Re Ronan Cunniffe’s comment: Experts who don’t know what they’re talking about are not rare phenomena. Dr. Phil McGraw, for example, has a doctorate in clinical psychology from an accredited university, but his advice seems to have little connection to the relevant psychological literature. Judging from my experience, I’d say this disjuncture is not at all rare among clinical psychologists. There is obviously a difference between status as an expert and competence as an expert. What about all those people who calculate confidence intervals for the non-probability samples used in opinion polls?
Ronan Cuniffe writes:
>And anyway, Einstein clearly [sic] stole his best ideas from Nikola Tesla, and forced his wife do all the really hard math bits.<
Ronan, if you state a viewpoint, especially as strongly as here, it is fair to expect you to be able to provide just a wee bit of evidence for it. So let’s hear about the evidence for your statement that Einstein forced his wife to do all the really hard math bits.
Although she had done extremely well at high school mathematics (and physics), Mileva Maric’s average grade in maths for the Zurich Polytechnic entrance exam in 1896 was mediocre (average 4.25 on a scale 1-6). Letters to Einstein while she was a student indicate she struggled with geometry, and in the final diploma exam her grade in the maths component (theory of functions) was a dismal 2.5 on a scale 1-6. In addition, there is not a single document in which we have evidence of Mileva’s prowess in advanced mathematics.
In contrast, Einstein was precociously gifted at maths. He went through Euclid’s geometry when he was 12-13 years old, and mastered the basics of differential and integral calculus by self-study by the time he was 15. At age 16, after nine months without schooling, and having been given special permission to take the Zurich Polytechnic entrance exam some two years younger than the regulations normally allowed, his grade in mathematics (and physics) was so exceptional that the physics Professor, Heinrich Weber, invited him to sit in on his second year lectures.
When Einstein submitted his Ph.D. thesis to Zurich University in 1905, his supervisor, the physics professor Alfred Kleiner, wrote: “The arguments and calculations to be carried out are among the most difficult ones in hydrodynamics, and only a person possessing perspicacity and training in the handling of mathematical and physical problems could dare to tackle them.” The mathematical difficulties were such that the opinion of Professor of Mathematics Heinrich Burkardt was sought, and he reported that he found Einstein’s calculations “correct without exception, and the manner of treatment demonstrates a thorough command of the mathematical methods involved”.
So, Ronan, now let’s hear the evidence for your contention that Einstein forced Mileva Maric “to do the really hard math bits”.
I found Gina Khan’s article very interesting, like her previous one, and reflect very much my views about Islam and the status of women. Having been brought up a Catholic, and indoctrinated from an early age about heaven and hell, original sin, etc, I feel there are a lot of parallels, although it is less oppressive obviously. I feel that any religion that practices oppression of any kind is wrong, and it is not only the women who suffer as I feel it creates a very unbalanced society if one section is oppressing another section.
Hopefully if more people from all backgrounds are prepared to speak up, like the author, against extremism and injustice, then attittudes will change and these can be defeated. Good luck in your campaign!
>So, Ronan, now let’s hear the evidence for your contention that Einstein forced Mileva Maric “to do the really hard math bits>
You know that there is no proof, why tormenting the fellow by squeezing him with the door?
Mileva Maric is the “feminists” what “man-made global warming” is for “environmentalists” and far-leftist : Because it could be true therefore IS true.
Had Mileva been educated as a fashion designer and humans less productive of CO2 in the last 100 years it would have been no issue. But since that’s not the case the “conclusion” is clear.
Never mind that 700 years ago the average temperatures were 3 degrees higher than now and England was a wine exporter or that
Einstein had a record as first class mathematician.
Meera Nanda Article on Swami Ramdev.
I really wish you to your self go to one of the Shivir where 100 ‘s of Muslim attend the Shivir and not becuase (they are paid as you Doctor friend would no doubt suggest to say great testimonies. You CANT pay a Muslim to say good about YOGA ). as your doctor friend suggested(infact take him with you too as a witness). Thier are not 100′s but 1000′s of people on TV . NOT one of them can be paid to come to attend Shivir.
They say great things about Yoga mind you a Muslim group WHY because PRANAYAM CURED them of un cureable diseases and they have the GUTS to openly proclaim to the public the miracle. That is truly PRANAYAM it heals at all levels and the best part of it is it works with FAITH. because the healing is attributed directly from the ORIGIN of any healing. Not given by a doctor but to the GOD which you may as well subscribe some scientific research to prove HIS existence. This article was food to all those who LIVE only at the MATERIAL level of existence and trying to denying even the miracle WHY they WAKE UP the very next morning EVEN though THEY DONT remember WHO puts them to SLEEP (The one universal power of GOD is the one that wakes YOU).
If you think YOU are as Great a researcher as your article indicates questions your self WHICH intelligence can CREATE a HUMAN cell. It has instructions to FILL a 1000 books of 600 pages EACH. THAT same intelligence can heal any one of anything and the source to come in contact with it is MAINLY PRANAYAM. And RamDev has given it to the common masses in such a simple way and people are getting healed by that.
MAKE a cell like that
THEN make COMMENT on someone who is working with so much EFFORT to help common people rise above so many of thier daily problems and release the higher goals of life to connect with their true universal source.
Yikes. TWO commenters (including Allen Esterson…) think the last few lines of my comment were written seriously, rather than tongue-in-cheek as an example of exactly the competence-does-not-exist-la-la-la-I’m-not-listening kind of thinking.
But look: both HF and Allen Esterson tried to debunk the blither with (WARNING: tongue going back into cheek) loads of boring details; you know, that tedious evidence stuff.
(Back serious again)
I suppose I was basically questioning whether there is a point in directing high quality information like this at minds that are in the stance of “I Don’t Like Your Conclusion, Therefore Your Arguments Are Wrong”?
In other words(still, using the Einstein example), what exactly is the mental tectonic fault in the relevant minds in PBS? By what mechanism can they both promote the documentary as factual, and avoid the high-quality explanation that it isn’t?
Equivalently, by what mechanism can Nessie enthusiasts blatantly ignore biologists’ inquiring questions about minimum required breeding populations? If Atlantis is finally, exhaustively proven not to be in the centre of the Atlantic, Atlantis-fans simply look elsewhere – Randi’s Unsinkable Rubber Duck phenomenon.
I was just wondering what’s the underlying *mechanism* of this, and whether rational explanation is a valid treatment for the condition. Obviously, the existence of rebuttals is necessary to cut down on needless third-party infections.
Heh. I took your last few lines at face value too at first, Ronan, and was going to point you towards Allen’s articles – then I looked again and realized it was SARcasm. It was a near thing though.
I’m deeply curious about the mechanism at PBS too – especially since they are all presumably experienced in journalism, and not making factual mistakes is a pretty basic principle in journalism, as is correcting them when you do make them. I keep wondering what David Davis is doing – is he just deleting all the communications he gets on this subject and then proceeding with a light heart? Or is he racked with shame and guilt like Raskolnikov? Or what? I mean, does he think if he just stonewalls forever that this will just go away? Does he never compare himself to the New York Times and the New Republic and conclude he really ought to admit the mistake, just as they did?
Apologies, Ronan, for getting the wrong end of the stick (and for misspelling your name!). Having come across similar stuff on numerous blogs (not to mention in a supposedly ‘scholarly’ paper by one Senta Troemel-Ploetz) I just took it as another instance of the recycling of the story.
Ronan sees similarities between PBS on the “Einstein’s Wife” issue, and people who believe in Nessie and Atlanta.
I think the PBS case is very different from the others. (I don’t imagine for one moment that the PBS officials involved with the “Einstein’s Wife” film and web pages would dream of broadcasting a programme that took Nessie and Atlanta seriously – quite the reverse, they would broadcast debunking programmes.)
David Davis, a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting at the time, was co-Executive Producer of the ‘documentary’, which was co-sponsored by PBS and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. They must have been presented with a proposed project by writer/director Geraldine Hilton and Melsa Films, and I suspect looked favourably on what, as presented, was another instance of a woman scientist being done down by institutional sexism and the malign influence of the man in her life – made all the more delectable by the fact that the man in question was Albert Einstein, plus the added conspiratorial element: Maric and her contributions to Einstein’s work have been airbrushed out of history. Great story – let’s go for it. The scandal is that PBS utterly failed to adhere to their own Editorial Policy, which spells out clearly that “Every effort must be made to assure that content is presented accurately… and points of view must be held to the same standards of factual accuracy as news reports… Producers of informational content must exercise extreme care in verifying information.”
It is absolutely clear that PBS didn’t make the slightest effort to check whether the information presented in the ‘documentary’ was accurate – the film and web pages were replete with blatant errors, historical and scientific. Worse, teachers and school students were provided with Lesson Plans, presented as a valuable educational project, that are a disgrace to an educational organisation.
Though they commissioned Andrea Gabor to rewrite the web pages after more than a year of stonewalling, she has (predictably in view of her previous writings on the subject) come up with a toned-down version of the same story. I have tried to avoid emotive words in my discussion of the issue, but I have to say that Davis and the other PBS officials have allowed their socio-political views take precedence over documentable facts (and the opinions of three Einstein experts who have specialist knowledge of the Maric claims).
