Eric Weinstein Says Harvard Buried His Work (4-9-21)

Eric Weinstein, economist and podcaster, tells Joe Rogan (in a clip uploaded April 2) that the Harvard power structure buried his work.

I don’t know much about Eric Weinstein, but on the couple of occasions I’ve listened to him, he invariably portrays himself as a Christlike figure trying to bring salvation to the world. Why do people conceive of themselves in such grandiose terms? Well, the greater the grandiosity, the deeper the wound they are trying to heal. People do the best they can with what they have and they keep doing that until the pain of doing things their way exceeds the pain of changing (through therapy or 12-step, etc).

From the blog Other Life:

Eric Weinstein has released his highly self-aggrandized anticipated research paper on geometric unity.

I read the paper. I gave it a solid hour or two. I did read the whole thing.

The paper is not really a research paper, it’s a collection of briefly formalized mathematical intuitions combined with some comments about how these intuitions could possibly be turned into a significant finding, plus a number of paranoid intuitions about why and how this significant finding is thwarted by various political forces.

I’m not sure we’ve seen this kind of megalomania since Nietzsche. To be clear, I would say that’s a compliment, given that Nietzsche was the absolute chad of late-19th century Europe. What happens to this kind of intellectual temperament in the 21st century is, of course, a different question.

I was mostly interested in this paper as an example of what a sophisticated outsider intellectual could do, after having gained a large social-media audience. For a couple years now, I’ve been listening to Eric’s story about his suppressed theory, which, he has claimed, overturns all of modern economic theory, transcends Satoshi Nakamoto’s conception of the blockchain, and more.

If I have any horse in this race, my bias is in favor of Eric dropping a world-historical research paper and totally dunking on the institutions from his outsider social-media perch. If anyone is capable of doing it, at this very moment, it would be him—and it would vindicate and flatter a lot of my recent theorizing. I would love to see it.

This paper and its whole self-flattering build up, unfortunately, reveal the author to be tremendously out of touch with both institutional legitimacy dynamics and indie legitimacy dynamics…

I think Eric is a genius and a courageous, fascinating, impressive individual who could have extraordinary impact in the long-run of intellectual history. But sadly, he is becoming a genuine crank, insofar as the distinction between an independent intellectual and a crank is that the independent intellectual supersedes institutions and gains long-term influence, whereas the crank becomes possessed by resentment toward institutions and fails to gain long-term influence.

He makes good points about the selection effects of institutional science. It is true certain findings are likely to be rejected, even if true. But this is a reason for doing extra-institutional science. The error Weinstein insists on making is trying to force extra-institutional knowledge into institutional acceptance. The result can be nothing other than failure, crankhood, and the paranoid bitterness which, frankly, Weinstein exudes in his recent appearances. Fortunately he has plenty of time to change course. I hope that he does, and I wish him nothing but success.

According to Wikipedia:

Eric Ross Weinstein (born October 26, 1965) is an American cultural commentator. He is the managing director of Thiel Capital, a position he has held since 2015. He coined the term Intellectual Dark Web to refer to an informal group of pundits and public intellectuals.

Weinstein received his PhD in mathematical physics from Harvard University in 1992 under the supervision of Raoul Bott. In his dissertation, Extension of Self-Dual Yang-Mills Equations Across the Eighth Dimension, Weinstein showed that the self-dual Yang–Mills equations were not really peculiar to dimension four and admitted generalizations to higher dimensions.

Weinstein left academia after stints at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. More than 20 years later, in 2013, he announced a potential unified theory of physics. Particle physicist David E. Kaplan remarked, “There are many people who come from the outside with crazy theories, but they are not serious. Eric is serious.” At the invitation of mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, Weinstein described the theory at a colloquium, Geometric Unity, in May 2013 at the University of Oxford’s Clarendon Laboratory.[9] The unpublished theory includes a 14-dimensional “observerse” and predictions of more than 150 new subatomic particles, some of which Weinstein believes could account for dark matter.

Few physicists attended the lecture, in part due to errors in the dissemination of its announcement, so Weinstein repeated the lecture later that month. No preprint, paper, or equations were published. Most physicists expressed skepticism about the theory. Joseph Conlon of Oxford stated that some of the predicted particles would already have been detected in existing accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider. Science writer Jennifer Ouellette criticized the colloquium in a blog for Scientific American, arguing that experts could not properly evaluate Weinstein’s ideas because there was no published paper. Mathematician Edward Frenkel stated, “I think that both mathematicians and physicists should take Eric’s ideas very seriously. Even independently of their physical implications, I believe that Eric’s insights will be useful to mathematicians, because he points to some structures which have not been studied before, as far as I know.”

In this April 9 blog post, Steve Sailer writes: “When did the term “process your feelings” become omnipresent? And why?”

I think the phrase has been around for several decades and it means that you have come to terms with who you are and what has happened to you and by you. For an example of someone still traumatized by his past, see Eric Weinstein in this Joe Rogan video.

