Thursday, December 17, 2020

Sabine Hossenfelder in Defense of Scientific Realism and Physical Reality

I appreciate it’s one thing when I dismiss Hoffman’s rendering of physics as disingenuous pipe-dreaming - it’s quite another when someone of Sabine Hossenfelder education, career and stature underscores some of the same points that have caused my cynicism toward Donald Hoffman's "Case Against Reality" - and that's driven this project in defense of Physical Reality.

Hossenfelder has never focused on Donald Hoffman and his ideas, but she does point out the invalidity of various physics tropes that Hoffman presents as settled science and uses as building blocks for his conjectures.   

I've watched many of her videos and though we have different world outlooks 

(she comes across as seeing progress as an end-all blessing - whereas I've gotten to view our obsessive blind progress for progress sake - as a deadly Siren Song that's ensnarled us oh so short sighted, self serving, and frightfully superficial humans).  There's no disputing her knowledge and expertise and skill at explaining complex physics to lay people.  That's why I’ve virtually invited her to be an expert witness on behalf of Defending Reality.

This is for the curious, the students of deception and deeper understanding, the few who are trying to figure it out.   Have at it.   Cc


Sabine Hossenfelder (born 18 September 1976) is a German author and theoretical physicist who researches quantum gravity. She is a Research Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies where she leads the Superfluid Dark Matter group. She is the author of Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray, which explores the concept of elegance in fundamental physics and cosmology.

Hossenfelder completed her undergraduate degree in 1997 at Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main.[3] She remained there for a Master's degree, and she wrote a thesis under the supervision of Walter Greiner titled "Particle Production in Time Dependent Gravitational Fields", which she completed in 2000.[4] Hossenfelder received her doctorate from the same institution in 2003, for the thesis "Black Holes in Large Extra Dimensions" under the supervision of Horst Stöcker.[5][6]

Physics is still in crisis

Jun 5, 2020  -  Sabine Hossenfelder  -  6:53 min

There has been no progress in the foundations of physics for 40 years. In my book "Lost in Math" I have explained why that is and what can be done about this. In this video, I briefly summarize the content of the book.

Physicists need to learn from their mistakes

Dec 6, 2020  -    Sabine Hossenfelder  -  14:58 min

In this interview, Sabine Hossenfelder details why the foundations of physics has not made any progress, why physicists need to learn from their mistakes, why they're practicing poor science and investigates the inconsistencies in some of our preassumed theories of physics.


How Beauty Leads Physics Astray - at Brookhaven Lab

Apr 29, 2019  -  BrookhavenLab  -  1:07:33 min

Sabine Hossenfelder, a physicist and author of "Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray," describes how arguments of beauty—simplicity and naturalness, in particular—have led to a dead end for physics, and what can be done about it.


How Beauty Leads Physics Astray - at Sante Fe Institute

Aug 28, 2018 - Santa Fe Institute - 1:29:08 min

To develop new laws of nature, physicists routinely rely on arguments from beauty. This method has worked badly and has resulted in 40 years of stagnation in the foundations of physics. Dozens of costly experiments were commissioned but failed to confirm any of the physicists' beautiful hypotheses. 

In this SFI Community Lecture, physicist and science writer Sabine Hossenfelder explains what physicists mean when they say a theory is beautiful, what went wrong with their reliance on it, and how the field can move on.


Peter Woit summarized the book's theme:  At various points Hossenfelder makes it clear that her worry is that physicists are getting stuck due to outdated notions of "beauty", while at the same time she still believes that successful new ideas will come with their own new form of “beauty".[40]


Has elegance betrayed physics?  

A review of “Lost in Math.”   By Frank Wilczek

Physics Today > Volume 71, Issue 9 > 10.1063/PT.3.4022

September 01, 2018 • page 57

… Still, the malaise expressed by Hossenfelder is not baseless, and it is widely shared among physicists. But her diagnosis, that a search for beauty is limiting our vision, strikes me as odd. Let me insert a few words in defense of beauty. Symmetry is at the core of the standard model and helped us to discover it. Modern physical cosmology also pivots on symmetry and simplicity, both in its general relativistic foundations and in its choice of initial conditions. Also, the systematic use of beautiful ideas from topology has been an extremely fruitful source of inspiration for condensed-matter physics, and beautiful ideas from information theory are illuminating physical algorithms and quantum network design. We need more beautiful ideas, not fewer.

Hossenfelder’s real target, when you strip away some unfortunate terminology, is not beauty but self-satisfaction, which encourages disengagement from reality. 

That attitude reaches its theoretical apex in the doctrine of “postempirical science,” which argues that social consensus, not experimental evidence, determines scientific validity. Here she quotes physicist George Ellis, rebuking physicists and philosophers who adopt that attitude: “There are physicists now saying we don’t have to test their ideas because they are such good ideas. They’re saying—implicitly or explicitly—that they want to weaken the requirement that theories have to be tested. To my mind that’s a step backward by a thousand years.”