It is interesting to compare PBS’s very different attitude in a recent instance where a documentary was rejected as unworthy: “We had no problem with the concept or ideology,” said WETA [PBS producing station] spokeswoman Mary Stewart. “It was about filmmaking and documentary standards.”
academic multiculti and the ecstasy of genital mutilation
Dr. Ahmadu, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago, was raised in America and then went back to Sierra Leone as an adult to undergo the procedure along with fellow members of the Kono ethnic group. She has argued that the critics of the procedure exaggerate the medical dangers, misunderstand the effect on sexual pleasure, and mistakenly view the removal of parts of the clitoris as a practice that oppresses women. She has lamented that her Westernized “feminist sisters insist on denying us this critical aspect of becoming a woman in accordance with our unique and powerful cultural heritage.” In another essay, she writes:
It is difficult for me — considering the number of ceremonies I have observed, including my own — to accept that what appears to be expressions of joy and ecstatic celebrations of womanhood in actuality disguise hidden experiences of coercion and subjugation. Indeed, I offer that the bulk of Kono women who uphold these rituals do so because they want to — they relish the supernatural powers of their ritual leaders over against men in society, and they embrace the legitimacy of female authority and particularly the authority of their mothers and grandmothers.
another participant Richard Shweder of the University of Chicago :
Dr. Shweder says that many Westerners don’t realize that these initiation rites are generally controlled by women who believe it is a cosmetic procedure with aesthetic benefits.
The claim that Einstein might have stolen the theory of relativity from Mileva is based on a passage in the correspondence between them, in which ‘our activity on relativity’ is mentioned. Also, the fact that he gave her all the money obtained with the Nobel prize might be a proof of Einstein’s guilt. Although his guilt might as well have been caused simply by having left his wife to deal alone with family problems.
A., believe it or not, Allen is well aware of that. Please read his articles (right here, in ‘Articles’) before citing putative evidence.
This article is shit. There is a huge difference between what we know and what we think we know. Thats the problem.
Excellent letter. Would like to have seen you back up what you said with more facts. One excellent source for such facts would be a thorough perusal of the site http://www.thereligionofpeace.com.
For example, according to the most recent estimates, during about 350 years, the Inquisition killed about 4000 people. By contrast, in just the last six years since after 9/11/01, many tens of thousands of civilians have been killed around the globe by jihadists using the texts of Islam as justification. In Thailand alone, since 2004, there have been over 2000 civilian deaths due to jihad attacks in the name of Islam. In just the month of October, 2007, jihadist attacks in 19 countries killed over 1200 civilians and critically injured over 2000.
According to a Pew Research poll from May 2007, some 7 percent of the estimated 450,000 American Muslims aged 18-29 have favorable views of Al Qaeda. That means 31,000 young American Muslims with favorable views of Al Qaeda. A survey commissioned by the Guardian newspaper (hardly right wing) in the UK and carried out by the ICM polling organization a few weeks after the deadly terrorist attacks in the London subways showed that five percent of Muslims in the United Kingdom thought those attacks were justified. Five percent works out to about 85,000 UK Muslims. Numerous other polls show that close to 50 percent of UK Muslims would prefer to live under Islamic law rather than under a Western legal system.
Do you know of the work of Tina Magaard? She is a linguist with a Ph.D. in Intercultural Communication from the Sorbonne, and she did a three-year study of the original texts of ten major religions. One of the conclusions she came to was that Islam’s texts are distinctly the most violent by comparison with the nine other major religions she looked at.
Some point to the Old Testament’s violence, but fail to notice a crucial difference between that violence and that in the Qur’an and Hadith. The Qur’an (for example in Chapter 9, Verse 29) contains an open-ended command to wage warfare against unbelievers and subjugate them under Islamic law. The Old Testament contains no such open-ended command to subjugate all unbelievers.
Another point that needs to be made is that Indonesia, the supposed proof that Islam is compatible with freedom, has just sentenced 41 Christians to five years in jail for the crime of…proselytizing! Horrors! The leader of a heretical Muslim group in Indonesia was recently forced to recant his heresies under pain of a similar five year prison sentence. Hundreds or thousands of churches in Indonesia have been destroyed in recent years by Muslims. Several men acting in the name of Islam not so long ago thought it their duty to behead three Christian girls on their way to school. A fourth managed to get away with serious injuries. Aceh, part of Indonesia, is under some sort or degree of Islamic law. Meanwhile in “advanced” Muslim Turkey every month or so someone beats a priest or throws a molotov cocktail into a church. Recently three Christians were tortured and murdered there. The Ataturk military is the main thing that keeps the Islamists out of power in Turkey. And almost all the rest of the Islamic world is a an utter nightmare in terms of civil liberties and political rights, as one can see if one looks, for example, at reports from Freedom House or other human rights organizations.
I would like to have seen specific facts like the ones above (perhaps including the citations I’ve left out) in your otherwise excellent letter.
It is rather terrifying to see how often people mouth the same assumptions and cliches about Islam, in complete ignorance of Islam’s texts, traditions and current practices. The unconscious assumption seems to be that the Other is always to be welcomed as good, and any other reaction to the Other is necessarily xenophobic, small-minded, provincial, etc.
I think conservatives, for the sake of the survival of pluralist civilizations, ought to start thinking more often of “multiculturalism” as a sort of rough synonym for pluralism, and on that basis make common cause with the Left to defend multiculturalims from one of the greatest threats it has ever faced: Islam, which “tolerates” non-Muslims only as second-class citizens, who are endowed with an Allah-given status much like that of blacks under Jim Crow. Unfortunately the Qur’an, unlike the U.S. Constitution, is deemed to be a verbatim transcript of Allah’s own words, and therefore cannot be amended. Unless Muslims deliteralize their approach to the text. But many elements in Islam’s texts, history and traditions make that deliteralizing task significantly harder than it was for Jews and Christians.
Re the claims about Einstein’s first wife, Ophelia’s comment below underlines that the same items of ‘evidence’ are repeatedly cited regardless of the fact that they have decisively rebutted. Nevertheless, A’s citing of ‘our activity on relativity’ and is worth examining because it illustrates that the selective citing of evidence can make an untenable case seem convincing to the reader who does not possess knowledge of the full facts. It also enables me to give some indication of just how abysmal is the ‘scholarship’ on which the “collaboration” thesis rests. Genuine scholarship involves a full examination of *all* the documented evidence, whereas the original proponents of the thesis (Trbuhovic-Gjuric, Troemel-Ploetz and Walker) based their ‘research’ (in practice if not in intention) on highly selective quotations, unsubstantiated assertions, and various misconceptions.
First note that A’s citing “our activity on relativity” exemplifies the misunderstanding surrounding the quote. The actual phrase was “our work on relative motion” – Einstein didn’t arrive at the key ideas of *relativity* until some four years later.
The proponents of the collaboration thesis cite the *single* occasion in his letters to Maric when Einstein referred to “our work” in the context of relative motion. However, they fail to mention the following:
(i) Against this *one* citation (in which no specific ideas are mentioned), there are some twenty instances, in seven letters, of Einstein’s using “I”, “me” or “my” in relation to his ideas on this topic, the electrodynamics of moving bodies.
(ii) The oft-cited sentence was written when Einstein was still trying to draw Maric into his work (when they were students he envisaged a future life of shared scientific endeavours), and in a context of his giving reassurance to Maric of his love for her.
For an illustration of genuine scholarship, see John Stachel’s detailed examination of the relevant documents:
For a broader examination of such claims, see under the sub-heading “The Einstein/Marić correspondence and related claims” in:
Now to the Nobel Prize money. First, the proposal for handing over the Prize (not yet awarded!) was made by Einstein at a time when Maric was reluctant to accede to his request for a divorce, and was intended to overcome her resistance. Second, under the terms of the will the money was not to be given to Maric, it was to be held in trust for their two sons, with Maric being able to draw on the interest.
That should have, of course, been “under the terms of the divorce settlement”, not the “will”!
Ronan, you mentioned “Randi’s Unsinkable Rubber Duck phenomenon.”
Randi often does a very valuble service, but he himself sometimes seems to be a victim of the Unsinkable Rubber Duck phenonomenon.
For example, from Rupert Sheldrake’s website at http://www.sheldrake.org/controversies/randi.html, here is a bit of relevant info about Randi:
“The January 2000 issue of Dog World magazine included an article on a possible sixth sense in dogs, which discussed some of my research. In this article Randi was quoted as saying that in relation to canine ESP, ‘We at the JREF [James Randi Educational Foundation] have tested these claims. They fail.’ No details were given of these tests.
“I emailed James Randi to ask for details of this JREF research. He did not reply. He ignored a second request for information too.
“I then asked members of the JREF Scientific Advisory Board to help me find out more about this claim. They did indeed help by advising Randi to reply. In an email sent on Februaury 6, 2000 he told me that the tests he referred to were not done at the JREF, but took place ‘years ago’ and were ‘informal’. They involved two dogs belonging to a friend of his that he observed over a two-week period. All records had been lost. He wrote: ‘I overstated my case for doubting the reality of dog ESP based on the small amount of data I obtained. It was rash and improper of me to do so.’
“Randi also claimed to have debunked one of my experiments with the dog Jaytee, a part of which was shown on television. Jaytee went to the window to wait for his owner when she set off to come home, but did not do so before she set off. In Dog World, Randi stated: ‘Viewing the entire tape, we see that the dog responded to every car that drove by, and to every person who walked by.’ This is simply not true, and Randi now admits that he has never seen the tape.”
