Stephen Hawking can be Quite the Dill
4 December, 2016
Being a genius does not guarantee you can’t be stupid at times — often even!
This is the most dangerous time for our planet, so say Stephen Hawking in an Op-Ed for the Guardian of Socialist values – The Guardian, 2nd Dec 2016.
Because he is referring to the ‘danger’ of ‘Climate Change’, and because he’s Stephen Hawking, I thought it might be interesting. Oh dear. Many people think geniuses can’t be stupid, but that is so wrong!
At least Hawking states at the outset that he lives in perhaps the tallest of ivory towers and therefore has little understanding of the real world — so true. As a tenured professor, with a great salary and super fund and more Government grants than he knows what to do with, he has never had to turn his mind to the prospect of economic difficulties. Not that he hasn’t overcome some other incredible obstacles, of which I would have no ability to write authoritatively about.
He doesn’t agree with leaving the EU, and he wouldn’t have voted for Trump. His view of the EU is from the point of view of the easy transfer of academics around the EU, the grants which come from the EU paid for by the member countries, and the great number of international graduate students he has been able to supervise.
He hasn’t had to deal with the new regulations being imposed on manufacturers and retailers and hoteliers and every other type of business. He wasn’t a fisherman who suddenly found that British fishing grounds were now managed by the EU and shared with EU countries which didn’t even have a coast opposite the UK.
So he really had little basis of knowledge upon which to support another layer of bureaucracy on the lives of the real working British.
But I truly realized how disconnected Hawking is to reality in 2013 after initially accepting an invitation to speak at Israel’s President’s Conference organized to mark the 90th birthday of Shimon Peres, Hawking changed his mind and declared that he would not participate in any academic or cultural exchanges with Israel. He announced his support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.
being anti-Israel is one thing but supporting the BDS movement is quite another. ALS, has left him unable to utilize any muscle functions except for his cheeks, whose movement is monitored by a sensor attached to his spectacles. His sole means of communication is through a computer Intel Core i7-based communication system, which runs on a chip designed in Israel.
If BDS were universally adopted, the very technology he relies upon to communicate would be unavailable to him. Hawking, a supposed champion of logic, thus takes the absurdly illogical position of opposing the same kind of exchange that allows him to communicate his opposition in the first place!
Hawking reportedly has an IQ of 160, and regularly appears on Internet lists of the world’s smartest people. That’s what makes Hawking’s stand on BDS so interesting. It is not just an example of an ordinary person acting stupid. It is an example of a genius acting stupid — a phenomenon that is surprisingly common.
I’m not talking about the absent mindedness that Einstein was famous for, which is a much different thing. Hawking utilizing an Israeli-designed chip to tell people that they should not deal with Israel is just plain stupid.
Noam Chomsky, the MIT professor who lobbied Hawking to support BDS, exhibits more of the same mentality.
Chomsky is another recognised ‘genius’. The same SuperScholar website, which lists Hawking as No. 1 among the 30 smartest people in the world, pegs Chomsky at No. 11.
But Chomsky beat Hawking in the list of being stupid. He has denied that the Cambodian genocide, which wiped out nearly 2 million people, occurred. Instead, he insists that the death toll of the Khmer Rouge massacres amounted to “at most in the thousands.”
Chomsky is skeptical of Osama Bin Laden’s responsibility for 9/11, and insists on referring to the Al Qaeda mastermind only as a “suspect.” He even insists that Bin Laden’s confession that he actually planned the attacks was merely a “boast.”
If there were a Nobel Prize for genius-generated stupidity, it would be awarded posthumously to chess prodigy Bobby Fischer, a genius with a penchant for dumbness. Just as Chomsky denied that the Cambodian genocide occurred, Fischer denied that the Holocaust happened. An ardent admirer of the Nazis, he adorned his room with photographs of Hitler.
He believed that the “stinking Jews” controlled the United States, and declared the 9/11 attacks “wonderful news.” He had his fillings removed from his teeth because he believed that they were used to emit dangerous radiation, possibly by his American or Russian enemies.
So is there a causal connection between genius and stupidity? I think there possibly is and it is related to living in that very tall ivory tower Hawking identified.
Genius is not just a matter of coming up with answers faster than others can. It is a matter of seeing the world in ways that others have not or cannot. It is not just better eyesight, it is different vision. And once crowned – or cursed – with the epithet of “genius,” it is difficult to encounter a new problem, and to tamely announce: “Well, I’m not really sure.”
So the geniuses offer their thoughts, on all manner of topics they know nothing about, usually informed by others who live in their same rarefied atmosphere.
Albert Einstein may have been absent-minded on occasion, but he was focused and attentive in 1952, when he received a letter from Abba Eban, written on behalf of David Ben-Gurion, offering him the presidency of the State of Israel.
I am deeply moved by the offer … [but] I cannot accept it. All my life I have dealt with objective matters, hence I lack both the natural aptitude and the experience to deal properly with people and to exercise official functions.
In recognising both his cognitive limitations and the boundaries of his expertise, Einstein proved that he was more than merely a genius. He proved that he was not stupid! If only other geniuses could be so humble.
Getting back to Hawking’s claim that we are living in the most dangerous time for humanity; in that we have a means of destroying the planet, but no means of escaping it.
In this statement he is referring to man-made climate change, as the means by which we can destroy the planet. He has probably done so little reading on climate science he doesn’t realize that there is actually less evidence supporting the theory of dangerous man made global warming than there is to support ‘string theory’.
No doubt he has been listening to his buddy Chomsky again, who no doubt tells Stephen off for relying on fossil fuels and mined minerals to manufacture his wheelchair and computers.
However the destructive ability of nuclear bombs is a proven thing. Why wouldn’t Hawking have considered the advent of nuclear bombs to be ‘the most dangerous time for humanity’? We couldn’t escape the earth, but we could make it unlivable. That isn’t a theory!
And has he not heard about fundamentalist Muslims? I guess you don’t get so many of them in the physics department at Cambridge.
Clearly Stephen Hawking really didn’t put his mind to the issue to any great depth, or perhaps he really is more concerned about where his grants come from than I gave him credit?
But the final matter which convinced me that geniuses aren’t necessarily clever, and can be outright stupid is Hawking’s epiphany as an atheist.
I am an agnostic. Hawkins took until the age of 50 to decide he was an atheist. In his narrative he talked about the discovery that there was a universe beyond our own, which lead him to think that God hadn’t created the world for man. Presumably he doesn’t think man might be interested in other universes, or God capable of having multiple pet projects. But he justified his decision in his book “The Grand Design”.
He wrote that, given the existence of gravity, “the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going.”
Now if you understand that as a justification of why there isn’t a God, then you are better than me, because I would see that if there is a possibility for the spontaneous creation of everything, then that’s just as likely to sell me on the existence of a God!