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Monday, September 27, 2010

Feynman's Fear



"....I believe that one of the greatest dangers to modern society, is the possible resurgeance and expansion of the ideas of thought control...." Richard P. Feynman

The following contains some quotes from that lecture Feynman on "What is and should be the role of scientific culture in modern society"


...This modern society seems to be threatened by a number of serious threats, and the one that I would like to concentrate on and which will in fact be the central theme...of my discussion is that I believe that one of the greatest dangers to modern society, is the possible resurgeance and expansion of the ideas of thought control; such ideas as Hitler had, or Stalin in his time, or the Catholic Religion in the Middle Ages, or the Chinese today. I think one of the greatest dangers of today is that it shall increase until it encompasses all of the world...

...another thing that bothers me, I might as well mention, are the things that theologians in modern times can discuss, without feeling ashamed of themselves...some of the things that go on in the conferences of religion...are ridiculous in modern times...one of the reasons why this can keep going, is that it is not realized what a profound modification of our (scientific) worldview would result, if just one example of these things (absurd religious claims) would really work...on the other hand, why don't we just get rid of it?...

(blogger's note here - this was left as an open question in Feynman's lecture in the 1960's, but it seems like the internet is doing just that these days by rapidly debunking most of the absurd religious claims that are out there)

...What's the right way...to report (scientific) results? Disinterestedly, so that the other man is free to understand precisely what you are saying, and as nearly as possible not covering it (results from the data) with your desires...

...such things as propaganda should be considered a dirty word...a description of a country made by the people of another country should describe that country in a disinterested way...

...advertising, for example, is an example (more often than not) of a scientifically immoral description of the products. This immorality is so extensive that one gets used to it in ordinary life, that you do not appreciate that it is (often times) a bad thing. And I think that one of the important reasons to increase the contact of scientists with the rest of society is to explain, and to wake them up to...[not] having information always in a form which is (self) interesting...

...The other thing that gives a scientific man the creeps in the world today are the methods of choosing leaders - in every nation. Today, for example, in the United States, the two political parties have decided to employ public relations men, that is, advertising men, who are trained in the necessary methods of telling the truth and lying in order to develop a product. This wasn't the original (forefather's) idea. They (candidates) are supposed to discuss ideas and not just make up slogans. It's true, if you look in history, however, that choosing political leaders in the United States (and elsewhere too) has been on many occasians based on slogans...


Then you need to purchase The Pleasure of Finding Things Out for a few dollars to get the rest of the lecture and discover many other cool things too.

note: All interjections and clarifications that I input are in parantheses ().