Monday, June 02, 2008

Wizards at War VIII - Are Physicists Smart?

Given what we know about the social, energetic, and capital costs of the warsocialist enterprise, the fact for example, that war has driven up the cost of energy by $6 Trillion in the past few years, this is not an idle or superfluous question.

It's been a while since I posted anything to the Wizards at War series. Not for lack of information, it's just that there's been so much "the end of the world as we know it" (TEOTWAWKI) to cover, that I got sidetracked. Prof. Dennis Rancourt posed this question a couple of years ago, leading with the assertion that "80 % of physicists in North America work for the military";
Eighty percent of physicists in North America work for the military, in the world’s largest military economy. But of course physics students are drawn to physics because all can be understood via the physics portal and because worm holes are neat. Students search for meaning and social status and find military and corporate service, often in an environment that maintains the neat-problem mental bubble first cultivated in sci-fi and electronic game land.

If you’re already smarter than everyone else (as is generally the working assumption in most professions), then you don’t really need to venture out into other fields – that are so primitive and qualitative and descriptive in comparison to physics.

Other fields…? Other methods…? Complexity…? Professional physicists have so buried themselves into their culture of the doable, the mappable, the reducible, the solvable, the codable, … that they are largely unable to perceive complexity.
In objective terms, physicists are among the smartest folks in the general population. However, the institutions and acculturation surrounding the professional practice of physics channels and subverts these keen intellects into some of the most destructive and least productive areas of human endeavor.