Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Lubošification of Scott Aaronson is underway

In 2006, quantum computing guy Scott Aaronson declared that he was ready to write and defend any piece of nonsensical claim about quantum gravity or string theory if he gets paid for it. The highest bidder wins. Your humble correspondent was dissatisfied with this attitude for ethical reasons.

Now, in 2013, Scott Aaronson recalls that exchange and adds a comment about the positive developments:
Yeah, this paper is pretty uninformed even by the usual standards of attempted quantum-mechanics-overthrowings. Let me now offer three more general thoughts.

First thought: isn’t it ironic that I’m increasingly seeing eye-to-eye with Luboš Motl—who once called me “the most corrupt piece of moral trash”—in his rantings against the world’s “anti-quantum-mechanical crackpots.” Let me put it this way: David Deutsch, Chris Fuchs, Sheldon...
It wasn't Sheldon Cooper. I had to terminate the quote at some point, right? The comment above means that we're seeing eye-to-eye with one another when it comes to foundational issues of quantum mechanics (which the rest of Scott's article confirms) – but maybe his good news was supposed to be more general than that.

Also, Scott enthusiastically welcomed a positive re-check of his good news as a great compliment:
Luboš says he’s sure my “thinking engines” are good enough to see eye-to-eye with him! Callooh! Callay! This might be the single greatest compliment I’ve ever received.

And Luboš, in return for your generous compliment, I have some good news. As a result of major life changes—getting married, having a baby, etc.—I have abandoned my previous materialistic, money-grubbing ways. I’m now strictly a man of principle. And as such, no amount of money could ever induce me to abandon my total, principled commitment to Loop Quantum Gravity.

OK, OK, I’m kidding about the last part. In fact, I have a much better appreciation now for the achievements of string theory than I did back in 2006, partly due to a meeting in Florence where Brian Greene spent 4 hours explaining them to me and others. I came away genuinely impressed, convinced that string theory and especially AdS/CFT are unequivocally a step forward in our understanding of the universe, even though we have a great deal more to learn. I’m not ready to say that alternative ideas like LQG are garbage and have nothing worthwhile to contribute, let alone that global warming is a sham, but maybe Lubošification is a process that will happen to me one step at a time.
Despite the remaining deficiencies, the process is apparently underway and, as you can see, we may be grateful to Brian Greene's charm for some of it. It's neither surprising nor humiliating that Scott failed in the last two tests he mentioned, even after Brian's lectures; Brian himself would have to be trained first. ;-)

Lubošification shouldn't be confused with Californication although, let's admit, some similarities exist as well.

The only excrement lining (or what's the opposite of silver lining?) of this sequence of good news is that Scott's Lubošification started just moments before Scott Aaronson had to begin to milk Lily Rebecca Aaronson (congratulations!), an observer who just acausally moved from the black hole interior to the exterior two weeks ago. Isn't it a pity that quantum computing professionals start to appreciate the outcomes of the quantum revolution (and the second superstring revolution) and, perhaps, become reasonable in other respects as well exactly when their paternal duties become more important parts of their lives?

Another excrement lining seems to be that his wife married Scott before he ceased to be a hardcore jerk. That's what women, even hot women, often do. I know one hot babe who chose a guy who is not only ignorant about whether he should use integration or differentiation to calculate the area under a curve; he wrote a math test yesterday but he doesn't know whether the test was about the equation of a circle or the circle of an equation (this statement of his sounds even better in English than it does in Czech, I think). Fortunately, AJ and JF are probably not following my blog so I may write about their stories freely! ;-)

Off-topic: North Korea has presented plans how to bomb the United States of America off the map, while a North Korean man is happily sleeping. Aside from some missiles, the cornerstone of the plan is the assertion "We Are the World" (no, I didn't say "We Con the World") that two former Americans, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, recorded in 1985 as a charity song waiting for a "charity regime" to freely abuse it.


  1. LOL, what an awesome exchange. I'm glad to learn that Brian Green was able to show him some important things.

    I think I had been noticing the Lubošification myself, if not regarding strings, in the style of debunking of anti-quantum zealots. ;]

    A match made in heaven?

  2. At the very least you Lubos were given a chance to feel a little bit pleased, because of him declaring this his change of mind (even if it was made mushy and slightly better by a baby and the smell of mother's milk)!
    For you, this feeling would on its own have to be worth something! :-)

  3. Ha ha, I always enjoy reading such funny exchanges too :-D

    Now I am wondering if and when a similar change could happen to Peter Shor? I once had some fun with him, because he wrote a very dismissive and misleading answer on P.SE to a question involving string theory ...

    Maybe he needs a 4 hour meeting with Brian Greene too ...