In my view, the slow pace of new discoveries in fundamental physics is to a large extent the natural outcome of our earlier, spectacular success. It’s been hard to make improvements. Patience may be required. In fact, we’ve already learned that it will be. 

The good news is that there’s much more to physics, and to life, than digging deeper foundations.


Why the multiverse is religion, not science.

Jul 9, 2019  -  Sabine Hossenfelder  -  4:31 min

In this video I explain why the multiverse hypothesis is logically equivalent to the hypothesis that god exists, and therefore is not scientific.

I also address the common objections that physicists raise to this. 

First, they will claim that I am saying the multiverse does not exist. But this is not so. I am saying that making statements about the existence of that part of the multiverse which is not our own universe is not scientific.

Second, they will claim that the multiverse is a simple explanation. This is just wrong. Postulating the existence of the multiverse  does not explain anything. The simplest assumption is none, ie not say anything about whether the multiverse exists.

Third, they will argue that the existence of the multiverse it is a prediction of their theories. That is also wrong. Theories do not predict whether something exists or not. We deduce that something exists if it is useful to describe observations. This is not the case for the multiverse.

Fouth, they'll argue that then I should also not talk about the inside of black holes. In my video I explain why black holes are a different case.

Fifth, they will claim that some multiverse ideas make testable predictions. This is right. These ideas are unscientific for a different reason that we will talk about in more detail some other time. In brief, falsifiability is not enough to make a hypothesis scientific.


The Trouble with Many Worlds

Sep 26, 2019  -  Sabine Hossenfelder  -  7:42 min

In today's video I want to tell you why I am not a fan of the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. It's not the many worlds. I don't a priori have a problem with those. It's that I think you do not gain anything from this reinterpretation.

First, I briefly explain the basics of quantum mechanics: everything (yes, really everything) is described by a wave-function, and this wave-function changes according to the Schrödinger equation. Then, we have in the Copenhagen interpretation (and Copenhagen-like interpretations) an additional assumption: the measurement postulate.

In my video, I explain what the problem is with this measurement postulate. I then tell you why the many worlds interpretation - contrary to what its supporters claim - does not solve the measurement problem, but just sweeps it under the rug.


The Problem with Quantum Measurement

Oct 22, 2019  -  Sabine Hossenfelder  -  6:56 min

Today I want to explain why making a measurement in quantum theory is such a headache. I don't mean that it is experimentally difficult, I mean that it is theoretically not understood just what is going on. And that is even though the problem is more than 100 years old. 

In this video I briefly go through the most important postulates of quantum mechanics, which is the Schrödinger equation, the Born rule, and the measurement postulate. I then explain why the measurement postulate is problematic and why re-interpreting it does not remove the problem.


Does nature have a minimal length?  

(regarding the Planck scale…)

Feb 2, 2020  -  Sabine Hossenfelder  -  6:24 min

Molecules are made of atoms. Atomic nuclei are made of neutrons and protons. And the neutrons and protons are made of quarks and gluons. Many physicists think that this is not the end of the story, but that quarks and gluons are made of even smaller things, for example the tiny vibrating strings that string theory is all about. But then what? Are strings made of smaller things again? Or is there a smallest scale beyond which nature just does not have any further structure? Does nature have a minimal length? 

This is what I talk about in this video. I explain why many physicists think that nature indeed has a minimal length, which is the so-called Planck length, named after Max Planck.

In this paper you can find more arguments for why the Planck length plays a special role in nature: …

Six easy roads to the Planck scale

Ronald J. Adler


Why do some scientists believe that our universe is a hologram?

Sep 16, 2019  -  Sabine Hossenfelder  -  6:58 min

In this video, I explain why some scientists believe that our universe is a hologram and we really live in the 2-dimensional projection of a higher dimensional space.

First, I explain just what physicists mean by the "holographic principle." The holographic principle says that the degrees of freedom inside a volume of space can be described by information on the surface of that volume at the same resolution.

Then I explain that this relation goes back to ideas about the black hole entropy and string theory in space with a negative cosmological constant, the so-called Anti-de Sitter space. I briefly mention what the problems are with these arguments.

I then discuss a recent idea of Verlinde & Zurek about how one could test holography experimentally.

Finally, I tell you my own opinion about this. As so often, I am highly skeptical that wild speculation will lead to progress.


How to tell science from pseudoscience

Jun 21, 2020  -    -  Sabine Hossenfelder  -  8:28 min

Is the earth flat? Is 5G is a mind-control experiment by the Russian government? What about the idea that COVID was engineered by the vaccine industry? In this video I explain how you can tell apart science from pseudoscience. Instead of giving you a long and mostly useless philosophical lecture, I will tell you a simple criterion that you can apply for most cases, which is that scientific models are the ones that explain lots of observations with few assumptions.


