South Wales Evening Post, 2nd January 2012
I will bet my reputation
I WRITE in response to the news item in Evening Post (Dec 14) regarding the imminent discovery of the notoriously elusive ‘Higgs boson’, or ‘God Particle’, that is supposed to have provided the mass content of the otherwise empty, primordial universe (don’t blame me if you don’t understand that!).
For the sake of balance in reporting these things it should be pointed out that at this present time of almost global public interest in the highly publicised attempts by the scientists at Cern to recreate that theoretical ‘particle’ there have been voices, all but lost in the noise of the media fairground, condemning that whole enterprise on the grounds that it can be proved, logically, that no such ‘God Particle’ can possibly exist.
So far there is nothing that can truly be claimed as evidence for the existence of that ‘particle’. Reports in the media are all about ‘glimpses’ of that ghostly particle and highly optimistic projections about finding it. These reports are shot through by all sorts of ifs and buts and excuses galore for failures so far, but despite all the expertise and hoo-ha involved there remains a studious avoidance of any positive and confident statement as to having established the actual existence of this theoretical particle. Now I would like it to be put on record that for many years I have been one of those suppressed voices insisting on the internet and in the media generally, that there can, logically, be no such particle as this ‘Higgs boson’ and that the machinery that has been constructed at huge expense to find it might just as well have been constructed to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Just about now it is only to be expected that there will be some frenetic PR efforts to justify the expense that has been squandered on those attempts so far and to keep the funding flowing.
This has been followed with suggestions for constructing even bigger and better gizmos for finding and photographing that theoretical wraith. However, be it known that I am still betting my reputation, such as it may be as a card-carrying and well-published philosopher of science, against any chance of that theoretical ‘particle’ ever being found — not just ‘glimpsed’ or ‘imminent’, dear friends, but actually found.
Yes, we are picking on a dead loony again; ‘but the evil that men do oft lives after them’. The amusing thing is that Pope actually thought that he had a reputation (as anything but a crackpot). He was ‘well-published’, but only in ‘anything-goes’ philosophical journals and the many pseudoscience journals. It is nevertheless a sobering thought that he was apparently employed by the Open University in some capacity at some time. Perhaps the OU really is only for ‘social climbers’ and those after a pay-rise from their employer (frequent accusations leveled at the OU and its correspondence students). It is also worrying that he talked a university mathematics lecturer into backing his ‘there is no gravity’ theory: Pope claimed that the ‘apple fell on Newton’s head’ (itself a dubious account) because it was ‘orbiting at the wrong height for its angular momentum’. It is one of those ideas which can be forced to fit that particular situation but has no real worth. How, for instance, does one then explain the two tidal bulges and Roche Limit (the phenomenon which tore that comet apart before it hit Jupiter)? Ron’s ‘theories’ also suffer from that same flaw. But then, Ron and Viv shared many beliefs. And now, just for a bit of fun, let’s look at the opposition:
In particular, check out the number of authors, every one of them 10 times brighter than the Swansea cranks (and that is only a partial list, the total would be over 5000).