Why learn Physics by yourself

This speech in 3 parts (posted on youtube) explains why and how the teaching of modern physics in academic systems worldwide remains largely suboptimal, and why freedom may be a better learning framework instead.


Hello. My name is Sylvain Poirier, I am French, and I develop the site settheory.net where I try to share my understanding of mathematics and physics, just freely by myself, outside any kind of institutional framework.
In this video I will introduce myself, and the motivations for the development of this site. I will tell some observations about the academic system, why it didn't make sense for me as a student, and still not as a university teacher, and why it seems to be a worldwide problem. And thus, why, if you are deeply interested in mathematics or physics, you wish to learn relativity theory and quantum physics, you might also rather avoid formal education, and decide to learn by yourself. Or maybe we can try to do something together.
First something about my life. I was passionate about mathematics and physics since teenage. At 13 I read Einstein's book on Relativity. After one year struggling with the Lorentz transformation formulas I found that they could be simplified, by diagonalization in light coordinates. I was quite excited about this sort of... discovery.
Was it a discovery ? Yes and no, because it was just a simple thing that all physicists know, but it looked as if it was unknown, as so many courses on the subject still ignore it. How strange : if by simple and well-known concepts it is possible to explain a theory better than the way usually presented in books and courses, then why do people still keep these books as references, ignoring the possibilities to do better ?
Then I continued, trying to learn Electromagnetism and General Relativity. I had books on these subjects, from which I took some necessary information, but I didn't find there the understanding I was looking for. I only found the satisfaction of understanding later, as a fruit of my own research, with my own notations.
First trying to understand electromagnetism. You know, the usual expression of electromagnetism treats space and time separately, putting all 3 space coordinates together forming vectors on the one hand, and letting the time coordinate just alone on the other hand.
This is how it was expressed in the 19th century, when Special Relativity was not known yet, so that physicists were not aware that time and space had a common nature. But I didn't like that, as I knew that it was not the right picture of things. So, to really feel that I understood electromagnetism, I needed to see it in a way that treats space and time in the same manner.
I managed to express electromagnetism in such a way, usually ignored by books on the subject, I don't know why, as any physics student knowing Maxwell's equations, can easily find it by taking these equations and separating the 3 space coordinates from each other. It is longer to write, it takes 8 big equations instead of 4 smaller ones, but then, you can admire how space and time play similar roles there.




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This study of electromagnetism helped me to understand how, when treating space and time as similar, the energy density is just one component of a field with 10 components, including pressures. I used this to express the relation between energy and space-time curvature in General Relativity, also with my own notations, when I was still 16.
One key step of that research was to consider the case of the universal expansion. Now that piece of reasoning is presented in my site, so you can follow it and understand this way the relation between energy and curvature, with its justifications.
Soon later, I expressed the forms of gravitational waves, and spherical black holes, even with an electric charge. Then I made a little computer program showing a particle moving around the simplest black hole. All this, just in my free time by my own research, as I was still in a standard high school. You can guess how much I was bored by the math lessons at school.
Still we may wonder if the understanding I had of electromagnetism was really better than the usual one. Indeed, as it was expressed in a coordinates system, it was not completely transparent to the symmetries of space. And for the same reason, its unification of time and space was not completely transparent either.
So, it needs a more systematic treatment, with short notations instead of long lists of coordinates, and more direct evidence that the choice of coordinates does not break the geometrical symmetries.
The framework that makes this is already well-known. It is tensor calculus, that is needed everywhere in theoretical physics. It is not only necessary for the 4-dimensional view of electromagnetism, for general relativity and for quantum physics, but it can also clarify two important aspects of classical physics:
Some physicists may argue that, to express electromagnetism without separating space and time, we first need tensors, but we can't introduce them at the undergraduate level because this formalism is too obscure and difficult for that level.
Indeed I had a hard time trying to understand it. At some point I had the chance to read the book Classical Theory of Fields by Landau and Lifshitz. This is a great book that helped me, but still I was not completely satisfied, and I kept searching for the best way to explain tensors.
Actually, I found it not only very important, but also possible to explain tensors more clearly, to make this understandable to undergraduates. So it's a pity to see physics teachers either ignorant about how tensors can clarify classical physics, or knowing about this
but assuming that the usual awkward presentation of tensors would be the only way.  Either way they let undergraduates struggle with expressions of theories that are inconvenient.
And it's also a pity to see all authors of recent books and courses perpetuating this situation by still repeating the same traditional formulations of physics without question, ignoring that, through a careful global redesign, things could be made clearer.
In fact I don't claim my way to be the best for everybody, just a possible way, as not all students need the same kind of teaching. But a problem with the academic system is its intolerance, and its double passive assumption that there is only one right way, that only varies somehow with geography, depending on the professor a student happens to be with, but moreover that this one way is just given by what was already done in the past, without trying to wonder if another way would be possible or even better.
But in the rest of this video I will explain why I think these are not just exceptional problems to be fixed by some modifications in the curriculum, but symptoms of much deeper flaws in the academic system, that cannot be resolved - and don't even need to be resolved, since it can be much better to get out anyway.

