Why aren't that many people interested in physics but on junk knowledge

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Or philosophy or astronomy or world affairs or any other intellectual endeavor? It just seems like the majority of people are interested in social status, (especially people under 30), what stupid move paris hilton will make next in order to gain attention, is lindsay lohan a cokehead or not. It seems like people are interested in (I'm sometimes guilty of this myself) are more interested in the lives of total strangers , the latest fashions , sports statistics, who's hot, than thinking about the physical laws of the universe or modifying the physical laws of our universe(i.e. Einstein approximate newton's universal law of gravity, uniting magnestism and electricity or thinking about why capitalism allows monopolies to exist or why socialism laws governments to stamp on competition. Its seems like we humans have a naturally tendency to focus on petty little things or 'junk knowledge' instead of of on true knowledge that stimulates you mind where you change every around you by truly understand whats going on around you and why certain physical phenonmena is the way it is. I'm not trying to sound like an academic elitist,just trying to understand why in every culture it seems like the intellectuals or people who are interested in pure knowledge make up the minority of the population within that culture instead of the majority. Its okay to be interested in junk knowledge , but for the most part, I think most people never give pure knowledge a try because you see junk knowledge everywhere!
 
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  • #2
Kurdt
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Because it takes effort and people are lazy.
 
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Mathematicians would be quick to point out to you that even physicists are focusing on 'junk knowledge' and that the only truths that you can work with are those of abstraction, such as in number theory, graph theory, etc. Speaking of which, I have recently been extending http://heybryan.org/bookmarks/kanzure_bookmarks_July30th02007.html#19-top [Broken].

- Bryan
 
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ZapperZ
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Mathematicians would be quick to point out to you that even physicists are focusing on 'junk knowledge' and that the only truths that you can work with are those of abstraction, such as in number theory, graph theory, etc. Speaking of which, I have recently been extending http://heybryan.org/bookmarks/kanzure_bookmarks_July30th02007.html#19-top [Broken].

- Bryan
Er.. tell those mathematicians that when they start having 'experimentalists' among them, then we'll talk about "truths".

Zz.
 
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  • #6
morphism
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Mathematicians would be quick to point out to you that even physicists are focusing on 'junk knowledge' and that the only truths that you can work with are those of abstraction, such as in number theory, graph theory, etc. Speaking of which, I have recently been extending http://heybryan.org/bookmarks/kanzure_bookmarks_July30th02007.html#19-top [Broken].

- Bryan
Speak for yourself. :rolleyes:
 
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BobG
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the only truths that you can work with are those of abstraction, such as in number theory, graph theory,
Here's another viewpoint on this matter.
Bertrand Russell said:
Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.
 
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  • #9
In a physical sense he's absolutely right. It reiterates Zz's point about experiment.

How can you have a what without form, or truth without a basis in that, all you have really is a form of philosophy that works in our minds and even on paper in symbolism but not in practical terms.

Numbers are like this, they're are not in essence inherently real just abstractions. When we apply them they become based in the real world ie 1 apple is real but 1 is not, the number 1 is not a reality any more than the number i is. They are equally real or better to say equally unreal or abstract.

Mathematics is not an absolute prediction of reality even when applied, it is merely a best guess, but it suffices, it is close enough for comfort, and dare I say it close enough to be real as far as we know or can find tangible evidence for.

An abstract proof is a logical proof but it is not a truth.

Probably why Bertrand Russel set out to formalise logic in philosophy and maths, it helps to at least have the right language before you proceed.
 
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Actually, I think he meant that a mathematician doesn't assert that something is true, just that it follows from the axioms. And the axioms are not proven. That is the 'don't know if it's true' part. And the axioms refer to entities that are not defined. That is the 'we don't know what we are talking about' part.
 
  • #11
The entities are not defined just means without tangible form, and not proven just means without tangible proof or evidence which follows naturally from the first proviso. I think we just said pretty much the same thing.

This is way to serious for GD :smile:

I'm not a mathematician as such so I don't know how they define entities, although I know entity has a different philosophical or mathematical interpretation from a scientific one. So perhaps define what you mean by entity?

Thinking about it you may be right, but that doesn't make what I said any less apt, if you change the definition in fact to a scientific one it becomes even more clear. Entity reinforces this point mathematically and even more clearly reinforces it scientifically.
 
