Monday, June 21, 2010

Event: The Abuse of Physics to Support Woo

(Passing on an announcement. Meet-up info is here. -MC)

Announcing a new Meetup for San Diego Secular Humanist Outreach!

What: The Abuse of Physics to Support Woo

When: Saturday, July 10, 2010 6:00 PM

County Health Services Complex
3851 Rosecrans Street
San Diego, CA 92110

Most of us have discovered the fallacies inherent in traditional religion. But we're now being inundated by a new wave of imaginative hucksters advocating their own versions of supernaturalism, and hawking their similarly bizarre notions in the guise of science -- even attempting to co-opt its language. Scientists have a recently-coined term for this pseudoscience and crackpottery: they call it "woo" -- I suppose as in "Woo-ooh, that's really far out!"

For example, there's been Oprah Winfrey's recent ballyhooing of The Secret, a best-seller that slaps the "The Law of Attraction" label on the popular notion of positive-visualization, then "cranks it into hyperdrive, [applying] it to to the Self and personal desire . . . and pretends that the whole thing is a revelation backed by both modern science and thousands of years of wisdom." And don't overlook Depak Chopra's fanciful assertions regarding "Biocentrism," the idea that the universe is the product of human awareness, and that quantum mechanics somehow supports his "theory."

Enter Jonathan Whitmore, SD SHOut's next speaker, and a PhD candidate in theoretical astrophysics at UCSD. He writes: "Concepts within physics are frequently misused to support all manner of 'woo': New-Age cures, homeopathy, 'The Secret,' magical thinking, and wishful thinking in general. Creationists sometimes attempt to use physics to argue against the theory of evolution. Physics is a powerful tool for understanding, predicting, and controlling the natural world -- so it is an attractive ally if you want to find support for your ideas. The problem comes when people try to use physics to support ideas and conclusions that physics simply does not support." His talk, titled The Abuse of Physics to Support Woo, and scheduled for Saturday, July 10th, at 6:00 p.m., will highlight "a few of the favorite ways people misuse physics in support of their wishful thinking."

The meeting place: The Coronado Room at the County Health Services Complex at 3851 Rosecrans Street in the Old Town / Midway area. A lively question and answer period will follow his talk. Let's not miss it!

Learn more here.


TGP said...

And yet, if I were to put Deepak Chopra in a catapult, I'd be the bad guy...

Michael Caton said...

Says who?

TGP said...

In that case, is a trebuchet or torsion catapult more useful in actuating personal desires?