Re: Fwd: The Geek Syndrome

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Mon Dec 17 2001 - 09:13:16 MST

> However, I think for most scientists, the practice of science
> is a quest, an investigation, an inquiry, an exploration.

...would that it were so. Alas, Einstein more accurately summarized the truth
of the matter:

"Many kinds of men devote themselves to Science, and not all for the sake
of Science herself. There are some who come into her temple because it
offers them the opportunity to display their particular talents. To this
class of men science is a kind of sport in the practice of which they
exult, just as an athlete exults in the exercise of his muscular prowess.
There is another class of men who come into the temple to make an offering
of their brain pulp in the hope of securing a profitable return. These men
are scientists only by the chance of some circumstance which offered itself
when making a choice of career. If the attending circumstances had been
different they might have become politicians or captains of business.
Should an angel of God descend and drive from the Temple of Science all
those who belong to the categories I have mentioned, I fear the temple
would be nearly emptied. But a few worshipers would still remain -- some
from former times and some from ours. To these latter belongs our Planck.
And that is why we love him. I am quite aware that this clearance would
mean the driving away of many worthy people who have built up a great
portion, and even perhaps the greatest portion, of the Temple of Science.
But at the same time it is clear that if the men who have devoted
themselves to science consisted only of the two categories I have
mentioned, the edifice could never had grown to its present proud
dimensions, no more than a forest could grow if it consisted only of

The quote is from a prologue to a book by Max Planck, "Where Is Science
Going", New York, 1932. (I am quoting from a secondary source, the preface
to the 7th edition of "Manual of Psychiatry" by Aaron J. Rosanoff, 1938.)
And who wrote that prologue? Albert Einstein. The situation is certainly
not better now than 69 years ago.

--- --- --- --- ---

Useless hypotheses, etc.:
 consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing, cultural relativism, GAC, Cyc, Eliza, cryonics, individual
uniqueness, ego, human values, scientific relinquishment, malevolent AI,
non-sensory experience, SETI

We move into a better future in proportion as science displaces superstition.

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