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Abolished Big Bang is all around us

A rant on the unlimited stupidity of the masses

Three weeks ago, I discussed a media storm following the publication of a lousy article by Ali and Das that was interpreted as a disproof of the big bang theory. Lots of the Czech media joined at that time.

However, what I didn't expect was that this insanity was going to continue for weeks. On Monday, when I opened the [translation of the name of the server:] app on my smartphone, it immediately impressed me by the article called There Has Never Been Any Big Bang, a New Study Claims. Holy cow. There was an easy way to save my life: to drag my finger from the left side of the screen to the right one. The terrible thing disappeared.

But it seems to me that while is copying similar junk from some Western "MSM" sources, there are many smaller news outlets in the food chain that similarly depend on

So just minutes after I turned on the radio, Rádio Impuls, today in the morning, I *heard* the new gospel in the audio form, too. After half a minute, I had to turn it off and switch to another station.

Among the uncountable Czech commercial radios, Radio Impuls has the largest audience. They have their own traveler, George Kolbaba, to mention an example of their power, who has been to every country of the globe about 5 times in average. You may win lots of money and houses if you reply "Hello, this is the Impuls family" if they call your number.

And they also need to show how intellectual they can be, it seems, so their 1 million listeners (who listen to the radio at least at one point on a day) were offered this great news that the big bang was wrong, too.

I don't want to flood you with irrelevant data about a radio station in a foreign country. These details are not important, you are not interested in them, and you live in slightly different environments where the essence of the situation is similar.

My broader point is that at least when it comes to science, the public is ready to buy an arbitrarily stinky and random piece of šit, devour it, and smack their lips, and the longer the food chain that improves the šittiness of the "products" is, the better for the public.

The average people are staggering idiots. While they love to celebrate junk, the most valuable science gets completely unnoticed or is even deliberately attacked. And of course that the masses don't really distinguish science from religion or from the latest superstitions about "which food is healthy for you".

You know, the paper by Ali and Das is a bad paper and the authors would have virtually no chance to get a postdoc job at a good place these days. But their another bad paper – because of the "ambitious" interpretation it has been linked to – is able to convince almost all the mass media working for the average people that it is a game-changer in science.

In the hierarchy of the mass media, there are some influential ones, like Reuters or AP etc. What they wrote about that paper was already atrocious. ( seems to cite "Science Alert" as their source – that's also a bizarre source of information for the journalists.) But what's worse is that this stuff is getting even worse as it travels through the food chain, when the "story" is being copied from one place to another with additional mutations which are mostly making the story even "more popular" (i.e. more šitty).

97% of the people simply have no capability or no intent or no desire to distinguish gold from cr*p, not even in the most obvious situation. This problem isn't restricted to physics or cosmology. I can't resist to mention another thing I received by e-mail days ago – an e-mail about an April 2007 experiment by the Washington Post.

Joshua Bell, one of the top U.S. violinists, was placed to a subway station in Washington D.C. for 43 minutes, during the rush hour, and played 6 classical pieces that he routinely plays in concert halls. He used an instrument produced by Antonio Stradivari himself, one whose price is about $3.5 million.

A ticket to his concert costs about $100. How much did he earn among those 10,000 or so passengers of the U.S. capital? 27 people – virtually none of whom spent too much time with the virtuoso – gave him money and in total, he collected slightly over $32. Thirty-two damn dollars. Couldn't they hear that this one wasn't just another homeless guy begging for money?

Some of these people must be the same ones who pay the $100 tickets in Boston's Symphony Hall and elsewhere. I think that the average people's evaluation of the reality – and of music and science, among other things – depends on group think and hype to an overwhelming extent.

I think that most of the people go to the concerts of classical music in order to improve their image. They don't give a damn about classical music itself. In the same way, most people talk about the big bang in order to look smart. They don't give a damn about science or the Universe and they have no clue what is likely and what is almost certainly rubbish. And they don't need to care about the actual science because the only arbiters of their "science" are similar uneducated morons as themselves.

Almost universally, cr*p is gold and gold is cr*p for these people. A little bit of P.R. work would probably be enough to sell the Czech "Annie Dido" ["Dajdou", to be more precise] as one of the greatest musicians of all ages.

Another similar story that I found in the mailbox today – one combining human stupidity and corruption in a proportion that is hard to measure – is about the Czech public spending. We may often ask why the roads in Czechia are more expensive than those in Germany and Austria – even though the salaries in Austria and Germany are significantly higher than ours.

The hamster (Cricetus cricetus) is to blame.

Last September, they were going to build a new speed highway in Moravia – but it was found out that there were hamsters over there. So an "environmental" company called Ekoteam (which is really one person, Mr Vladimír Ludvík) was hired to count the burrows of hamsters between two villages (named Třebětice and Alexovice). His result was that there were 73 burrows including 45 active ones.

The research was summarized in this 9-page preprint. The document is really composed of 3 or so pages of text combined with lots of easy-to-create images – pieces of maps with a few symbols added. It's in Czech but you may have a look and see what's roughly inside and how hard it is to produce such a preprint.