Now : some people may dismiss this view as not serious, as it seems quite strange and bold. Indeed I do agree it is rather < incredible > to say that all these thousands of professors around the world, just passively keep following an old teaching way, ignoring possibilities to do better. They are supposed to be the right people to know how to explain things, and express that in their teaching. So if they aren't, this needs an explanation.
In fact I understand such reactions, because many times such reactions would be right.
I mean, there are many pseudo-scientists out there who cry against the establishment, accuse scientists of conformism, and claim to have made wonderful discoveries that refute currently established theories.
And usually indeed, such fringe people are wrong, while the current theories of physics are really seriously well-established. I have seen such claims, and how they are just nonsense, these people did not even understand the theories they claim to criticize, their criticism of the scientific community is based on ignorance and paranoia...
>= you know what ? Some of these fools have high academic ranks too.
But also, if there are so many fringe scientists who did not understand current science but who think they can criticize it so easily, isn't it also because of these very troubles with teaching I'm telling about ?
This huge discrepancy between the high quality of the scientific knowledge that exists for experts, and the low quality of the teaching that is supposed to express this knowledge, but doesn't do it properly ? How can any reasonable person guess that scientists are serious and reliable in their research and knowledge, if they don't behave seriously when expressing and teaching this knowledge to students ?

But you may say, even this combination of claims, that scientists did a good work finding the right theories but a bad work teaching them, is still incredible, and terribly insulting towards professors who are often well qualified people dedicated to their job.
You know what ? I agree that this is a terrible claim, very absurd, awful, incredible.
It looks much nicer and more plausible to think that their teaching is good too.
Yeah... much better assumption.
You know what ?
I like it.
Very interesting view.
What ? You are surprised ? Why ?
Ah, you mean because I said, that...I oppose this view ?
But, what's the problem ?
I like this view, I think it's very interesting, and I'm going to explain why it is wrong.
Ah, because many people don't like to think about views they disagree with ? But what can be the sense of a disagreement with something that you don't consider ?
You know, the truth is not a matter of what we like, it doesn't care. And something interesting in mathematical reasoning, is the possibility to prove a result by contradiction.
So, in order to prove that a claim is false, a good way can be to first accept it as true, and then, admire its logical consequences.

One time I was traveling, I talked with a physics student, trying to explain that I have a way to introduce Special Relativity theory clearer than the usual way.
But the reply was that they would not be interested, not just for the lack of time, but also because they already have an excellent professor in their university, giving excellent lectures on this subject.
I was a bit puzzled to hear this, as it seemed so exceptional, so I needed to check how it was actually done. So I asked for the text of this lecture.
But then you know what ?
There were no available written notes, no plan, nothing, because the professor was old and not familiar with computers.
So I could not check how good or original it was.
After all, it could be a wonderful lecture indeed.
But... well... there is still something strange here.
You know, it's not as if it was an industrial secret that needs to be kept to let a competitive advantage to the company. Because, this is a public university, financed by the same education ministry supposed to care for the quality of teaching all around the country, and that also pays other professors in other universities to teach the same subject to other students. c So, if the best lectures on this topic are made here, then, what are all other professors teaching the same subject elsewhere supposed to be doing ?
Are they supposed to teach it in a not so good way, not knowing how the best one is doing, because he did not publish any notes ? Because these other teachings are still better than nothing, probably ?
But... you know, the working time of a physics professor is a very precious thing. There is a lot of possible research that can be done for the progress of science and technology, that needs many qualified physicists, and I guess that many of the same physicists now good enough to teach relativity but not doing it best, would still be good enough to be well demanded and well paid for other works.
So : instead of wasting their time and a lot of public money in that teaching, wouldn't it be both cheaper for taxpayers and better for many students, to just pay a cameraman and a few other technical assistants to record the best lectures being done, make transcripts, and then distribute this around the country, and why not also around the world after translation into other languages ?
You may say this can be done for pure lectures, but not for students questions and interaction. Well, many defenders of the academic system like to philosophize about this, but seriously, I didn't see much worthy place for interaction when I was student, except of course for the many times I had to warn my teacher about the errors or omissions he made when writing on the blackboard the texts of problems we were supposed to resolve.
It is not very practical in a class with 1 teacher in front of a few dozen students, which divides the interaction time by the number of students, and I don't even see it as deserving much place in an ideal world, or some students may need it but not all, so why oblige them all to stay together in a class ?
I mean, a perfect lecture should be understandable without many questions, while for any meaningful question the answer should be integrated in the lecture. Some students may need more explanations, so that a lecture in a web site should contain links with possible questions and answers in separate pages for those who need. Once done, much of other needed interaction might just be tried between students before asking a teacher, so without any cost of teachers work, then questions may be asked online and teachers may reply if still needed. But, if it was so interesting for a student to observe other students interacting with a teacher, then why don't the videos of such interactions have more success than this on youtube ?
So, on each subject, either there exists a perfect course publicly available, or there isn't.
If there isn't, then we need some original work to make a better one, closer to perfection.
But this only needs to be done either once by one person, or by a few people contributing to different aspects of the improvement, but they should form a team, or use any method or technology such as a wiki to collect and compare their contributions so that they add up to form better and better versions of the course, and not cancel each other.
Anyway the perfect course only needs to be done once, then we come to the other case, as concerns the rest of teachers around the world : if they cannot do better than the best, then they should repeat it, with no need to be original. But then why take a qualified person to repeat it, if books, web sites or videos can do it best already ?
And this is supposed to be one of the most qualified jobs in the world, the ultimate dream and vocation of many of the most intelligent, most original minds, who are obliged to give many years of their life as students, all the energy of their mind, just obeying and following the system, trying to prove how intelligent, original and knowledgeable people they are, but just for the purpose of getting the privilege to be considered good enough for... just repeating. Just repeating like a machine, like the stupidest robot or TV set. But even worse, since a tv set can repeat a lecture perfectly, while a human's repetition cannot be perfect. So, one of the stupidest tasks in the world.
Now consider this question about quality education : should the work of teaching, be an original work or not ? This is a very interesting political question to be discussed in a ministry of education.
Because, well that is what a ministry of education is here for: it has to take political decisions on how all teachers should work. But anyway it has to treat everybody equally, because, you know, it's a national policy that should be right and fair to everybody, not making any discrimination between people.
And so to treat everybody in a fair manner it must take the following decision:
Either every teacher should be original, teaching to his students something completely different from what other students will learn from other teachers, but anyway, that's how they will all get an equal treatment.
Or, no teacher should be original, so they must all copy the contents of their lectures from each other without trying to think how good or bad it may be. (Well be careful, only teachers should work like this, not students)
Or, we should continue like now, something in between these extremes, in order to combine the defects of both ?
So teachers should copy their courses from each other because, well, from which other source do you think they should copy ? 
Do you think the original copy should be written by the ministry of education ?
But, why would the education ministers go to explain modern physics to teachers ? That's not their job. The job of the education ministry is to administrate the academic system, taking political decisions on how to organize the work of all teachers to ensure the equality between citizens.
The work of explaining physics, is the job of the physics teachers.
So, who should explain physics to the physics teachers, then ?
Maybe high-level physicists should do it.