Dear Daphne Patai: If your parents emigrated to Jerusalem in the early 20th century, before World War I, the area was part of the Ottoman Empire. Your and your parents were Palestinians, because “Palestinian” was synonymous with “Jew” from the time the Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the name of Judea to “Palestina” in 135 A.D., after suppressing the last Jewish uprising led by Bar Kochba.
Edward Said and Islam
The best dispatching of Said came from Bernard Lewis. It is given Ibn Warraq :
“..Indeed, one of the most absurd charges made by Said was one levelled against Bernard Lewis. In an essay, Lewis had discussed the etymological root of the classical Arabic term thawra [revolution] as follows:
“The root th-w-r in Classical Arabic meant to rise up (e.g. of a camel) , to be stirred or excited, and hence, especially in Maghribi usage, to rebel. It is often used in the context of establishing a petty, independent sovereignty; thus, for example, the so-called party kings who ruled in eleventh century Spain after the break-up of the Caliphate of Cordova are called thuwwar ( sing. tha’ir ).”
Said responded thus:
“Lewis’s association of thawra with a camel rising and generally with excitement (and not with a struggle on behalf of values) hints much more broadly than is usual for him that the Arab is scarcely more than a neurotic sexual being. Each of the words or phrases he uses to describe revolution is tinged with sexuality: stirred, excited, rising up. But for the most part it is a ‘bad’ sexuality he ascribes to the Arab. In the end, since Arabs are really not equipped for serious action, their sexual excitement is no more noble than a camel’s rising up. Instead of revolution there is sedition, setting up a petty sovereignty, and more excitement, which is as much as saying that instead of copulation the Arab can only achieve foreplay, masturbation, coitus interruptus. These , I think , are Lewis’s implications ….”
To which Ibn Warraq has this to say:
“Can any rational person have drawn any conclusion which even remotely resembled that of Edward Said’s from Lewis’s scholarly discussion of Classical Arabic etymology? ..
Lewis’s concise and elegant reply to Said’s conclusions was to quote the Duke of Wellington: “If you believe that, you can believe anything”.”
Re: A new charade by the Islamists. By: Azar Majedi.
“Islamists have become good at their own kind of PR. Every once in a while they find something to raise hell over and threaten the world.”
Yes, I concur with you on the ‘teddy bear’ topic. I too believe it was indubitably for political purposes orchestrated by the Sudanese Islamists. It was Rage Boy Effigy burning of a kind. Gillian Gibbons, being an English teacher, in their country, who according to them – was not – by their standards adhering to Islamic rules, – indeed, gave them the perfect opportunity to raise hell. She became a pawn. They luxuriated in knowing that it would stir up international waters. “Is the concurrent teddy bear saga and Annapolis conference merely a coincidence or does the timing tells us something?” Yes, it looks like it to me that the stage was set. The Sudanese, in the play, were intent of having ‘picnic time with teddy bear’!
On “A new charade by the Islamists”:
“is it [the teddy bear episode] an orchestrated political demonstration to intimidate and terrorize the world?”
“The real problem is over political power and political supremacy between the USA and the Islamists”
Could someone please explain how periodically going into a deranged murdurous frenzy is supposed to be pro-islamist propaganda? All it does is make the Arab world look foolish and evil. In fact, it functions as propaganda for the pro-war lobbies of left and right in the west.
So what are you saying? That there’s an Islamist plot to make America invade more of the Middle East?
Global warming has not been proven by science. First, temperatures have varied much more greatly in the past than they are now. 2) Even if the earth is warming, it does not mean that human behavior is the cause. 3) Over half the papers on climate warming do NOT support the conclusion that human behavior is the cause. 4) One of the fundamental assumptions of climate models, involving Cirrus clouds has been disproven. (See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071102152636.htm). This incorrect assumption is responsible for up to 75% of the predicted increase in temperatures in these climate models. Although you may not take religion too seriously, it seems that your uninformed faith in global warming is providing a nice substitute.
P.S. I fully believe in evolution and neurobiology
>There is good evidence that Einstein did not know the Lorentz transformations when he wrote his 1905 special relativity paper.>
This is stretching credulity, Allen.
Fitzgerald equation for
lenght-contraction was suggested in 1889 in a letter to Science and remained unnoticed until 1892 when Lorentz showed how such an effect might be expected based on electromagnetic theory and the electrical constitution
Lorentz, H.A., ”Versuch einer theorie der electrischen und optischen erscheinungen bewegten koerpern”, Leiden, (1895). online
Lorentz, H.A., “Simplified Theory of Electrical and Optical Phenomena in Moving Systems”, KNAW, Proceedings, 1, 1898-1899, Amsterdam, 1899, pp. 427-442 (1899). online
Poincaré, H., “La théorie de Lorentz et le Principe de Réaction”-253-78 (1900).
December 1901, Einstein writes, “I want to get down to business now and read what Lorentz and Drude have written about the electrodynamics of moving bodies.”
and he did, didn’t he ?
Of course global warming hasn’t been proven by science; it’s a matter of evidence, not of proof.
1895- lenght contraction equation-Fizgerald/Lorentz
1899- time dilation equation-Lorentz
1904- electrodynamic phenomena in different reference frames are described by identical equations – Lorentz
1905- relativity theory-Einstein
This is the long story with the help of wikipedia.
It is common knowledge for physcists community yet it looks as it needs to be repeated. Notice that what passes as ‘relativity theory’ ( lenght-contraction, time dilation, mass increase) in the mind of some parts of the public is in fact Hendrik Lorentz’s work.
Einstein appears at the end when it comes to interpretation.
In 1892, with the attempt to explain the Michelson-Morley experiment, Lorentz proposed that moving bodies contract in the direction of motion ( George FitzGerald had already arrived at this conclusion in 1889)
Lorentz worked on describing electromagentic phenomena (the propagation of light) in reference frames that moved relative to each other. He discovered that the transition from one to another reference frame could be simplified by using a new time variable which he called local time. The local time depended on the universal time and the location under consideration.
Lorentz 1895 and 1899 publications made use of the term local time without giving a detailed interpretation of its physical relevance.
In 1900, Henri Poincaré called Lorentz’s local time a “wonderful invention” and illustrated it by showing that clocks in moving frames are synchronized by exchanging light signals that are assumed to travel at the same speed against and with the motion of the frame.
In 1899 and again in 1904 , Lorentz added time dilation to his transformations and published what Poincaré in 1905 named “Lorentz transformations”.
Lorentz’ 1904 paper includes what we call today “the covariant formulation of electrodynamics”, in which electrodynamic phenomena in different reference frames are described by identical equations with well defined transformation properties.
The paper clearly recognizes the significance of this formulation, namely that the outcomes of electrodynamic experiments do not depend on the relative motion of the reference frame. The 1904 paper includes a detailed discussion of the increase of the inertial mass of rapidly moving objects.
In 1905, Einstein would make use of many of the concepts, mathematical tools and results discussed in Lorentz’ 1904 paper to formulate the theory of Special relativity. Because Lorentz laid the fundaments for the work by Einstein this theory was called originally the Lorentz-Einstein theory.
The increase of mass was the first prediction to be tested, but from early experiments by Kaufmann it appeared that his prediction was wrong; this led Lorentz to the famous remark that he was “at the end of his Latin.” The confirmation of his prediction had to wait until 1908. In 1909, Lorentz published “Theory of Electrons” based on a series of lectures as Lecturer in Mathematical Physics at Columbia University.
One is tempted to say that the 21th century begins by first knocking down its former idols.
It may be a necessesary step to get the slate clean for a new beginning.
Anatoly Logunov (2004)
His book about Poincaré’s relativity theory is an introduction to the subject.
Starting on p. 113 -the part of Poincaré’s 1900 article containing E=mc2.
In chapter 9 of this book, Logunov points out that Poincaré’s second paper was the first one to formulate a complete theory of relativistic dynamics, containing the correct relativistic analogue of Newton’s F=ma.
On p. 142, Logunov points out that Einstein wrote reviews for the Beiblätter Annalen der Physik, writing 21 reviews in 1905. This contradicts the claims that Einstein worked in relative isolation and with limited access to the scientific literature, claims which are usually made to exculpate Einstein from plagiarism.
Among the papers reviewed in 1905 Beiblätter are a review, in the fourth (of 24) issue of 1905, of Lorentz’ paper in the Versl. K. Ak. van Wet. 12(1904), p. 986 containing the Lorentz transformation. The review also contained these transformations. This supports the view that Einstein was familiar with the Lorentz’ paper containing the correct relativistic transformation in early 1905, while his June 1905 Elektrodynamik paper does not mention Lorentz in connection with this result.
Similar as Anatoly A. Logunov, Christian Marchal and Jules Leveugle argue that the contribution of Albert Einstein to the special theory of relativity is minor compared to that of Henri Poincaré . Compare also: Jules Leveugle, La Relativité et Einstein, Planck, Hilbert – Histoire véridique de la Théorie de la Relativité, L’Harmattan, Paris 2004.
if you know French you can read the paper at :
Re HF’s claims about Lorentz: In both the fully documented scholarly accounts by Pais and Stachel it is independently stated that his final transformation equations were only published in 1904. In fact Pais provides the relevant equations that Lorentz derived in each of the papers in question: those in the 1899 paper cited by HF, although similar, are *not* the same as those he finally produced in 1904.