All these ideas have in common is that they are contrived.

You have to make a lot of assumptions for these ideas to agree with reality, assumptions like somehow it’s been possible to consistently fake all the data and images of a round earth and brainwash every single airline pilot, or it is possible to control other’s people’s mind and yet somehow that hasn’t prevented *you* from figuring out that minds are being controlled. These contrived assumptions are the equivalent of overfitting. That’s what makes these conspiracy theories unscientific.




Cc’s Students’ Study Guide for The Case Against Reality

©2020 Peter Miesler
I intend to be a witness for a fact based DeepTime, 
Evolutionary perspective on our “human mind” -“physical reality” interface.


Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-Gravity, a critical review of, The Case Against Reality:  Why Evolution Hid The Truth From Our Eyes, by Donald Hoffman, ©2019, W.W.Norton Company

(1.01)  The Prelude, Prof Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity

(1.02)  Chapter 10a, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents (1/3)

(1.03)  Chapter 10b, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents (2/3)

(1.04)  Chapter 10c, Cmty: Network of Hoffmanian Conscious Agents (3/3)

(1.05)  Chapter 1, Mystery: The Scalpel That Split Consciousness

(1.06)  Chapter 2, Beauty: Siren of the Gene

(1.07)  Chapter 3, Reality: Capers of the Unseen Sun

(1.08)  Chapter 4, Sensory: Fitness beats Truth

(1.09)  Chapter 5, Illusory: The Bluff of the Desktop

(1.10)  Chapter 6, Gravity: Spacetime is Doomed

(1.11)  Chapter 7, Virtuality: Inflating a Holoworld

(1.12)  Chapter 8, Polychromy: Mutations of an Interface

(1.13)  Chapter 9, Scrutiny: You Get What You Need, in Both Life and Business

(1.14)  Appendix,  Precisely: The Right to Be (Foolish)


Hoffman/Prakash’s Objects of ConsciousnessObjections and Replies

Frontiers in Psychology - June 17, 2014

(2.01)  4/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness,  (conclusion)

(2.02)  1/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (1-12)

(2.03)  2/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (13-17)

(2.04)  3/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (18-21)


(3.01)  Diary - But, wait!  There's more.  Ten Learned Responses:

Probing the interface theory of perception: Reply to commentariesDonald D. Hoffman, Manish Singh & Chetan Prakash" 

Psychonomic Bulletin & Reviewvolume 22, pages1551–1576(2015)


We propose that selection favors nonveridical perceptions that are tuned to fitness. Current textbooks assert, to the contrary, that perception is useful because, in the normal case, it is veridical. Intuition, both lay and expert, clearly sides with the textbooks. We thus expected that some commentators would reject our proposal and provide counterarguments that could stimulate a productive debate. ...

(3.02)  Barton Anderson - Where does fitness fit in theories of perception? 


(3.03)  Jonathan Cohen - Perceptual representation, veridicality, and the interface theory of perception. 


(3.04)  Shimon Edelman - Varieties of perceptual truth and their possible evolutionary roots. 


(3.05)  Jacob Feldman - Bayesian inference and “truth”: a comment on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash. 


(3.06)  Chris Fields -Reverse engineering the world: a commentary on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash, 

“The interface theory of perception”. 


(3.07)  Jan Koenderink - Esse est Percipi & Verum est Factum. 


(3.08)  Rainer Mausfeld - Notions such as “truth” or “correspondence to the objective world” play no role in explanatory accounts of perception. 


(3.09)  Brian P. McLaughlin and E. J. Green Are icons sense data


(3.10)  Zygmunt Pizlo - Philosophizing cannot substitute for experimentation: comment on Hoffman, Singh & Prakash. 


(3.11)  Matthew Schlesinger Interface theory of perception leaves me hungry for more. 



Student Resources - Background info:

(4.01)  Rainer Mausfeld: ‘Truth’ has no role in explanatory accounts of perception.
(4.02)  Paul Mealing: considers Hoffman's "Objects of Consciousness.”
(4.03)  The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One
(4.04)  Sabine Hossenfelder in Defense of Scientific Realism and Physical Reality
(4.05)  "Emergence" - A Handy Summary and Resources
(4.06)  Physical Origins of Mind - Dr. Siegel, Allen Institute Brain Science, Tononi, Koch.
(4.07)  Can you trust Frontiers in Psychology research papers?  Students' Resource
(4.08)  Critical Thinking Skills - In Defense of Reality - A Student Resource
(4.09)  Philo+Sophia - Love of Wisdom - A Student Resource



(5.01)    Summary, 

explaining why I pursued this project.


