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Exile and dissent are emerging in America

Leftists', fearmongers', and warmongers' treatment of the opponents in the U.S. increasingly resembles the practices in totalitarian countries

Sometime in 1982 or so, when I was nine, I decided to play with the radio somewhat systematically. So I went through all the frequencies and caught assorted radio stations.

At one moment, I would hear someone who said (in Slovak):

This was our editorial commentary. You are listening to the Czech and Slovak broadcasting of the Radio Free Europe [station].
It just happens that I was recording that experiment on a tape so I still probably have these first words I heard from RFE somewhere. Listening to RFE became my standard daily exercise between 1982 and 1990. For this and other reasons, you could have counted me as a child dissident but at the (very good, then) basic school, I was really highly loyal and my opposition only became clear at the high school – where I also hated many other things.

Sometimes, the radio jammers were running at a full speed and the signal was bad but most of the time, I had no trouble to listen to the program. At any rate, your humble correspondent doesn't remember the time when the opponents of communism were routinely executed or something like that. By the 1980s, communism in Czechoslovakia ran out of steam and was becoming obsolete. No one was believing in it anymore. One could still be fired from schools and jobs for political reasons – and (with uncles on both sides in emigration etc.) I could only get to the high school thanks to the repeated victories in the mathematical and physical olympiads. But it was a diluted tea, indeed.

Czechoslovakia would have a few thousand of full-fledged dissidents (a small number) and 300,000 people fled Czechoslovakia after the 1968 Warsaw Pact occupation (and there was a similar "first wave" of emigrants after 1948 or at least after 1945). Many of those emigrants were economically motivated, of course. We like to think that the U.S. is a free country but I think it is accurate to say that this claim is becoming questionable and the rise of both "dissidents" and "exile" – especially very skillful Americans who are being rejected by virtually every "mainstream" institution connected with power and wealth in the U.S. for ideological reasons – is a clear symptom of the disappearing freedom in America.

I will mention just two very recent (last 7 days) examples that appeared on my radar. Richard Lindzen and his younger would-be counterparts will be the example of the "dissidents" while the American employees of RT (previously Russia Today) will be my examples of the exile, thanks to the official description of these people by the new "information minister" in the U.S.

OK. First, five days ago, Richard Lindzen gave a 19-minute interview to the Howie Carr show, a radio program: audio, The Daily Mail, Breitbart.

An unhinged climate alarmist insisted that Lindzen should have been arrested for being a climate skeptic. Richard Lindzen was explaining why the hundredths of a degree in temperature differences are ludicrous – even if it were tenths of a degree, it would be negligible differences. He described why the global warming movement has become a religious cult. You can imagine that I agree with all of his words. If I had to pick something where my accent would be different, well, I would probably be less convinced that the Bible may serve as a reliable weather record (including the floods etc.). But fine, I am obviously an infidel relatively to semi-believer Dick Lindzen. ;-)

He would also mention that he is living and he has always been living comfortably. He was recognized as a brilliant researcher in his field in time (I add) and got the tenure before the global warming movement got powerful. His very presence (flavored both by his brilliance and by his political opinions that are more widespread among donors than among scholars) has brought lots of donations to the MIT so the MIT has always respected him and protected him although sometimes this fact could have been obscured by some corners.

But Lindzen pointed out that an assistant professor who would be defending his views – and who is starting his or her career – would be doomed. So Lindzen himself discourages his young colleagues from such a risk, he says. Of course that I have the same expectation about the fate of such people. My conflict with the left-wing fringe at Harvard was "focused" around feminism but of course that those things are correlated so if someone opposes feminism, he (if not she) must be not only sexist but also a racist homophobe etc. But if I recall the holy war of a radical Marxist named Naomi Oreskes against me, I am sure that even without feminism, I would – soon or later – run into existential problems for the very simple reason that I – much like every sensible person – consider climate alarmism to be a pile of crap.

Thirty years ago, proponents of the climate hysteria – or other environmental hysterias, sometimes more sensible ones – would have long hair, they would climb the trees, eat the roots, and would be generally recognized as a fringe. But the movements with these nuts have merged with tons of sleazy and stinky left-wing ideologues (who have been leaving the sinking communist ship when the Soviet bloc collapsed) and opportunists and they have penetrated into most of the mainstream institutions in the U.S. – and also other Western countries, of course. One of those hysterics said the following just a few days ago:
... And no challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. (Applause.)

2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does: 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century. I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what, I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and at NOAA, and at our major universities. And the best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we don’t act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration and conflict and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it. (Applause.)

And that’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy to the way we use it. ...
The idea that climate change poses the "greatest threat" is ludicrous; it poses no detectable threat at all. 2014 was certainly not the warmest year on record according to the RSS, UAH AMSU satellite datasets, and according to NASA and NOAA, it probably wasn't the warmest year according to NOAA's NCDC and NASA's GISS, either. (Thankfully, AP just posted a story hours ago in which they admit that they distorted the facts by writing that 2014 was the warmest year.) Obama's need to refer to latest 15 years only highlights the fact that the temperatures have been constant, up to the noise, for (more than) 15 years.

More originally, the idea that Barack Obama knows "the best scientists" who agree with the climate hysteria is absolute nonsense. Pretty much by definition, there aren't any good scientists, let alone "best scientists", who endorse a total pseudoscientific superstition such as the climate hysteria. I won't waste time discussing Obama's conspiracy theories about the CO2 behind heat waves, conflicts in the world, hunger, and the Pentagon because it would be way too obvious that he should be stored in a psychiatric asylum.

