Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lawrence Krauss - Best of – Arguments and Comebacks

Lawrence Krauss, physicist and cosmologist, travels frequently as he proselytizes for Scientism. Sometimes he is with Dawkins, others he is with Dennett. Here is a video of some of his choice gems, which I have transcribed below, and commented on. Because there are diverse clips, I have numbered them for ease of reference.

1. “Beliefs are not innocuous. Belief in things that aren’t true often results in actions that are often harmful”.
Yes, associating actions with false beliefs certainly condemns the Atheist regimes of Lenin/Trotsky/Stalin/Mao/Pol Pot/Castro/Chavez, etc. Their actions were beyond harmful, they were evil, massively so. And they were based on false principles of Atheistic, Scientistic Materialism. And yes, Dialectical Materialism is the belief upon which they were and are specifically based. And these are false, have been demonstrated to be false, and more importantly,have been demonstrated to be highly harmful, even bloodily eugenic (but in a logical way). So the implication of Krauss' claim must be held especially true, highly visibly so, for Atheistic, Scientistic, Materialism.
2. (a) “The point is that the doctrines of religion are outdated, and that’s for good reason. They were created by bronze age, or iron age peasants, who didn’t even know that the earth orbited the sun. So the wisdom in those books is not wisdom at all, and people take the wisdom – in fact, we have learned something over the last 20 centuries and science has taught us how the world works (7:50). Now for science… the interesting thing for scientists is that God is completely irrelevant to scientists. Most scientists don’t spend enough time thinking about God to even know if they are Atheists. Because they try and understand how the world works and God never enters into it. It’s just completely irrelevant. And in fact, the more we learned about the natural world, the more we’ve learned that you don’t need any divine intervention to explain anything.

(b) As far as morality is concerned and the person you want to be, which I think is really the heart of what religion…. When religion provides many things for people and we can’t deny that. The question is, how can we take the things that people need – community; support; hope – and use the real world to build those quantities. Because if you base your beliefs and your actions on myths that are incorrect, you’re inevitably going to take irrational actions. And so what we want to do is what science does which is to force peoples’ beliefs to conform to the evidence of reality rather than the other way around, and not assume the answers to questions even before we ask them. And use the RATIONAL WORLD to build a global society, not an exclusionary society, but a global world where people can live together based on the reality that we are all humans sharing this planet. And we need to work together to build a better place. A morality based on rationality and not outmoded religious beliefs.”
The first part, 2(a), is false. There is no law of physics that predicts that any mineral combination will be self-aware, much less a conscious agent, by virtue of deterministic laws of physics. There is no law of physics that even comes close. In fact, the practice of physics requires that physical existence be deterministic, regular, orderly, stupidly so. That alone falsifies what Krauss maintains as being complete knowledge of the world and how it works. To maintain such a thing necessitates an internal contradiction. And that contradiction falsifies his use of the term “rational world”

Further, it is pointless to declare that God is irrelevant to scientists, science and the investigation of material existence. In fact that is counterproductive to open thought and hypothesis formation. Material existence is not God, and there is no expectation of finding God there. But the fact that the universe is rational, we are rational, and the question of why should that be so in a purely material, deterministic universe cannot be answered under deterministic physical laws. The source of material existence and obviously non-deterministic, non-physical features of the physical universe are outside of both the physical universe and the ability of science to address. More on that below.

And it is annoying for a person, even and especially a physicist, to pretend to know things that he doesn’t and cannot, as he implies that there is nothing which exists that cannot be addressed by science in his hurry to eliminate a non-physical agency involved with the universe. He unabashedly declares himself to more wise than any wisdom found in the ancient texts, and he Ad Hominem’s the source of the texts by declaring them bronze/iron age ignorants who didn’t know science facts which he knows. The arrogance of this pretension to supremacy entails a belief in something which cannot be true, especially considering that Krauss fails to differentiate between contingent fact and wisdom as if he, himself, is ignorant of the difference. He appears blinded by the presumed brilliance of himself as he makes proclamations for other people who he obviously considers his lessers, even while demonstrating his own limitations.

