The subatomic world (part one)

Scientists believe in fairies; they call them electrons. That’s just a language game, and we all know what Wittgenstein uncontroversially proved about language games.

Supposedly there are these magical little floating things and here are their essential properties:

1) We can’t see them
2) They hold everything together

That sounds to me a lot like fairies. And you might say, “Well, there are different types. Protons, electrons, etc. etc. quarks whatever.” So the fairy creatures come in different races, so what? Now I’m not one to doubt the existence of fairies. Frankly I see no evidence of their non-existence and you can’t prove a negative. But let’s stop teaching that there is anything scientific about them. No one has ever even seen one, and noted anthropologist Sam Harris has explained that this is the key feature of myth. The subatomic world (actually Latin for “below the earth” – and where do fairies live exactly? yep.) is false as traditionally explained. And the diagrams shown to children are simply outrageous.


30 thoughts on “The subatomic world (part one)

  1. The claim that there are electrons is a testable hypothesis. It makes a set of predictions about how the world would be if they existed and the world we actually see tends to corroborate this prediction. Additionally, we can use something like a particle detector ( to observe the electrons directly.

    Fairies on the other hand are not testable and make no predictions. Since we cannot directly observe them directly and there are no effects on the environment that are explained by fairies, we should conclude that they do not exist.

    Also, Sam Harris is not an anthropologist, he’s a writer with a PhD in philosophy and a pending PhD in neuroscience.

    You are a moron.

  2. Well, for starters, these particle we call quarks have been observed to have real effects in the world, and the last particle discovery was the up-quark, i think. So we know they exist. We have seen these chromodynamical subatomic particles.

    And not all subatomic particles help keep everything together as you claim, but only one Luxon Particle is responsible for that, and that is the energy-gluon particle. This particle is created from quark strong interactions, and the quark itself only makes up 1% of its entire matter. This missing energy is converted into the energy-glue that keeps quarks and consequentially protons and neutrons together.

  3. Dear Kerry,

    Particle detectors can see electrons and other subatomic particles

    This is not quite accurate. They see alleged effects of these particles, not the particles themselves. It is well-known, and by now conceded by the Scientific Community, that no one has seen a subatomic particle. No need to dispute this.

    Fairies are not scientific and do not fall under verifiability or any similar criteria. Also, Sam Harris is not what you say he is

    First, one friendly-to-science aspect of my theory is that more or less the same practical results will be yielded by the fairy analysis as is yielded by the traditional magical analysis. The problem is: Both are somewhat magical. The solution: Scientists should admit that they have magical beliefs. And as for Sam Harris, who should DEFINITELY admit to having magical beliefs, he is definitely an anthropologist. He writes anthropological books all the time, such as “Root of Evil” or whatever that one was called. And just check his daily writings on his website for more evidence.


  4. Dear Gareth-Lee,

    First of all I don’t think that’s your real name. It’s too close to “Garth Lee,” the famous singer. Anyway, let’s discuss some of your interesting ideas.

    We can know about these particles via their effects. Plus, we discover new ones, like the up-quark. Chromodynamical.

    I just went over this with the young woman above, Kerry. You should note that you’re making a creationist-style design argument. We can see the fingerprints of quarks (so you claim), therefore quarks. QUED.

    But this isn’t right. There could be any number of explanations behind your so-called “quarks.” And I think you use the word chromodyanamical to scare me, but I won’t be overcome by mere technobabble. Let’s move to your second point.

    Actually, scientists don’t think “they” hold everything together. Only one [fairy] holds everything together, and it has a name. 1%, bonding, etc.

    First of all you are heaping theoretical claim upon theoretical claim. Talk about non-verifiable! Popper is rolling in his grave right now, and Thomas Küng is saying, “Stop taking all the covers!!!” Your argument is not serious. You can’t just use “I think…” as proof, or an argument.


  5. NS,

    As you know by now, some of us can’t figure out if you’re for real (or just imaginary). I think it’s safe to say that you are either a) a joker (if so, hats off); b) a lunatic; or c) an unrecognized genius. There’s plenty of evidence for (b or c), but on the other hand surely this:

    The subatomic world (actually Latin for “below the earth” – and where do fairies live exactly? yep.)

    is a joke, esp. after you’ve berated everyone for their poor Latin skills. My own Latin (and Greek) is fairly rusty, but I know better than that! BTW, for your motto I get “I am a cat, and I have come to steal”. (I don’t get it.)

    Anyway, whether the case be (a), (b), or (c), it seems fair to ask: when you say

    we all know what Wittgenstein uncontroversially proved about language games

    what do you mean? I can’t think of anything less controversial. In any case, if you want to claim that the fact that we “can’t see” electrons casts doubt on their existence, Wittgenstein’s probably the last person you want to appeal to. But that’s a long story.

    You say Wittgenstein is one of your big influences and heroes. Can you say a bit more about what you get from him?

    And what’s with the “snow”? A “snow job,” maybe?

  6. Dear Dave M,

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

    You are either being silly, or you are a psychopath, or you are serious and very smart.

    This is like a variation of Lewis’ Trilemma! It thereby manages to be both flattering and insulting simultaneously.

    On the etymology of “subatomic,” don’t be so cocky. The word “sub” does derive, if you trace it thoroughly enough, from “under,” “below,” etc. And the word “atom” derives (eventually) from the notion of building block of the world. So it indeed has a combined meaning of “below-world,” “under-world,” and so on. I grant that it no longer has this meaning. And perhaps like “Imaginary Numbers” one can draw up a story of how a derogatory word became accepted as good. But it nevertheless has (arguably) something close to the meaning I gave it.