Nevertheless, these people have hijacked most of the official institutions in the U.S., especially the media. Richard Lindzen has been doing fine but even the fact that he is giving interviews at Howie Carr-like shows (with all my respect) and not so much e.g. at the national TV channels says something. With a marginally possible exception of Fox News, the climate alarmist nuts have de facto barred sensible and educated people such as Richard Lindzen from the public discourse. Calls to suppress the climate skeptics even more fully are being voiced on a daily basis. And Howie Carr's show may be classified as the American counterpart of Samizdat.

I chose climate skeptics to have a particular example in mind but there are lots of other "holy cows" in the political correctness whose opponents are increasingly successfully repelled from virtually all mainstream institutions – even though their opinions are endorsed by a big portion (and often the majority) of the U.S. citizens. These people are increasingly clearly resembling dissidents in the communist countries as the fanatical loons who would like to arrest Lindzen and do similar things are gaining increasing influence over the mainstream institutions.

Russia Today, a threat ahead of ISIS and Boko Haram

My example of the "exile" will be the U.S. employees in Russia Today. There are perhaps other stations out there but I chose this station because I am very familiar with it. These days, I watch the English programs of Russia Today much more than all U.S.-based television stations combined. I think that these people – and I think that most of the relevant ones are Americans – are doing a very good job. In some respects, RT is doing the same thing as other Western media. In others, it's much more original, balanced, and covering the important stories and views that are omitted elsewhere. Some science stories at RT are above the average, too.

While I agree with the station's views concerning the Ukrainian civil war and lots of other things, be sure that there are lots of prevailing opinions they mostly believe but I disagree with them. For example, I am vastly more pro-Israel than they are; and I don't think that the Greeks have the right to "forgive themselves" the debt they owe to others in the tomorrow's elections, and so on.

But regardless of my disagreements, I can still see that they show some journalistic courage and impartiality that has become extremely rare elsewhere. Now I want to mention the new story that shocked me yesterday. Andrew Lack was named the new boss of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, some quasi-independent body supervising U.S. information and "propaganda", if you wish, including stations like Radio Free Europe. It's what I semi-jokingly called the "ministry of information" even though at least in the past, it wasn't meant to introduce any censorship or things like that.

However, times may be changing and the Thursday interview in the New York Times,
U.S. Seeking a Stronger World Media Voice,
simply looked stunning to me. These days, America is clearly separating itself from its "exile", too. Of course, the most shocking paragraph was widely covered by the Russian media. Andrew Lack said:
“We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram, “ he said. “But I firmly believe that this agency has a role to play in facing those challenges.”
Wow. So according to this U.S. "minister of information", RT is on par with the Islamic State and Boko Haram (the terrorist Islamist group in Nigeria). In fact, the RT is ahead of these "counterparts". Why? Because Russia Today is "out there pushing a point of view"! Wow, what a crime. What does Mr Lack want to do against this threat? What about starting radio jammers and censoring the Internet?

A completely random RT video: Abby Martin (who lives in D.C.) is not only attractive and witty but she does a kind of analysis (in this case, the foreign policies in the State of the Union address) that no one or virtually no one in the U.S. networks is doing. Is she really an enemy? Shouldn't most Americans be able to see the obvious, anyway? You know, Americans, you suck when babe like hers has to find a similar job in a foreign country that has almost 10 times lower GDP.

Why it's sick and completely against the Western values to place a TV channel on the same level as terrorist organization is so obvious that I don't want to waste time with that. Who doesn't immediately see why Mr Lack is a sick pile of crap (for example, his friends from the unhinged yet completely "mainstream" TV station called MSNBC who praise him in NYT) are lost people. I am physically afraid of these lunatics.

But I want to focus on something less obvious here. The fact that much of the good stuff that is being produced at RT is the work of Americans who have quite some independence in their work. They have to have because "just the Russians" wouldn't even be capable of organizing and designing all these professional programs. Apologies to my Eastern Slavic friends for having expressed this attitude. Americans are just well ahead of Russia and others in these matters and the charm of RT is, to a large extent, due to the charm of its U.S. employees.

The question I want to ask is whether these American citizens currently working for RT, to pursue my example further, are still full-fledged first-class citizens of the United States of America. And my answer is "No, and the gap is growing".

The NYT interview with Lack says that he and his staff will "more forcefully engage international rivals such as China and Russia in the high-stakes information war". I didn't even know that the U.S. has openly entered an "information war". What does it exactly mean when it comes to news networks broadcasting in America, such as RT America? Does it mean that this "ministry of information" only sees one "right truth" that must be supported and everyone else must be fought against as in any war?
...Russia has poured millions into foreign-focused news media like Russia Today and Sputnik News, a new website and radio service that leaders at the Kremlin say is being set up to counter the pro-American bias of the western news media. Russia Today already has a significant American presence. ...
Would you agree that these comments imply that the Americans working for RT are considered enemies of the state – of the U.S. – in this "information war" by the U.S. "ministry of information"? Can you imagine what does this mean?

It means that these professionals effectively have to flee America and risk that their homeland will treat them as enemies just because their viewpoints are not convenient for the "only allowed truth" that Mr Andrew Lack and his comrades want to defend in their "high-stakes information war".

Let me just remind you that if America were a democracy and if there were freedom, these people could broadcast pretty much the same programs in the U.S. There is clearly demand in the U.S. for this kind of news as Mr Lack openly admits, too. But for some reason they can't be aired directly from the U.S. They have been declared enemies of the state.

Enemies of the state – just because they think it's right to point out thousands of casualties across the world that are completely overlooked by the U.S.-based media? To show reasons why the U.S. policies in the Middle East have been seriously flawed and harmful for the local people? Reasons why Barack Obama or John Kerry are lousy politicians? Evidence that Kiev's behavior in the Ukrainian civil war has been more murderous and less legitimate than the behavior of the other side? Proofs that MSNBC and lots of other channels are just not being honest? Observations about the problems caused by the European integration?

