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Lost in Math (or Eye Rolling about Big Thoughts)

A book: “Lost in Math” by Sabine Hossenfelder (who blogs at BackReAction). A quote…

“How patently absurd it must appear … that people get paid for ideas like [those of Xiao-Geng Wen and his collaborators]. But then … people also get paid for throwing balls through hoops.” (p. 192)

Let’s explore this a bit.

Big thoughts about physics: To give you an example of what Hossenfelder is alluding to when talking about his “ideas”, listen to Xiao-Geng Wen’s description of his ideas (at 5:36): “Maybe our space is a string liquid, and we live in a noodle soup.”

Big thoughts about basketball: To give you an example of Hossenfelder’s point about “hoops”, listen to Coach Daniel’s description of the clearout: “which occurs when the big man … on offense … clears out the rim-protecting big man on defense”.

For better or worse, as much as this kills me to concede, you shouldn’t roll your eyes at one of these without rolling your eyes at the other. We should take Hossenfelder’s observation as a precaution against such one-sided eye-rolling.