The book presents the conclusions of a psychologist seeking to make sense of contemporary particle physics as described in a number of popular science texts and media articles, written by physicists, seeking to explain the workings of the sub atomic world The accounts, it is argued, are a mutually exclusive and contradictory, and b metaphysical or magical in essence Themes of the book include a discussion of the way we allow physicists to invent things that have no perceivable qualities, on the grounds that they must be there because otherwise their preconceptions are wrong or their sums don t work that, from a psychological perspective, contemporary theory in particle physics has the same properties as any other act of faith, and the same limitations as belief in God and that physics has now reached a point at which increasingly physicists research their own psychological constructions rather than anything which is unambiguously there or real It encourages people to ask basic questions of the type we often use to question the existence of God such as Where is he it , Show me , Do it then , When did it happen , How do you know it exists , and so on, and suggests that people take a leaf out of Dawkins text, The God Delusion, but apply it to high end physics as much as to religious dogma turning water into wine is a mere conjuring trick compared to producing an entire universe out of nothing

2 thoughts on “God Versus Particle Physics: A No-Score Draw

  1. Trevor McCarthy Trevor McCarthy says:

    So why read a book about particle physics written by a psychologist For the same reason one might choose a book about religion written by an atheist If you only read what believers say about their beliefs you only get a one dimensional story.John Davies is a real one off A psychologist who has worked in real industries transport and power generation and who has researched why and how systems fail it s because all systems tend to have people in them somewhere Davies is a scientist He does what proper scientists do he asks questions and then pursues the answers with relentless logic He doesn t trust answers that aren t supported by evidence his theoretical analysis of the concept of addiction The Myth of Addiction is a modern classic first published over 20 years ago it is always in print and still sells steadily.The reason he is so well versed in physics literature is that he has read up on the science that underpins the work in the industries where he has been brought in to do human factors research That is, research into the way people actually behave in real life work environments.There are bits of this book God versus Particle Physics a no score draw where the unremitting logical assault on unsubstantiated take it on my authority trust me I m a scientist grounds are laugh out loud funny Not because Davies is making jokes but because he exposes the ridiculous levels of claim that some physicists sometimes make.Psychology tends to be sneered at as a so called soft science by self styled proper scientists and research physicists often sound as though they see themselves as being in the scientific Premier League So it is hugely refreshing to read a case that patiently and repeatedly exposes large swathes of the current accepted physics hegemony as so much unsubstantiated puff.This is a brief review Suffice to say the letter from a psychology journal editor on page 86 and the explanations underpinning it is worth the cover price on its own They write to reject a proposed article describing a psychological theory equivalent of dark matter on the grounds that the scientific case has not been made and it is not worthy of consideration in a peer reviewed scientific journal.This book should be on the reading list of every undergraduate physics course it should be read by anyone interested in reading popular science especially on cosmology or particle physics Of course it should be read by psychologists and by anyone who likes an erudite, well argued book that makes scientific thought accessible It should definitely be read by actual working physicists but it probably won t be if you know any physicists or cosmologists consider buying them a copy for xmas.

  2. David Warden David Warden says:

    This is a fascinating and well written book by a psychologist, which examines and critiques our modern belief in the stuff of particle physics quarks, Higgs bosons and the Big Bang theory God does not figure much in the book, except by way of analogy The focus of Davies argument is the abstract or even metaphorical nature of particle physics, theories built upon theories, and the lack of substantive perceptual or physical evidence for them He discusses Newtonian physics, quantum theory, uncertainty theory and chaos theory in a very readable fashion, and addresses our conceptual difficulties in contemplating such matters as curved space and infirite mass and zero volume I learned a lot from this book and chuckled frequently at the author s clever manner of presentation of difficult arguments I hope a particle physicist responds in kind.