Shouldn't it be normal for Americans who have these observations to be able to present these views directly from the U.S. – and not to be treated as enemies in an "information war"? They are American citizens just like the employees of MSNBC and if the press were free in the U.S., the government-appointed institutions such as Andrew Lack's board shouldn't pick winners and losers between the media outlets.

I am just amazed and scared by these developments. You might say that those biases and open hostilities against the U.S. citizens with some – clearly totally legitimate and legal (and mostly true) – opinions don't prove that the freedom of thought is disappearing in the U.S. because Andrew Lack's board isn't really a part of the government. It is an independent organization, and so on.

This excuse is extremely weak. In every totalitarian system, the government's complete control over a certain portion of the life of the society began "informally", in some organizations that were powerful enough in the whole nation, de facto fully aligned with the new government, but could be viewed as independent. Later, when the friendship between the regime and these institutions became way too obvious, their relationship was made official. The Brownshirts was just some fun military wing in a political party years before it would be made an official arm of the state. When the SA organized the Night of the Broken Glass against the German Jews in 1938, it was just an "informal" organization doing its fun activities. The state did nothing against these events, however.

I think that you will agree that by that moment, Germany was already a full-fledged totalitarian country. And I can give you tons of similar examples. The point is that in a free country, institutions that are picked as "standard organizations doing something" by the government simply have to respect the equality of different citizens and their views. So I urge you to fire this fascist bastard Mr Andrew Lack before it is too late.

Meanwhile, more realistically, jerks like this one will continue to gain power and the gap between the "mainstream America" they have hijacked and the "dissidents" and "exile" will continue to grow and will increasingly resemble countries such as the Third Reich and the USSR.

And that's the memo.

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reader Uncle Al said...

"left-wing fringe at Harvard was 'focused' around feminism" Mulieres taceres in ecclesia. Mulieres taceres quid de statu. Mulieres taceres de te ipso.
Diversity is admission by reason of demonstrated disqualification. Empirical reality is patient but not forgiving.

reader MikeNov said...

The Obama leftists have been decimating the Radio Free/Voice of America operations.

reader MikeNov said...

If Russia Today is controlled by the state to some extent, then having Americans working there be considered suspect is not unusual. Would you say the same about people working for Al Jazeera, or some other network in the Middle East? Then again, I think CNN is quite anti-American in its views, and the editor Eason admitted parroting an Iraqi line to protect his journalists and station rights when Saddam was in power.

reader Luboš Motl said...

I can't believe you may write such a thing, Mike, because it is *identical* to the way how the communist regime worked to delegitimize the Czech and Slovak employees of the Radio Free Europe. At least, many of those people were no longer Czechoslovak citizens when they broadcast with RFE, so the communist regime had a greater justification than you have to spit on these citizens.

It doesn't matter who funds something as long as everyone obeys the law. If you think it should be illegal to be neutral concerning the Ukrainian civil war, or illegal to support the rebels or the Russian viewpoint, you should codify a law that will make it illegal. Then of course everyone will agree that the freedom of opinion is dead in the U.S. But if you don't do that, you have no legal basis for making weird statements such as that these employees of RT are "suspect". Suspect for whom, what does it fucking mean?

In average, and almost all of them, they are better journalists than almost everyone in ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and many others.

Al Jazeera? It's indeed the same as RT but for some reason, no one is waging an "information war" against Al Jazeera in the U.S. Al Jazeera America - bought from Al Gore (originally Current TV) - just reduced its U.S. operation nearly to zero. No one watches it and even if someone did, the program is almost identical to the program of MSNBC and that's exactly the kind of crap that jerks like Mr Lack want to spread in their "high-stakes information war".

Qatar, whose ruling family owns Al Jazeera, is an ally of the U.S. of some sort. There is even a U.S. military base in Qatar. So of course it would be totally insane to harass Americans just because they work for Al Jazeera. They're clearly totally analogous to Americans who work for the BBC, aren't they? After all, the content is pretty much the same, anyway.

There's nothing illegal or "degrading" about someone's working for a foreign employer. 1/3 of Czechs work for companies that are either German or have German mothers. Are they traitors because of that? Should state institutions wage a war against them? I just can't believe you are serious. Rights and services of the state belong to *every* citizen who hasn't violated the laws. The Americans at RT haven't violated any laws. They haven't done anything wrong and unlike most of their colleagues in the generical U.S. cable networks, they also try to say the truth and behave ethically.

reader Gerry said...

The funding is well established and the effect is designed to
overwhelm. As more of the GW/CC bullsh~t is exposed they seem to be slamming the pedal to the metal.

Arguing the GW cause in comments has tapering off but the growth in the daily flush of crap such as these writings in publications, cable news and all over the internet is amazing.

reader John Archer said...

The problem, this general malaise, is really in the people, the masses themselves.

The totalitarian stranglehold, like that of a slow motion boa constrictor, has been creeping up on us for decades. Most people can't see it though, and I'm not talking about just the great unwashed soap-watching masses but also the bulk of the professional classes too. You'll hear the odd comment about how ridiculous the new XYZ is then they 'move on' quickly and XYZ becomes new orthodoxy. (Petty but telling example: ordinary people not just accepting "chair" for "chairman" when spoken by others but now using it themselves. I never do.) At least that's my perception from personal experience. I'd say they've all gradually absorbed this changing mindset. Unconscious osmosis. It's insidious. OK, not everyone but the vast majority.

