Stephen Hawking Confusing the Public

Stephen Hawking gave a presentation making claims that are quite unimpressive. According to this report:

He closed by outlining “M-theory,” which is based partly on ideas put forward years ago by another famed physicist, Caltech’s Richard Feynman. Hawking sees that theory as the only big idea that really explains what he has observed.

M-theory posits that multiple universes are created out of nothing, Hawking explained, with many possible histories and many possible states of existence. In only a few of these states would life be possible, and in fewer still could something like humanity exist. Hawking mentioned that he felt fortunate to be living in this state of existence.

Theory? Someone needs to inform Hawking that he is confusing the public:

In everyday usage, “theory” often refers to a hunch or a speculation. When people say, “I have a theory about why that happened,” they are often drawing a conclusion based on fragmentary or inconclusive evidence.

The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.

So where is the “vast body of evidence” that supports the M-theory? In fact, I don’t see any evidence to support the M-theory. Don’t you think the more intellectually honest thing to do here is to note the “M-theory” is really the “M-speculation?” But then again, M-speculation does not sound as sciencey, now does it?

And oh, what the heck. I can’t resist commenting on this:

Hawking closed the event with a familiar plea for continued exploration of the cosmos: “We must continue to go into space for the future of humanity,” he said, adding, “I don’t think we will survive another thousand years without escaping our fragile planet.”

This is nothing more than wishful thinking. Set aside the scientific fact that the human body is adapted for life on this planet and consider the simple sociological fact that the last time a nation put men on the moon was before Disco, CD players, cable TV and personal computers. Since that time, no human has been able to go back to the moon or any further. We’re not exactly on any trajectory to escape our planet.

But in a nutshell, this is the hope of atheism – unless science can stuff us into metal tubes on a cold, barren planet, we’re doomed.

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4 Responses to Stephen Hawking Confusing the Public

  1. Crude says:

    Worse, as Stephen Barr explained, M-theory doesn’t even do away with God. At its absolute best, it does away with fine-tuning, which is a different question than the ‘what started it all off’ question Hawking was toying with as having an explanation.

  2. Jon Garvey says:

    It’s an old point, but if it’s really true that a planet that’s been inhabited happily for 3.5 bn years has been doomed to death in another millennium after just 200 years of Enlightenment science and technology, the very last thing the Universe needs is to spread the disease further.

  3. G. Rodrigues says:

    I cannot remember who christened the theory with an M (Witten maybe?), but one of the meanings was… Magic.

    And the situation is much worse than you describe. M-theory is not even a theory, in the sense of an organized model intended to explain this or that aspect of the universe. There are gaping holes and only the edge or limiting cases are known with some degree of completeness.

  4. The Deuce says:

    The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.

    The so-called “formal scientific definition” of theory is little more than an overused rhetorical device invented for the purpose of winning origins debates against teleologists, and is quickly ignored and forgotten by secularists like Hawking whenever it’s not immediately helpful for that purpose.

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