It’s ironic to watch Lawrence Krauss be deplatformed when it is quite likely that Krauss himself deplatformed someone else a few years back:
The annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate is the American Museum of Natural History’s biggest public event, drawing a sold-out crowd for an evening billed as bringing together “the finest minds in the world” to debate “pressing questions on the frontiers of scientific discovery.”
But this year’s installment, to be held on March 20 under the heading “The Existence of Nothing,” may also be notable for the panelist who disappeared.
Among the speakers will be several leading physicists, including Lawrence M. Krauss, whose book “A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing” became a cause célèbre in the scientific blogosphere last spring after a scathing review in the New York Times Book Review by the philosopher David Z. Albert.
But Mr. Albert will not be onstage, having been abruptly disinvited by the museum several months after he agreed to take part.
Disinvited? How can that be?
In his review Mr. Albert, who also has a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, mocked Mr. Krauss’s cocksure claim to have found in the laws of quantum mechanics a definitive answer to the vexing question of the ultimate origins of the universe. (So where did those laws come from? he asked.) Mr. Krauss countered with a pugnacious interview in The Atlantic, in which he called Mr. Albert “moronic” and dismissed the philosophy of science as worthless.
Does it surprise anyone that a New Atheist would lash out at a critic as being “moronic” and then attack the whole discipline of philosophy?
But in early January, Mr. de Grasse Tyson sent Mr. Albert another e-mail rescinding the invitation, citing changes in the panel that shifted the focus “somewhat away from the original reasons that led me to invite you.” An invitation was issued shortly afterward to Jim Holt, the author of the recent best seller “Why Does the World Exist?,” which surveys the ways philosophers, cosmologists and theologians have answered the question.
Mr. Albert, who teaches at Columbia, noted in an interview that neither the title of the panel nor its basic composition — it also includes the physicists J. Richard Gott and Eva Silverstein and the journalist Charles Seife — had changed.
“It sparked a suspicion that Krauss must have demanded that I not be invited,” he said. “But of course I’ve got no proof.”
Y’think? That suspicion sounds like the most likely explanation to me. Look, if Krauss did indeed do this, there is no reason to think we would have proof of it. So the lack of proof is not all that meaningful.
Finally, we get this:
Mr. Krauss, who teaches at Arizona State University, said via e-mail that decisions about the lineup were Mr. Tyson’s but reiterated that he “wasn’t impressed” by Mr. Albert’s review. “If it were up to me, I wouldn’t choose to spend time onstage with him,” he added.
I notice that he didn’t say he had nothing to do with the decision. Yes, the ultimate decision was Tyson’s, but do you think it’s possible that Krauss was lobbying to get Albert disinvited. Nothing in his reply suggests this did not happen. In fact, that hypothesis is all the more believable when he goes on record as saying, “If it were up to me, I wouldn’t choose to spend time onstage with him.”