    On Wittgenstein, I see from the title of your blog that you are a bit of a Wittgenstein connoisseur yourself. Now, to explain in more depth:

    Wittgenstein showed us that, first and foremost, language is a collection of meanings, the trajectories of the contents of which are guided substantially by usage. Says Wittgenstein,

    Streckt uns da nicht die Analogy der Sprache mit dem Spiel ein Licht auf? … Und nun sagt Einer: Die ganze Zeit hindruch spielen die Leute ein Ballspiel, und richten sich daher bei jedem Wurf nach bestimmen Reglen (P.U., 2001 Blackwell)

    It is clear to me that something like this is going on in the unspoken equivocation between “electron” and “fairy.” To make it more explicit, consider Wittgenstein’s comments zillions of aphorisms later,

    Gegeben die beiden Begriffe ‘fette’ und ‘mager’, wuerdest du eher geneigt sein, zu sagen, Mittwoch sei fett und Dienstag mager, oder das Umgekehrte? … Haben nun hier ‘fett’ und ‘mager’ eine endere, als ihre gewoehnliche Bedeutung? – Sie haben eine andere Verwendung! [emphasis and exclamation mine] (ibid).

    In other words, there are two different games which are equally valid. The question is – does one speak to a “more true” reality? That is to say, as Professor Hitchens has recently claimed, does alchemy lead to chemistry, religion to philosophy, and so on? This is where I say that Wittgenstein proved something about language games. Wittgenstein (within his systematic presentation of truth functional logic and tables), states,

    Un zu sagen, ein Satz sei alles, was wahr oder falsch sein koenne, kommt darauf hinaus: Einen Satz nennen wir das, worauf wir in unserer Sprache den Kalkuel der Wahreitsfunctionnen anwended.

    [D]er Satz, daB nur ein Satz wahr sein koenenen, nur sagen kann, daB wir “wahr” und “falsch” nur von dem praedizieren, was wir einen Satz nennen (ibid).

    Insofar as physicists’ language falls into the category of a game (and given the unobservable nature of particle physics, what else can we say here?), then its language falls under the aforementioned judgment of (the later) Wittgenstein.

    Also, keep in mind that I haven’t quite claimed that what is referred to by “subatomic particles” doesn’t exist per se. Actually, I’m not even sure if it is coherent to say something like “Subatomic particles don’t exist,” a la cartes Wittgenstein. You can’t just cherry pick, a la cartes, whatever you want to exist, among the things that are ontologically problematic. In one sense everything is ontologically problematic. Well, now I’m getting ahead of myself, and as you say it’s “a long story.”

    The snow is a special seasonal feature for WordPress blogs.

    Feel free to pursue these issues further.


  7. NS:

    You ignore the fact that the atomic theory of matter makes certain testable predictions about the universe which then corroborate the theory.

    The theory that faeries exist makes no testable predictions and therefore has no evidence.

    But, this argument isn’t going to be persuasive to you and here’s why: whereas science has a basic epistemological framework in place (i.e. testable hypotheses, experiments) you get to advocate a free-flowing framework that you can shift whenever the going get tough.

    If I cite an experiment that demonstrates the existence of atoms, you can always makes the standards for knowledge ever more impossible to reach.

    Now, maybe this is because you advocate some form of hardcore skepticism about a posteriori knowledge, but if so, you are not consistent with that framework by even discussing the issue (because doing so requires a ton of assumptions about the existence of things).

    It comes down to this. I define knowledge as a (relatively) stable belief supported by testable hypotheses and evidence. Atomic theory meets this criterion, so it is knowledge. If you’d like to support an epistemological framework which A) you are consistent with and B) asserts that atomic theory is not knowledge, then please elaborate.

  8. Noted Scholar, if you with to see some electrons, GO OUTSIDE DURING A THUNDERSTROM.

  9. Pingback: Scientists fail to accurately measure imaginary objects | Science and Math Defeated

  10. Dear That Nigga,

    I agree. It’s quite incredible how complex and sophisticated the stories of unobservable physics have become. Plus, they invest incredible amounts of time and money into their frontmen like Brian Greene.

    Thanks for the note,

  11. Electrons, like many things in modern physics, can only be observed by there effects. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t, only that they can’t be seen.

  12. Also, your hypothesis has one very large problem. science based on atomic theory WORKS. Thus, the only evidence science has is FOR the existence of electrons.

  13. “you can’t prove a negative” There are two possibilities You can prove a negative (which means the quoted statement is incorrect) or the quoted statement (which just so happens to be a negative) is incorrect and therefore you can prove a negative
    There we go, I just proved a negative

  14. ““What theory do you propose to replace electrons, NS??”

    I can show “not-p” without showing “instead of p, q.”

    The problem is you haven’t

  15. Since the scientific insanity has already been taking care, I’m going to jump in as someone who majored in Wittgenstein to say that you’re fundamentally misunderstanding his talk of language games

  16. I invite you to read about where this electron theory originated. (Thompson’s Cathode Ray experiment, which found the charge/mass ratio of an electron) (Rutherford, Geiger, and Marsden’s gold foil experiment, )
    As other people on this blog have mentioned, these are experiments that point directly to the modern Atomic model of matter.
    To even contest the theory, you would have to bring up your own similar experiment that at the very least is inconsistent with the Atomic theory’s predictions, and if you want anybody to take you seriously, think of something that Thompson’s and Rutherford’s experiment failed to take into account that your model does.
    But these are 100 year old experiments that have been verified many times over, and the theories developed from them have been proven to be correct over and over again (Nuclear Fission, Cathode Ray TV’s, ).
    You’re blog is hilarious to read though. Makes me feel smarter figuring out exactly how flawed and warped your reasoning is.

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