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don't mean to be rude but can some please respond to my original post?
 
  • #13
Evo
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don't mean to be rude but can some please respond to my original post?
I think kurdt answered it. It's easier to believe nonsense than understand the science.
 
  • #14
Because the right answer would be demeaning to people who do not like to think beyond what Britney Spear's latest outfit looks like and is not politically correct :smile:

Let's face it some people just aren't able or willing to look beyond what they see at a superficial level, nothing wrong with that, it's just the way things are. Not everyone likes obscure thought.

Science is not wholly accessible to people who dislike looking into the deeper mysteries, perhaps that's where it fails, perhaps it should be?
 
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  • #15
chroot
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Interest begets interest. It's a cycle.

To become interested in physics, you have to gain a foothold somewhere first. Maybe it happens while launching model rockets as a kid. Maybe it happens while watching a nature show on TV. Maybe it happens while turning a prism over in your hand while standing out in the sunlight. Once this initial spark of interest takes hold, it rapidly snowballs. You start reading popular science books, then Feynman lectures, etc. Every new bit you learn just strenghtens your desire to learn another.

For most people, this initial spark just doesn't happen. They aren't lucky enough, I suppose, to have had some kind of exposure that piqued their interest long ago, when their minds were still receptive to it.

My interests are broad. I can safely say that I can open any textbook on any topic whatsoever and find something in it that fascinates me. Most people, on the other hand, have very few, or very narrow interests. It's very easy to be interested in things that all your friends are interested in, which is why "sensations" like American Idol end up infecting probably 95% of the population.

Interest in science, in theory, could carry the same social weight, and spead the same way as American Idol. The problem is that scientific insight takes delayed gratification. You know when you begin a tough problem that you might spend half the night reading and trying things, only to be blocked at every turn. Eventually, though, you know you'll solve the problem, and that feeling of accomplishment is worth all the effort.

Many people, though, can't deal with delayed gratification, at all. That's why we have fast food, TiVo, and all the rest of our modern "conveniences."

- Warren
 
  • #16
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Benzoate, that is fashion. Science should be made more fashionable.
 
  • #17
Ivan Seeking
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Anyone who was around me for about 20 years was given every chance to be fascinated by the mysteries of the universe and the profound insights of science. And it took me that long to figure out that it wasn't a matter of saying something just right, or trying to explain things without using overly technical language, or a matter of perspective, but instead I finally realized they just don't care.

Then there is the other situation: As my dad learned more about subjects like relativity, he began to doubt the credibility of scientists.

You have to understand the process in order to appreciate the conclusions, and the only way to understand the process is to study the subject long enough that the process need not be justified.

Finally, many people just don't have the horsepower upstairs. Or, if they do, their brains just don't work in such as way that deep subjects matter. Most people just want normal, predicatable, safe lives that are void of unnecessary complications.
 
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  • #18
chroot
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Anyone who was around me for about 20 years was given every chance to be fascinated by the mysteries of the universe and the profound insights of science. And it took me that long to figure out that it wasn't a matter of saying something just right, or trying to explain things without using overly technical language, or a matter of perspective, but instead I finally realized they just don't care.
Of course, there's the insidious way that no one ever regards someone close to them -- family member, friend, etc. -- as an expert in anything. Sometimes the initial spark of interest has to come from someone outside.

Then there is the other situation: As my dad learned more about subjects like relativity, he began to doubt the credibility of scientists.
Even scientists go through this process. When you're a kid, the textbooks are thick, and written in authoritative tone. When you're a grad student, the textbooks are flimsy paperbacks with plenty of errors and omissions. Sometimes they're just stacks of paper run off on the department's photocopier. Every budding scientist has to, at some point, grapple with the very significant holes in our current understanding of the universe.

You have to understand the process in order to appreciate the conclusions, and the only way to understand the process is to study the subject long enough that the process need not be justified.
An excellent point.