Part 2(b): Morals. My first experience with Krauss was through his book, “A Universe From Nothing”, which gave me a firm impression of the type of integrity to which Krauss holds himself. The title is a purposeful fraud designed to sell books because the book does not give any actual empirical science in support of the “nothing” which he claims in the title. If he actually had such information, he would be enshrined as a second Newton, Einstein or both. But he has no such information despite the claim of the title. He has stalwartly refused to acknowledge any error or malfeasance in his action, despite heavy criticism from public and peers. So I am pretty sure that his brand of “rational world morality” would not reflect any recognizable form of actual morality which is not self-aggrandizing.

The terms “real world” and “morals” are mutually incompatible when placed in conjunction. Morality does not spring from the “real world”, especially not the “real world” of evolution, “red in tooth and claw”, or the Atheist Nietzschean concept of “Will to Power”, much less the forced elitist drive toward communal one-world, one-concept, one-think under elitist “rational” supervision. “Rational” actions are not selfless under the scrutiny of evolution, kin selection theory notwithstanding. The hypotheses of logic are only as good as their premises, form and grounding; they are not beholden to any morality of outcome. For example, world depopulation to accomplish the salvation of the planet might be declared logical but declaring it to be moral is not actual morality. That’s because the choice of objectives requires actual moral gating before logic is applied to the tactics for accomplishing the objective. This concept lies outside the scope of empiricism.

3. “This is an amazing picture, because it is a picture of gravitational lensing.” [omitting dialog describing galaxies] “When you look at images like this, they inspire you, in ways like nothing else that I know of can inspire.”
Here he has declared in essence that his personal ability to receive or produce inspiration is unfortunately truncated, severely so.

4(a)Certainly there are limits to science; an empiricist – which is what I am – [smugness noted] empirically there are limits to what science can do. In fact, in my own field, cosmology, there are clearly limits because we are, we have one universe to observe and most of us live in that universe. The Republican Party in my country doesn’t, but, but, but, um, the, uh, therefore [11:13] there may be many universes and therefore there’s obviously in some real physical sense a limited domain in which we can explore, and that’s a key point. It’s not just tools. Every academic discipline uses tools, [11:27] in some ways they’re not that different. But the key part of what makes science, science, and what makes it work is that it is based on empirical evidence. So rational thought applies to empirical evidence. And therefore , you can’t measure, even in principle… I mean there are lots of things we can’t measure that we can talk about as theoretical physicists I think about things… a lot of things we can’t measure right now.

(b) But, if you can’t ever measure it in principle, then... then science really has nothing to say about it. I would argue that anything else you say about it is not worth much either, but, uh, uh, but… it’s certainly a fact that science generally can’t address it if you can’t measure it in principle.

And that’s, um, that’s of fundamental importance and I think that we forget that.

(c) So I think, the difference that I would say is that I don’t know what the ultimate limits of science are; there are limits now, and there are many areas where science has little to say right now.

(d) But can I say that it will NEVER have anything to say about it? Absolutely not! There’s a huge difference between what’s unknowable and what’s not known. And so the only way you can find out if science has anything to say about it is, try. And if it has something useful to say, it makes predictions which agree with experiments, then you can make progress. But you could try it and it might not work.

(e) An example might be sociology, where they tried to use the language of physics to apply to society and it was far too premature, it was too complex and consciousness, which I was just telling Dan [Dennett, sitting nearby] - I do physics because it’s easy. If I wanted to do the hard stuff, I’d do consciousness.

Having this written out allows the reader to try to follow the train of thought by backing up as the train jumps tracks, and to attempt to apply linear logic to it by going slowly through the jump. The most obvious jump off track occurs between 4(b), where he outlines the limits of empiricism, and and 4(c) where he then claims not to know the limits. All in the space of two sentences.

