Reprinting a letter about L. Ron Hubbard's failed career as a nuclear physicist....

Agreed. Screw you, Hubbard. I studied the same subject, at about the same level, with vastly greater information (it was the early 1980's). Actually, it really isn't at all complicated, if you take it one bite at a time, like eating an elephant. And yes, it means dealing with Algebra, and Calculus and a great many other subjects you can't just pick up from context, but actually work on. It also means you have to deal with being on the receiving end of a ballistic pendulum (this thing is going to shoot a steel ball. At me. And I'm supposed to..what??), dealing with teachers you hate, and getting up at 6 to catch a lecture at 7:30 in the morning. On the other hand, there's nothing quite like reading Oppenheimer (yes, that Oppenheimer) writing about neutron stars and black the 1930's, in the original papers in the original language, or for that matter, the Feynman lectures, or George Gamow. But it takes patience, drive and a profound humility that however much you learn, someone else knows more than you do.

On the other hand, what Hubbard proposed was similar to Goethe's theory of colors. Goethe believed, erroneously, that such things as mirrors, prisms, and lenses unnecessarily complicated the subject of optics which he opposed to that of Newton. If the colors are really there, he stated, it should be instantly observable without such impedimentia,

I get the idea that Hubbard learned to read too early, and had the wrong kind of encouragement through childhood. It's easy to fool the grownups that you're smarter than you are, if you can use long words, and read things that they don't. They call you "brilliant" and "a prodigy" and claim that you have "natural talents". They may even credit you for independently discovering some of what you read. Then, you go to school and find out that all the charm and intuition and people skills you have aren't going to make 7x6 not equal the ugly number 42, nor make (most) square roots and logarithms into nice, clean rational numbers. (One of the greatest achievements in Salman Khan's style of pedogogy is to make getting the wrong answer feel less like failure and more like "Ok, Rematch!")

In short, I feel sorry for him. With all that money and influence and adoration and fame, he was really, missing out.

Should I offer a science course to people leaving the Faith?


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