If these (final) equations had had the high profile status for some years as contended by HF, then Einstein would have stated in his 1905 paper that the transformation equations obtained from his own unique premises were in agreement with those of Lorentz, just as he had done in that paper in relation to Lorentz’s electrodynamics equations. (If the equations had been well-known for as long as six years, what would Einstein have had to gain by behaving as if he didn’t know them?)
With reference to Einstein’s reviews, he had already published five papers in Annalen der Physik in the years 1901-1904. In the Introduction to Volume 2 of the AE Collected Papers it is suggested that the editor of the Beiblatter zu den Annalen der Physik probably asked Einstein to start writing reviews of papers in a particular category (theory of heat) for his own journal as Einstein had published on that subject in Annalen der Physik. No doubt the editor sent Einstein the papers for review, so there is no evidence that he read the journal itself. After all, he was holding down a full time job and spending much of his spare time developing his own ideas in physics (and discussing them avidly with friends such as Solovine) – and in the case of electrodynamics, endeavouring to derive results from different premises to those of Lorentz. None of this contradicts the fact (not the “claims”) that Einstein was working in relative isolation at this time.
As I’ve already said, I don’t have the specialist knowledge to make definitive judgements about the claims and counterclaims concerning Einstein and relativity. I would, however, point out the following:
In 1904 Poincaré concluded a lecture with the words “Perhaps we must construct a new mechanics, of which we can only catch a glimpse… in which the velocity of light would become an unpassable limit” [Pais (1982), p. 128]. That is precisely what Einstein did in 1905.
If Einstein’s 1905 paper was as derivative as HF contends, it is difficult to understand why Max Planck (also editor of Annalen der Physik at the time) would immediately have recognised its importance, and presented Einstein’s theory to a physics colloquium in Berlin in late 1905.
HF cites publications in which it is argued that Einstein’s contribution to special relativity was minor compared to Poincaré, as if these constitute the definitive statements. Aside from the views of Pais and Stachel I’ve already cited, there are also recent articles countering such claims. For example, there is one by Roger Cerf, Université Louis Pasteur, with the title “Dismissing renewed attempts to deny Einstein the discovery of special relativity” (2006), who writes that such attempts “neglect Poincaré’s failure to make the necessary conceptual leap and understand the fundamental consequences of the principle of relativity” – a point also made by Pais (1982, p. 168). Cerf states that in his paper: “I identify what was missing in Lorentz’s and Poincaré’s views and contrast them with Einstein’s insights.”
http://tinyurl.com/2n5k8r (Abstract only available)
Again, Andrzej K. Wróblewski, of Warsaw University, has provided an account of the issues in question that gives due credit to Einstein: “Einstein and Physics Hundred Years Ago.” (2006)
Wróblewski also makes a point worth noting: “Nowadays, in the age of internet, information noise is greater than ever. The number of amateurish texts which propagate distorted accounts of Einstein’s accomplishments over the World Wide Web has increased significantly on the occasion of the World Year of Physics.”
Incidentally, HF evidently thinks that straight quotes from Wikipedia (including the posting on Poincaré) suffice to provide definitive historical assessments.
HF’s contributions should be assessed in the context of his avowed wish for the 21st century to be “knocking down its former idols.” Leaving aside the scholarly accounts I have read that differ radically from HF’s viewpoint on relativity, Planck, Born, von Laue, Wien, Sommerfeld, and many other first rate physicists (several of whom engaged in exchanges of ideas in correspondence with Einstein in the years following the publication of the 1905 papers) quickly recognized his stature. By 1912-1913 Planck and Nernst were proposing to the Ministry of Education in Berlin that a special post be “created for this extraordinary man”, leading to Einstein’s being offered the most prestigious post in Europe, director of the newly formed Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, with a special dispensation to have no teaching or administrative duties. I reckon they knew what they were doing.
It really is time to stop!
> Allen wrote : As I’ve already said, I don’t have the specialist knowledge to make definitive judgements about the claims and counterclaims concerning Einstein and relativity.>
Neither do I. If you recall, the purpose of my very first posting was to draw attention that the subject of Einstein’s plagiarism (of Lorentz and Poincare work) is a hot topic nowdays.
Mileva Maric story is a diversion ( just as Masson’s “seduction”-theory charges about Freud). There is indeed something, perhaps a lot, rotten about Einstein but not that one.
A revisionist scholarship has emerged and one can read more if he is interested, there is plenty of info on the net.
>In 1904 Poincaré concluded a lecture with the words “Perhaps we must construct a new mechanics, of which we can only catch a glimpse… in which the velocity of light would become an unpassable limit” [Pais (1982), p. 128]. That is precisely what Einstein did in 1905.>
Poincaré never acknowledged Einstein as having contributed with anything new to what was already known on Special Relativity.
In 1905 Poincaré wrote to Lorentz about Lorentz’s paper of 1904, which Poincaré described as a “paper of supreme importance.”
In an address in 1909 on “The New Mechanics”, Poincaré discussed the demolition of Newton’s mechanics brought about by Lorentz without mentioning Einstein.
In one of his last essays entitled “The Quantum Theory” (1913), when referring to the Solvay Conference-of 1911, Poincaré again described special relativity as the “mechanics of Lorentz”.
>Mileva Maric story is a diversion (just as Masson’s “seduction” theory charges about Freud). There is indeed something, perhaps a lot, rotten about Einstein but not that one.<
As Allen Esterson points out in his article, Mileva herself never claimed that she took any important part in the scientific work of Einstein.
Einstein remained a very productive scientist for the rest of his life, producing many more works of great importance, long after divorcing Mileva. She, on the other hand, never published any significant work and was never mentioned, including by any of hers or Einstein’s acquaintances, for having contributed any of her own original ideas to any of Einstein’s work.
By the way, did Einstein really suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome?
>Mileva herself never claimed that she took any important part in the scientific work of Einstein. >
Sure, agreed, my point is that one is waisting his time with Maric.
Even if true it would only change the story into now “Eistein-Marity” 1905 paper palgiarizing Lorentz’ 1904 paper.
And Poincare, because “syncronization of the clocks” as well as the “relativist F=ma” were given by Poincare already in 1900-based on Lorentz equations, as Poincare openly acknowledged at the time.
Einstein gives them again in 1905 and gets struck amnesia, there is no reference to Poincare, all as if it was his (Einstein’s) idea.
>By the way, did Einstein really suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome?<
Though Einstein was not very sociable as a child (he preferred his own company to that of friends of his own age) accounts of his life once he had left Hamburg at the age of 15, especially from the time he lived with the Winteler family while attending the local cantonal school in Aarau (Switzerland) at age 16, show that he had an easy manner with people and found it easy to make friends (including girl friends). He made lifelong friendships with some of his Zurich Polytechnic fellow students, and also in the early days of his time in Bern. The “Olympia Academy” he set up with Maurice Solovine and Conrad Habicht seems to have been a jolly affair: as well as the serious discussions of science and philosophy, they had music evenings and went hiking at weekends. It was only in later years that the familiar figure of Einstein, the man detached from personal affairs, came to represent his persona. How much this was a deliberate distancing himself from the messy world of close emotional relationships, and how much the result of his being caught up in a world of physics transcending the affairs of earthly mortals, is difficult to say – probably partly both. But his easy (reciprocal) relationships with people in his late teens and early twenties seems to belie the suggestion that he suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome.
>By the way, did Einstein really suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome?>
Difficult, speculative, task to diagnose post-mortem.
He was aloof, sometimes odd and otherwordly, and (heredity ?) his 2nd son with Mileva, Eduard Einstein (b.1910), had schizophrenia.
Eduard developed schizophrenia at age 20 and he was institutionalized few times. Mileva Maric cared for him until she died in 1948. Eduard died in an asylum in 1965.
>Difficult, speculative, task to diagnose post-mortem.<
Actually, that’s true. But there is debate over the question whether he did or did not have it, according to some accounts.
>The “Olympia Academy” he set up with Maurice Solovine and Conrad Habicht seems to have been a jolly affair: as well as the serious discussions of science and philosophy>
I checked that and you are correct and informed, Allen.
Indeed one of participants at these meetings was Maurice Solovine.
According to Maurice Solovine and Carl Seelig, Einstein did read Poincaré’s book La Science et l’Hypothèse (no absolute time, no absolute space, no ether…) during the years 1902-1904.
In fact this book was discussed at their lecture circle “Olympia Academy” over several weeks.
Yes, yes. The Nazi’s we’re right, Jews are inferior. The plantation owners were right, blacks are inferior. The Earth is flat and the center of the universe. The atom can never be split. Man can never fly.
Shall I go on?
A few comments about Wikipedia. The reliability of Wikipedia entries is a contentious issue: though there is no doubt that one can find authoritative passages in specialist entries, it should be evident that not all passages from such entries are equally reliable. A case in point is the allusion in the “Relativity Priority Dispute” entry to the writings of Jules Leveugle and Christian Marchal (“who argue that the contribution of Albert Einstein to the special theory of relativity is minor compared to that of Henri Poincaré”):
What readers of Wikipedia are unlikely to discover is that a central thesis of Leveugle and Marchal is a rather absurd conspiracy theory. Here is my translation of the passage summing up the conspiracy:
“The thesis most consistent with these findings is as follows: The foundation [1905 relativity] paper was written in Göttingen on the initiative of Hilbert, then signed by Einstein who was already connected with Planck, and then published in Planck’s prestigious journal. The motives of Hilbert and Planck are evident: they wanted to conceal Poincaré’s masterly  discovery by rapidly publishing an equivalent text, which included all the elements, with a different signature. Their operation was successful because of the prestige of the then dominant German science, a lack of interest by the French on the work of their compatriot, and his excessive modesty.