Then he jumps further off track from 4(b) to 4(d), by assuming that there actually are no limits. But still he pulls back to “prediction/experiment”, at least briefly. By 4(e) he's completely derailed, as he claims that it is complexity which is limiting, not ability to test it in principle which make science difficult but presumably not impossible.

He has jumped off the limiting rails of empirical science into the derailed world of Scientism as is necessary for his ideology.


Robert Coble said...

(TRIGGER WARNING: Those who are "sarcasm-impaired" should avoid reading this comment.)

Failure to understand and appreciate the sheer brilliance of Herr Professor Krauss is necessary and sufficient "evidence" (physical evidence, of course) that he is "BRIGHT" and you are not. So don't you look foolish and ignorant in comparison by daring to question the superior brain (no evidence of a mind nor the capacity to think rationally without self-contradiction) of Herr Professor Krauss? You should instead be totally warmed by the fire of his convictions of the absolute truth that there is no absolute truth, because there is no PHYSICAL evidence for anything absolutely true!


A massive case of premature intellectualization!

Steven Satak said...

Krauss, like so many of his fellows, has an ego swollen to the point where he can hold forth as an amateur philosopher and still keep a straight face.

Swollen pride accounts for his being blithely unaware that he is, like Bill Nye and many others, spouting pseudo-rational claptrap.

I can see Feynman even now, shaking his head in disgust.

Phoenix said...

Nice one Stan,especially that last part in bold where he contradicts himself wildly.Krauss is certain about one thing,and that is his many uncertainties.With so many paradoxes,we have no choice but to reject his entire article as illogical.

Phoenix said...

Logic and philosophy was never Krauss' forte.
1.Beliefs are not innocuous. Belief in things that aren’t true often results in actions that are often harmful”.
Any action resulting from a belief (good or bad) is evidence against Materialism/Physicalism.Krauss implies the result is the effect and the belief is the cause.

2.(a) They were created by bronze age, or iron age peasants, who didn’t even know that the earth orbited the sun...
Rejecting information because a)the authors were from a distant past and b) they did not know the earth rotates is fallacious reasoning to say the least.Using this reasoning we should reject Aristotle's logic because he fits the above criteria set by Krauss
2(b)A morality based on rationality and not outmoded religious belief
Krauss has yet to demonstrate that such rational morality can be exhibited by atoms,after all,that's all we (and nature) are.
3.When you look at images like this, they inspire you, in ways like nothing else that I know of can inspire.”
Under Materialism all behaviors are influenced deterministically.What exactly is the mechanism behind the picture that causes one to be creative?There should be a physical force causing such behaviors.It certainly cannot be gravity,weak and strong nucleur forces or the electromagentic force.

4.Number 4 really exposes his dishonesty.He asserts there are things that science cannot measure,they're not empirically testable but yet they exist,and is supposed to be material (or not!).

Anyway,just my 2 cents

Stefani Monaghan said...

Part 4 just sounds so Kraussian, so in character for a man who has a reputation for interrupting and talking over his opponents in debates. He simply enjoys hearing the sound of his own voice, and will engage his mouth before he's figured out what he wants to say.

"So rational thought applies to empirical evidence."

Yes, and so? Oh, I see. Rational thought and empirical evidence are in a monogamous relationship; therefore rational thought applies ONLY to empirical evidence. Ipso facto, non-empirical evidence (by which I suspect he means materialism) is not rational, because rational thought would never be unfaithful to his wedded spouse.

Now if he could only produce the marriage certificate.

"...there are many areas where science has little to say right now. But can I say that it will NEVER have anything to say about it? Absolutely not!"

I like the implied supposition here: science has little to say about A now. But I can't say it will never have anything to say about A (because mumble-mumble-limits), therefore anyone else who thinks they have something to say about A should just sit down, shut up and wait for science to catch up. Because whatever science maybe-could-might-possibly-some-day have to say is sure to be more important (read: "more interesting to me") that whatever it is you wanted to say.

But since physics is just a specialized branch of mathematics, I wonder a physicist goes about "measuring", oh, say, the number one. You know, without using the number one.