One time, people of course don't know me, they cannot guess if my ideas for teaching modern physics better are serious, they oriented me to first contact some professors involved in the question, for peer review, you know. In particular I was told about a good physicist there who had written an article some years ago on a different way to teach relativity, so surely he must be a good authority we can refer to, I should contact him, so he can judge if my ideas are serious, and then recommend me if they are.
So first I had a look myself at his article and saw, well indeed this is different from the usual way, it's more geometric, but... I could still see some big defects in his article, but to whom could I say this, I had to talk with him directly.
Then one day I met him, so I tried to talk with him, but the discussion ended after 2 minutes. You know why ?
Because he was not interested in the subject.
He is a high-level physicist, you know, so he has much more interesting problems to focus on than the question of how to explain some basic things.
So you wonder, why did he care to write an article about it then ?
Because of course he was puzzled to see the terrible way in which relativity was being taught around him, so he needed to mention that there is something wrong with it, and it is possible to do it differently. But, he never meant to be really interested in the question and to bother finding out what should precisely be the right way.
This seems to be generally the case for most physicists.
First for their natural taste, they prefer to discover new results and explore the most difficult theories than clean up the basic concepts, I find it strange, as I love to find out the most perfect ways to understand not too complicated theories that play a fundamental role in the universe.
Maybe they have painful memories of their learning efforts as students, to which, after all, they could adapt, but they wouldn't like to struggle again with this mess, or to understand how unlucky they were to have learned things in a way so far from the best possible way.
Second, because of what determines the hierarchy in the university system, that is, the amount of specialized research publications, disconnected from the quality of one's teaching, because, once again, we need a grading system applicable to the whole academic community, and since it is not possible for every professor in the world to bring continuous revolutions to the teaching of the same basic theories, and since ideally anyway, teaching should be one of the stupidest tasks in the world, most professors need to show their originality in a way where many of them can be original and interest someone else, that is, in anyone of thousands of specialized research subjects, each of which can just interest a few specialists.
And maybe, physicists just prefer to keep the virtue of humility. You know they need to be respected and praised by their peers to get good academic positions, so how could they come to attack all professors in the world saying Your way of teaching is wrong and everybody must start teaching things in the new way I'm showing you, but still for the same salary no matter how hard and disturbing it may be to change your teaching plans, because, again, this is public education, everyone is equal and must be paid the same way for the same amount of teaching ? Or worse, you need fewer hours to teach this, so some downsize may be needed in your team.
It would be foolish to try such a thing.

Finally, in the whole academic system, are there any people interested in how to best understand modern physics ?
Yes there are, but mainly in the philosophy of science sections. But philosophers have a different culture of what is interesting and how to work, than scientists. You know, science aims to find the truth, so scientists care to discern what is right and what is wrong, to select the good quality works and to reject bad ones. But philosophers follow different purposes. They usually can't clearly know where the truth is, but they don't need to really discover anything anyway. They just need to discuss and philosophize on tastes and colors of ideas, and what may be seen as the deep essence of things, to feel that they are dealing with the most important things, the substance of the universe.
But if philosophers of science do not actually produce useful discoveries, they still need to justify their jobs anyway. And so by necessity they need to follow ways that can justify life-long jobs for their large numbers. Namely:
Now who can be interested to work in philosophy of science sections ? You know, there are many people looking for positions in the academic system, some have the quality to be good scientists, but there are also many cranks interested in science, who can't properly understand it, but they are very convinced of their ideas and they need an academic position where they can develop and even teach their misunderstanding of physics. As they may have problems to fit with the community of physicists, they look elsewhere and easily find philosophers interested with their unconventional ideas.
The result is that the community of philosophers of science is easily taken over by cranks who are there because they feel better there than with hardcore mathematicians and physicists.

