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Re: [Phys-L] einstein --> misattribution in general --> appeal to authority in general

1) Albert Einstein wrote:

a) "My views are near those of Spinoza: admiration for the beauty of and belief in the logical simplicity of the order which we can grasp humbly and only imperfectly. ..." [9].

b) "I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation. ... My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance—but for us, not for God." [10]

2) References:
[9] Walter Isaacson, "Einstein: His Life and Universe." New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008. Also in

[10] Helen Dukas, "Albert Einstein, The Human Side." Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981, p. 66.

3) I agree that Phys-L is not a place to discuss theology. My article about relations between science and theology, from which the above was taken, will soon be published in an online philosophical journal. I will be happy to email the link to those who ask for it, privately.

Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia)


On Jul 21, 2014, at 3:29 PM, Bill Norwood wrote:

- Oops, but Einstein could have had special insight into insanity.
- His son was mentally ill and was cared for in England, and Albert
Einstein rarely or never visited. Am I getting this right?
Bill Norwood

On Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 2:50 PM, John Denker <> wrote:

On 07/21/2014 08:27 AM, Bill Norwood wrote:

I would suspect that misrepresentation of Albert Einstein's actual
was very much out of hand long before this video came to be.

That's for sure.

The practice of hyping some random idea by putting it into
the mouth of some "authority" is seriously out of hand, and
has been for a long time.

I consider appeal to authority to be highly unscientific
... but /bogus/ appeal to authority is even worse.

As one small additional example: Here is a "quote" that I
saw mis-attributed on one of the other physics lists recently.

The idea that
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting
different results.
is routinely attributed to Einstein. but there is not the
slightest credible evidence that he ever said any such
thing. There is no credible evidence that /anybody/ said
such a thing before 1982 or 1983 ... some 30 years too
late for Einstein.

Even closer to the topic of this list, note that I'm pretty
sure that Isaac Newton never wrote down the vector equation
F=ma. Vectors weren't invented until a couple hundred years
after Newton's day. If you want to give Newton credit for
the /idea/ of the second law, then we have problems with the
first law, which isn't Newton's at all, but rather Galileo's.

Similarly, the celebrated Wheatstone bridge wasn't invented
by Wheatstone. And the Cavendish balance wasn't invented by
Cavendish. Et cetera...........


It must be emphasized that even if the quote were accurate,
appeal to authority is highly unscientific!

If an idea is good, it is good no matter who said it.
If an idea is bad, it is bad no matter who said it.

This is central to any notion of critical thinking, and is
therefore on-topic for this list, IMHO.

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