Phoenix said...


Remember the Craig vs Krauss debate where he lambasted logic?Here it is again:

Krauss:Now the other thing that Dr. Craig has talked about is logic. And the interesting thing about the universe is it is not logical.At least it’s not classically logical.

Contrast those statements with this one:

"So rational thought applies to empirical evidence."

Krauss' blatant contradiction exposes him as an opportunist and not a truth-seeker.He will grab hold of any chance,even if it contradicts his position,to further his agenda.

Stan said...

Nice expansions on the article, and I'm glad to see other people are analyzing the likes of Krauss and his obvious narcissistic arrogance. His personal characteristics are telling... For example, he won't stop talking at the natural end of a sentence, so that he keeps control of the narrative for as long as possible.

Excellent observations!

Stefani Monaghan said...

@Phoenix: I missed that one. I've listened to several Craig debates, then stopped, since he basically presents the same argument in each. And since none of his opponents touched Craig's philosophical arguments, I moved on to other things.

"And the interesting thing about the universe is it is not logical.At least it’s not classically logical."

Now whatever could he mean by that? Surely he does not mean the universe does not behave in predictable ways, since he is a physicist, after all.

But of course the universe isn't "logical", since logical is a function of a rational mind, which the universe certainly is not. To assert, on the other hand that logic cannot be applied to the universe to make sense it, would simply demolish the entire edifice on which his profession is built.

Unless by "At least not classily logical" he means "we need different rules of logic than what classical philosophy provides", well, as Ricky Ricardo used to say, "He's got a lot a 'splainin' to do."

Phoenix said...

I think Krauss meant Atheist logic as opposed to classic western logic.But yes,he does not seem to care that he contradicts himself and Materialism consistently.

But what's even more bizzare than Krauss' rhetoric is that none of his fans and audiences will even dare to expose his illogic.Do they know and do they even care?
Atheists believe in certain premises but they reject their inevitable conclusions?
Human minds are nothing but atoms in a non-rational universe that should behave irrational too but for some inexplicable reason the human mind adheres to rational thought.

Stan said...

It appears fairly consistent that an Atheist's thoughts and premises are never analyzed or commented on until one of two things happens. If the Atheist takes a position slightly out of the arrow of Atheist dogma, or the Atheist attacks one of the Atheist heros.

What comes to mind first is when Antony Flew left Atheism, and was viciously attacked as a person - senile, incompetent, can't understand evolution - all Ad Hominems and none addressing his change of theoretical grounding. Second was the bizarre attacks on The Amazing Randi, when he commented on global warming in a semi-open minded fashion concerning the data, and was then banished from the kingdom until he hastily and publicly repented, begged for forgiveness, and belly-crawled back into dogmatic favor again.

Highly respected Atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel endured the delegitimizing attacks after his book, "Mind and Cosmos", was published.

Krauss is a warrior for Atheism. His attacks will not be analyzed by anyone who could be publicly delegitimized in the eyes of Atheist packs of jackals by issuing honest critiques.

To be divested of your Atheist identity card is like losing your self altogether, if you are a Materialist Atheist by virtue of emotional neediness. And what Atheist is not?

Russell said...

Krauss exudes contempt and comes across as an oily snake-oil salesman.

I watched a brief segment where Craig calmly and methodically went about trying to pin Krauss down to Krauss's own statements.

Krauss couldn't stand it, he bounced around, cut Craig off multiple times, threw out non sequiturs, and behaved boorishly.

I watched a little more as Craig exposed his weak thinking, then I stopped.

It wasn't a debate or discussion, it was Krauss acting like a spoiled brat in attempt to 'prove' just how much better he was than that stupid Christian.

Krauss acts and sounds like a charlatan. I've seen it in others. The contempt hides a deep seated fear of being found out to not knowing what they claim to know. They won't, they can't, admit to being wrong and learn from that. So they hog the spotlight, let a torrent of words wash out, without any thought of what they had said before.