I was just reminded why I consider the self-organized religious sect of string theory critics to be despicable human garbage. It's not just string theory they hate. It's also the scientific curiosity, the smartest people, the smartest kids, and the future of science that they hate, too.
In their 8392nd discussion thread on their well-known "Not Even Wrong" discussion forum where these individuals were impressing each other with the idea that a cosmological scenario can't be right because 5 of them said so (just to be sure, there is evidence that the Universe isn't a simulation, but none of these "critics" really understands any evidence relevant for this question or any other important question in physics), one of them, "Robert", complained about his nephew:
Also, I have a very curious eight year old physics loving nephew who is in love with the idea of string theory. He’s enamored with all the hype and feel I’ll just confuse him by knocking it down. Any thoughts anyone? Thanks.What did "Robert's" fellow crackpots advised him?
The cult's self-appointed crackpot-in-chief, "Peter Woit", replied in the following way:
The outrageous and damaging hype aimed at the public and the young I think already has had a couple decades effect of driving sensible young people away, and attracting those susceptible to impressive sounding but empty ideas. As for your nephew, I think confusing him would be a good idea...It's disgusting and the claimed "facts" in this paragraph are self-evident lies. The nephew could have been born sometime in 2007 or 2008. There has been virtually no pro-string-theory hype available to the public since that time – during the boy's lifetime. In 2006, crackpots "Woit" and "Smolin" published their outrageous books attacking theoretical physics and everyone who has been following the media knows very well that the apologists for this anti-science crap have had a majority in the media.
Virtually every text or TV segment that could reach the public since 2006 was vastly understating the power and achievements of string theory.
The little boy had to fall in love with string theory after his own successful efforts to separate the valuable ideas he can sometimes read in the books, journals, or the Internet from the prevailing crap.
He must have reached some level of understanding of string theory that is beautiful and nontrivially explains some patterns and facts about Nature that the boy could have already noticed. I don't believe that the boy could do any stringy calculation at the technical level (sorry if I am wrong!) but string theory explains something even at "less quantitative" levels and has a lot that even an intelligent kid may be absolutely amazed by.
If he has understood that all particles are made of the same string – and the "types of motion" are enough to define the particles' identity, it's surely enough for an enthusiastic young string theorist to be born. If he has liked the explanation that there are extra dimensions and their shape determines the full spectrum of particles – like the shape of a musical instrument helps to determine the color of sounds it produces – it's a reason to fall in love with the theory and be interested in it further, too.
Aside from the observation that all the "facts" sold by individuals such as "Peter Woit" are just lies, there is this staggering observation that they are totally terrified by people – including children – who can think for themselves. And they are terrified that some children could grow up as people who love cutting-edge research.
Just to be sure, this "Peter Woit" wasn't the only one who responded in the same way. "Vmarko" added:
Robert, by all means do burst your nephew’s bubble. Have him learn real physics, teach him to question everything, teach him not to trust any authority figure. Teach him the difference between enthusiasm and hype — not just in science, but in life in general.Sorry but if he's interested in string theory, the nephew clearly loves real physics, the data make it clear that his relationship is genuine enthusiasm, and no hype, and because of these arrangements at "Not Even Wrong", this golden boy may face an actual conflict with a would-be authority figure rather soon – a conflict with his uncle who is a member of the anti-string cult.
Just try to appreciate the breathtaking chutzpah of these bigots.
They are ready to talk about a conspiracy theory saying that string theory is a result of influence of "authority figures" and "hype" and similar "dark" forces. But they don't have a moral problem with ordering an uncle to "confuse the boy which is a good idea" and "burst the bubble" of this innocent 8-year-old nephew whose "sin" is that he loves cutting-edge theoretical physics.
Dear boy, you may like your uncle but you are clearly smarter than he is – when it came to things like physics, I was smarter than my parents and every other relative except for my uncle and grandfather when I was 8 or so, too – while the uncle may turn out to have stronger muscles and other tools to influence your life.
This uncle is a member of a group of some really nasty people. The more you show him that you love science and you know something about it, the bigger problems you may face. These individuals want to convert you to a brain-dead, dishonest, confused, aggressive vampire similar to themselves. You may want to hide your enthusiasm for science from your uncle Robert. But please, don't allow him to influence you.
This girl, Peo Webster, created a commented version of "Bohemian Gravity", Acapella Science's parody of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. The description of the video says that Peo's mother asked Peo to study Wikipedia and understand the concepts mentioned in that song as well as possible. If Peo really found all these answers – and something that looks like a rather mature type of understanding – by herself, it's rather amazing.
Thankfully, some kids (clearly a minority of kids, however) are scientifically curious and they want to understand how the world works, what's inside things, what's going on when something is going on, what's hiding beneath the surface. They won't be satisfied with "Peter Woit's" calls that "confusing children is a good idea" or "Vmarko's" plans to "burst the bubble" of the scientific curiosity. Their enthusiasm and interest in the questions are genuine and they are already building it despite the widespread anti-science propaganda in the media, despite the lack of interest by almost all of their relatives, and sometimes despite the Inquisition-like terror by their uncles and dozens of other crackpots they are teamed up with.
They want real answers and they want to have the freedom to enjoy them if they're thrilling – they don't want some lies and political tricks to achieve propaganda goals and manipulate people in order to mask their own inferiority, something that the life of scum like "Peter Woit" is all about. These children are the main hope about the future of mankind we may have. And the best scientists are basically counterparts of the curious kids who just managed to grow up without destroying an important part of their mind.
If there are people who read TRF but they also regularly open "Not Even Wrong", let me say that I am not really OK with that. You're a part of a giant problem. You are helping to ruin important engines that run much of the world, that have allowed the scientific (and other) progress. You also owe a huge amount of money to the civilization – and to myself personally.
At 1:45 of the Sheldon-Leslie exchange about loop quantum gravity and string theory, the subpar scientist and loop quantum gravity apologist Leslie Winkle insisted that she and Leonard will have to turn their children into fans of loop quantum gravity. Leonard turned out to be wiser in two respects. First, he prefers his Universe to be stringy and not loopy. Second, he wants to allow the children to build their own opinions.
If you don't find anything morally unacceptable about this uncle who teams up with some ideologues at a crackpot forum to prevent his nephew from loving and being interested in string theory, if you don't agree that this is an absolutely shocking example of manipulation of kids, then you are my enemy and I really, really hate you whoever you are.
String theory for kids, from an 11-year-old kid.
Bonus, Acapella Science. Two girls, Newton and Einstein, helped Tim to define gravity after he decided that girls could be better physicists than puppets, after all. A few days ago, it turned out that the film director of Matrix is female, too. I guess that his looking like a man must have been a glitch in Matrix.