Sunday, January 30, 2011
Douglas R Hofstadter: Metamagical Themas...
A favorite author of ours is Douglas Hofstadter, whose Godel, Escher, Bach and Metamagical Themas (a compilation of his Scientific American columns from the 1980s).
While Mr. Hofstadter is moderate and limited about Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle – he thinks it is misinterpreted by almost everyone – and that the principle doesn’t state that an observer interferes with the observed but “rather hat a very fine grain size, the wave duality of the measuring tool becomes relevant.” [Page 464, MT].
Heisenberg’s principle may be extrapolated to include such things as how the measurement (the observation) of individuals or UFOs is affected by the observation of either.
For instance, if a group of people, at a party are intruded upon by a person with a camera, the group will alter their behavior, to accommodate the picture or video being taken, since it will record a moment by which the group and individuals will be remembered for posterity.
And there is anecdotal information that UFOs often seem to be affected by an observer, with a camera, radar, or just a visual encounter.
The measurement (observation) of things alter those things in various ways, some subtle, some not so subtle.
Mr. Hofstadter, in writing about electromagnetic waves, points out that “as a black body heats up, it begins to glow: first dull red, then bright red, then orange, eventually white, and then, surprisingly enough, bluish!” [Page 458 MT].
Isn’t that what UFO observers often report?
Mr. Hofstadter makes it a major point to support the cautions of physicists who tell laypersons that quantum microcosm can’t be extended to explain the macrocosmic events.
We think that is an error in judgment and theoretical hypothesizing, and have addressed the issue here at this blog and the RRRGroup blog, early on.
Applying quantum thinking to the UFO phenomenon provides an interesting patina to the UFO mystery, almost explaining some behavior and sightings.
Bruce Duensing deals with such things, rather more brilliantly than we, at his blog, Intangible Materiality, which can be accessed by clicking here:
Also, Mr. Hofstadter is not inimical to mathematics as the lingua franca of science, which we think is detrimental to human thought, and a contrivance that is unreal, a concoction that gives scientists a mantle of authority that it doesn’t really deserve.
Math is bogus, and used by science to make hypothetical thinking obscure to laypersons and to create a priest-like order for science that co-opts religion, philosophy, and thought in general.
So, while it seems that we think that Mr. Hofstadter is off the mark on the items listed above, why do we find him so fascinating, and intelligent?
That goes to his views about how we think or should and is addressed in his Metamagical Themas chapters, World Views in Collision (which deals with the Skeptical Inquirer – he likes it) and On Number Numbness (about how people don’t comprehend the reality of numbers that affect their lives).
And in Section VII, Sanity and Survival, Hofstadter tackles irrationality itself, which is rampant in the UFO community and “ufology” particularly.
We don’t expect visitors to this blog to read or understand the bulk of Metamagical Themas, but we’d hope they might give it a try.
Moreover, since most of the UFO crowd are hobbyists, who work on the UFO mystery when it is convenient and not during their weekend down-time, we are not holding our collective breaths for any to try and enlighten themselves beyond their myopic attention to the UFO phenomenon, Bruce Duensing as the stand-out exception.