Now, the question is how much "Ekoteam" was paid for this "research" by the Director Bureau of the Roads and Highways in the Czech Republic, a state-controlled company attached to the Ministry of Transportation. You may leave a comment with your guess how much you thought it was, and you may also say how much it should cost. If you would be able to count 73 holes and write a 9-page Word file with a few paragraphs and several images with maps, how much would you want as compensation?

The answer is that Ekoteam received $100,000. One hundred thousand damn dollars (well, 2.4 million Czech crowns which is the same thing). Look at the invoice. Can you imagine that? Think how much hard work and very complicated pages of research a HEP physics postdoc has to do per year to remain in the business.

Instead, if he or she were connected to some easier sources of money, he or she could have counted 73 holes near a village, write a simple crackpot-like Word document, and guarantee income which would be enough for two or more years.

I think that such things would probably not happen if the Director Bureau of the Roads and Highways were a private company. Individual people and, to a slightly lesser extent, companies may understand the value of their money. But if one is deciding about other people's money, it's not difficult to be generous – especially if the recipient is a friend or if he has something else to offer elsewhere.

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snail feedback (28) :

reader Snotty nosed champ said...

Its a little bang in-comparison to the other bangers it follows.

reader papertiger0 said...

Did the violinist in Washington have a permit to play in the subway? You have to understand that this was a crap experiment that proves absolutely nothing about the culture of people. Washington is possibly the most micromanaged cities on the planet. Th subway isn't a destination. It's a place to pass through, and avoid lest you want to be mugged. You don't stop there without being run over.
So sticking a guy, even the best most skilled musician, in that environment is like filling the outhouse with aroma candles.
Crappy accoustics, meanacing pan handlers, pushy cops, and a thousand obscure rules you are obliged to follow, from not spitting on the sidewalk to not checking your watch.
It's stale bread at the soup kitchen. So they served cake on a tuesday, you're still not going to go there to eat unless you have no choice due to bankruptcy.

reader Mike said...

'97% of . . . people simply have no capability or . . . intent or . . . desire to distinguish gold from crap, not even in the most obvious situation[s].'

You write that fact as if it has not been obvious since the beginning of history. For the sake of your health, accept it and get over it. Otherwise you will waste the rest of your life either (1) trying to improve the masses or (2) being thrown into tantrums by them. And why would you want to give the masses control over your emotions like that? Practice meditation like John Hagelin. By the way, thanks for the story about the violinist; anybody who thinks comes to the conclusion quickly that plenty of people—too many people—will value x more than f if x is equal to or inferior to f but x merely looks superior to f.

reader br said...

Or maybe atoms are shrinking :)

I checked if you had dismissed this before, but your post here was almost sympathetic. What is your latest view on Christof Wetterich?

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear papertiger, I am pretty sure that all people "brave" enough to use subway also have the courage to stop there.

It's like aroma candles in the outhouse - exactly - it's something a curious person with any interest in aromas would notice and investigate, to say the least.

Was your question about the "permit" a joke? I surely hope that one doesn't need a permit for such things.

reader BobSykes said...

I think you are missing the main point. It is true that average people believe all sorts of nonsense, but the nonsense itself is being produced by trained scientists with Ph. D.'s from reputable (or at least recognizable) schools. Your rant should really be about the utter incompetence of modern, university trained scientists.

Then you should take a look at the amount of outright fraud that occurs everywhere in science, including academia (no supervision or monitoring), industry (profits) and government regulators (bribes).

reader Michael said...


"I think that such things would probably not happen if the Director Bureau of the Roads and Highways were a private company." For sure it would not.

It's incredible how corrupt things get when people use other people's money. Even monkeys understand or respect the value of money better/more than the people "bred" by a state.

reader Luboš Motl said...

True and funny...

Recently I also saw some research claiming that chimps still preferred the "higher quality product" even if they were more expensive and even though they understood the concept of money, too.

reader Michael said...

Yep :-) , the capuchin monkeys prefer quality too, and hate being cheated!

reader Ann said...

Damn! Wish I had been in that subway when he was playing! You are right, in the Boston classical music venues many of the regulars seem pretty stodgy and blase, mostly there to be seen by their friends and show off fashionable clothing. The passionate ones are the few poor young music students who are attending the concerts. Symphony-goers are better-behaved than the opera fans, no
talking at the symphony, whereas it goes on in the singing venues. Many people just want a big visual spectacle at the opera, don't care about the voices, just want to hear a big loud high C at some point. Maybe that's all they want from science, a big flashy sentence about something, a spectacle.

reader Luboš Motl said...

You sound like a concert insider, Ann!

reader Mike said...

'If almost all . . . people will remain "at most" in the state of 50-50
belief in the Big Bang, and they're ready to change their mind just
because a crappy preprint is hyped in some crappy unscientific media,
does it make sense for society—including those who have a clue—to spend billions for [the] teaching of science and all these things?'

