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Richard C. Johnson - Religion: The Failed Narrative
Posted: 12 November 2011 08:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Thank you Harvey.  Those were very kind and thoughtful words.  I remain available through this forum if you have comments on my book either as you read, or, in summary.

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Posted: 27 November 2011 02:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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I have been to busy with school and other priorities to read much further in this book, but I also have been unmotivated to read more of this book. This passage early in Chapter Four brought my reading to a halt:

Newton’s equations yielded contradictory results when applied to fast moving objects, such as subatomic particles in particle accelerators. Einstein’s theory of relativity, developed in 1905, solved the problem of the motion of fast moving atomic particles as well as moving objects, such as bullets and baseballs.

There are several problems with this passage. There are at least two factual errors here. No. 1: there were no particle accelerators before Einstein. No. 2: Newton’s equations describe the movement of bullets and baseballs perfectly well. While I appreciate what Johnson has to say in his book, it reads like a draft copy. One more editing pass and it might have been ready for publication, but I canot recommend the book in its published form.

[ Edited: 27 November 2011 02:36 PM by DarronS ]
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Posted: 27 November 2011 07:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Sorry you have given up so easily in reading my book.  Your objections are unfounded.  I did not mean that Einstein knew in 1905 that particle accelerators would exist sometime in the future.  Einstein’s equations were more broad in scope than Newton’s especially dealing with fast moving objects very close to the speed of light.  And finally when such speeds were realized by particles in accelerators, Einstein’s equations described them almost perfectly.  This is no different than the verification of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity when it was possible to observe the effects of gravity near massive bodies such as stars.  The point I make is that Newton’s equations applied “perfectly well” to everyday objects such as bullets and baseballs.  But they do not predict the increase in mass of an object moving at near the speed of light.  Einstein’s equation, more general, describe both.

And for your information, my final draft was draft number twelve.  My initial draft was edited ten times prior to publication and two more times during.  My editor always reminded me that the editing process is in principle never finished.  But finally she said that it would not make any sense to go any further.  During publication, a second editor mostly found minor punctuation errors.

Thank you for your comments.

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Posted: 27 November 2011 07:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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I did not give up too easily. The passage I quoted is quite clear. You stated that Einstein’s equations solved the problems of bullets and baseballs. If I can catch mistakes like this on first reading then your editors failed you. You have some good things to say, but the writing mistakes keep me from recommending your book. You need an editor who knows a something about science.

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Posted: 27 November 2011 07:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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DarronS - 27 November 2011 07:42 PM

I did not give up too easily. The passage I quoted is quite clear. You stated that Einstein’s equations solved the problems of bullets and baseballs. If I can catch mistakes like this on first reading then your editors failed you. You have some good things to say, but the writing mistakes keep me from recommending your book. You need an editor who knows a something about science.

original statement:

Newton’s equations yielded contradictory results when applied to fast moving objects, such as subatomic particles in particle accelerators. Einstein’s theory of relativity, developed in 1905, solved the problem of the motion of fast moving atomic particles as well as moving objects, such as bullets and baseballs.

Actually, in the quote you referred to you edited out two key words, “as well as”, which might be interpreted as covered by Newton, but also applicable in the later theories of Einstein, i.e. not in conflict with Newton’s theory.

[ Edited: 27 November 2011 07:59 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 27 November 2011 08:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Newton’s equations solved the problem of bullets and baseballs.  But it didn’t solve the problem of objects at speeds very near that of light.  Einstein’s equations are the most general description of objects in motion - slow and very fast.  Are you familiar with Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem?  Together they describe what happens when human knowledge broadens to include areas beyond ordinary perception.  Newton’s equations would be eternally safe (and correct) had we not explored the structure of the atom.  They will always be correct for objects at a speed reasonably below that of light.  There is some evidence that neutrinos may be capable of traveling at speeds exceeding light.  If so as Kuhn ands Godel would predict, there may be a need to revise (read extend) Einstein’s (and by default, Newton’s) equations.

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Posted: 27 November 2011 08:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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I believe you indicated that you are reading a “Kindle” version of the book.  The hard copy (actually the soft-cover copy) does not have the words mentioned (as well as) edited out.  I quote from the print copy: “Einstein’s theory of relativity, developed in 1905, solved the problem of the motion of fast-moving atomic particles as well as moving objects, such a bullets and baseballs.”  I did not approve of any editing steps going from the digital text to Kindle.