So, according to Leveugle and Marchal, Hilbert and Planck had advance access to the manuscript of the relevant 1905 Poincaré article (“Sur la dynamique de l’électron”), delivered orally in Paris on 5 June 1905 and published later in a French journal. In order to ensure that it was a German (and not a Frenchman or Dutchman [Lorentz]) who would be credited with the theory of relativity, on (as the authors surmise) getting access to a copy of the Poincaré manuscript, Hilbert and Planck hatched a plot, with Hilbert rapidly cobbling together all the necessary material to produce the 1905 relativity paper, while Planck arranged with Einstein (a few of whose articles had already been published in the journal he edited) that he should sign it. (It may or may not be coincidental that the authors presenting this far-fetched conspiracy theory are both alumni of the Paris Ecole Polytechnique of which Poincaré was also an alumnus.)
The conspiracy theory is premised on the authors’ contention that Einstein’s 1905 paper established the theory of relativity on “exactly on the same bases as those of Poincaré”. However, numerous scholars have documented that this is not the case. Roger Cerf, who subjects Leveugle and Marchal’s claims to close examination, writes: “We will see that some of Poincaré’s writing was very close to relativistic thinking, and yet on the most crucial issue, it was very far away.” (“Dismissing renewed attempts to deny Einstein the discovery of special relativity”, Am. J. Phys. vol, 74, no. 9, Sept 2006, p. 819.)
Apart from the historians of physics I have already cited, here are two eminent physicists who concur with this:
Louis de Broglie: “Poincaré did not take the decisive step. He left to Einstein the glory of having perceived all the consequences of the theory of relativity…”
Wolfgang Pauli: “Lorentz and Poincaré had taken Maxwell’s equations as the basis of their considerations. On the other hand, it is necessary to insist that such a fundamental theorem as the covariance law should be derivable from the simplest possible basic assumptions. The credit for having succeeded in doing just this goes to Einstein…”
I emphasise again that the main point of my posting this is to warn against any propensity to cite Wikipedia entries as if they are necessarily authoritative. I have said all I want to say on the priority issue itself.
In my last posting I should have noted the date that Annalen der Physik received Einstein’s relativity paper: 30 June 1905. So, by Leveugle and Marchal’s story, Hilbert and Planck had about three weeks to get hold of the manuscript of Poincaré’s talk, hatch the plot, get Hilbert to cobble together all the necessary elements in a lengthy paper, and send it to Einstein for him to sign and post to the journal.
>a rather absurd conspiracy theory.
Granted, what remains as fact is that Poincare’s paper was published in 5 june 1905 while Einstein’s paper on relativity was submitted for publication 3 weeks later “Received June 30, published 26 September, 1905″
The core of Poincare’s paper was to stress the discovery that the Lorentz transformations (1904) were compatible with the principle of relativity.
Poincare paper, 5 June 1905 :
“The essential point, established by Lorentz, is that the equations of the electromagnetic field are not altered by a certain transformation (which I will call by the name of Lorentz) of the form..”
The core of Einstein’s paper was to have the principle itself as a postulate, as an axiom, and then use it to derive the Lorentz (1904) transformations but doing all these while suggesting not knowing about the existence of Lorentz-transformations.
Einstein in his 26 september, 1905 paper :
“the same laws of electrodynamics and optics will be valid for all frames of reference for which the equations of mechanics hold good. We will raise this conjecture … to the status of a postulate”
and the editor of the paper adds, as an excuse, in the first footnote :
“The preceding memoir by Lorentz was not at this time known to the author”
Einstein also gave the same clock synchronisation procedure that Poincaré (1900) had described, but he was remarkable in that he gave no references at all to Poincare (1900-1904) or Lorentz-1904.
I am so sorry for you, beeing so pathitic lost in your own mind…
On a point of fact:
>Granted, what remains as fact is that Poincare’s paper was published in 5 june 1905 while Einstein’s paper on relativity was submitted for publication 3 weeks later<
Poincaré’s article, described by Leveugle as a “note” – it was only four pages long (as against Einstein’s 30 page paper) – was *not* published on 5 June, it was delivered as a talk in Paris on that date. According to Leveugle and Marchal, it was printed in the Proceedings of the French Academy of Sciences on 9 June and then mailed to corresponding members of the Academy. There is not the slightest reason to suppose that Einstein would have seen it before he completed his special relativity paper. (In late May he had written to Conrad Habicht telling him that he had made a rough draft of the paper.)
Reference the linked article that Ophelia has dubbed: “Death for Apostasy: the Penny Drops.”
Yesterday (Sunday) the Guardian columnist Madeleine Bunting presented the BBC Radio 4 programme “Something Understood”, with the title “The Path of the Convert”.
The theme of the programme was conversion to different faiths. Bunting included two Britons who had converted to Islam commenting about their experiences, and she also talked about the difficulties and problems faced by people who convert from one faith to another. Somehow, among those problems she never even remotely hinted at what is liable to happen to people who convert from Islam to another faith.
That makes a lot of sense. Good job.
Hooray for Gina Kahn! I hope she’s Muhammad in reverse. It would do away with a lot of foolishness.
Excellend article by Gina Khan, the brave woman.
Just to clarify – I think Celeste’s comment (which I endorse!) is addressed to Gina Khan.
YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am your new number one fan. I wish you EVERY success you gutsy, gutsy gal.
a note to my debate to Allen ( if anyone followed it)
I had a “deeper” look over Poincare papers and theory.
Poincare did indeed think differently than how we do today and posited a theory equivalent in prediction and phenomenlogy to what is now the standard “Einstein”-theory but differing in the meaning/interpretation of the time-dilation and and lenght-contraction (absolute vs. apparent).
This theory (Lorentz 1904 , Poincaré 1905 , Poincaré 1906) has been thoroughly investigated by Jánossy ( 1957 , 1965 ), Builder (1958), Prokhovnik ( 1967 , 1993 ), Pierseaux (1999) , Brandes (2001), among others, who all showed that it is physically equivalent to the textbook version of special relativity.
The Lorentz-Poincare version of special relativity starts from (postulates) 1)an inertial frame E (“aether”) such that light propagates at a constant velocity c with respect to E and (2) any material object that moves with respect to E undergoes a Lorentz contraction. One derives first the Lorentz transformation from these assumptions, and then the whole of special relativity follows.
It is a different approach which gives the same results as far as numerical measurement (experiments) goes, but the meaning of “relativity” changes.
Very interesting, imao.
> a note to my debate to Allen ( if anyone followed it)
I hadn’t intended to add anything more to this lengthy exchange, but in response to HF’s thoughtful final comments I’ll just add that his probing certainly led to my looking more deeply into an issue I had not previously thought much about, and learning quite a bit in the course of doing so (including about the contributions of Lorentz and Poincaré).
I am lucky enough to have no religious shackles…. as far as I am concerned we are just earthly bodies, like all creatures of the earth. Therefore no one is higher than the other. I am as important as a man. A man is as important as me. We are equal. To me, religion was introduced to suppress women because in nearly every religion women are the suppressed.
I am currently going through terrible times because I dated this Indian Muslim guyfrom Africa for almost a year and all of a sudden, he vanished. I beg to understand what is it with the moral standards of most muslim men. He is very liberal, or atleast he pretended to be so. He came the the United States to study and I met him there. We hit it off immediately. But he always seemed to have a roving eye, flirted with many girls, and after 10 months, I got to know that he had a girlfriend back home in Africa, who is Muslim. He wanted me here to help him in every way, be there for him, have fun and now, he has left me in the lurch, not feeling a hint of guilt.Is it set deep within their beliefs that the men can get away with anything? I was told Muslim guys are let to go out and have fun as long as they get back to a Muslim girl in the end. Also, I was told that the women have this same expectation. His girlfriend told him that she is ok with him being with me as long as he goes back to her in the end. I find it disgusting. I feel so cheated. He could switch from overly caring to totally nonchalant in minutes. Why is this so?
> my debate to Allen ( if anyone followed it)<
It may have been easier to follow if everyone had, perhaps, as much knowledge as HF and Allen on the subject.
However, the comparisons with Freud, which put Freud in a favourable light, were great.
>However, the comparisons with Freud, which put Freud in a favourable light, were great.<
Eh? Which were they?
Answer for Allen Esterson:
I’ll quote those comparisons below:
>[...] the “Mileva-story” only helps perepetuating the myths and lies surrounding the discovery of relativity. It is as sidetracking as
Masson’s attacks and charges on Freud and the beginnings of psychoanalysis (it only makes Freud appear as utmost honest and insightful), albeit-also
just as Masson’s book- it may help
drawing attention to the subject.<
>Mileva Maric story is a diversion (just as Masson’s “seduction” theory charges about Freud). There is indeed something, perhaps a lot, rotten about Einstein but not that one.<
A responds, quoting HF:
>[...] the “Mileva-story” only helps perepetuating the myths and lies surrounding the discovery of relativity. It is as sidetracking as Masson’s attacks and charges on Freud and the beginnings of psychoanalysis (it only makes Freud appear as utmost honest and insightful), albeit-also just as Masson’s book- it may help
Sorry, you’ve lost me here. Masson’s erroneous contentions have convinced many people that Freud was *not* honest. And for those who reject Masson’s contentions, Freud only appears insightful to most of them because they (like Masson) accept the *basis* of the seduction theory story. But that basis, Freud’s own retrospective accounts of the episode, is phoney. See:
The remark “[Masson's book] may help drawing attention to the subject” is again lost on me. How can it help (help what?) that Masson has convinced a very large number of people that most of Freud’s female patients early in his career told him they had been sexually abused by their father in childhood – a story that the documentary evidence from the period in question shows to be without foundation. (See above links.)