For so many things that are going on today, if one went back in time to say the 1960s and told people about what was to come, the reaction would be wholly incredulous. What's worse is that one would be considered mentally deranged by the very same people (in their younger days) who today regard any kind of 'energetic' objection to the state we're currently in vis-à-vis this stranglehold as fringe "right wing" ideologuery. Not really respectable. Not 'balanced'. Jesus!

I'm not a born political animal. In fact for most of my life I've avoided politics and political discussion like the plague. This was especially so of the party political kind, which I still find tedious and ugly in the extreme. Indeed I found those who professed any such interest, even of the most general kind, to be the type of person with whom I had pretty much nothing in common. Nevertheless I think I've always been aware of this insidious creep.

I remember, when I was a boy and WWII was still a fresh memory for most, a very nice old lady (a true blue flag-waving patriot — quite right too) telling me how different we English are from the Germans. You know the kind of thing — the Germans just follow orders, are easily regimented etc and that's why someone like Hitler could grab a hold. Not us though. That could never happen here. Of course I agreed with her—mostly because I wanted to believe it—but even then I had strong doubts. After all they look just like us and I thought about how varied my class mates were and how many of them so easily acquiesced when 'authority' spoke. "You can't do that — it's forbidden, it's against the rules." (Correct response: "Fuck the stupid, petty rules.") That kind of thing.

Yet that majority think of themselves as free-thinkers. England was Catholic once. Then overnight it was Protestant. Just like that! No problem. It's no different now. Just the regular 'religious' masses doing their regular thing. This time though they're headed for boiled frogdom.

I wish they'd wake up and slaughter the bastards.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Bohr, Heisenberg et al. were always right. The dynamical laws - the Heisenberg equations of motion etc. - describe how things evolve. This is the "inner working" of the black box.

And then there is the application of the black box - the connection to our observations or sensory experiences. The connection of the internal chip is done by the right physical interpretation of the mathematical objects in the e.g. Heisenberg picture. The physical interpretation is the well-known probabilistic interpretation of the transition amplitudes.

Einstein and Schrodinger and others have always been wrong. There is nothing wrong or unsatisfying about what you call the "discontinuity". The laws of quantum mechanics are composed of the nontrivial mathematical essence - the Hamiltonian-generated evolution of the operators, for example - and the interpretation of the mathematical results in terms of probabilities of observations. The word "probability" always means that the options are uncertain a priori, but one of them becomes certain after the observation. This is true even for probabilities in classical physics - it's the general definition of a "probability". So the very appearance of "probability" in the foundations of the theory means that it will have what you call the "discontinuity" and there is absolutely nothing imperfect about such a theory. I have explained it about 1,500 times using different perspectives.

Bell and Bohm were perhaps calculating but Bell's calculations showed that the alternatives to Copenhagen were wrong because they had to conflict with well-established principles of relativity, and Bohm's theory is an example of that. DeBroglie's ("Bohmian") pilot wave mechanics is wrong for tons of other reasons, too.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Bill, I am of course largely grateful to you for the provoking material - sometimes I may need to raise the pressure and train the neural cells.

I agree that the "wave function" is encouraging the wrong thinking - the very wrong thinking that Schrödinger liked to pursue himself. Maybe a whole new nomenclature in all courses and textbooks would eliminate much of this mess.

You nicely observe that even "amplitude" is leading to misleading classical interpretations. You know, the problem is that *every* word that existed before quantum mechanics is connected to some classical objects because classical objects were the only thing that people knew before QM! ;-) So perhaps, one could use totally different words. Amplitudes should be quantlitudes, or something like that. :-)

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear James, you are confused. The equations of classical general relativity are nonlinear.

But in quantum gravity, these Einstein's equations become Heisenberg equations of motion for the operators. The evolution equations for operators are nonlinear. But the operators themselves are still perfectly linear - in a theory of quantum gravity, just like in any other theory - and the evolution operator (e.g. one that evolves the state vector) is perfectly linear in quantum gravity, too.

So you're mixing two completely different things. Schrödinger's equation is *always* exactly linear in quantum mechanics (formulated in the Schrödinger's picture). It has to be, it's true in QED, the Standard Model, or quantum gravity. It's only the equations for operators that may be nonlinear in the operators. But everything in any quantum mechanical theory involving the state vector must be perfectly linear in the state vector! (The probability must be perfectly sesquilinear.)

Right, newer theories are even more "abstract" - perhaps in the way that people find weird because they are even further from the everyday experience. This divergence is bound to continue.

reader Tony said...

Sigh! Yes, I know well what you are talking about.

Even presumably anti-totalitarian Web sites turn into totalitarian, as long as you decide to think a bit and look under the surface, concentrating and thinking for more than 5 minutes.

reader Gordon said...

Hmmm, why is Mark Srednicki in your crackpot bin? I cut him a lot of slack for putting up his hand when George Johnson told a seminar that "No one here thinks Lee Smolin is a crackpot"...
plus he wrote a good QFT text, I believe.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Gordon, I know Mark in many respects and I am aware of this contribution to the Smolin rating and he has done many cool things I've followed over the years.

But this was an appraisal of this participation at that conference, the talk, and what he told Siegfried, too. Claiming that the wave function is "ontic" is clearly wrong (Siegfried's article) but his talk really contained lots of positive references to downright crackpot comments such as those by Carroll etc.

So I don't really believe that Srednicki should be classified as someone who has learned QM properly.

Note that also when it comes to the Boltzmann Brains, Srednicki wrote an OK critical paper of that concept, but it was strangely equivocal.

After studying some followups and new reactions, it became clear to me that Srednicki doesn't really understand why those Boltzmann-Brain comments are unequivocally wrong, either.

reader Tony said...

