prefer the outcome of saving another to maintaining their own lives. Of course, they may fail, due to their expectations not being in conformance with reality, but such failures don’t apply to a perfected consciousness, of which has rooted out all error which is possible to root out.)

    Since love feels good, love will be a prominent feature of the Omega Point. Indeed, infinitely so.

    Interestingly enough, since sex feels good (when it is conducted via rational means, i.e., love–rather than violence or shame), the Omega Point will also be the most highly sexualized state conceivable.

    Judgement is something we do to ourselves. We are inherently a part of this stream of information-processing, and cannot be abstracted from it. Hence, we each contain within ourselves knowledge of what is inherently good, even though it has been debased to a great degree in many (largly due to government and its intellectual bodyguards, which includes the enforced miseducation system and the mainline churches). But however debased it is in our Earthly lives, upon death it presents itself in full force. This Truth is the light at the end of the tunnel. One can only approach said light if one is willing to accept truth. This includes the truth of all one has done in one’s life. So for a murderer, truth would literally hurt, since if he comes toward the light he must experience the reality his victims experienced from their own point of view, including all the pain with it.

    Hence, many upon death flee from the light, as they regard it as evil due to it being a source of pain. But then, such is also the case with life, even quite apart from cases of murder, as that example was merely given to present it in stark terms.

    So “hell” (even, or especially, on Earth) is simply the resultant product of refusing to accept truth (although “hell” is a pagan concept which isn’t found in the original languages of the Bible). In death, the farther one flees from the light the further one is steeped in error, and hence the harder it will be for one to realize what is necessary in order to save oneself (i.e., extricate oneself from the unpleasurable predicament). But then, so also is the case with life.

    If one is interested in the biblical exposition of the above process, then see John 3:19-21. See also John 14:6, wherein Jesus defines himself as a synonym for truth, and points out that one cannot reach God except via truth. Of course, see also my “Jesus Is an Anarchist” article referenced above in this post, of which pertains to the political and social ethics of God.

  • Caligula

    @James Redford: Here’s a challenge for you. Respond to a post in under two paragraphs.

    > I’m glad to hear that, as that suggests that you may be ready to raise yourself to the next level.

    You’re condescending as well. Neat.

    > [...] So “hell” (even, or especially, on Earth) is simply the resultant product of refusing to accept truth (although “hell” is a pagan concept which isn’t found in the original languages of the Bible). [...]

    Almost none of your wall of text is relevant at *all* to anything I said.

    > Pertaining to your question of “Whahuh?” (which you state is “Also rhetorical”) in response to my statement that “Rationality is my only God,” I’ll go ahead and explain that to you because it’s obvious that you’re at least somewhat curious even given your disclaimer to rhetoricalness, since if you were completely incurious then there would have existed no motivation on your part to even respond with a question (however rhetorical).

    I’ll paraphrase, as an example: “I don’t believe you understand what ‘rhetorical’ means, so I’ll answer anyway.” You are, however, incorrect. I can think (and express) my opinion that you’re a loon without *any* desire to hear more of it.

    You *so* don’t get it. I haven’t addressed anything about the Omega Point because I don’t care to debate anything factual with you. I have addressed *you* as a person and as a writer. You write too much and say too little. This puts you squarely in the realm of the varieties of crackpot experience. I’m telling you as a well-read, intelligent, interested observer: you’re not doing yourself any favors, and don’t seem to be able to stop yourself.

  • Caligula

    > For the crown to your theological (and moral, and political) edification, see my following article:

    *That* is the “crown” of my personal theological, political, and moral edification?! (Rhetorical. Seriously. There is absolutely no curiosity on my part to your answer to that question. None whatsoever. I am utterly devoid of interest regarding your thoughts pertaining to the question. If I made a list of all the things I am interested in in even the tiniest amounts, your response to this would not be on it. Hopefully this clears up at least one item on the list of things you believe about me.)

  • http://geocities.com/theophysics/ James Redford

    Hi, Caligula. It’s interesting to see your tergiversations. You’re not even passably good as B.S.ing, to use a colloquialism. Because of that, everything I said in my prior post applies now as it did then.

    It would be nice to hear from you an actual critique regarding factual matters, but apparently that requires from you a mental skill-level which you lack. And I doubt that you lack that due to some birth defect, but rather due to your psychological displeasure vis-à-vis a position which you hate, of which prevents you from thinking rationally on the matter.

