10 September 2010

Balking Hawking Part 1

Jane Hawking, former wife of world famous scientist and sore loser Stephen Hawking (he is notorious at losing bets with fellow scientists and never paying up, even after decades), has written a book, Music to Move the Stars. In it she tells of how they met, the troubles of dealing with his progressive illness, raising three children, and religious disputes that put an end to their marriage after 25 years. 25 years is a long time, and this book is suitably lengthy: at over 600 pages you could seriously hurt someone with this doorstopper. Surprisingly, every Amazon review is positive, something you just don't see very often, especially books about celebrities.

Cosmologists like to reduce everything in the universe to equations, she says, and God just gets in the way of what they percieve as mathematical harmony. She goes on to say that because the work of cosmologists is so complex that for some people it becomes a substitute for traditional religion. The cosmologists are seen as being so smart they must have all the answers, and if their answers leave no room for God (because God would mess with their perfect tick-tock system) then God must not exist, end of discussion.

She is distressed over the pseudoscience (my word, not hers) of evolutionary psychology. They try to reduce all human behaviour to natural selection, tossing out things like altruism and artistic expression that do not fit their NeoDarwinian narrative. Unable to answer why certain human faculties exist (or why something exists instead of nothing), the scientistic elite scoff and deny the general public the right to even ask why. Science forbid if one of their own rank should ask why! Such a person is denied tenure or kicked out of academia all together. Asking why the universe exists or why altruism exists is like asking "why Mount Everest exists" (here's a hint: it involves continental drift). It should be noted that none of their hypotheses are testable and therefore do not count as science. There is no way, short of building a time machine, to test what human ancestors did tens of thousands of years ago or whatever survival function their actions served. Evolutionary psychology just takes old hat psychological ideas (every revolutionary idea evo psych has ever come up with has been said by a regular psychologist at some time in the past) and puts a sexy evolutionary spin to it to make it sound science-y.

Jane says of her former husband Stephen: "on one historic occasion he actually made the startling concession that, like religion, his own science of the universe’ also required a leap of faith as did theism."

As Stephen became more famous he became more dogmatic in his atheism and surrounded himself with people who cared more about their careers and equations than about other people. Over time their equations began to replace the real world around them, and Jane couldn't handle living in that world of mathematics. As his fame grew ever higher, Stephen became cold and cruel and condescending and loveless in his vastly increasing arrogance and narcissism. Despite the fact that his wife had to take care of his every bodily function he remained an ungrateful bastard (my word). She says: "I found myself telling him that he was not God. The truth was that supercilious enigma of that smile which Stephen wore whenever the subjects of religious faith and scientific research came up was driving me to my wit’s end. It seemed that Stephen had little respect for me as a person and no respect at all for my beliefs and opinions." (p. 536) He was insulted by his wife's compassion for him, because for him compassion reeked of religion. Stephen divorced his wife in 1995 and married his nurse because he cared more about himself than anyone else. Never satisfied with anything humanity had to offer, he divorced his second wife ten years later.

Fuck you Mr. Hawking. Fuck you very much.

-Dee

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