Stephen Hawking and myself have predicted that the Higgs boson particle, the so-called god particle, will never be found. Following announcements that the CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) Large Hadron Collider experiments have found evidence of the Higgs boson, the international media has declared that Stephen Hawking has lost a $100 bet that it would never be found and must now pay up. I hope that Stephen has more scientific integrity than what the media expect of him and refuses to pay the $100 to whoever he made the bet with.
CERN have discovered something but they don’t know what it is. If they had found nothing then the Higgs boson would be disproved but the discovery of something leaves the possibility open that the Higgs boson might exist – that is all. There is nothing in the minimal information released by CERN so far to suggest that the something they have found performs any of the magical functions that the Higgs boson is prophesied to perform.
I do not consider myself to be in any way an intellectual peer of Stephen Hawking, although I am sure he could catch up if he tried. Hawking knows more about theoretical physics than I do and it is in that paradigm that he has challenged the Higgs boson hypothesis, and I will leave such a critique to him and other scientists..
My prediction that the Higgs boson would never be found was based purely on my scepticism about scientific method, the science industry and its relationship with mass consciousness. I perceive a tendency for science to give an absolute authorisation to myth in the same way that the church used to. Unproven hypotheses such as the Higgs boson, the big bang and even evolution are not even theories in the technical sense, they are all basically unprovable hypotheses no less than the idea that god did it, yet mass society considers them to be true – not because some god or priest declared them to be true but because scientists declared them to be scientific fact. Amongst these unprovable “facts” is woven an intricate fabric of scientific theory that explains literally everything.
I am constantly amused by those people of a scientific perspective that dismiss religion because it relies on faith and belief rather than observable fact, yet fully embrace scientific notions such as string theory that claims there are multiple invisible dimensions coexisting or even Einstein’s theory that time and space bends. These ideas are just as fantastical and self generated as any religious notion is but because the story is told in a scientific vocabulary it is considered more real than superstitious folklore.
I am certainly not dismissing the possibility of multiple invisible dimensions or the flexibility of time and space, I am just saying that religious or astrological explanations of such things are not inferior or deficient explanations than scientific explanations, in fact I say the two modes are exactly the same human psychological process of providing explanations for the unexplainable. Whether the advocate of these ideas is a scientist or a priest, they represent an expert elite whose opinion is accepted by the laity as fact.
The CERN Large Hadron Collider has cost hundreds of billions of dollars and there are other large colliders. Thousands of workers and investors depend on the Higgs boson industry, its financial magnitude is a significant part of the the European economy. The economic momentum of this industry requires popular justification – the ongoing search for the Higgs boson that explains everything. The U.S. NASA space program justified its multi billion dollar industry in the same way, the goal of putting a man on the moon. But in the case of NASA and CERN, above and beyond any scientific advance for humanity, the public relations campaigns were designed to maintain funding for the mega-industry and, like all scientific pursuit, the research is into matters that investors consider relevant. In NASA and CERN, public perception has been manipulated to maintain funding.
In CERN’s case it is obviously under threat as pan-European state debt puts limits on public funded projects. While I am sure there is some private venture capital into CERN, the “product” will be the intellectual property of the experiments and not any commercial application of the technology in the immediate future. CERN cannot survive without massive state funding.
For the thousands of workers and investors with an interest in the Higgs boson industry continuing or even expanding, their task is to prove to the world, in particular the many states that provide funding, that this mega-industry is worthy of ongoing funding. The search for the Holy Higgs Grail has justified this funding to date.
For the last three years CERN has been predicting that the Higgs boson would be found within months but cycle after cycle of the experiments had found nothing. In the last year CERN has received extra funding and fast-tracked two years of experiment into one year in order to be able to make a report to the 36th International Conference on High Energy Physics conference in Melbourne, underway as I write. The CERN collider has to be shut down for a year to be maintained before any more experiments can continue. The findings of the last year were the last chance to prove that the hundreds of billions of dollars spent so far, not to mention the integrity of scientific theory across the board, was not dissolved by the absence of proof of Higgs boson. CERN simply had to produce something to justify itself. Surprise, surprise it did.
CERN’s discovery has certainly not proven the Higgs boson but it has provided proof that the hundred’s of billions of dollars has not been wasted, the research has not come to a dead end and the quest for the Holy Higgs grail now must go to the next stage of experiments. The early release of details of the experiment at the Melbourne conference and the vague but jubilant media releases and statements by CERN and other scientists appears to be a well planned and implemented publicity drive to justify future experiments and therefore funding, yet this publicity campaign is determining what the masses consider to be scientific fact – that the Higgs boson has been found.
The Higgs boson hypothesis is simply the too hard basket of subatomic physics, the X factor to describe the unexplained hole in status quo theory. If there is no Higgs boson then all the theories collapse, reduced to the same intellectual integrity as creationism – belief in a theory that contradicts empirical data. Such an ideological collapse is simply inconceivable for many, it requires the abandonment of a world view that is not just held within a personal ego but also upon which many careers are based.
CERN’s findings, or the little of them that has been reported to date, are just a feint glimpse of hope on the horizon for the devotees of the Higgs boson. They are just enough to keep the illusion strong and maybe enough to secure future funding. But all they have proven is that the dog has spots, not that the dog has a magic spot that transforms the dog into another dimension where the spot no longer exists. But such an absurd extension of logic is identical to the present mass proclamation that the Holy Higgs Grail has been found.
I say, the truth of the matter is that matter is an illusion. That which transforms the energy of nothingness into matter with form and mass is within our own mind and the limits of our own senses, not in any god-particle or within the nature of the energy/matter itself. As far as I am aware, CERN is not experimenting with this theory although I have done a few tests at home and found nothing to disprove it.
Update – it seems Stephen Hawking has conceded his $100.
I am still not convinced.
It has been a bit hard to find any other skeptical commentary of CERN’s discovery, it seems there is near universal acceptance of the truth of the HIggs boson. This is an interesting thing in itself because all but a very small elite actually understand what a Higgs boson is – everyone else has blind faith in what they are told by the scientists.
Stephen Hawking may have sold out to populist scientific illusion, I always knew he had too much naive faith in science, but here are a couple of other critical perspectives –
Update, update, update…
Check this out! –