So, what's the picture:
Now the problem is : Is there any pilot in the plane ? And who cares ? A huge lot of money is spent worldwide on education, millions of students give many years of their life trying to learn science in the way it is taught, but does it interest anyone to wonder whether all this activity makes any sense, and is going to the right direction ? It seems not. There is a widespread social illusion to assume that if everybody works this way it should be because it's a serious way to work, so we should trust and follow it, as who are we to disagree ? But in fact, everyone is just trusting someone else who assumes that he trusts someone else who should be serious, but who in fact never really meant to guarantee that things were done right, or if he did, it's not because he really knows it, but just because that's his job to pretend it no matter what. So if I claim that the teaching system is going to the wrong direction, I'm not making any extravagant claim, and I'm not contradicting anyone, because it has never been anyone's responsibility to ensure that the system was going right in the first place.


But then, we can wonder, if by nature somebody existed that would naturally like to care about the problem, and to improve the curriculum, then what will happen to him, where can you find him ?
Well I can't speak for all of them, but I have one example to tell you about.

When I was a teenager,  I already tried to tell the problem to my parents and other people, that school is very bad for me and the teaching system needs a change.
But they couldn't hear such a criticism. First they insisted that I cannot ask the world to adapt to me. As if I ever asked anyone to adapt to me, I only needed people to stop bothering me and let me alone to educate myself, but visibly it was too much demanding already, they could not afford the mental effort to understand such a thing, since this possibility may have been dangerous for other pupils who really needed the dictatorship of the education system to give them a chance to get an education, but since we cannot discriminate between pupils and give anyone a favor, letting me an option out of this dictatorship could have also resulted in letting some of them escape too, so that they would run the risk to miss any education and become jobless. Poor dears. They need our care. And you know, the administration could not afford either the work to take note and draw any consequence from the testimony of any parent or teacher who already noticed how different I was and how better I would be learning freely by myself than under school obligations. And, the education minister could not afford to think about any possible exception to the rules. Such a mental effort may have been much more expensive to him than the money he actually spent for my so-called education. Since of course, it did not cost him anything as it was paid for by taxpayers instead.

But not only I was kept jailed in school by the brutal force of law up to some legal age of right to get out, I was also kindly advised to keep staying there after this by the opinions of people around. Well it wasn't exactly a kind advice to me, but rather a kind advice to my mother, herself a school teacher, to let her think that, for my own good, I would still need to be brutally forced to keep following the system anyway. Because I was just a mere teenager knowing nothing about life and about the world, and thus incompetent to speak about my own future, but no matter that I already understood maths and physics much better than them, anyway they adults had a higher wisdom about how the world goes, a higher vision about my life and my future that I as a teenager couldn't have. And so, this higher wisdom and knowledge of adults about life and about the world, justified her to put this dictatorship of the academic system over my life and over my mind, letting me no right to answer or disagree, while safely staying totally blind to the amount of mental torture that this treatment may cause to me.

And the justification of this kind advice was the idea that, beyond any possible debate about what I really needed by the necessities of nature to become a great scientist, it was anyway absolutely necessary (or maybe sufficient, who knows ?), for pure administrative reasons, that I sacrifice my youth to the obedience of the system and to run after diplomas, in order to get from the rest of the world one or more of the following administrative privileges

So roughly these were the higher purposes, for which they were sure I absolutely needed high diplomas, even at the cost of putting me in that kind of mental slavery for so many years.

And they took themselves seriously.

Let us check these higher purposes one by one.

First about the privilege to bring a teaching reform, which was the previous question. What happened to me after my PhD ? First not much, as I was depressed. Then I was recruited as assistant professor of mathematics at university. So was it the right opportunity I needed to bring my ideas into practice ? No chance. So what happened ? First of course I was just a newbie there having to find my place in the timetable organized by other faculty members who did not have such concerns as I had. Then, well that's a French university, and, in the French higher education system, the best math students usually don't go to university but only to these concentration camps, the famous Classes Préparatoires, where I had already trashed 3 years of my youth as a student, with absolutely no freedom of life, no freedom of thought, hardly any right to sleep, no freedom even for teachers to question anything of the curriculum anyway, so where I couldn't see a sense to go teaching since I needed freedom.

So I went teaching at university, but, what was I doing there either ? Most math students weren't really interested, and hardly understood anything of math anyway, so I was there to teach to some kind of void, and what could I do ? I had the obligation to follow a standard curriculum, taking students who had learned previous things from other teachers in the way they did, and preparing them to their exams. It already took me all the energy I still had to just get ready for my own lectures, I had no time to create anything else.
Because my dream was to bring a global restructuring of the curriculum, or at least a significant part of it, so, much more than what I was actually there to teach myself, but that task of writing down all the contents of the courses, all the necessary concepts, that would be needed for such a new curriculum to become actually available and make any sense, cannot be done in one year. It requires many years of writing work. But I had no time for this, because I had to prepare myself to follow the existing curriculum. So, I could do nothing there of what I really wished, but I kept wasting more and more of my time serving a system that I didn't believe in. As if I hadn't wasted enough time of my life for that monster already.

So after one year teaching I stopped, for depression. Then finally completely out of the system, and thus free from the disturbance of all that nonsense, or not even really as I'll explain later, I found much better conditions, just alone with a computer, to write down what I wished to write down. But still after several years I feel so sorry to see how far I'm still from completing all the work I wish to do, because of all that waste I've been through.

