Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Higgs vs. Epistemology

Higgs boson helps me learn about learning. Also I find a connection to hypocrisy in the latter part of the second section, which is primarily about my experiment regarding intuition.

It's hard, so let's give up. (Via.)
"For the rest of us, I suspect, the Higgs belongs in the same category as various other parts of modern physics: It is yet more evidence that the human mind, to the extent that it was designed by natural selection to truly comprehend anything at all, was designed to comprehend the macroscopic world, not the microscopic world."
From earlier,
"Wait, what does that mean? You mean if the Higgs boson disappeared, then the other particles would exist but wouldn't have mass?"
You understand a thing when you can play 'what if' and win. A lay article can therefore be written by simply listing all the answers to the game. So what, was my brain not designed by evolution? I don't seem to suffer from the handicaps I'm supposed to suffer from.

Reading between the lines, it would seem that Wright was told that the Higgs is the reason for energy-mass equivalence. Checking this assumption, and having to do more inference, I found that the Higgs is the reason certain particles have rest mass. (So, falsified.)
"Using the Higgs mechanism they found that the carriers of the weak interaction, the W and Z bosons, have large masses, whereas the corresponding carriers of the electromagnetic force have no mass."
Remembering that Wright disavows that this is correct,
"Higgs is like "molasses" that, by resisting the movement of all those non-Higgs particles, gives them mass."
Backwards. The laws of physics are better understood as a list of things particles cannot do. It transfers to them rest mass, therefore they can't travel at light speed. Everything else can, so it does.

Turns out, further down Wikipedia does explicitly state the scientific conclusion.
"the Higgs field, the proposed origin of all rest mass"
At least this shows they're consistent; though Wright's point may hold for La Wik too.

Returning to my proposal about a game of what-if, I'll state a couple hypotheses. If the Higgs field did not exist, all particles would travel at light speed. As light speed particles ignore time or equivalently see a two-dimensional universe, it would be a boring universe.
More importantly, the electroweak field would have seen no symmetry breaking, which is an even more radical departure from fact, though I can't say what specifically. The W, Z, and photons would all be more similar, with far-reaching consequences.

I will further hypothesize that W and Z bosons are excitations of the weak field, which inevitably also excites the Higgs field at the same place.

Higgs as Experiment Fodder for Intuition

I have previously made predictions about the Higgs.
"You shouldn't need a particle to couple particles to space - it would mean the Higgs either was recursive or has no position."
In other words, one of Wright's points is correct, I wrongly attributed bad science journalism to bad science. That said, I still caught the bad reasoning.

Because I found the causal link, I believe that my beliefs about the Higgs were a result of my beliefs about gravitation and space curvature.

Which means I'm deriving new truths without conscious effort.

This is consistent with my observations of others. I have been able to predict actions based on professed ideology. I have larger implication or inferential distance than average, which means I can consciously appreciate the connection between ideas that many subject cannot - however, they still act consistently with those ideas at these out-of-logical-eyeshot distances.

Which is a problem when the ideas are false.

A note for anyone wanting to replicate the experiment: some beliefs are taken more seriously than others, and only serious beliefs activate the subconscious inferential system.

In other words, there are at least two classes of hypocrisy. There's the kind where it does affect their beliefs and they say it doesn't, and the kind where it doesn't affect their beliefs and they say it does.

For example, you can catch unwary Christians in contradictions of fact about evolution.
If I bring up the evolution without priming them on Christianity, then ask them about Christianity, they'll claim their beliefs about Christianity don't affect their beliefs about evolution. (If I or something else primes them on Christianity and then I ask them about evolution, they'll go all sophistic, following the lead of their favourite politicians and/or preachers, trying to dodge the facts.)

A Christian who is also a paid evolutionary biologist will say their beliefs about evolution are consistent with Christianity, but they'll be different from the unwary Christian above; instead they will have beliefs consistent with their less religious colleagues.

I can only predict actions based on the former hypocrisy. The first is epistemic hypocrisy; they claim to learn and conclude differently than they do. The second is ontological hypocrisy; they claim they believe things they essentially don't. The first says it is raining but that's not why they believe the ground is wet. The second says it is raining but they don't believe the ground is wet.

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