Dr. Mark Solms deftly demystifies Chalmers’ “Hard Problem” of Consciousness, while incidentally highlighting why Hoffman’s “Conscious Agents” are luftgeschäft. 

(6.01)  Dr. Mark Solms demystifies Chalmers' "Hard Problem" of Consciousness.

(6.02)  The Other Side of Dr. Mark Solms, farmer, vintner, humanitarian.

(6.03)  Students’ Resource: A representative cross-section of Dr. Mark Solms' scientific publications.


My homemade philosophical underpinning . . . 


(7.01)  An Alternative Philosophical Perspective - “Earth Centrism     
(7.02)  Appreciating the Physical Reality ~ Human Mindscape divide          
(7.03)  Being an element in Earth’s Pageant of Evolution
(7.04)  It’s not a “Body-Mind Problem,”  it’s an “Ego-God Problem.”

Feel free to copy and share

Email: citizenschallenge  gmail  com


Students Introduction to Reality Based Brain/Consciousness Research

The Mind as a Complex Mathematical System with Emergent Properties, Daniel Siegel

A Scientific Explanation of the Human Mind | Daniel Siegel

Dan Siegel: The Neurological Basis of Behavior, Mind, Brain and Human Relationships, Part 1 to 3 

Allen Institute for Brain Science

Giulio Tononi on Consciousness

Consciousness: here, there and everywhere?  Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch

Video, Giulio Tononi on Consciousness

The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness, Dr. Christof Koch,

Allen Institute for Brain Science

Allen Brain Observatory: Visualizing the brain in action

Allen Cell Types Database: Understanding the fundamental building blocks of the brain

Allen Institute for Brain Science,  Coding & Vision 101, 12-part undergraduate-level lecture series

Brain Expansion Microscopy, Harvard Medical School,

Lattice light-sheet microscopy

Gut bacteria and mind control: to fix your brain, fix your gut!

New center advances biomedical and brain imagingUniversity of Delaware,

Stunning Brain Map Reveals Tiny Communication Network

Brain Research: New Discoveries and Breakthroughs at UC Davis


Some Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception

Perceptual Systems, Historical Background, Innate And Learned Classical perceptual phenomena, Broad theoretical approaches, Current research/future developments.


Ecological approaches to perceptual learning: learning to perceive and perceiving as learning

Agnes SzokolszkyCatherine ReadZsolt Palatinus, et al., 2019

The Essential Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception

Eric P. Charles, 2017,

The evolution of early symbolic behavior in Homo sapiens

Kristian Tylén, Riccardo Fusaroli, Sergio Rojo, et al. PNAS 2020

The Evolution and Fossil History of Sensory Perception in Amniote Vertebrates, March 21, 2018 

Evolutionary Specialization of Tactile Perception in Vertebrates

Eve R. SchneiderElena O. Gracheva, and Slav N. Bagriantsev, 2016

Evolutionary Psychology and the Emotions

Leda Cosmides & John Tooby, Handbook of Emotions, 2000

The evolution of modern human brain shape

Simon Neubauer, Jean-Jacques Hublin and Philipp Gunz, 2018:

Intrinsic Multiperspectivity: Conceptual Forms and the Functional Architecture of the Perceptual System

Rainer Mausfeld, PhD.

Perceptual Worlds and Sensory Ecology

By: Stephen Burnett, PhD, Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):75

Ch.17. A Hierarchical Model of the Evolution of Human Brain Specializations

H. Clark Barrett

Surroundings and Evolution Shape Human Sight, Smell and Taste

by: Andrea Korte, February 19, 2017


The bottom line, courtesy of:

Mysteries of Modern Physics by Sean Carroll

Jan 29, 2020  -  Darwin College Lecture Series

Sean Carroll,  10:45

. . .  these are the particles that make up you and this table and me and this laptop and really everything that you have ever seen with your eyes touched with your fingers smelled with your nose in your life. 

Furthermore we know how they interact with each other and even better than that, the most impressive fact is that there will not be a discovery tomorrow or next century or a million years from now which says you know what there was another particle or another force that we didn't know about but now we realize plays a crucial role in our everyday life. 

As far as our everyday life is concerned by which I really mean what you can see with your eyes touch with your hands etc we’re done finding the underlying ingredients. That is an enormous achievement in human history one that does not get enough credit, because of course as soon as we do it we go on to the next thing.  

Physics is not done.  I'm not saying that physics is done, but physics has understood certain things and those things include everything you encounter in your everyday life - unless you're a professional experimental physicist or unless you're looking of course outside our everyday life at the universe and other places where we don't know what’s going on. … 


Peter Miesler

aka citizenschallenge

email:  citizenschallenge at gmail

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