I heard some claims about how the intellectual productivity of scientists evolves in life. Some say the best time for learning and curiosity would be childhood, and I also heard that creativity decreases with age during a research career. But even if these claims weren't generally valid, don't you think that anyway, any years of the life of a scientist should be highly respected, and the first years of life may have a major influence on the rest of years ?
But the method of the academic system is to first waste the most precious years of the future scientists life, to just destroy them doing nonsense. And then, as time passes, those who most successfully dumped their youth into that nonsense and still survive or just fit, become the most respected scientists, but their potential may be already in decline. But, given these facts, did it cross the mind of any education minister that there may be something deeply wrong with the current system, and that a big change is needed ?

Visibly, they didn't care. Because they must fulfill a much more important democratic mandate, to ensure that every citizen is equal, and to not let anybody be any more equal than anybody else. In these conditions, how hard should they make it for people to be recognized as qualified scientists ? Should it be easy for everybody, or hard for everybody ? In order to be fair and democratic, the condition needs to fit the majority of people. But how hard is it for the majority of people to become qualified scientists ? For most people, such a goal would be very ambitious indeed. It clearly requires a huge lot of work, training and exercise. Therefore the requirement of going through many years of intensive training, needs to be equally applied to all candidates. And people should not be allowed to judge by themselves if they succeed, of course it would be too easy as many people have this ambition of getting a comfortable life-long academic job, so they have to be judged so by others. So we also need many judges to select them. Then the works of teaching and assessing the competence should have the quality of being stupid enough to be industrially applicable to the whole population in an equal manner, by many not so intelligent teachers and judges.

But then, the minority of young people having the natural quality for being the best future scientists, are also obliged to go through this, no matter if it does more harm than good to their real potential as future scientists. Because becoming official scientists must also be a very ambitious goal for their life too.

Yeah... what a bold and hard ambition it is indeed...
to go expect those bureaucrats to recognize one's intellectual value, as they live in a so different universe.

So young geniuses will be kindly advised to sacrifice their youth, to submit themselves many years of their life as mental slaves to the system, waking up early every morning, arriving always on time at the lesson, spending most of their days in that training of trying to win the race of writing speed against their teacher, and so on. And for which future privilege should the future best thinkers of the country, the most talented and intellectually creative people, see it worth to go through all these sacrifices ? In order to get RECOGNITION for their talent.
Because it cannot suffice for talented people to just really have the talent they have.
Even if you are just the best scientist or the best in any kind of talent, and produce the most valuable discoveries or works, it will still be useless because you cannot expect anyone to listen to you, take you seriously and appreciate your work, as long as you cannot recommend it by your official diplomas and high social status.
Uh, is that clear ? (???)
But, what a strange argument is this: when I was a child, everybody around was amazed by my exceptional intelligence, they easily understood that I could very well become a great scientist just by myself, and they were also aware and strongly warned me that despite this already accomplished fact, it would still remain a much bigger and completely different problem for me to cross the huge distance to the formal recognition by diplomas. This would require that I dedicate myself to it body and soul for many years. But they also strongly warned me of the absolute need for me to actually follow this path of sacrificing my life and my intelligence for this quest of diplomas instead of, in their own words, wasting my time with my intellectual quest, black hole equations and so on, as only a diploma can give me a chance to convince everybody about this reality of my scientific competence. Everybody knew very well that my official status could have big troubles to ever properly reflect my real level of competence which they already knew quite well, but they warn me that themselves will be proudly justified to never accept to believe in the possibility of this discrepancy. Probably because, well okay, it will be different people. The problem won't be with these simple people who already knew me so well, but with other people, some authorities above them. Because these authorities would be much too wise, fair and intelligent to ever be able or have any responsibility to grasp these facts.
But... should diplomas be made for humans, or should humans be made for diplomas ?

Well, maybe the problem was bigger when I was a child, there was no internet, so, ideas and works couldn't be spread by anyone so easily, it may have been a problem to publish one's work and reach any readers, without showing one's diplomas to some editors and journalists, that, May have been much too stupid to otherwise directly see its value. And...= it may have been a little bit hard to find any official scientist to understand one's work and recommend it to these media people. By the way, ah, no, for publishing research articles in scientific journals there was already that system of anonymous peer review since a long time, so the problem wouldn't have been there.

Anyway I needed for my own good to sacrifice my youth, making myself a mental slave of that nonsense all these years, in order to get a wonderful PhD that could bring me the privilege of SOCIAL RECOGNITION for my talent. And what kind of wonderful social recognition should I expect from my PhD, that could be worth that sacrifice ? It must be a wonderful privilege indeed. I must surely be feeling like a king now. Do you think that when I go to walk in the street I can display my PhD diploma on a hat and expect passers by to be amazed and to congratulate me for it ? One PhD graduate among many thousands of others out there. Or do you think that when I join a Free Hugs event, my PhD can help me to attract more pretty girls ?

