Richard Feynman is a frequent target of Ken Wheeler’s attacks. Find out why the groundbreaking physicist and Nobel laureate’s ideas are so threatening to the Angry Photographer and his pseudoscience.
Richard Feynman was one of the most respected and gifted scientists of the 20th Century, if not all of history. His family and teachers recognized his aptitude in math and science throughout his childhood.
He attended both MIT and Princeton, where he earned his PhD in 1939, studying quantum electrodynamics (QED). In 1943, Robert Wilson, one of the Manhattan Project’s administrators, invited him to support the development of the atom bomb because of his QED expertise and his reputation as an innovative thinker.
After the war, Feynman joined Cornell University as a professor of theoretical physics. He continued his research in QED, which eventually earned him the 1965 Nobel Prize for Physics.
Ken is a Particularly Harsh Critic of Feynman
Ken Wheeler is a particularly harsh critic of Feynman. He sneeringly calls him the “god of quantum,” while denouncing the entire scientific field of quantum mechanics as “the cult of bumping particles.”
The Angry Photographer focuses virtually all of his anti-Feynman vitriol on a viral YouTube video clip. It’s a seven minute extract from a series of six, 30-minute interviews Feynman gave for the BBC program Fun to Imagine.
Everyday viewers and the scientific community alike praised the episodes at the time. Feynman combined his storytelling skills with his aptitude for explaining complex subjects in plain language to make the program a success.
“All the Electrons Are Spinning in the Same Direction”
One of the 30-minute episodes deals with magnetism, and someone extracted the Theoria Apophasis host’s seven-minute clip from it. In it, Feynman explains that in magnets, “all the electrons are spinning in the same direction. They all get lined up, and they magnify the effect of the force that it’s large enough that you can feel it at a distance, but it’s a force that is present all the time and is a basic force.”
This is a plain language, off-the-cuff explanation of the classical theory of magnetism, which states that, “Magnetism arises from the alignment and movement of microscopic magnetic dipoles within a material.
“These dipoles are tiny magnetic fields generated by the alignment of the spins of individual electrons within atoms. In a magnet, such as a bar magnet, these dipoles align predominantly in the same direction, resulting in a macroscopic magnetic field.”
Accessible and Accurate Explanation of Magnetism
Despite Feynman’s accessible and accurate explanation of magnetism’s standard theory, Kentucky Ken claims that the video clip proves that Feynman doesn’t understand magnetism, at least not well enough to explain it simply.
As Ken Wheeler puts it, “If you think he explains it, then you really, really, really failed the IQ test.” He goes on to cherry pick one contrarian comment from a random YouTuber and fake expert saying, “This guy has no clue what magnetism is but refuses to admit that.”
The logical fallacy behind the Angry Photographer’s assessment of Feynman’s knowledge comes from misinterpreting an elaborate analogy included in the clip. It involves how we explain why something happens, such as why a fictional Aunt Minnie is in the hospital.
Lengthy “Aunt Minnie” Analogy in Feynman Video Clip
The Nobel Laureate goes on to explain that she’s there because she broke her hip. Then he explains that she broke her hip by slipping and falling on the ice.
Feynman tells us that, at another level, she’s in the hospital because an ambulance took her there. His next level of understanding involves explaining that Aunt Minnie fell because ice is slippery.
Feynman then points out that a complete explanation would involve explaining the fundamental physics behind why, unlike other solids, ice is slippery.
“The Deeper a Thing Is, The More Interesting It Is”
He may belabour this analogy but before unduly trying our patience, Feynman explains his point that “the deeper a thing is, the more interesting it is.” He charmingly tells the interviewer, “I’m not answering your question, but I’m telling you how difficult a ‘why’ question is.”
The very next words out of Feynman’s mouth are the clear and scientifically accurate explanation of magnetism outlined above. So, once again, the Angry Photographer is simply wrong about Feynman’s understanding of magnetism and his ability to explain it simply.
Speaking of “why questions,” there’s a reason why the Theoria Apophasis creator intentionally sets impossible standards of proof to discredit Richard Feynman on a personal level. Feynman’s QED research thoroughly explains electromagnetic interactions, contradicting and completely disproving Kentucky Ken’s pseudoscientific speculations about magnetism.
Disproves Ken’s Pseudoscientific Speculations
We provide a complete refutation of these misconceptions under Magnetism – Why Ken’s Wrong. For our purposes here, we can summarize Ken Wheeler’s flawed understanding of magnets by noting that science has proven the ether doesn’t exist, ferocells display optical rather than magnetic phenomena, and, rather than being a “point source energy object,” magnets have poles because of the polarity of their aligned electron spins.
The Angry Photographer attributes Feynman’s reputation and influence to his supposed persona as “the coolest cat out there.” He puts forward a conspiracy theory in which the scientific community placed Feynman on a pedestal merely because he was eccentric and charismatic.
It’s true that Feynman was charming and popular with students and faculty. His teaching methods were ahead of his time, and he had some eclectic hobbies, including playing the bongos, painting and giving public science lectures.
Feynman Wasn’t Bohemian or Hip
Even so, several of the claims the Theoria Apophasis producer makes about Feynman are as inaccurate as his assessment of the Fun to Imagine interview. He says that Feynman came to class “dressed really nice, atypical of a professor.”
Feynman’s fashion sense was unremarkable, if rather casual for the times. There was nothing bohemian or hip about his appearance.
Ken Wheeler goes on to say that Feynman often presented lectures to his students while “holding a bourbon on the rocks” in his hand. He tells his viewers that “there’s videos of it on YouTube and all over the place.”
Ken Falsely Accuses Feynman of Drinking in Class
We can find no such videos, nor any record anywhere of Feynman drinking alcohol while teaching a class. Of course, this isn’t surprising, since nobody as intelligent as Feynman would risk his career by allowing anyone to film him doing that.
Besides, according to James Gleick’s bestselling biography, Genius, Feynman gave up alcohol in 1952 because he was afraid it would affect his mental ability to do his work. That was long before he became famous enough for anyone to want to film his classes.
It’s unclear where Kentucky Ken heard these claims but, at best, they’re urban legends. At worst, he’s making them up to unfairly tarnish the reputation of a deceased Nobel Laureate.
Unfairly Tarnishing Reputation of Deceased Nobel Laureate
We attack the things that threaten us. Richard Feynman’s groundbreaking contributions to quantum electrodynamics and to our understanding of particle interactions jeopardize Ken Wheeler’s absurd delusion that he’s the first person in history to explain magnetism.
The Angry Photographer will stop at nothing to defend his pseudoscientific claims about magnets, the ether and the dielectric. Well, except for offering valid reasoning, sound evidence or convincing experimental evidence to back them up.
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