Finally, many people just don't have the horsepower upstairs.
Or perhaps they do have the horsepower. Just, you know, only one horsepower. :uhh:

- Warren
 
  • #19
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I think kurdt answered it. It's easier to believe nonsense than understand the science.
true I agree that their are a lot of people who believe creation over evolution simply because the explanation for creation is about a paragraph long and the explanation for the theory of evolution is about 500 pages long. but I find that being physical fit and being atlethe takes just as much effort as being an intellectual(if not more). People endure broken bones in order to maximize their physical and athletic potential, while these same people won't look twice if a title of a book is a brief history in time or the road to reality , even though you won't harm yourself while trying to understands the bigbang and the laws of the universe, people still will turn away. While certainly not making of the majority of the human population, their are higher proportion of atheletes and people who want to stay physical fit, (which is a good thing) than people who want to improved their intellect.
 
  • #20
chroot
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That one's purely social. Having big muscles and scoring a touchdown get you chicks. Learning about physics... doesn't. At least not until you're in your late twenties.

- Warren
 
  • #21
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I have a friend of mine, she is (I think) rather brillant. She works hard all day long, and once or twice in a week enjoys junk television. This has always fascinated me, because I just can not even stay in the same room when she does that.

She told me that it allows her to somehow "unplug" her brain, forget about everything else. However, I am not sure this practice is safer than other drugs, when it comes to brain damages.

Besides, I am not certain that I agree with Ivan on the fact that most people are just not interested in fundamental knowledge. I think most people think it is just too hard for them to understand, and I think this is wrong. With time and will, they would, but indeed they are lazy. When I tell them I spend my life with a particle accelerator, they do show interest, and are often able to concentrate for a few minutes at least :biggrin:

I have the deep feeling that everybody relates to fundamental questions such as the finiteness of the Universe (for instance). This IMHO is not unrelated to the fact that most people relate with religion (in a positive, or negative manner btw).
 
  • #22
Ivan Seeking
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Of course, there's the insidious way that no one ever regards someone close to them -- family member, friend, etc. -- as an expert in anything. Sometimes the initial spark of interest has to come from someone outside.
That is true! I can't even tell you how many times someone has made a point to tell me all about something seen on TV, when in fact I had told them all about it a year ago. In their mind, it wasn't true until they saw it on TV, even though my source was a QM class or an EM book.
 
  • #23
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I have a friend of mine, she is (I think) rather brillant. She works hard all day long, and once or twice in a week enjoys junk television. This has always fascinated me, because I just can not even stay in the same room when she does that.

She told me that it allows her to somehow "unplug" her brain, forget about everything else. However, I am not sure this practice is safer than other drugs, when it comes to brain damages.

Besides, I am not certain that I agree with Ivan on the fact that most people are just not interested in fundamental knowledge. I think most people think it is just too hard for them to understand, and I think this is wrong. With time and will, they would, but indeed they are lazy. When I tell them I spend my life with a particle accelerator, they do show interest, and are often able to concentrate for a few minutes at least :biggrin:

I have the deep feeling that everybody relates to fundamental questions such as the finiteness of the Universe (for instance). This IMHO is not unrelated to the fact that most people relate with religion (in a positive, or negative manner btw).
well at least your friend knows she has the capacity to both absorbed junk and none-junk knowledge. I do that alot too. I just want to layback after a hard days work and want to see celebrities who are rich but miserable(really I do). There isn't anything wrong with junk knowledge, its just the majority of people reject pure knowledge entirely and won't even give it wink
 
  • #24
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well at least your friend knows she has the capacity to both absorbed junk and none-junk knowledge. I do that alot too. I just want to layback after a hard days work and want to see celebrities who are rich but miserable(really I do). There isn't anything wrong with junk knowledge, its just the majority of people reject pure knowledge entirely and won't even give it wink
To me, it's just that there are so many other ways to enjoy free time. Play music, play chess, sport, meet people, spend time with your loved one, write a letter to your family, cook a nice dinner, go for a walk, to a concert, to a museum, read a book, you name it...
 
  • #25
chroot
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That is true! I can't even tell you how many times someone has made a point to tell me all about something seen on TV, when in fact I had told them all about it a year ago. In their mind, it wasn't true until they saw it on TV, even though my source was a QM class or an EM book.
A while ago, an ex-girlfriend of mine had an overhead projector fail on her while she was working on an art project. When I offered to fix it for her, she made her hesitation very clear: "Umm, are you sure we shouldn't take it to, you know, an overhead projector repair place?" I was a little offended. An overhead projector has a light bulb, and a switch.... and I'm an integrated circuit designer.

- Warren
 

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