No, in that case it wouldn't make sense. But I don't think that that is the case; in other words, I don't think the masses are reading this preprint and suddenly coming to believe that the Big Bang never happened.

So the education system and scientists should continue their effort to inform the public about how the world actually works; I'm sure this effort helps over time to make facts more and more stable in the public mind, despite whatever falsities pop into being occasionally.

One of the problems, I think, is that you're projecting an expected intelligence onto most people which simply cannot be rationally expected to be there. You are an expert on physics, and thus such a projection is apt to happen—that is to say, you've become so intimate with the details of your field that those details have become as commonsensible to you as the fact that, in New York City, many people will be seen wearing coats when it is raining.

But when you bring up such things as the Big Bang even to people with advanced college degrees in fields different from physics, these people, I believe, should be expected not to understand it but to feel at a loss for words when even trying to describe what the Big Bang is metaphorically, let alone actually. So the masses are even more hopeless when such high-level things are brought up.

The problem isn't that most people are too stupid to understand the Big Bang; nor is it that they foolishly want to believe nonsense. The problem is that most people simply do not have the huge amount of built-up physics knowledge to determine what is sense and nonsense when discussion of the Big Bang or its non-existence comes up.

So if they read an article that quotes a few physicists who say the Big Bang never happened, they have no real way to know whether this is crackpottery or true. Or at least this is what I believe.

reader Ann said...

Not so much this year. We had almost 9 feet of snow in Boston, and the hard core of course are blaming it on 'climate change'.

reader QsaTheory said...

Are people stupid or they become stupid because it is more convenient ? It is a mixture of both.

reader Uncle Al said...

Planck, WMAP satellites; the otherwise inexplicable overall electromagnetic, compositional, and physical homogeneity, isotropy, and smoothness of visible reality over an apparent 4(pi) steradian, 13.82 billion lightyear radius. How does one side 180° from the other otherwise know?

The masses are asses. Populist science is a brothel plus a Marketing Department. One must incite grant funding lust within smartless managers who hold purse strings to their own irrelevantly evaluated careers.

reader QsaTheory said...

May be more pizzazz like this guy he would have gotten more attention

reader papertiger0 said...

You ever heard of Jim Treacher?

He used to run a blog call Jim Treacher's blog. He is one of the few people I know in DC.

Anyhow he got a job for the so that's where he works.
Jim was attacked, then put in cuffs by police, then laughed at by same as they condesended to his yelps of pain.

Jim was run down in the street by a State Deptment SUV which proceeded on it's way to make it a hit-n-run, breaking his knee, permanently disabled.

You kind of hurt my feelings saying if you're "brave enough" to listen.
In DC it's a very fine line between brave and stupid, especially when a huge percentage of the offenders will claim diplomatic or official state business immunities.

reader Fer137 said...

For many years I think that point of view is also valid.

It is the point of view of the Universe (or photons, etc.)
What I change my size ?? You are variable, you shrug your size:)

reader Luboš Motl said...

"That" can be five different types of words? Wow.

Right, I've understood that "of course" can't be a clause in English. Helpful.

reader Luboš Motl said...

A nice search engine.

I've met the namesake in Massachusetts. ;-)

reader Smoking Frog said...

Actually it's four. I was confused when I included "adverbial phrase," thinking of the fact that "of course" is an adverbial phrase.

You think four is bad? The Spanish word que has something like seventeen different meanings, with most or all of them represented by different words in English. Those are words, not "types of words" (parts of speech) although some of them are probably different parts of speech (I don't feel like thinking about it right now), but in any case it's impressive.

Did you know that "primitive" languages, such as in Africa, the Amazon, etc., have far more complex grammars than modern languages? Simplification of grammar isn't exactly "modern"; ancient Greek and Latin are simpler than the primitive languages. But it's characteristic of civilization or something like that.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Interesting. Latin's grammar is pretty complicated, isn't it? Czech has comparably complex declension and similar things.

I guess that the evolution was going in both sides - simplification as well as refinements.

reader Fer137 said...

I get this on google calculator: pi*(137^(-8)) * (((h * c) / G)^0.5) = 1.38e-24 Kg
... =774.61 GeV/c2

reader Fer137 said...

The Simpsons issue.
I get this on google calculator:
pi* 137^-8 * (h * c / G)^0.5 = 1.381133e-24 Kg
... =774.75 GeV/c^2

relatively large

reader Fer137 said...

Oops, I had not seen that had a whole post about it.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Thanks for checking the figure, agreement! ;-)

reader Smoking Frog said...

Yes, Latin, like Czech, Russian, etc., has declensions (case endings).

reader LM said...

Most of what you say about the 'masses' can probably be striked off mostly harmless. You were once considered 'one to watch' but now you're a bloke with a blog. Most of your readers are the 'masses' and the psychological effect for many of them, is to cheer and concur and join in in the rationalism maybe you won't know their shameful secret (the masses). But you do know and you enjoy doing that to them. And that isn't harmless.