Again quoting HF:
The Mileva Maric story is not a diversion – it is a story that its proponents have embraced because it fits their socio-political agendas. Diversion from what? That there is something rotten about Einstein? Einstein was not a saint, but the (few) people propagating this contention in relation to his science are basing their contentions on erroneous claims. For these claims to hold water would mean that a large number of the greatest physicists of the early part of the twentieth century had been fooled by Einstein. So, for instance, Max Planck and Walther Nernst, respectively among the greatest names in physics and chemistry of their era, would have been mistaken in writing in their proposal for Einstein’s membership of the prestigious Berlin Academy of Science in 1913 the following:
“Thanks to his papers in theoretical physics, Einstein already achieved a worldwide reputation at a young age within the circle of scientists working in his speciality… His tackling of other [than relativity] questions that are at the moment at the center of attention has proved to be much more significant for applied physics… In sum, it can be said that among the most important problems, which are so abundant in modern physics, there is hardly one to which Einstein has not brought some outstanding contribution… It is not only in the formulation and critique of new hypotheses, however, but in the handling and deepening of classical theory that Einstein has ranked as a master ever since the beginning of his publishing career… The undersigned are very well aware that their proposal to accept so young a scholar as a regular member of the Academy is unusual… they are fully convinced that the recommended individual’s accomplishments fully justify his appointment to the country’s most distinguished scientific institute, and they are, further, also convinced that the entire world of physics will consider Einstein’s joining the Berlin Academy of Science as an especial gain for the Academy.”
And that was before his development of general relativity, described by the great theoretical physicist Paul Dirac as “probably the greatest scientific discovery ever made,” and by Max Born, “the greatest feat of human thinking about nature, the most amazing combination of philosophical penetration, physical intuition and mathematical skill.”
People can choose to believe that Einstein was not a giant among physicists, but it will be a choice made in ignorance of the reality of his achievements, and in opposition to the almost universal view of the great physicists who were his contemporaries.
>There’s more to Freud than his seduction theory.
Having written a whole book on Einstein’s writings I hardly need to be reminded of that!
>How about his thoughts on nature and culture (civilization)?
Yes, he has some insightful passages in such works, but taken as a whole they are marred by much more extensive passages that have the same basic faults as his other writings – they are ultimately based on his dubious psychoanalytic concepts. This is exemplified in his assertion that his investigations show “that the beginnings of religion, morals, society and art converge in the Oedipus complex… It seems to me a most surprising discovery that the problems of social psychology should prove soluble on the basis of one single concrete point – man’s relation to his father.” (“Totem and Taboo”, SE 13, p. 126-127)
>How about him being respected and invited by Einstein to a debate on war?<
Einstein may have been polite about Freud in public, but what he said in private was entirely different. Highfield and Carter report that in an undated letter to his son Eduard around 1930-1931 Einstein wrote that he believed Freud’s methods were dubious, even fraudulent. [*The Private Lives of Albert Einstein* (1993), p. 233]
to HF and Allen Esterson:
There’s more to Freud than his seduction theory. How about his thoughts on nature and culture (civilization)? How about him eing respected and invited by Einstein to a debate on war?
In relation to Masson’s 1984 book on Freud, HF writes:
>Idols keep their power, their hold on people’s mind, because no one dares to challange them. Once someone does, even with absurd or weak charges, the rest get the courage and curiosity to think critically – many for the first time in their life – on the subject.<
The notion that before Masson “no one dare[d] challenge” Freud, and that he was instrumental in getting people to think critically about Freud, shows a complete ignorance of the extensive critical (and iconoclastic) literature on Freud well before Masson published anything. (On a personal note, I wrote the first draft of *Seductive Mirage* in 1983-84 before I had even heard of Masson.)
HF writes, quoting me first:
>>People can choose to believe that Einstein was not a giant among physicists< <
>People can choose even the opposite, if mere choosing is your point.<
To suggest even the possibility that “mere choosing is your point” indicates a complete failure to understand what I wrote. By omitting the rest of the sentence of mine that you cite you have left out an absolutely crucial part of it: “…but it will be a choice made in ignorance of the reality of his achievements, and in opposition to the almost universal view of the great physicists who were his contemporaries.” So I wasn’t remotely suggesting it is merely a question of choosing, only that *if you choose to neglect the overwhelming evidence of Einstein’s achievements* because you have decided that you believe (in your own words) “the 21th century begins by first knocking down its former idols”, then that is an arbitrary choice, not one based on a disinterested assessment of the evidence.
>But forget Lorentz, Poincare, borrowing key concepts without reference, rephrasing them, and delivering the stuff as your own (the special relativity theory case).<
I’m certainly not going into all this again, but this statement is a travesty of the facts. I’ve already addressed all your contentions (and misconceptions) on this issue – obtained by selective browsing of the internet – in considerable detail, and have nothing more to add.
> Einstein kept his bad habits (character ?) during his later career…
So you are familiar with the numerous papers that poured from Einstein’s pen year by year from 1905 onwards and are able to state that in many of these “Einstein kept his [alleged] bad habits”?
>… and the scandal was again ready to erupt when with “General relativity”. The “David Hilbert-story”.<
That there is a “scandal” exists in HF’s mind, not in reality. Even when there is a priority dispute, it is not, in itself, a “scandal”.
The justification HF supplies for his comments has apparently come from an internet search:
and the passage in question was in turn evidently copied directly from another website:
(Incidentally, it may just be a coincidence that the physicist cited by HF, Klaus Sommer, has a post at Göttingen, at which university Hilbert held senior posts for 48 years.)
Strangely, HF fails to cite from the same webpage the reference to the article by Corry, Renn and Stachel that provides documentary evidence – the discovery of printer’s proofs of Hilbert’s paper (date of submission 20 November 1915, but eventually published in “heavily revised form” in March 1916) – that undermines the contentions about Hilbert’s priority in regard to Einstein’s celebrated general relativity paper, submitted on 25 November 1915. See: J. Stachel, *Einstein from B to Z* (2002), pp. 339-346: L. Corry, J. Renn and J. Stachel: “Belated Decision in the Hilbert-Einstein Priority Dispute.”
In any case, to read HF one would think that everything hinged on the gravitational equations in the celebrated 1915 paper to which the priority dispute relates. He completely ignores the fact that Einstein had first alighted on the thought experiment that first set him on his path beyond the special theory in 1907, began to work on a general theory of relativity in 1910, and from 1912 onwards devoted his time exclusively to it, producing in all more than a dozen papers on gravitation. Just what all this entailed in terms of an extraordinary expenditure of time and effort on a formidable (in terms of both mathematics and physics) problem, see Pais (1982), pp. 177-265 and Stachel (2002), pp. 233-337.
No one else’s endeavours on the subject came close to this, as Hilbert implicitly acknowledged in his 1916 paper in a reference to his own achievement: “The differential equations of gravitation [in this paper] that result are, it seems to me, in agreement with the magnificent theory of general relativity established by Einstein in his later papers.” In other words, Hilbert himself attributed the *general theory of relativity* to Einstein, as did every eminent contemporary physicist who had knowledge of the literature at the time: (A significant element in the general theory was its providing the explanation of the anomaly in the precession of the perihelion of mercury, on which problem Hilbert wrote to Einstein on 19 November 1915: “Many thanks for your postcard and congratulations on conquering perihelion motion… I would be grateful if you were to continue to keep me up-to-date on your latest advances.”) In addition, the mathematician Felix Klein, who closely followed the mathematical aspects of the theory and was in correspondence with Einstein and Hilbert, wrote that “there can be no question of priority, since both authors pursued entirely different trains of thought… I do believe that Einstein was the sole creator of the physical theory of general relativity..” Again, in a letter Lorentz wrote to Einstein in June 1916 he told him: “I have been occupying myself much with your gravitation theory and general theory of relativity and have also lectured on it, which was very useful to me. Now I believe I understand it in all its glory…”
response to Allen
>Sorry, you’ve lost me here. Masson’s erroneous contentions have convinced many people that Freud was *not* honest. >
Yes, that was perfectly my point. A bit twisted, I agree, but in a wrong and prone to error world one should not fight hard to correct its mistkes.
Joyfully and wisely one should only wait as the, unavoidable, further errors will work against the first.
Freud was’t honest. As we know well today he was lying about his analytical cures and his would be “discoveries” (analytical reconstructions given as “unadultered facts” unearthered by his practce). He kept it this way from mid 1890s up 1905 “wolf man” case.
It had a devastating effect on critics and huge in helping promoting himself.
What can you argue with facts and successful procedures ? Facts are facts. The theory may be bizarre but if it works and produces results that’s the end of the debate.
>The remark “[Masson's book] may help drawing attention to the subject” is again lost on me. How can it help (help what?)>
Just replied above. Be right –(Freud was a liar)– albeit for the wrong reasons ( Massons’s charges are nonsensical).