Now that internet allows anyone to publish anything, can a PhD still help to give someone credit in people's eyes ? In many cases, people will simply be interested in your work, if, first of course you could actually make this work instead of wasting your life getting degrees, and second, if it is actually interesting, without caring about your degrees. But still I observed an example when degree mattered. At some time, the French popular science magazines have presented Laurent Nottale as the author of a new theory of everything of physics. By heavily displaying the status he had in the French scientific institutions, he convinced the public to buy his book, which became a best seller. In fact his status was the way to make people, including philosophers of science, enthusiastic for his ideas just as a matter of faith, as a substitute for any better argument that would be based on an actual understanding, since there was nothing to understand in his so-called theory. Indeed, his ideas that he popularized this way were dismissed as crackpot by the physics community.

So people may happily refer to diplomas of authors as long as this can comfort their beliefs, or at least not disturb them, and as a substitute for any more meaningful argument. This way, conformist people with high status can find it great to be praised by the world for their status, which gives them good chances to be heard for telling just standard things or what people already expect to hear or don't need to understand, and that they are great thinkers. So then these speakers can warmly witness about this advantage, and recommend to others the value of getting high ranks too.

However, could their testimony also apply to my case if I was looking forward to be heard not just for the pleasure of being seen as a great scientist, but more especially for the case I would really have new important things to say, some new understanding, ideas away from the beaten paths, that would effectively contribute to the world's progress ?
Can degrees and diplomas also be helpful in such a case ?
Unfortunately, it doesn't work like this. Indeed, for example, there were times when my contributions in online forums were just dismissed without any care to check the arguments, by participants who saw me there as a stupid arrogant crank when my claims did not fit with what they liked to hear and were ready to see as serious claims.

Including when I was just trying to report the current state of scientific knowledge on a given question, to people who didn't know it and couldn't believe it. And of course when I tried to criticize the academic system, saying that a science genius may have better options in life, more interesting discoveries and useful works to do for mankind, than following a standard academic career. That the world needs a change and that it needs creative intelligent people to design and produce the right change outside existing institutions and traditional fields of research.

In all that, was my academic status ever considered as a possible motivation to still try to take me seriously ? Not the least bit.

But if anyone trying to criticize the academic system is immediately dismissed as not serious, not only independently of any possible argument, but also independently of his academic degrees, then what kind of defense of the system are people making ? This kind of defense has a name, it is called unfalsifiable. But if a view is not falsifiable, then it is not scientific. It just does not fit the normal standards of scientific rationality.
Who cares ? This question isn't the object of any scientific research anyway.

 Okay, you may reply to this : of course, because a PhD is not such an amazing qualification after all. You still need a higher rank to make people take you seriously. Now I ask you in your opinion, which scientific rank do you think may suffice to help someone be taken seriously even for saying something that people wouldn't naturally enjoy and be ready to seriously consider otherwise ?

> For example, do you think that a Nobel Prize in Physics may suffice ? mm ?
Actually, I have already seen a discussion where participants just simply dismissed as an idiot a Physics Nobel laureate, absent from the discussion.
More precisely, they considered him crank and ignorant about quantum physics.
Even though his Nobel prize was precisely granted to him for his theoretical works in quantum physics.
And which kind of people may have treated him in such a way ?
This was done by members of the movement called scientific skepticism, in continuity with the general views of this movement.
It is the very movement of defense of science and rationality in its most materialistic, conformist and pro-institution form, that proudly displays the presence of other Physics Nobel Laureates among its members.

I won't try to discuss whether having a Nobel Prize in Physics should be accepted as sufficient evidence of mental sanity. It was just to point out that such reactions are possible without any problem.

But I also had myself some troubles with these so-called scientific skeptics.
First time, when I had written in my web site a detailed criticism of Nottale's ideas but I was the only one doing that on the web, only supported by my google rank, while physicists who knew that it was crackpot hadn't written anything significant about it, because information to the public is not their business.

So I tried to contact a French journal from that movement, that focuses on scientific information. Its purpose is to promote scientific rationality and warn the public against pseudo-science. But they dismissed my request and refused to publish a word about my arguments because I only had a PhD, which couldn't rival the scientific status of Nottale. And because the editors of this journal didn't have another way to decide about it, because their job is to inform the public on the difference between science and pseudo-science.

Not to understand physics.
Is that clear ? no ?

Ok, I'll re-explain.
There are people who inform, and people who know.
Those who inform, inform about what they know. But they didn't know about this case because they were not informed by those who know. Because those who know don't inform. Got it ?
Nice division of work, isn't it ? Just like the academic system.

Second time, I happened to criticize the methods of that skeptics movement itself, on other topics. I was not the only one, others criticized them too, in fact they already had a bad reputation as they are not as rational as they pretend. And you know what ? I have even been regarded as a psychiatric case in their public forums without this judgment being opposed by others, and one of their eminent members even personally wrote me the advice to visit a psychiatrist to check if I wasn't mad, which in his opinion I wasn't able to figure out by myself, so something quite stronger and more personal than what I had written about them. They didn't consider my PhD there.

In fact I had already visited a psychiatrist. Not for any serious reason to doubt about my mental sanity, but as an administrative obligation from the fact my depression didn't let me fully complete my teaching year. So just because my life had already been too much devastated by the administrative nonsense, that same administration which had created my troubles decided to manage them by forcefully orienting me as if I was the insane one, formally obliging me to obey the psychiatrists I would find. And what did the psychiatrists think about my case ? Actually, their view of life which they had learned in their own academic studies and for which they received their professional qualifications, is that, essentially, a combination of depression, rational intelligence and originality should be considered highly pathological, an evidence of total insanity that urgently deserves the strongest life-long treatment without any hope of a way out. And so, in the very name of their own academic qualifications, they saw it their duty to not have any kind of respect for the integrity of my person and the value of my PhD, but to just treat me like a rat, pushing further the administration's work of destruction of my life and my brain by another technique. For this, my psychiatrist kept secret from me his views and plans to not let me any chance to check them and assess their validity myself, and, in the precise day when I told him that I had enough of his poisons and I clearly didn't want anything that may have any long-term negative effect, he told me lies to trick me into trying the most devastating pill he could find, whose negative effects I still suffer after 1 take, several years later.

