On Wednesday, September 5, 2012 1:50:11 PM UTC-4, John Clark wrote:
> On Tue, Sep 4, 2012 at 2:37 PM, Craig Weinberg 
> <whats...@gmail.com<javascript:>
> > wrote:
> > Let's see, average survival of a Las Vegas hotel is what, 30 years? Then 
>> they blow them up. 
> Yes, after that time a Las Vegas hotel no longer serves a function. The 
> Egyptian pyramids are quite different in that respect, they NEVER had  a 
> function. 

Las Vegas has no function either. There is no reason for hotels to be built 
in the middle of the desert that is better than the reason for pyramids to 
be built in the desert.

> > The pyramids of Egypt have been a wonder of the world for 45 centuries, 
> The pyramids of Egypt have been monuments to human folly for 45 centuries.

But Vegas has nothing to do with human folly?

> The first large engineering projects that actually had a point were made 2 
> thousand years later by the Romans with their aqueducts and roads; before 
> that it was all tombs temples palaces and fixed fortifications that didn't 
> work very well.  
> > attracting tourism 
> I'm sure the common people of Egypt who broke their backs building the 
> damn things would be happy if they knew that in 4500 years their efforts 
> would be vindicated by those big stone tetrahedrons becoming tourist traps 
> that can compete with alligator farms, Dollywood and Graceland.   

They still serve every bit as much or as little of a function as any other 
piece of art.

> > and representing one of the most ostentatious achievements of the 
>> history of the human species. 
>  Ostentatious is a very good word to describe it.
> > It doesn't mean that Donald Trump knows how to build a pyramid 
> Donald Trump is a pompous idiot, but modern engineers certainly know how 
> to build a big dumb stone tetrahedron, but they can't think of a good 
> reason for doing so and neither can I.   

It's a lot of stone to work with. Knowing how to do it in theory isn't the 
same thing as doing it for centuries.

>> > We are talking about defining cause and effect, not Relativity or QM.
> If you don't know anything about Relativity or QM then anything you have 
> to say about cause and effect or physics in general is just pointless 
> philosophical gas. 

Oh? Why don't you explain to me what General Relativity has to do with 
defining Cause and Effect?

> Philosophical ideas are a dime a dozen, philosophical ideas that have some 
> correspondence to the way the universe operates are astronomically less 
> common and more difficult to come up with. Somebody 300 years ago farted 
> out some philosophy and you think today the physicists at CERN would 
> benefit if they took note of the smell. I think not.

But according to you, your philosophical thoughts about philosophical 
thoughts are just farts too.

> > Have a look at these estimates of the IQ of historical figures (
>> http://www.iqcomparisonsite.com/cox300.aspx) Note: Goethe: 210. Leibniz: 
>> 205...down much farther...Darwin: 165
> Actually Leibniz got a 183 not 205 in this very dubious 1926 study if you 
> correct for the Flynn effect, the fact that IQ scores keep going up and up 
> over the years. 

Right, but I was quoting the numbers in the non-Flynn column, where Leibniz 
does in fact get a 205.

> However that's not very important because IQ scores much higher than 130 
> tend not to mean much, probably because the people who make IQ tests, 
> including Catharine Cox who did the "study" of the IQ of historical 
> figures, tend to have IQ's a lot less than 130. When the great physicist 
> Richard Feynman was in high school he had an IQ test and all he got was a 
> mediocre 125. The best definition of intelligence that I can think of is 
> "the sort of thing that Richard Feynman did" therefore it is not Feynman 
> but the advocates of the test who should feel embarrassed by this. 
> Meanwhile I seem to remember reading that one of the highest ranked Mensa 
> members of all time with an IQ north of 200 worked as a bouncer in a bar.

I'm not saying IQ is a great measure of anything, only suggesting that it 
is possible that intelligence does not depend on how recent your pool of 
knowledge is. 

> I would find it mind boggling astounding if intelligence, the most complex 
> thing in the universe, could be described by
> a simple scalar. At the very least I think you'd need a vector, something 
> with both a magnitude and a direction, and you'd probably need more than 
> that, at least a tensor of somewhat less than trivial intricacy.
> > Had Leibniz been born in the 20th century, he would, by these estimates, 
>> have run circles around any living physicist.
> So you think that Leibniz had more genius genes that any living physicist, 
> I think that most unlikely. 
There are about 10 times as many people on earth today as their were in 
> Leibniz's day and there must be at least a 1000 times as many people with 
> access to enough education to have even the option of becoming physicists.  

By that logic, we should have 10 Shakespeare's writing today...10 
Pythagoras' inventing new geometry systems, 10 Beatles making records. It 
doesn't seem to work that way. A genius is someone who defines or redefines 
culture and thought.

> > You really imagine that you happened to be born during the generation 
>> where all of the current science happens to be correct?
> I imagine that all established scientific theories are closer to the truth 
> than the theories that preceded them. That's the difference between art and 
> science, I don't imagine that all current novels are better than older 
> novels. 

But they are further from the truth than the theories that will follow.  
When these theories fall, they may be replaced with theories which have 
more to do with ideas like those of Leibniz (and Spinoza, Hegel, Lao Tzu, 
Boehme, etc) than they do with Bohr and Heisenberg. You don't know what is 
going to happen, but what is unscientific about your attitude is that you 
think that you do. You sneer at what you have no familiarity with and revel 
in your satisfaction with what is currently most popular. In my experience, 
that approach tends to fail in the long run.

>> > Leibniz and Newton invented calculus. You act as if they were bumbling 
>> rhetoricians 
> No, considering where they started from they did amazing and brilliant 
> things, but the starting point has changed and the fact remains that any 
> sophomore math student knows more calculus than Leibniz and Newton put 
> together.

My point is, we should pay attention to what amazing and brilliant people 
did, regardless of how much we think that we know. The seeds of great new 
ideas are more likely to be found in Leibniz trash can than the offices of 
corporate America.


>   John K Clark 

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