Also some people, me at least, after reading Masson’s book became curious and went to read more about what happened during those 1890s and– once the halo of fascination and awe for the genius was punctured– I became critical of Freud.
Idols keep their power, their hold on people’s mind, because no one dares to challange them. Once someone
does, even with absurd or weak charges, the rest get the courage and curiosity to think critically –many for the first time in their life– on the subject..and the rest just follows.
Masson was the first attack on Freud which had public impact. He showed more guts than brains in what he wrote but it reached the target with the public.
(Szasz and Cioffi did it to in the 1960s and 1970s, academically and to the point, their impact and result at that time = zero)
>People can choose to believe that Einstein was not a giant among physicists>
People can choose even the opposite, if mere choosing is your point.
But forget Lorentz, Poincare, borrowing key concepts without reference, rephrasing them, and delivering the stuff as your own( the special relativity theory case).
Einstein kept his bad habits (character ?) during his later career and the scandal was again ready to erupt when with “General relativity”. The “David Hilbert-story”.
Klaus Sommer, a historian of science and Hilbert expert, in an article in “Physik in unserer Zeit” (Summer 05) supports the view that Einstein obtained not independently but from the information obtained from Hilbert’s November 16 letter and from the notes of Hilbert’s talk.
Einstein presented his equations in Berlin on November 25, 1915, but six days earlier, on November 20, Hilbert—had derived the identical field equations for which Einstein had been searching such a long time.
While he does not call Einstein a plagiarist, Sommer speculates that Einstein’s conciliatory December 20 letter was motivated by the fear that Hilbert might comment Einstein’s behaviour in the final version of his paper, claiming that a scandal caused by Hilbert could have done more damage to Einstein than any scandal before (“Ein Skandal Hilberts hätte ihm mehr geschadet als jeder andere zuvor”).
Just a matter of fact, Freud was *not* “invited by Einstein to a debate on war”. A committee of the League of Nations sought a contribution from Einstein for a volume to contain correspondence from various “leaders of thought”. After Einstein had indicated his interest in the project, it was the *committee* that proposed that Einstein should write to Freud on topics such as how to diminish aggressive impulses which lead to war. (Ronald Clark, *Einstein: The Life and Times*, pp. 441-442)
Reference the article by A. C. Grayling posted by Ophelia:
>Nick Clegg and not-God: well, you will expect me to say I am delighted that a leading politician does not have a corner of his mind given over to belief in fairies and allied irrationalities, a bit of a relief when he or she is a possible leader of an entire country.<
The leader of the Lib-Dems a possible leader of the UK? Now that comes close to believing in fairies. -:)
>That there is a “scandal” exists in HF’s mind>
well now, I merely quoted Klaus Sommer(2005) a historian of science an expert in that period.
>Einstein wrote that he believed Freud’s methods were dubious, even fraudulent>
He was specialist himself in such methods, no wonder that he was skeptic.
>So you are familiar with the numerous papers that poured from Einstein’s pen year by year from 1905 onwards ..
To some good extent yes, but you may conclude again that it is only in “my mind” not in reality.
But, in fact – since the special relativity theory clearly was not the case (Lorentz, Poincare) and the paternity of the Brownian motion theory was also controversial (the role of Marian Smoluchowski)– I only agree that the Swedish Academy commitee was very wise in awarding Einstein’s Nobel prize “for services in theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of photoelectric effect”.
That was truly his work.
And I would also grant Freud too some discoveries ( as the identification of the “defense mechanism”-projection, reaction-formation, isolation, etc– which seems to be correct).
However such achievement
in psychology does not grant the image of “titan of the 20th century” that he is credited with in the western cluture. Almost everything, the whole psychology of unconscious and the personality theory-field, is understood by the majority as being due to (founded, derived, inspired, based upon etc.) “Freud’s basic insights and discoveris” during his “annus mirablilis” 1900 when he published “The interpretation of dreams”.
But that is, of course, as I have tried to explain, not true.
To Allen Esterson:
>Just a matter of fact, Freud was *not* “invited by Einstein to a debate on war”.<
I looked through the Einstein-Freud correspondence and found this (which shows that Einstein himself chose Freud):
>This is Einstein’s open letter to Freud, which, strangely enough, has never become widely known:
Dear Mr. Freud:
The proposal of the League of Nations and its International Institute of Intellectual Co-operation at Paris that I should invite a person, to be chosen by myself, to a frank exchange of views on any problem that I might select affords me a very welcome opportunity of conferring with you upon a question which, as things now are, seems the most insistent of all the problems civilization has to face. This is the problem: Is there any way of delivering mankind from the menace of war? It is common knowledge that, with the advance of modern science, this issue has come to mean a matter of life and death for Civilization as we know it; nevertheless, for all the zeal displayed, every attempt at its solution has ended in a lamentable breakdown.<
PS. I did feel a little disappointed last night after reading your letters on the relationship between Freud and Einstein, lol.
>>That there is a “scandal” exists in HF’s mind< <
>well now, I merely quoted Klaus Sommer(2005) a historian of science an expert in that period.
Oh, yes? You didn’t put “scandal” in quotes, so it is evidently *your* opinion, as shown by your words here:
> Einstein kept his bad habits (character ?) during his later career and the scandal was again ready to erupt when with “General relativity”. The “David Hilbert-story”.<
You are ignoring (along with other points I made) the article I cited by Corry, Renn and Stachel which reports that Corry found printer’s proofs of Hilbert’s 1916 article (published 31 March) that show that the published version differs in significant ways from the version he submitted to the journal on 20 November 1915, and in which the authors note that two of the differences are “fundamental”. Corry et al write in relation to the March 1916 paper, “If Hilbert had only altered the dateline to read ‘submitted on 20 November 1915, revised on [any date after 2 December, the date of publication of Einstein's conclusive paper]‘, no later priority question would have arisen.”
> I merely quoted Klaus Sommer (2005) a historian of science an expert in that period.
Precisely. Rather than do your own research by undertaking the much more arduous task of reading literature on the subject that traces the development of the theories in question and the respective contributions of the physicists and mathematicians involved, you do a search of the internet and simply select any source that supports your predetermined position, while completely ignoring even those sources *on the same webpage* that present a different point of view. For instance, on the same Wikipedia webpage as your report of Sommer’s view is the following:
“Saur (1999) and Todorov (2005) agree with Corry, Renn and Stachel that Hilbert’s proofs show that Hilbert had originally presented a non-covariant theory, which was dropped from the revised paper…” And so on.
>>Einstein wrote that he believed Freud’s methods were dubious, even fraudulent< <
>He was specialist himself in such methods, no wonder that he was skeptic.<
How amazing that the eminent physicists of the time, familiar with the relevant articles of other physicists and mathematicians, and among whom several were corresponding with Einstein in relation to topics on which he was working, failed to discern what you purport to know about him. (The same cannot be said about Freud, by the way. Janet and Moll [not to mention Karl Kraus] suggested that Freud’s clinical claims were phoney, and several contemporary psychologists argued that these claims were based on fundamentally flawed clinical techniques.)
>And I would also grant Freud too some discoveries (as the identification of the “defense mechanism”-projection, reaction-formation, isolation, etc– which seems to be correct).<
If you were more familiar with the critical writings on Freud you would know that authors like Cioffi and Webster have provided quotations to show that virtually all of what you describe as Freud’s “discoveries” were recognized by earlier authors, going back in some cases some considerable time (e.g., Shakespeare and, especially, La Rochefoucauld).
>Almost everything, the whole psychology of unconscious and the personality theory-field, is understood by the majority as being due to (founded, derived, inspired, based upon etc.) “Freud’s basic insights and discoveris” during his “annus mirablilis” 1900 when he published “The interpretation of dreams”.<
I don’t know what “majority” you are referring to, but (i) in the UK Freud’s personality theories have never been particularly influential in academic psychology or psychiatry (as against psychotherapy), and (ii) even in the US the position has changed to such an extent that a recent article (I think in the New York Times) noted that Freud’s theories are almost completely ignored in College psychology courses, while they have found a home in literary and humanities departments. (If you mean a majority of the uninformed public, including of course most journalists, then you have a point.)
A: Thank you for putting me right about the invitation to Freud.
>PS. I did feel a little disappointed last night after reading your letters on the relationship between Freud and Einstein, lol.<
According to Highfield and Carter (1993), Freud was aware that Einstein was not impressed by his theories, and told him in 1936: “I always knew that you admired me only out of politeness and that you are convinced by very few of my assertions.”
But my view, in any case, is that the opinions of people (however eminent in their own field) when they step outside their own speciality is worth no more than that of any other intelligent person who has made the effort to be informed about the topic in question. That applies to Einstein as much as to anyone else.
>According to Highfield and Carter (1993), Freud was aware that Einstein was not impressed by his theories, and told him in 1936: “I always knew that you admired me only out of politeness and that you are convinced by very few of my assertions.”<
[disappointed] I should have known… Thanks a lot, Allen.
>Janet and Moll [not to mention Karl Kraus] suggested that Freud’s clinical claims were phoney..>
Kraus was literary critic, not a psychologist, and Janet charged Freud with plagiarism of his 1889-1890 work
Freud rephrased Janet’s original work and conclusions on hypnosis and unconscious traumatic memories and (re)published them in his “Studies of Hysteria”-1896 – without crediting his sources.
