It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Skepticism regarding "thermodynamics"

It's time the conspiracy of engineers promoting their "thermodynamics" stopped getting a free ride.

It happens I believe in Phlogiston Theory. But so did all the Nobel winners, not just in physics and chemistry but also economics and peace. Without exception. Also Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi not to mention Babe Ruth and Bobby Orr and Joe Namath...

I understand that the contrary "thermodynamic" theory is motivated by economic self-interest on the part of engineers who want to keep getting money for designing their so-called combustion chambers and engines and such, but their pretense that the science is settled is very far from true. Look. Nobel winners. And hockey players.

They agree with me because I say so. Who are they to argue?



Steven said...

Does your theory give you the knowledge of how to utilize all possible resources in the absolute most efficient way to promote human wants and needs?

Does it inform you of what those wants and needs "should" be?

Anonymous said...

Next you'll suggest burning food for fuel. Ah no That was Gore who cast the tying breaking vote.
Save the planet. Starve the poor.

Actually staring the poor is a great carbon credit.

Dan'l said...

I hear you man, and aren't you appalled that Phlogistonist teaching has been completely shut out by the thermodynamic leftist hegemony? I say teach the controversy!

Michael Tobis said...

er, Steven, huh?

Steven said...

Let me back up-

I know you are joking. But my question is this, are you smart enough, wise enough to know what 6 billion people each want, and do you know the best way to get it?

I've mentioned this in several other posts, including grist.

I see an incredible arrogance coming from the scientific community that they are convinced of the limitations they see, that doom is imminent, and most of all that they are so much smarter and better intentioned than all the "little people" who need their help.

This is not a personal accusation. I ask the question above, to bring out your opinion.

The economic view is that every single human being inherently seeks to better their own lives. I could try to pick the "best" movie that everyone should go see, but I would fail in making the audience happy. People have different desires, and have different trade-offs they are willing to give up.

I don't know anyone who wants a crappy environment. I do know a lot of rural Thai who would rather have an air conditioner.

Over time, we have provided better solutions to peoples problems. Though sometimes a new technology makes a big mess, once we get underway, we begin to clean up that mess because we do value our environment.

Thermodynamics is a science of understanding physical, measurable phenomena. Can you thermodynamics or alternate scientific theory explain the different value in a 400 page book by Shakespeare and a 400 page book by John Grisham?

Economics can. This is where I think science needs to see that it's tools do not measure everything. Also, that there aren't "bad guys", big Dick Cheney lookin bastard chomping on a cigar wringing his hands as the toxic sludge falls on the heads of the poor people.

This idea that economists don't care I find very surprising. Listening to economists, the most common topic I hear is expanding public awareness of basic concepts. The second most popular topic I hear is how to alleviate poverty in places like Africa.

That is what economists do. They do care. They are very tied into that foundational statement "All human beings inherently seek to better themselves". And at least the school of thought that I follow, believes that there will be infinitely many solutions to those individual peoples wants.

Some may not like burnt breakfast sausage in their chili. But they all want to eat.

Can science admit that thermodynamics may not describe the total human condition? How about admitting that the limitations that seem apparent today may not be as gloomy as we think?

Marion Delgado said...

They get the big bucks denying workable perpetual motion engines, even the most tested which run on zero point energy.

Maxwell's demon refuted the entire junk science of thermodynamics. It's nice to see some of the science blogs breaking ranks and exhibiting proper scientific skepticism.

I estimate I could find 5000 scientists, everything from nutritionists to cosmologists, who would agree with this brave statement.