    So as I said, if your prior tergiversations weren’t rhetorical, then they were out of cowardice. At any rate, whatever your motivations are, you are still tergiversating, since the most direct response to another person whom one disagrees with is to state what is factually wrong with their position, which you have now repeatedly avoided doing.

    The reason you have repeatedly avoided specifying what is actually in error with Prof. Tipler’s Omega Point Theory is because there is nothing wrong with it, at least going by the known laws of physics (i.e., the Second Law of Thermodynamics, general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Standard Model of particle physics). And since the only way to avoid the conclusion that the Omega Point exists is to reject the known laws of physics (of which have been confirmed by every experiment to date), and hence to reject empirical science, there exists no rational reason for thinking that the Omega Point Theory is incorrect. Indeed, one must engage in extreme irrationality in order to argue against the Omega Point Theory (as you have amply demonstrated).

    Regarding the “Interpreter’s Bible” which you say you earned, that sounds swell. I’m glad to hear that, as that suggests that you may be ready to raise yourself to the next level. For the crown to your theological (and moral, and political) edification, see my following article:

    James Redford, “Jesus Is an Anarchist,” revised and expanded edition, June 1, 2006 (first published on December 19, 2001) http://praxeology.net/anarchist-jesus.pdf

    Pertaining to your question of “Whahuh?” (which you state is “Also rhetorical”) in response to my statement that “Rationality is my only God,” I’ll go ahead and explain that to you because it’s obvious that you’re at least somewhat curious even given your disclaimer to rhetoricalness, since if you were completely incurious then there would have existed no motivation on your part to even respond with a question (however rhetorical).

    God (i.e., the Omega Point, to use the physicists’ technical terminology) is the most rational state obtainable. It is the state of infinite informational content (i.e., an infinite number of bits of information). At the moment the Omega Point is reached, all fallacies which are logically possible to refute will have been refuted, and all veridical knowledge which is logically possible to be known will be accepted. The Omega Point is the most rational state logically conceivable.

    As well, the Omega Point is the most pleasurable state logically conceivable, and infinitely so. The reason is because conscious actors unavoidably seek out what they anticipate will be a more pleasurable state for themselves. (This also applies to people who sacrifice themselves to save another, for in that case they prefer the outcome of saving another to maintaining their own lives. Of course, they may fail, due to their expectations not being in conformance with reality, but such failures don’t apply to a perfected consciousness, of which has rooted out all error which is possible to root out.)

    Since love feels good, love will be a prominent feature of the Omega Point. Indeed, infinitely so.

    Interestingly enough, since sex feels good (when it is conducted via rational means, i.e., love–rather than violence or shame), the Omega Point will also be the most highly sexualized state conceivable.

    Judgement is something we do to ourselves. We are inherently a part of this stream of information-processing, and cannot be abstracted from it. Hence, we each contain within ourselves knowledge of what is inherently good, even though it has been debased to a great degree in many (largly due to government and its intellectual bodyguards, which includes the enforced miseducation system and the mainline churches). But however debased it is in our Earthly lives, upon death it presents itself in full force. This Truth is the light at the end of the tunnel. One can only approach said light if one is willing to accept truth. This includes the truth of all one has done in one’s life. So for a murderer, truth would literally hurt, since if he comes toward the light he must experience the reality his victims experienced from their own point of view, including all the pain with it.

    Hence, many upon death flee from the light, as they regard it as evil due to it being a source of pain. But then, such is also the case with life, even quite apart from cases of murder, as that example was merely given to present it in stark terms.

    So “hell” (even, or especially, on Earth) is simply the resultant product of refusing to accept truth (although “hell” is a pagan concept which isn’t found in the original languages of the Bible). In death, the farther one flees from the light the further one is steeped in error, and hence the harder it will be for one to realize what is necessary in order to save oneself (i.e., extricate oneself from the unpleasurable predicament). But then, so also is the case with life.

    If one is interested in the biblical exposition of the above process, then see John 3:19-21. See also John 14:6, wherein Jesus defines himself as a synonym for truth, and points out that one cannot reach God except via truth. Of course, see also my “Jesus Is an Anarchist” article referenced above in this post, of which pertains to the political and social ethics of God.

  • http://geocities.com/theophysics/ James Redford

    You sure do demonstrate a lot of care for someone who insists they don’t care. It’s obvious that you do care, but for some bizarre reason you don’t want people to think you do. And that’s a position which is self-contradictory.