He replaced Janet’s “moral cleansing” with “abreaktion/catharsis”, “rapport” with “transference”, and “dissociation” with “repression”, and so on.
Freud tried to disculpe himself when Janet was mentioned by stressing what he brought new ( mainly his view-thesis of dissociation being consecutive to psychic conflict, not to congenital weakness to achieve synthesis as Janet had it).
Janet remained bitter for most of his life about Freud –and Freud’s skills in rewording others work and presenting/suggesting it as original -
But he acknowledged (toward the end
of his life) that Freud not only picked upon his basic ideas and findings but that Freud used them to go much further than what he thought in 1889/1890.
Janet spoke of orginality and acumen
in how Freud the ideas to build a whole theory on the stages development of personality by repeatingly applying to each stage the (Janet’s) “psychic trauma, dissociation and pathogen memories”-theory.
However, even if Pierre Janet himself seemed to have eventually forgiven Freud the French-intelligentsia are still bickering today about Freud’s plagiarism.
Just as with the Poincare-Einstein issue.
Serious(PhD-level) papers by french authors on Poincare’s version of relativity can be found on the net.
Poincare is slightly different– fully Lorentz invariant-no rigid rods/rulers accross the frames–than Einstein and the difference susceptible to experimental testing : the transversal-Doppler and Sagnac effect.
[ see for instance :
The relativistic kinematics underlying Poincare’s ellipse. Dr Yves Pierseaux
There are also nowadys attempts to revive the interest for Janet’s “dissociation-theory”.
Just got a thick book “Repression and Dissociation” ( it reads as “Thomas and Thomas” at first sight)-”Implications for Personality Theory and Psychopathology”-ed. J.Singer, 1995, Univ.of Chicago Press.
Janet early work gets coverage and his contribution acknowledged..
now the “titan”-halo has started shrinking.
>>Janet and Moll [not to mention Karl Kraus] suggested that Freud’s clinical claims were phoney..< <
>Kraus was literary critic, not a psychologist and Janet charged Freud with plagiarism of his 1889-1890 work<
(i) Karl Kraus’s interests and writings went far beyond literary criticism
(ii) One doesn’t have to be a psychologist to be in a position to assess Freud’s ideas and clinical claims.
> Freud rephrased Janet’s original work and conclusions on hypnosis and unconscious traumatic memories and (re)published them in his “Studies of Hysteria”-1896 – without crediting his sources… [...]<
This is close to a travesty of the facts. In *Studies on Hysteria* Freud and Breuer (joint authors) gives several citations for Janet’s ideas and work, including a four page exposition and discussion of his view of the basis of hysteria that starts as follows: “Janet, to whom the theory of hysteria owes so very much and with whom we [Breuer and Freud] are in agreement in most respects…”
That’s not to say that I have no criticism of the way Freud subsequently treated Janet in comments on his work in later writings, as I discuss in *Seductive Mirage* (pp. 131-132). But, as I conclude, “Regardless of the similarities between some of their basic concepts, the ways in which Janet and Freud utilised them were very different, and there is no comparison between the form that psychoanalysis eventually took and the considerably more limited scheme evolved by Janet.”
For anyone interested in this topic, Henri Ellenberger’s *The Discovery of the Unconscious* (1970) is invaluable. The lengthy chapters on Janet and Freud include discussions of their antecedents.
>However, even if Pierre Janet himself seemed to have eventually forgiven Freud the French-intelligentsia are still bickering today about Freud’s plagiarism.<
I can’t say I have read anything about this. (The French intelligentsia went overboard on Freud from the 1960s onward and remain largely in thrall to him. In the early years of the century French psychologists had championed Janet.) But if there are still some people in France “bickering about Freud’s plagiarism” of Janet, it would not be out of character for a nation that seems to have a tendency rather more than most to champion their compatriots. For instance, in contrast to the rest of Europe, for some time in France the ideas of Descartes were prized in preference to those of Newton. Voltaire wrote the following some fifty years after Newton’s death:
“….At Paris the universe is seen composed of vortices of subtile matter; but nothing like it is seen in London. [...] According to your Cartesians, everything is performed by an impulsion, of which we have very little notion; and according to Sir Isaac Newton, it is by an attraction, the cause of which is as much unknown to us. At Paris you imagine that the earth is shaped like a melon, or of an oblique figure; at London it has an oblate one. A Cartesian declares that light exists in the air; but a Newtonian asserts that it comes from the sun in six minutes and a half…”
>Just as with the Poincare-Einstein issue.
Now we’re down to Ph.D. papers! (I’m glad to hear they are “serious”.)
The cited article by Pierseaux is a 54 page essay in French (originally delivered as a lecture) the essence of which, according to the Abstract, is the following: “We show that the kinematics underlying Poincare’s elongated ellipse, immediately deduced from Lorentz Transformation (LT), is not the same as Einstein’s kinematics.”
It is again evident that HF is simply scouring the internet to find anything that supposedly supports his contention that Einstein was a plagiarist and scientific fraud, though why he thinks this particular one does that is a mystery.
It is important to emphasise again that the Einstein/Hilbert priority dispute is marginal to the fully-fledged general theory of relativity on which Einstein worked exclusively from 1912-1915. Michio Kaku, one of the co-founders of string theory, writes that the priority issue relates to the “last final steps” of the general theory, the “last tiny piece of Einstein’s theory” (*Einstein’s Cosmos: How Albert Einstein’s Vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time*, 2004. p. 77). But even in relation to that dispute, Corry, Renn and Stachel demonstrate on the basis of the printing proofs of Hilbert’s March 1916 paper found by Corry that: “A close analysis of archival material reveals that Hilbert did not anticipate Einstein. The first set of proofs of Hilbert’s paper shows that the theory he originally submitted is not generally covariant and does not include the explicit form of the field equations of general relativity.” (Science, 14 November 1997, p. 1270)
I see I jumped from the items on Poincaré cited by HF to the quote on the Hilbert/Einstein priority dispute. My only excuse is that HF had moved from Poincaré to Hilbert, and now he’s back to surfing the net again for stuff on Poincaré. I really should try to keep up. Still, the quote from Corry, Renn and Stachel was worth posting anyway.
>Karl Kraus’s interests and writings went far beyond literary criticism>
You try to have it both ways again.
Kraus was an eminent literary critic and the opinions and writings of people (however eminent in their own field) when they step outside their own speciality is worth no more than that of any other intelligent person who has made the effort to be informed about the topic in question.
>Einstein himself chose Freud..
Why did he do it (and in a matter of such a vital importance) if he believed that Freud’s methods were dubious, even fraudulent ?
>Why did he do it (and in a matter of such a vital importance) if he believed that Freud’s methods were dubious, even fraudulent ?<
Einstein gives reasons for his choice in a letter addressed to Freud. A few of these reasons include:
>I greatly admire your passion to ascertain the truth–a passion that has come to dominate all else in your thinking. You have shown with irresistible lucidity how inseparably the aggressive and destructive instincts are bound up in the human psyche with those of love and the lust for life. At the same time, your convincing arguments make manifest your deep devotion to the great goal of the internal and external liberation of man from the evils of war.
I offer these suggestions to you, rather than to anyone else in the world, because your sense of reality is less clouded by wishful thinking than is the case with other people and since you combine the qualities of critical judgment, earnestness and responsibility.<
This is from letter which Einstein addressed to Freud, concerning the projectcd organization of intellectual leaders, was sent in 1931, or possibly 1932.
I have tried to submit an ‘entry’ for the Repressed Memor4y, pree-1800 prize and addressed it as indicated to: email@example.com
but this proves unobtainable through my server.
How can I get through to the right person?
I heard that the number 1 name for new born babies in the UK s muhammed… Are muslims taking over Europe?
Will the laws of the European Union include Sharia laws in 50 years?
According to the London Evening Standard, Mohammed/Muhammed is now second in the list of the most popular boys’ names for babies, after Jack.
This only reflects, of course, its great popularity among Muslims, who constitute roughly 3 percent of the population of the UK.
George, you say science makes mistakes all the time, that it can’t answer many questions at all, and that it is provisional.
And yet you then say this is no justification for someone to reject the authority of what you are calling experts.
Sounds like a form of appeal to authority in its own right.
And elementary logical fallacy, as discussed in Philosophy 101.
I’m not a big fan of Rowan Williams, but he’s got you here. Apart from starting to have a go at a creed that has stood 1600 years of atheistic and other attack and not getting very far, you prove Williams’ point about lack of comprehension in the rest of your rather lame commentary. Back to the drawing board for you, maybe try a few steps either side of rigid empiricism, open-mindedeness to the possibility of a spiritual dimension being a reality as a start. If you can’t do that then you are really at a loss regarding penetrating any of the mystery of spirit-focussed religion and are commenting on a half-seen picture. Imagine an art critic rendering a critque of Turner’s ‘The Fighting Temeraire’
without seeing the sunset half, or without seeing the ships half of the painting. If you are really seeking the Truth,then seek. If you merely want to impress with how clever you are ,give up, you’re not managing to pull it off and any lack of response which you might see as awe, is more likely pity or resignation to your blindness. This is not said as an attack on you personally, but rather on your half-grasping position.
Christopher Orlet writes, ‘Marx’s unbelief was an offshoot of his economic theories, which held that religion, once a rather harmless superstition, had become a tool of the ruling class.’
This sounds ridiculous; does anyone really think that Marx first formulated his economic theories and then, as a result, decided that God did not exist?