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Beauty is Truth, Truth is Beauty, and Other Lies of Physics

Here is a provocative article by Sabine Hossenfelder appearing on Aeon on July 11.  The openi ng paragraph is:

Who doesn’t like a pretty idea? Physicists certainly do. In the foundations of physics, it has become accepted practice to prefer hypotheses that are aesthetically pleasing. Physicists believe that their motivations don’t matter because hypotheses, after all, must be tested. But most of their beautiful ideas are hard or impossible to test. And whenever an experiment comes back empty-handed, physicists can amend their theories to accommodate the null results.

As I read it I began to wonder whether this preoccupation with a "pretty idea" expands to other disciplines such as economics, technology, supply chains, international business, geopolitical relationships to name a few.

In 2003 I wrote an introduction to Forces, and intended book that never materialized, that has as its first sentence, "The world is a messy place."

The world has become messier and I wonder whether the shortcomings of thinking descibed by Hossenfelder have contributed to the messiness in fields other than physics.

Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at 07:05AM by Registered CommenterJames Drogan | CommentsPost a Comment

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