Why would they need to spend money on that, anymore? Europe has been conquered. Ukraine is the next on the list. Who in Europe are these operations supposed to address these days?

reader Guest said...

Ok, we're finally on the same page.

If I may ask, didn't you promise some updates on your research around christmas? I've been awaiting for that more than the joint plank-bicep2 paper...


reader Gene Day said...

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is not a quasi-independent body, Lubos, it is a US Government agency. More importantly, it has nothing whatsoever to do with US domestic broadcasting. It cannot control or restrict the content of US broadcasts in any way.
The US Information Agency (USIA) was created by a Republican Administration shortly after the war for the purpose of providing other countries with an accurate view of America and American values. It’s tools included the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and a range of direct educational programs. For instance, one prominent attorney of Chinese parentage whom I knew quite well (he was a colleague of my older brother) spent a great deal of time in China teaching China’s legal people about English Common Law, the system that we use. As China moves slowly in the direction of a system of laws this will, I am sure, prove beneficial.
The USIA was split, a couple of decades ago, into a broadcast arm, The BBG, and a diplomatic arm, which is now in the State Department.
Of course the BBG reflects, to some extent, current American political opinion. We really are a democracy, my friend. That doesn’t mean we are right.

reader Tony said...

Ok, I think I now get their derivation.

With overlapping hidden-variable distributions the probabilities of some measurements would never be 0, in contradiction with QM.

One can then answer : well, then don't use hidden-variable distributions to describe the quantum state.

On top of it, if they are supposed to never overlap, we are lead to an absurd conclusion that, in order to avoid the contradiction with QM, we must assume the world to be classical.

reader Alex said...

5 minute attention span in a world programmed to react to 30 second sound bytes. You are expecting too much.

reader Tony said...

Right! What bothers me, however, is not 'unwashed masses'. Intelligent people, educated people, I detect daily their unwillingness to consider an argument that is contrary to their political disposition.

I am happy when someone destroys my long-held opinions with good, rational arguments based on some undeniable facts.

That is a discovery, I learned something I didn't know before!

It is looks like the society turned into a bunch of hypocrites. All is fine, just, please, don't challenge my social talking points with some facts. That's even considered rude.

reader Gordon said...

To me, "ontic" and "epistemic" are obvious obfuscating words beloved of philosophers and Sean Carrol, but sticking with them, and with my admittedly imperfect knowledge of quantum mechanics, the wave function is clearly "epistemic"...let's jettison the stupid rhetoric and just say a probability amplitude wave, not a "real" physical wave.
If you think it is a real wave that "collapses" you may as well just believe in Bohm's and de Broglie's pilot waves.
I went back and read your Nov 7 2013 blog post on Boltzmann brains and was sort of appalled by what appears to be Sean and Srednicki's beliefs and understanding of Bayesian analysis. Mark seems to be roping Jim Hartle into his arguments, frequently saying "Jim and I.." Personally, I would be surprised if Jim Hartle mirrored Mark's beliefs as stated in the blog. I have heard him talk and he can be somewhat scathing, but is rational. Distler also seems bristly ( I know you have had afew dustups with him), but seems to be reliable and rational.
This comment is from someone who certainly is not an adept at QM, but the Heisenberg/Born/Jordan/Dirac version and interpretation works,was clearly articulated by Dirac in his 1930 book; and all the so-called improvements and refinements are just unnecessary and annoying "gilding the lily" by folks who should invent their own competing theory rather than messing with it.
(for my Czech friend) :)

reader Alex said...

In this 'information age', people confuse information and facts. They are not the same. Information can contain 'spin'. Information given can be true or false. Facts are just facts. Most 'informed' people are lazy thinkers. They are not 'busy' and therefore don't have time to get the facts straight.
The people I am referring to are quite educated. They describe me as 'contained'-whatever the fuck that means. Maybe because I think about things and fact check before speaking or doing something.
Mind you, I am fun at parties.

reader mesocyclone said...

No, the RT employees have not been declared enemies of the state, and do not have to flee their homeland. You seem to be conflating the real effects of PC in various institutions with a non-existent totalitarianism of the US government.

There are lots of critics of the US government here in the US. I am one of them, as are many friends, some of whom work for the US government. We have a hell of a lot more freedom than in Russia today or any totalitarian society. The far left Obama Administration has not been very successful in curbing our freedoms.

reader MikeNov said...

I think you have misunderstood my comments. I don't hold these workers under suspicion. However, IF a country has decided that another country is an enemy, then it seems reasonable to not have your citizens working for that enemy.
I couldn't think of another media outlet more directly linked to Al Qaeda than Al Jazeera.

reader MikeNov said...

They operate beyond Europe.

reader MikeNov said...

I think it would be good for the Greeks to cancel their debt. That a sovereign country can do this is obvious. The later effects might even be beneficial. First of all, it would mean no more debt for the Greeks, as no one will be willing to lend them any money. They would then be forced to live within their means. It also clears them from IMF/World Bank obligations where they like to dictate conditions that tend to make things worse, like tax increases.
The current path appears to be to turn Greece into a mini-Kosovo where 15 years later the UN is still operating programs in this state that should really just be part of Serbia.

reader Tony said...

Yeah, I guess we can still throw some cash on trying to indoctrinate Ali Baba and Ho Lee Fook.

reader Tony said...

I say let's take care of all them Als. Al Sharpton, Al Gore...

reader Peter F. said...

I fear you have just the hardboiled recalcitrant vigour required to jump out of the frog-boiling pot and straight into the fire.😉

reader Luboš Motl said...