The phrase is used because it represents something real — when you have processed your feelings, you are no longer run by them or warped by them. If you can talk about something that happened to you without losing your cool, you have processed your feelings. If you can’t, you haven’t. Most people do not enjoy feeling out of control when they would rather be in control. Ergo, it is in most people’s interest to come to terms with reality.

I used to have a kneejerk reaction of hatred toward anyone who reminded me of my father. Over the past five years, however, I think this has disappeared. Why has it disappeared? Because through 12 step work, I located, understood and worked through my anger. You can easily tell whether or not someone is at peace with something that has happened to him by how he talks about it. If he flushes or stutters or gets angry or sad, he hasn’t processed his feelings. He hasn’t come to peace. The past is still present and is warping him.

For the past three years or so, I’ve done an almost daily Youtube show and I’ve never said anything I’ve felt compelled to erase or remove from the internet (I’ve sometimes removed things from Youtube and other social media sites because of their censorship rules, but I always leave the content up on other sites with less onerous rules). Why am I never triggered into saying things I deeply regret? Because, I think, I’ve largely come to terms with who I am and what I’ve done and what has been done to me, and therefore I can’t recall a time in the past few years where I’ve lost it in an over the top and embarrassing way. When you do a regular show on controversial issues, people who disagree with you will reach for whatever rhetorical sword they think will most wound you and they’ll keep reaching for that sword until it no longer hurts you. So if you want to avoid getting triggered into blind rage or helpless despair, you need to process your feelings.

If you think this is all psychobabble, you can ask yourself if you ever get triggered, and if so, do you enjoy it? Does it bring out your best? Does it serve you? Was Eric Weinstein at his best talking about Harvard’s power structure with Joe Rogan? I don’t think so.

I was just reading an excellent 1998 book, Relational Perspectives on the Body, which included this:

[Sheldon] Bach (1985, 1994) suggests that a good deal of narcissistic and borderline pathology, including such structurally related conditions as perversions, addictions, eating disorders, and psychosomatic disorders, may be best understood in terms of the patient’s inability to maintain appropriate tension between these two perspectives on the self. When immersed in a state of consciousness of subjective awareness, the self is experienced as the agent, in Kohut’s (1977) words, as “a center of initiative and a recipient of impressions” (p. 99). At the extreme, this may lead a patient to experience grandiosity and a sense of entitlement and be unable to experience the self as an object among other objects or a self among other selves. When immersed in the state of consciousness of objective self-awareness, the patient can view himself or herself only as an object among other objects and cannot experience the sense of agency or vitality that comes with being a subject, a distinct center of thoughts, feelings, and actions. Although some patients (with certain forms of pathology) are more apt to maintain one side of this polarity over another (for example, overinflated narcissists tend to maintain states of subjective awareness, whereas depressives tend to maintain states of objective selfawareness), nevertheless, according to Bach, the real problem with all of these patients is that they have persistent difficulties moving back and forth between the two perspectives on the self and integrating them into their representational world.

Bach (1994) proposes that it is an important developmental achievement for a person “to integrate his sense of wholeness and aliveness (subjective awareness) with his parent’s and his own developing perspective on himself as one person among many others (objective self-awareness)” (p. 46). Accordingly, psychopathology is understood as a person’s inability to tolerate ambiguity and paradox, to deal with metaphor, or to maintain multiple points of view, especially about the self.5 Instead, in psychopathology, we find polarization, splitting, either-or thinking, manic and depressive mood swings, and sadomasochistic role reversals.

When we look with outrage at the things people have done to us, we tend to gloss over our own role in our own troubles, and our own role in provoking people to act in uncharacteristic ways. We affect other people. We’re not responsible for their reactions, but we’re likely to have played a part in their reactions.

We tend to be stunned when people “do things out of the blue,” but when we have some self-knowledge about how other people have provoked us to do things that now embarrass us, it should be possible to see how other people have similarly been provoked. The more we understand about someone and their context, the more we realize that their scope for freedom of choice has likely been narrowed. And just as we want other people to understand and forgive us for the ugly things we have said and done, so too we need to extend that same attitude towards others who’ve wronged us lest we carry around unnecessary baggage that distorts our ability to live in the present moment.

We live our lives looking forward and we tend to feel us ourselves possessing full freedom of choice, but we understand our lives by looking back, and when we do that, we see our freedom to choose was not as broad as we thought at the time. Looking back, many of us have a much stronger sense of fate and limitation for our own lives. I rarely regret the past because given who I was at the time, I feel like I could not have acted differently. Anyway, that is how I choose to look back at my life.

Not even Harvard and Harvard’s economics professors have unlimited freedom to do as they wish. Like us, they also have to respond to circumstances. Like us, Harvard profs like some people and dislike others and this affects their choices. Our decisions may often seem incomprehensible to others, but if people are smart and have knowledge and empathy and the energy and time to expend that on us, they can usually understand why we acted as we did (just as we can do this for others). There’s no major historical figure or major public figure alive today who I find incomprehensible.

We tend not to see things that contradict our sense of ourselves. We all have massive blind spots. There are ways of living, however, such as the 12 Steps, that enable us to accept the full extent of the wreckage of our past and of our present vulnerabilities (to the extent that we become conscious) and to considerably reduce our blindness and defensiveness.

