/ Social Epistemology / Cosmology /
I’m watching a DVD on supermassive black holes. I’m learning from it, enjoying it, glad to meet some of the talking heads: and at the same time the bullshit writing is driving me crazy. It’s not as bad as George Page on Nature, that’s the nadir of nadirs: every other statement is an anthropomorphic fallacy. But here, in the supermassive black hole doc, take for example this: the narrative talks about “the most destructive force in the universe”: presents black hole nature as a catastrophe. The narrative talks about the black hole as “feeding”. Feeding is a catastrophe? Why don’t they just talk about the universe, the black hole, and stop confusing us with human valuations. We don’t know what’s going on inside a black hole: why assume that it’s “destructive” or “nutritional”? Why can’t it be whateverthehell it is and ditch the hss social metaphors?
I’ve finished it now, wonderful! except for the willfully anthropo-writing.
Another example: the program had identified supermassive black holes as a recent concept: 1971, refined 2001 … How can something new to theory be imagined as “most destructive”? Did Pompey know about it? Hannibal? Caesar? … Genghis? Einstein? “Recent” here is another human-ocentric fallacy.
Notice the strong resemblance between popularizing science and polluting theology with human wishes. We think going to hell is bad; but if God puts us there, then by definition, it’s not bad, it’s good. Being in jail may be inconvenient for Charles Manson; but it’s convenient in the extreme for Roman Polanski. Mass murder and movie making are incompatible. Britain didn’t want to lose her American colonies, but without the revolution being successful then all the things we celebrate as “American” wouuldn’t have occurred, wouldn’t be true.
If we’re sucked into a black hole, then … Then what? We don’t know what! Therefore, we can’t say whether it’s catastrophic or pure heaven.
I think we should think cosmology, refresh the ideas constantly, be utterly loyal to the data; and cease grading it, cease labeling it.
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