No, you must have confused me with someone else. I wrote rather clearly that it's extremely likely that I would largely stop writing these things.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Most Americans may think that to institutionally oppress a citizen, a TV host, and treat her like an enemy just for working for a foreign employer is a democracy, but they are wrong. This is absolutely incompatible with democracy and it is also incompatible with the U.S. constitution and basic laws.

Most North Koreans may also think that they country is democratic, because it is being pumped into their heads just like in America, but they are even more wrong than the Americans.

reader Luboš Motl said...

The indebted side can't cancel her debt unilaterlly, it's clearly a contract that has two sides and both sides must agree.

One may stop fulfilling the contract - and even much easier contracts that followed from previous reorganizations of the debt - but that's a form of economic death and it should surely not be "good" for the side in debt, at least not in the short run. It means first to lose almost all assets that are not necessary for the bare survival of the person (or nation), in this case.

Doing anything else is pure theft.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Mike, there is absolutely no legal basis for your suggestion that Americans working for the Russian-government-paid TV have become enemy, or even lost an epsilon from their rights that stem from their being U.S. citizens.

You - and/or others - basically want to treat Russians and everyone who touches them in the same way as the Third Reich treated Jews - and those who touched them.

But to do so in a kosher way, you first have to codify and the Congress must approve the Nuremberg Laws. you just can't become a new fascist power isolating people on national criteria without the required laws.

Without the required laws, Abby Martin of RT is as full-fledged U.S. citizen for whom the U.S. government institutions work as Barack Obama or anyone else. Suggesting otherwise means to be a crank misunderstanding all of the political system in the U.S., and for a government institution to do *epsilon* against Abby Martin because of the would-be justification you have written down is clear a crime.

reader Tony said...

Russia would be delighted with both outcomes.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Exactly, Tony, it's just essential to listen to various arguments and news from different sides. And intelligent people are expected to be those who realize this fact and they should be the primary consumers and defenders of these other intelligent sources of information.

But they are largely failing in the West. Gene is great but even Gene is failing in these respects, apparently preferring if the same oversimplified and usually distorted in the same way crap of the dominant U.S. cable networks - I mean especially news about world politics - is served to everyone and the government even assures that it's so.

I can't believe it because up to a decade ago or so, I didn't have much doubt that America was a role model for us and something we experienced with the would-be clever ways how the government and those connected to it distort what people may hear etc. wouldn't happen in America.

It is obviously and demonstrably happening all the time and people who should fight this multi-faceted censorship actually seem to prefer to invent rationalizations for it.

reader Luboš Motl said...

I think that you have wrong, romantic ideas about what the life looked like in the Soviet bloc etc.

In the Soviet bloc (of the mid 1980s, to be specific), dissidents and "we" were also not prevented from living. We were even not prevented from working. We were not prevented from speaking what kind of assholes the communists were (discussions in the living room with people you know etc.).

It was just guaranteed - by mechanisms that were rarely written explicitly in the laws - that such people didn't get to good colleges, good jobs, and so on.

So Havel was rolling barrels in breweries. That's just an extreme example. But a top singer, Marta Kubišová, who was actively opposing the 1968 occupation would work as a clerk in a vegetable shop for years.

That's not a job that differs from what many people loyal to the regime did. But the problem is that she should have been earning millions as a top singer for years to come and she was prevented to. Similarly, people with non-communist opinions were kept from politics and other jobs, of course.

Those things are routinely occurring in the U.S. today, too.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Nice stories, John, and agreed! The gradual conversion to an obedient nation resembles the frog that boils in the water if you raise the temperature slowly enough - instead of jumping out. ;-)

reader Quantum said...

The density state is closer to classical probabilities than the wavefunction. there's no need to take the absolute square for density states, unlike wavefunctions.

reader Quantum said...

I think you're conflating three different concepts, namely intelligence, self-awareness and consciousness aka qualia. It's possible to be intelligent and self-aware without having qualia, and it's possible to have qualia even during moments when one isn't self-aware, like being caught up in an all engrossing activity.

No, it's not possible for me to be sure I'm not a zombie, or for you to be sure you're not a zombie, unless qualia is not epiphenomenal, in which case, a term for irreducible qualia ought to be introduced into the laws of physics because qualia can interact with the physical world. But now, we're in the territory of Cartesian dualism. But even if Cartesian dualism is true, it's still possible that some people are deluded zombie automata because for some reason or other, they have no souls.

reader Claes Johnson said...

Lubos: Listen to what Gell-Mann tells you: Niels Bohr brainwashed a whole generation of theorists into thinking that the job of interpreting quantum theory was done 50 years ago. (1969 Nobel Laureate Murray Gell-Mann)

It is impossibe for a brainwashed physicist to understand that he/she is brainwashed, see also

Friendly regards, Claes

reader Luboš Motl said...

I don't care whether you are a zombie and none of these supernatural comments of yours has any relevance for quantum mechanics, or science, for that matter.

Cartesian dualism and qualia disconnected from observables etc. etc.may exist, or not, but all those things are irrelevant in physics. Only sensory experience that is connected to some observables that may be located may become subject of laws of physics - something to derive or verify these laws.

I haven't conflated anything.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Sort of, except that it is very important that it is not exactly the square root, and QM is never equivalent to any description in classical physics, whether it works with coordinates or rho.

Rho is a function of "x" *and* "p" but psi is only a function of "x" or "p", and it is complex, and so on.

reader Guest said...