So, what was that higher purpose, in the name of which I absolutely needed to sacrifice the best years of my life ?


Did I really need to aim giving the work of my life to serve and follow the rules of an institution that would be so dumb that it wouldn't consider to recruit me based on the reality of my knowledge and abilities, but would require me instead to have got that sheet of paper, that sheet of diploma ?

But why did those teachers who advised my parents, feel so sure that I needed that ? Because they witnessed it from their own experience, of what they needed and how they succeeded to get the job they had. That so stupid job, the job to just repeat.
Because they cannot figure out why and how in the universe it may be possible for an intelligent and creative person to follow another purpose, another aspiration.
But in this way, they are not just forgetting that there are different kinds of people with different kinds of aspirations, and that the universe offers many options of what can be done with creative intelligence, other than that stupid task to just repeat. They also forget that this world which they think they know, and where they could get their own job, is itself not fixed in time. It is perpetually evolving, sometimes in continuity, and sometimes in disruption. Of course predictions may be hard to make, especially about the future, but anyway an advice to follow academic studies for getting diplomas, expecting them to be useful, is a speculation about the future, no matter if we like it or not.
And when a social system contains major flaws, even if it is very big, even if it is very powerful, even if it has been there for a very long time, and we cannot see any way out of it, this still does not mean that it is immune from any risk of a global collapse.

Remember what happened to the Soviet Union. All the people who dedicated their energy to oblige other people to keep pretending that they believed in an ideology in which, in fact, fewer and fewer people were still seriously believing anymore. One day, everybody just realized that there was no point to keep playing that comedy any further.

In fact, there are several good reasons to expect the academic system to more likely collapse now in this generation, despite the long stability it had in the past.

One reason is, the Internet. Education is a way to share knowledge, a diploma is a social information about someone's qualification, but new technologies are becoming available for better sharing and processing information on a global level. So, new information networks can be developed including a better educational environment and more meaningful and reliable information about people's qualifications, that would make the current teaching and qualifications systems obsolete. Actually I did provide in my web site the description of a new social network with many purposes including a qualifications system, it just needs a few web programmers to make it.

Second, the academic system essentially works as a pyramid scheme, that can only sustain itself as long as it can grow. Because it is there to receive students who come there not to find knowledge (since knowledge is freely available outside), but the hope of earning money later by a job that requires not knowledge but the diplomas provided there. These are mainly the jobs provided by academic and other state institutions, especially more teaching jobs, that will only be open as long as we can expect more teachers to be needed to receive more and more students. Without that growth perspective, we wouldn't need to recruit so many further teachers, but then, which employment perspective can still give enough financial value to diplomas, for making formal higher education attractive to students anymore ?

Third, remember, the increasing public debts of so many countries. Why invest your life for the expectation of a life-long job paid by a public administration that is running into bankruptcy anyway ? We can admire here the fruits of this public education which failed to wake up citizens about the expectable future consequences of growing public deficits. Of course, public education is not a place to discuss politics. Still it is a place to speculate about the future value of diplomas. Not by any rational arguments, but just by blind faith. Well it is very understandable indeed that teachers have to ignore the problem and can not cry out the emergency to cut public spendings if they want to keep their own jobs.

Fourth, the official studying activity is not only getting heavier in number of members, but also heavier in each member's life, as the average length of education is getting longer without providing better enough results. If more people need to spend more years just to have higher grades to compare themselves with others without a real improvement, then the resulting formal qualification loses its value, obliging people to keep following longer and longer studies for getting higher titles and keeping their comparative advantage. The waste of efforts by those who give their life to the race for diplomas will get heavier and heavier.
But this may finally make them lose in the competition of reality against those following more meaningful life plans. Because in a free market environment, nothing obliges businesses to follow senseless administrative criteria for hiring people. And people with enough creativity to make start-ups don't need diplomas either. What could make it so hard for a creative scientist to get a decent living on this planet just if he hasn't got that piece of paper ? Look how salaries differ between countries, how you can work where they are high, and then get a home where things are cheap. Or combine both, working online.
So when it will appear that the brightest people succeed without official diplomas while only not so bright people keep getting diplomas and finally fail, then what will a diploma be worth anymore ?

And finally, in a world of technological prosperity where so many people's income is quite higher than what they really need for a decent standard of living, getting the most stable well-paid job is no more the biggest problem in life. Why waste many years getting a high degree if it will take you a smaller amount of productive work to get the money you really need for the rest of your life ? But then we can remember that there can be other important problems in life, that need to be cared for instead.

