modern physics abuse syndrome

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modern physics abuse syndrome2016-12-25T14:28:46+00:00

modern physics abuse syndrome

modern physics abuse syndrome image from New Medical Terms

modern physics abuse syndrome


A term that dignifies the popularisation of central tenets of 20th century physics, which results in both trivialisation and misleading or frankly inaccurate assertions and analogies to the real world.

Novelist Salman Rushdie, a lay person, explained the “syndrome” in his The Ground Beneath Her Feet  (1999, Cape–UK, Holt–US),  “Scientists get angry when laymen misunderstand, for example, the uncertainty principle. In an age of great uncertainties, it is easy to mistake science for banality, to believe that Heisenberg is merely saying, “gee, guys, we just can’t be sure of anything, it’s all so darn uncertain, but isn’t that, like, beautiful? Whereas he’s actually telling us the exact opposite: that if you know what you’re doing you can pin down the exact quantum of uncertainty in any experiment, in any process. To knowledge and mystery we can now ascribe percentage points. A principle of uncertainty is also a measure of certainty. It’s not a lament about shifting sands but a gauge of the solidity of the ground.”

The parade of “syndromes” coined by non-medical individuals shows no sign of abating. Putting PCs within reach of the lay public is like giving matches and dynamite to monkeys. Eventually, something would get out of control. Whilst this term fills a lexical void, it is obviously not a real syndrome. 


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