Well, you used the word "postpone". I was hoping for something more than the beer post, sooner or later...

reader physicsnut said...

yes - and I remember these creeps from NYU in the sixties - the revolutionary activist bolshevik types who get in your face and double down with their screaming accusations - hell bent on forcing everyone to pay attention to their crap. Most normal humans want to run away from them. They spend their time studying the French Revolution -and love all the blood and gore. My strategy is to wait for a pause, and then tell all of them to perform an unnatural sexual act, and nobody is required to take them seriously, as they are obnoxious aholes.

reader physicsnut said...

uh, "no problem" ??? - a lot went on when England went Protestant - a civil war erupted, people burned at the stake because of reading the Bible in English,
and were thrown out of colleges for 'participating in conventicles, etc. And 20-30,000 got fed up and went to New England, and founded Harvard and Yale.
Sounds like Deja Vu all over again. But why should everybody get behind this or that - as if people don't have enuf on their plates already.
Normally I don't want to deal with politics either, but I was shocked by Richard Pipes' The Unknown Lenin, and read a stack of books on what the Bolsheviks did. And years later got on blogs and posted the references. It is encouraging that while Parliament disarmed the Brits after WW-1, you don't see that going on in America without a big fight. People get a very different attitude after they have been disarmed. Weren't the Czechs told that 'now that socialism has arrived, people don't need guns any more ' ??? They always say that. Funny about that.

reader mesocyclone said...

You are right that many powerful positions now are restricted to those that are PC on certain issues, although being a "Putin hater" is not one of them. You are also right that those who enforce these rules behave like totalitarians, which is not surprising since they are in the same intellectual current that birthed Marxist-Leninism.

What I was disagreeing with was your statements about the RT employees: "It means that these professionals effectively have to flee America and
risk that their homeland will treat them as enemies " - that just isn't true. Likewise the remaining couple of sentences about them.

reader Luboš Motl said...

It was an excessive sentence - I don't know why I wrote it in this way, sorry.

reader MikeNov said...

So what about the American citizen who started doing videos for Al Qaeda?

I just don't see what the big deal is, predicated on a premise that you don't accept, and for which I am not advocating, that Russia is a US enemy.

reader james said...

Correction acknowledged.

reader mesocyclone said...

No problem.

BTW... my father used to travel to the USSR in the '70s and '80s as a visiting scientist. He reported that even though folks knew they were hearing propaganda, they still believed quite a bit of it (the "big lie" technique of Lenin, later Goebbels).

Hence they had a view of life in the US as being very poor and dangerous. When they later visited Dad in the US, they believed that his town was a Potemkin Village because it was so nice and pleasant. They kept asking him to take them to the "real" America.

reader Tony said...

"Hence they had a view of life in the US as being very poor and dangerous".

In 1980?

They were just 40 years too early.

Go grab a McDonald's mesocyclone.

reader Tony said...

Gene is 80. He can't help seeing things in a rosier way than younger generations.

reader Gene Day said...

There are two, very disparate kinds of “institutional” suppression in the US, Lubos, and you need to clearly demarcate them. One is governmental suppression and we are almost completely free of this. Those RT employees are free to come home if they are abroad and that may say or publish absolutely anything they want as long as they don’t incite to real (not imagined) violence or cause provable financial harm to someone else (and this is only a civil, not a criminal, matter).

Other, non-governmental suppression is, generally, none of the governments business. In fact, all businesses control their employees freedom of speech out of necessity. An individual is free to quit the offending institution just as you were free to leave Harvard.

If an non-governmental institution such as Harvard can suppress individual freedom it is not incompatible with democracy but rather a simple consequence of it.
This really, really is a free country.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Gene, the difference between these two "kinds of suppression" is subtle and in many cases must be considered non-existent.

If the setup is such that it is virtually impossible for a climate skeptic to become a boss of a university or work in any similar chair, the situation is effectively equivalent to the situation in which this outcome is guaranteed by explicit totalitarian laws.

The same comment applies to all other situations.

My point is that in a democracy, the government simply has to do some work against some aggressive groups' takeover of the power even within the individual institutions and even private companies.

After all, the U.S. government is doing such a thing super-excessively exactly in contexts where it is not needed. It is artificially increasing the number of blacks, women, and other minorities and would-be suppressed groups almost everywhere. But it isn't doing these things with people holding certain opinions.

In other words, the U.S. government is sponsoring a treatment of conservatives in the Academia, advocates of the Russian viewpoint in the Ukrainian crisis, and all the overlapping groups I could enumerate that is fully analogous to the treatment of blacks during slavery.

You understand that your argument - that the oppression that actually exists is one of the "legitimate" kind because it's the institutions' and companies' business - may have been used and actually was used to defend slavery as well, right? Structurally, it is exactly the same thing.

If some group becomes systematically oppressed in a whole industry and the government is OK with that, one may say that the government is effectively behind this oppression regardless of your division of oppression to groups that becomes artificial.

reader Ann said...

What about the recent policies being adopted on US campuses about alleged rape victims? Due process has basically been eliminated for the accused. Private companies cannot override the law this way, if an employee accuses a colleague of rape, the case would go through the normal courts. Why isn't this also the case for colleges and universities? Why are they allowed to have wholly internal reviews and decision-making concerning alleged felonies that can ruin peoples' lives without any presumption of innocence until proven guilty? If I had a college-age son, I would be very worried about him dating anyone at school. What a sick and sad conclusion to arrive at, yet it's what I would feel and I don't think it's unjustified, which is the worst part of it. This current situation seems like a serious loss of basic individual freedom, at least for a segment of the citizens, while others are being given carte blanche powers of sexual accusation on a whim.

reader MikeNov said...

When one side is a country and the other side is banks, then it can be cancelled unilaterally. Now if this debt is coming from other countries, they have some enforcement capabilities.

reader Gene Day said...

I do share your concern, Ann. My oldest grandchild will enter college in a couple of years and and, of course, I am worried about him. He is remarkably naive and he may well be at risk.