    You’re not even truthful with your own self. How much less can you be truthful with anyone else. Needless to say, you’re in no position to start commenting on things which you yourself effectively admit you know nothing about. Not only are you an effective self-admitted ignoramous, but you also are out of the closet with your mental contradictions.

    I in all sincereity recommend that you stop attempting to argue with me. I love a genuine intellectual discussion, but you’re just pathetic. I say that for your benefit–truly. I love you as a child of God, but you’re one of His slower children (and that by your choice).

    And beyond that, I’ll here elaborate on the whole absurdity of these responses. Indeed, I don’t even get the point of them. Are they motivated by the whole culture of “We’s goin’ to mess you up” because someone heard something they are unfamiliar with or which they dislike? As far as everthing I have seen, that is the sum total of the motivating factor in the cases vis-à-vis the Omega Point Theory, since in all my years of research in attempting to find critiques of the Omega Point Theory, that is what all the responses come down to. They don’t even attempt to address factual matters. It’s just “Dat person said someding dat we don’t like, derefore he wrong–and he dupid for even dinking about such dings.” (And no, that jocular phrasing isn’t impinging upon any particular social group, as plenty of rednecks talk like that, too.)

    Caligula, you’ve already admitted that you “don’t care” about this matter, and you’ve effectively admitted that you know nothing about it, yet that hasn’t stopped you from wasting my time. Have some decency. Stop being a gnat buzzing around someone’s brow just because you can. If you have some point of fact which you disagree with, then state it in a direct manner. Otherwise, stop being a troll.

  • Caligula

    > I in all sincereity recommend that you stop attempting to argue with me.

    I’m not arguing with you. I’m calling you a loon, and telling you one way that would help alleviate why most people also believe you are a loon. If that means I’m “effectively admitting I know nothing about it”, fine–but we have very different ways of interpreting things.

    > yet that hasn’t stopped you from wasting my time

    Those compulsions must be terrible–originally I was (mostly) kidding when I said you couldn’t help yourself. Apparently you actually can’t. I find that funny, in a sad sort of way.

    > I love you as a child of God, but you’re one of His slower children (and that by your choice).

    Wow.

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  • pedro

    To those who say that Tipler physical theory is rubbish: may you bother to point out where his mathematics and physics are mistaken?

  • Crackpot apprentice

    Interesting topic. I think that the number of outrageous proposals coming from physicists and mathematicians has increased in the past 50 or so years. It could be that the huge advances physics has made in the past century have resulted in a lot of “frustration” at it having stopped short of explaining fundamental phenomenas like existence, origin of the universe, God, etc.
    I, still doing my Bachelor in physics, have experienced a lot of episodes of crackpottery over the years. I always find myself inclined to search really hard, using whatever physics i know, to explain “Existence”. Found myself thinking about quantization of space-time and how that could solve something i don’t yet know lol. And I did catch me comparing myself to Einstein a couple of times.
    I think it takes a mixture of psychological factors and the right scientific environment to produce a crackpot.

  • Crackpot apprentice

    Oops. I just realized that this post had taken a serious left turn somewhere. I hope i don’t get myself caught in the crossfire.

  • NickS

    Gak

    The Historian Tippler quotes is most definitely giving a crap representation of why Galileo’s views where rejected, which is primarily to do with politics, and the frame of Galileo’s arguments in a Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, that’s covered rather nicely on wikipedia…

    Stillman Drake is also doing things a trained historian should know better not to do, namely anachronisms and lying by omission. Since at that time, Natural Philosophy was very much embedded within the larger Theological endeavours of the times. And was seen as revealing God’s laws, iirc my history and philosophy of science courses right, a view that was quite common up till the 19th century.

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  • Jon

    Whilst I strongly dislike tipler’s theories, arrogance and presentation – I dislike the way you have mocked the idea of global warming being linked to solar activity. Global temperature variances have been shown to be closely linked with solar activity. CO2 is a pathetic “greenhouse” gas, the farming of cattle has a greater impact on the environment than our CO2 emissions. CO2 was simply the easiest thing to tax, it is nothing more than a taxation model, to deny this is naive. That does not mean we don’t have to look after the environment – of course we do – it’s incredibly important, but lying about this taxation model to force a useless correction is maddening.

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .

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