Dear Ivor


I find the logic behind your interpretation of my remarks expressing reservations about my ability to act as an ultimate judge let alone an oracle on em theory remarkable - you seemed to have gleaned a lot more subtlety from my statements than what I intended to convey. As I pronounced them, in my mind I had not realised that they would actually have made a lot of sense in a much bigger context, such as The Politics of Knowledge.

I am also impressed that there are many cases of intellectuals being in a similar situation to you. That's not only symptomatic but also saddening and demoralising. The sad factor is also that the majority of young researchers, whether talented or super-talented, end up following the role models of the 'Knights of the Knowledge Temple' and are unlikely to realise that this is fundamentally wrong. 

Comments by I Catt.

Students 1


Students 2

The proof that students are conservative, and will resist

any querying of the theories they are learning and sitting

 exams in, is an important advance. It contradicts Pauli’s idea

 that new ideas have to wait for a new generation

to take them up. The new generation will

 not take them up.


Students 3

Those students who studied, learned, and passed exams

 in the IEE's static knowledge base developed subject loyalty

 and also a vested interest in its maintenance and defence

 against new knowledge. Some had even passed the IEE's own exams.

However, there is a hope that the situation like this will not sustain, and this hope comes from the rapid erosion of the Rule or Authority of Knowledge through effects of massive cyber-media, internet, social networks. All this changes the metrics of authority from those of Knowledge to those of Impact.

Rise and Fall But “'Without barriers to communication there can be no communication'.

 Young people generally have less and less inclination to hear about some heroes of knowledge discovery. If one makes oneself known though the likes of facebooks and twitters, one is their hero and idol. My prediction that the words Faraday, Maxwell etc will soon not be associated with anything scientifically deep, but rather with the faces on the banknotes or items of art.

This is also worrying. But as everything has both bad and good sides, equally this will cause destruction of the rule of the 'scientific establishment' because it will not enjoy the laurels of publicity and glory, and will also gradually start losing the sense of importance. Basically the 'energy current of knowledge' is rapidly losing its power density!

I can feel it in academia more and more as years go by.


The other interesting issue is the fact that Chris Spargo, our PhD student interested in Heaviside's works, mentioned was that Heaviside himself had only worked as an employee for 3 years. the rest of his life he was getting by from one form of pension or support to another. That gave him enormous intellectual freedom to work day and night on things he really wanted to spend time on, and this is something that today's intellectuals do not have. This exactly what Peter Cheung remarked to me about the situation at Imperial, where most of the em (and not only) 'experts' have already so much on their daily routine that they have no capacity for looking at something that may reverse their currents. In many ways, I am sympathetic with what these people feel because I am not much different from them. I was lucky to have been on EPSRC's Dream Fellowship in the last couple of years, and that pulled my out of this routine and gave me a chance to lean back and think. The remarkable event was that during that period of relative intellectual freedom you and I met, and that has led to what we had last week. Unfortunately, the number of free intellectuals amongst us, academic, is negligibly small, hence small are the chances to bring freedom into the world of knowledge. 


Thanks for including me into your email to your co-thinkers.