If you look carefully at American history you will find lots of instances in which due process has been circumvented but, given enough attention by the media, due process is eventually recovered for the victims. Our colleges and universities are not above the law and I think justice will be served here as well. It will take time and not a little litigation but this, too, will pass. I hope.

reader Gene Day said...

The effects of public and private suppression may be the same but the difference is profound, not subtle. That is the beauty of our Constitution and our system of English Common Law.

Unfortunately, when you talk about what a democratically elected government must do you are just pissing into the wind. Democratically elected governments sometimes do stupid and awful things; democracy is imperfect. Our current one,as regards global warming, is a prime example of how off base such a government can get. Hitler, too, was elected.
I also do not agree that the government is behind climate hysteria. Obama and many other elected officials are just blowing in the wind. Of course we deserve better and I will do all that I can to correct this situation in 2016.

reader Gene Day said...

You and I are using the word “independent” in very different ways, Lubos. The BBG is chartered by Congress to do certain things. It is required to do these things and it can do no other. Its budget is part of the US annual budget, which is submitted by the President to Congress, and it operates within the Executive branch of our government. An NGO, on the other hand, can change direction overnight and even close its doors overnight. By contrast, the BBG has no freedom of action at all.
The word “independence" means freedom of action, i.e. without constraint. Since the BBG has no freedom of action it is not independent in that sense.
When it says it is independent it merely means that it operates independently of other government departments (so long as its budget gets renewed and Congress doesn’t amend its charter).

reader Ann said...

I wish all the best for your grandson, Gene. If he is anything like you the world's a better place with him a part of it. I know someone whose gifted but socially underdeveloped son (a bit Asperger's perhaps) got unjustly reprimanded by a world class engineering school which caved to the most craven political correctness. The lad was wooed by a beautiful, wealthy, socially skilled female classmate; she was his first romantic experience ever, whereas she had many boyfriends, and later dumped him for someone new. She stood right outside of his dormitory room noisly kissing her new beau, at which point my friend's son hurled a basketball against the wall inside his room in frustration. For that action he was put on probation with a restraining order to not approach that young lady. He is a super talented computer programmer and completely devastated by this situation and wound up dropping out of the university. Imagine if he had been the girl and she the boy, how it would have played out. This is broken stuff in a democracy.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Sorry, I don't know why you think that countries can steal in this way. Even if a country owes money to an individual, the last employee of a WalMart anywhere in the world, it is morally obliged - and because of some enforcement mechanisms in the contracts, legally obliged - to repay the debt.

Your view that countries can rob anyone is a purely totalitarian idea and the real world today fortunately doesn't work in this way. After all, many countries are much weaker than many companies.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Sorry, I didn't understand this comment of yours, Gene.

The institution calls itself independent - the adjective was in no way my invention - because it is not subordinate to and its acts are not directly controlled by the U.S. president or any department of the administration ("ministry"). That's how we use this word here and I don't see the slightest reason to think that it's any different with BBG in the U.S.

What does your claim that the institution has to obey the law have to do with the character of the independence? Everyone has to obey the law. But show me the law that says that BBG must stage a high-stakes war against the American citizens employed by RT, as this jerk mentioned. This is clearly a personal invention of this new boss and similar public institutions obviously have a huge power.

reader MikeNov said...

Of course there is moral obligation. However, the legal obligation only extends to the level that it can be enforced.

They have happened pretty regularly, though lately they are followed with restructurings. Ecuador in 2008 I can't find any story of restructuring, just they felt morally OK with repudiating the debt.

reader Lars P. said...

As strange as it is the case, this does not seem to be an isolated incident. I googled the name and found this:

" The Barnevernet had observed that Mrs. Bhattacharya used to feed her children by her hand. That, as per The Child Welfare Services is force feeding. Also, she used to breast feed her four months year old daughter which again was not permitted."

reader Luboš Motl said...

I assure you that punishments against this kind of wrongdoing by whole countries may be enforced.

reader Martin said...

Well, nobody knows the full story, but that´s not the point. The questions are: can Norway steal children from their foreign mothers (and to traumatize both children and their mother by doing so) even if they didn´t do anything wrong, but someone somwhere told to some office, that they MAYBE do something inappropriate? The answer is yes, so Norway can harm innocent people. Norway can steal citizens of the other states, like Poland, Russia or the Czech Republic. And the people can´t defend themselves. How can you prove that you are not abusing your own children without 24 hours / day and 365days/year recording on some tapes or CDs??? Nobody can prove it!!!.

reader MikeNov said...

reader Oleg said...

Does Barnevernet translate as "Hitlerjugend" ?

reader Don said...

Yeah, its sad to recognize, but true: Einstein and Schrodinger were wrong. I'm reading a collection of Schrodinger's talks from the 1930s to the 1950s and he really struggled to interpret the wave equation as a "thing", but in the end just couldn't do it. It seems like, by the 1950s, Schrodinger, unlike Einstein, finally accepted this, if only begrudgingly. Its kind of sad to see him fail, but also inspiring because, after trying everything he could, he was man enough to admit defeat in his own way. -Don

reader Don said...


reader lithuanian said...

By the way, we have the similar story with few Lithuanian families and their children. One mother kidnapped her boy from "new Norwegian parents" few days ago. They were cached on their way home to Lithuania in Sweden and the boy was returned by Swedes to Norway. Norwegians act like Gestapo. It seems to be a hugely profitable business to take the children in Norway. That Bernevernet is a private company.

reader Nijole said...

This is incredible horror even to read, forget about being the parents of the kidnapped child or the child himself. I really really hope that kids will be reunited with their family as soon as possible. Best of LUCK:)