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Posted: 27 November 2011 08:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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rictungsten - 27 November 2011 08:19 PM

I believe you indicated that you are reading a “Kindle” version of the book.  The hard copy (actually the soft-cover copy) does not have the words mentioned (as well as) edited out.  I quote from the print copy: “Einstein’s theory of relativity, developed in 1905, solved the problem of the motion of fast-moving atomic particles as well as moving objects, such a bullets and baseballs.”  I did not approve of any editing steps going from the digital text to Kindle.

My post was addressed to my dear friend Darron…. smile

But the Kindle version has apparently “dropped” a few words, it is entirely possible they may have also edited your original statement on that subject.

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Posted: 27 November 2011 08:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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The phrase “as well as” is in the Kindle edition. Einstein’s equations did not solve any problems with bullets and baseballs, and no one knew of subatomic particles before Einstein. If this were my only problem with the book I would have mentioned it but moved on. There are other poorly written/edited passages, as well as contradictions in other parts of the book.

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Posted: 27 November 2011 10:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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DarronS - 27 November 2011 08:51 PM

The phrase “as well as” is in the Kindle edition. Einstein’s equations did not solve any problems with bullets and baseballs, and no one knew of subatomic particles before Einstein. If this were my only problem with the book I would have mentioned it but moved on. There are other poorly written/edited passages, as well as contradictions in other parts of the book.

Ok, now I understand the point you were making… grin

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Posted: 28 November 2011 11:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Thank you.  Actually there was some confusion: I thought I was corresponding with DarronS but then you (Write4U) appeared.  I’m glad someone understands the point I was trying to make.  I appreciate your joining the discussion and for your comments.

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Posted: 04 December 2011 03:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Hi Richard,
Have finished my Kindle version and enjoyed it. Probably the first time I’ve read something of this nature through to the end. Russel, Dawkins and Hitchins I soak up in audiobook form. I find it difficult to comment briefly but do feel that the level at which you are pitching your arguments are the right ones for changing views on a mass scale. In the UK, the likes of Eddie Izzard, Stephen Fry, Uncaged Monkeys and Tim Minchin are doing great things for the cause. What we really need is a Royal to “come out”! Anyway, thank you. Your book has helped to clarify my thinking and encouraged me to start organising my own ideas on paper.

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Posted: 09 December 2011 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Harvey,

Thank you for your kind words. I do appreciate your feedback.

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Posted: 11 December 2011 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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I found this podcast a disappointment. The straw-man about the Occupy movement was a distraction, not that it was off topic or contained bias, but because it was inaccurate and contained harmful rhetoric. Too bad the guest missed the opportunity to check the interview, but he was probably as blind-sided as I was. I have never posted here before, but I wanted to express my great disappointment with this podcast when compared to the past traditions of PoI.

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Posted: 12 December 2011 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Ken K

Thank you for your comment.  Once again, I will say that I have an unqualified sympathy and support for the Occupy movement.  Perhaps it is lame of me to counter that I was “blind-sided” by the comment.  An interview is somewhat stressful - different from a normal one-on-one conversation.  I frankly heard Price’s reference as: communism is a failed narrative.  And historically, I would have to agree although communism strictly has not been practiced.  The Soviet Union had some aspects of communism but it was more largely a totalitarian dictatorship.  I actually have nothing against communism per se.  But I would agree that the Soviet state was in the end a failed state (and a failed narrative).  I was totally surprised that the larger part of the comments on the interview targeted Price’s connection of the Occupy movement with a failed narrative (through a perceived association with communism).  I’m sorry, I missed it at the time.  I was too focused on the questions he was asking me.

But I think it is unfortunate too that most people (at least from the comments) were distracted by something totally unrelated to the content of my book.  So, I gather, most would not be interested in reading “Religion: The Failed Narrative.”  I think they will miss an opportunity to consider religion from a different perspective.  In a recent presentation on Greek civilization, the voice-over (Liam Neeson) reminds us that travelling minstrels and bards in preliterate Greece travelled from village to village enchanting village folk with mythical stories of heroism and courage.  This is likely the way that holy books such as the bible materialized finally - the narrative of religion.  This in itself is not a new idea to write a book on.  But if you will read thoughtfully, I try to make the connection between an emerging consciousness (a sharp human trait) and the creation (by us) of the supernatural which is clearly the vehicle that mythic characters ride into our experience.

Too bad this was sidetracked by an off-hand comment by an interview host.

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