The meritocracy's ongoing fail: No one loves "Einstein made easy" pseudo-discussion quite the way Nova does.
The PBS series loves to pretend that it knows how to make Einstein easy! This week, it's back with its latest hour-long effort, Einstein's Quantum Riddle.
The people at Nova have gone there again! At Nova's site, the new program is promoed like this:
Einstein's Quantum RiddleIn effect, this program tries to make quantum mechanics and "entanglement" easy. We haven't watched the whole program yet, but today we'll give you a taste.
Join scientists as they grab light from across the universe to prove quantum entanglement is real.
Fairly early in the program, the narrator introduces the famous 1927 Solvay Conference, "an amazing week-long series of discussions on, really, what the world was made of, on the nature of matter and the new quantum theory."
That said, what the heck was quantum theory? As the exposition starts, confusion quickly appears:
NARRATOR (1/9/19): This was one of the greatest meetings of minds in history. More than half were or would become Nobel Prize winners. Their experiments were showing that deep inside matter, tiny particles, like atoms and their orbiting electrons were not solid little spheres. They seemed fuzzy and undefined.To his credit, Kaiser notes that the early findings had been "very confusing." That said. almost one hundred years later, confusion seems to remain in what the narrator offers.
DAVID KAISER: So this, this group here, these, these were the folks who had just been plumbing deeper and deeper and deeper to find what they hoped would be a bedrock of what the world is made of. And, to their surprise, they found things less and less solid as they dug in.
This world was not tiny little bricks that got smaller and smaller. At some point, the bricks gave way to this "moosh" and what looked like solidity, solidness, in fact became very confusing and, kind of, a whole new way of thinking about nature.
If the "tiny particles" deep inside matter aren't "solid little spheres" after all—if they seem "fuzzy and undefined" in some rather undefined way—then why exactly are we still calling them "particles?"
Presumably, someone can answer that question. But as the discussion continues, we'd say the confusion only grows, though viewers are encouraged to believe that everything's being made amazingly clear.
(To peruse the whole transcript or watch the whole program, you can just click here.)
In our view, there's no bad explanation quite like an Einstein-made-easy bad explanation. Nova churns them out on an annual basis, and we the highly educated PBS viewers apparently keep tuning in.
No one at Nova, and no one at home, ever seems to realize that the easy-to-understand explanations are almost wholly impenetrable. It'a a bit like the old joke offered by an apocryphal worker in the old Soviet Union:
"We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us."
So it goes with these Nova programs. We pretend to understand and they pretend to explain things! (Or so a wry viewer might say.)
Nova has never made Einstein easy in its whole institutional life! Despite this fact, the jumbled "explanations" keep coming, and we viewers keep tuning in.
So it goes in other precincts among our meritocratic elites. Most especially, so it has been, for many years, within our political discourse, which has been built around wardrobe and hair issues, routinely embellished pseudo-quotations, and the always important question of who's been zoomin' who, perhaps ten years ago.
In this post, Josh Marshall describes the New York Times' latest front-page howler. Everybody makes mistakes, but this one's a groaner, Josh says.
Then too, there's what the Times' David Leonhardt told us rubes this week. He's promoted as one of the Times' brightest players, but on Monday evening's Maddow Show, the gentleman actually said this:
LEONHARDT (1/7/19): And, look, I'm not the biggest fan of George W. Bush's presidency, but George W. Bush remained a competent president to the end and he had none of the ethical issues that Trump does. And if you think about what Bush did in his last two years, he managed the disaster in Iraq responsibly, and he managed the financial crisis extremely responsibly.Leonhardt isn't a fan of Bush, but Bush was competent to the end! He managed the disaster in Iraq responsibly—the disaster he himself caused!
I'm not saying he doesn't deserve blame for what happened before. But imagine Donald Trump trying to manage a natural disaster or a war or a financial crisis. I find it frightening and I worry we would look back and say, "How did we not get rid of him beforehand?"
Leonhardt said it; Rachel didn't challenge it. After three or four decades of similar clowning, work like this from our empty elites gave us the president who is eventually going to start Mister Trump's Inevitable War. Or so Cassandra has told the analysts, in a series of late-night visits.
Tomorrow, we'll look at Leonhardt's column from last Sunday about the sins of Trump. Not to be gloomy, but the hapless work of our meritocratic elites have taken us from the valley of the shadow of earth toned suits all the way to our current sick ugly dumb deeply dangerous brain-dead mess.
Ain't meritocracy grand? And where are our greatest logicians?