We may need love. The main cause of my depression, was that with all those years I wasted, I didn't find love.
I didn't need the world to organize for teaching me science, as I could manage this better by myself. But I would have needed just a little bit of help to find my match as it was not so easy for me, I was shy, with my tastes and differences. Just this help getting a date would have probably been much cheaper than so-called education, and it could have saved my life to become a very productive scientist, but the brain of administrators couldn't afford to understand this.
The year I was teaching, this trouble was so heavy, I considered trying a dating site that might have saved me, but without a home computer I tried to connect at university but dating sites were censored there. These dumb administrators couldn't afford those few cents cost of bandwidth. They wanted to ensure I'd stay depressed, then they could afford the much higher cost of my depression.

But what else could help me, for better chances to find my match ? I needed to be young. The older I get, the less chances I have. Youth is a qualification that a PhD cannot replace. Or can it ? When I was a teenager, my mother claimed to me that without high diplomas to ensure a good job for life, girls won't be interested with me. But the thing is, if teachers cannot figure out how I can survive in this world without their sheet of paper, it still doesn't mean that the girl I need will also have to be that stupid too.

And why is it that so much public money is spent on education, but none on dating ? One reason may be that without help, many people can easily find a date but not educate themselves, so everybody must follow the answer to this majority's needs or die. But I see another possible explanation. That
Indeed, these considerations are the only ones that matter for the comparison of what should be done. Because, of course nobody ever cares about the reality of what is needed, nor which activity could actually help its intended purpose.

And nobody ever cares how many geniuses and other people are pushed to suicide by the current system. Because of course suicided geniuses don't have a voice, they will no more bother anyone's conscience with their complaints and testimonies. Testimonies that nobody ever listened to anyway, since anyone considering suicide shouldn't be heard but should be mocked and blamed instead for his wrong philosophy, and just needs to be blindly spammed by the kind advice of the stupid happy to think that the sun is shining and there will be no problem.
Because young geniuses don't yet have the age to vote nor to get a tenure that would let them the opportunity to speak out and be heard about the horror of their student's life. But if they survive, after having enough carefully and successfully spoiled their life, or maybe if they could somehow fit with that nonsense, and then get this tenure and the right to speak, then they should have no more interest to complain anyway because it will be too late to change the past, while serving and praising the system will then be their only available method of survival and the only means for them to have any right to speak at all. So in a way or another, since no respected person ever complains, it makes people happy to think that everything is all right.

Still there is a certificate I would need, but that no institution is currently providing. The certificate that I'm not a naturally negative person. The certificate of the fact that the troubles of my life, my depression and my difficulties of socialization, were not caused by any pathology from myself, but mainly by the madness of other people who set up a world that fits them, but which happened to persecute me and destroy my life because of my qualities, by its pathological way to administrate my difference, without letting me any decent option to escape. That it is the higher level of my interests, my projects, ideas and knowledge, that isolates me so much and makes it harder for me to succeed or find any meaningful friend, in a world of superficial people who cannot properly grasp or care about such deep issues.
The certificate that I'm absolutely not arrogant, misjudging or over-complaining by nature. That I'm definitely not the kind of person that can ever dare to make any accusation that would be anyhow biased, speculative or whimsical. That I was extremely patient in the persecutions and injustice I suffered before daring to complain, and I am extremely demanding from myself and reliable in the validity, objectivity, and multiple-checking of the evidence I need to find before daring to draw and declare any conclusion, especially when it would feel insulting to others, so that the shock of my conclusions is not my fault but the fault of the reality of facts which I did not make up, but that I have the courage and wisdom to recognize as such. And that precisely this is the only defect that could be seen as a possible cause for my troubles. This fact that I was naturally much too shy, serious, carefully listening and trying to trust and respect the authority of seemingly authoritative people, so that I could not fully detect their madness and revolt against them early enough to eventually protect my life from the devastating consequences of their so-called kind and wise advice, insofar as they ever let me any right or material possibility to do so.
This concerned not only the school system and psychiatrists, but also Christianity with its so-called testimonies and claims of divine authority that once diverted me from the emergency of chasing love on time.
The certificate of the fact that the direction my life, the intellectual and academic paths I followed, were not the expression of any character of vanity and arrogance by which I would have decided to sell my soul to the devil in a desperate and ridiculous try to use these so obviously nonsensical academic statuses as a trick to put myself forward and insult others in lack of any more meaningful argument.
And that my courage and abilities to discern and tell the truth and my crime of having due evidence to support it but that people don't want or have the patience to listen to or understand, happened to repel so many truth haters and thus did not let me any friends.
And also that I'm just depressed by the fact I couldn't find love yet, so that just the event of starting a relationship would suffice for me to feel much less negative than now.
I would need this certificate because without it many girls have big problems to ever grasp or admit the possibility of these facts, but often mistake me as a wrong, failed and arrogant person instead.
We need useful certificates, not absurd ones.

So I wish to find love with a clever girl interested in science, but I don't need her to have any degree. They often think they have no time because they must go to lectures and prepare for their exams. What for ? You'll have all the knowledge you like at home. I have enough financial resources already. And I also have too many ideas of what needs to be done for my projects, for which I need someone's help.

Because truly creative people don't need any administrators to give them a job, to tell them what they can do with their intelligence. They need freedom. The large freedom that is directly given by nature like fresh air. Not the one than any institution can collect in bottles and come to sell you at a high price.

Now to not always stay on a computer, I'd be ready to offer small series of talks in maths and physics, if there are any groups of interested students, rather in Europe where I live. I don't need money now but I wish to find people with some time, skill and motivation to help my projects.
Thank you for your attention.

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