When I do my Youtube show, I generally put the quality of the show first and I make all my show-related decisions accordingly. Sometimes I mute guests and sometimes I boot guests according to what is best for the show. Often I have to do this on the fly without much time to think about the emotional consequences to all the people affected. Hosting a combative livestream is like playing tackle football and people get hurt.

In many life situations, it is not possible to tell the full truth and get things done, so you have to shade the truth. You might limit yourself to saying things that people you need can understand. To have a life that works, or a politics that works, you can’t limit yourself to 100% truth-telling. It is in Republicans interest to restrict voter turnout, but they can’t say that publicly, so instead they talk about “vote integrity” and other blather for legislative methods to repress the vote (particularly the votes of blacks who rarely vote Republican). Honesty is not always the highest value.

How can you tell if someone has not come to peace with reality aka processed their feelings? They come across like Eric Weinstein in this video clip. He’s ill at ease, defensive, stirred up, enraged, and verging on tears. He’s in the grip of feelings he hasn’t processed and I don’t see how this serves him. Is Eric Weinstein the second coming of Jesus Christ? I suspect that if we heard the perspectives of other people in his stories, the truth would be quite different from what Eric says. How do I know this? Because when people are as emotionally aroused as Eris is here, they are unable to see things objectively nor are they able to empathize.

We want to be able to oscillate between our own subjective experience, and the subjective experiences of others, and to also have a sense of how an objective third-party would see things. How would this look if it were accurately reported on the front page of the New York Times? If we’re enraged by anyone who reminds us of our father, for example, we won’t be able to empathize with certain people nor to see some things objectively, and so we will lead a stunted life. And if you have a problem like this in one area of your life, you likely have this problem throughout your life. Your conscious mind is only the tip of the iceberg. Underneath are all your intense non-conscious processing to make reality align with your story.

When your body language and vocal tone contradict your words, people will usually take their cues from your non-conscious messages.

The less reality you are able to accept, the more unhappy, bizarre and ineffective you will be.

Eric Weinstein seems to have an overly dramatic sense of himself that is often wildly out of touch with reality. He keeps using the rhetorical trope — “Nobody else is worried about this but I lay awake at night worrying because I am so much smarter and more moral than you.”

Everyone else just sees shadows on the wall of the cave, but Eric thinks he sees reality in all its terror.

Eric says he wants to be joyous, but I hear a guy who’s glorying in his crucifixion. Eric the Christ is telling us: “I’m up here on the cross suffering for the world’s sins, and I just want to be joyous. I didn’t ask to leave Heaven where everything was swell, but Dad forced me to come to earth to suffer for humanity’s sins and to offer them a path to salvation by vicariously participating in my life, death and resurrection. Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

From Shondaland.com:

Emotions are the internal felt reaction to a specific stimulus, of which there are five — fear, joy, anger, sadness, and disgust — and we experience them due to their survival value.

“Emotions are indicators of how safe, stable, and secure we feel,” says Manly. “They’re of great value in that, when we attend to them and use them wisely, we’re able to assess how a situation is affecting us and then make necessary shifts to ensure our needs are met.”

Even though we tend to use the words interchangeably, emotions and feelings aren’t exactly the same thing. “Whereas we have five emotions, we have thousands of feelings,” says Manly. This is due to the fact that our emotions are a gut (instinctive) response without the benefit of mental processing.

So what are feelings, then? “Feelings are a conscious subjective experience of emotion,” says Minnesota-based psychologist Kristi Phillips. They typically emerge after self-reflection, as a result of judging our thoughts or the actions we take, as opposed to involuntary reactions to a stimulus.

Without our emotions and subsequent feelings, we wouldn’t learn from our mistakes —we’d instead keep repeating the same unhelpful behaviors and experience the same adverse repercussions, our lives forever locked in a downward spiral.

This is why repressing feelings can be extremely damaging. “Our feelings have a message that wants to be heard and understood,” says Manly. “Feelings aren’t good or bad, it’s what we do with them that matters.”

Processing feelings is necessary, but it can be complicated
On the surface, processing your feelings seems simple enough: Identify and label the feelings that are brewing, give yourself the time and space to feel how you feel without judgment, then decide how you’re going to handle your feelings — either by deciding how you’ll resolve the problem if you have control over it, or how you’ll better cope with it going forward if you don’t.

We all have subconscious ways of avoiding uncomfortable feelings, known as defense mechanisms, which can thwart emotional processing. “Because we’re largely unaware of how our defense mechanisms work, it can mean we fail to process our emotions without even realizing it,” says psychologist Meghan Marcum, Chief Clinical Officer and Chemical Dependency specialist at A Better Life Recovery in California.

When we avoid or repress our feelings, it’s often an auto-pilot reaction, and if we don’t make an effort to allow those feelings to resurface so we can face them, it becomes damaging. The longer this pattern of feel-ignore-repeat goes on for, the more your repressed feelings will build on each other — and the more difficult they’ll be to cope with.

“Consistent efforts to ignore our emotions won’t make them disappear,” says Marcum. “They’ll be waiting for us to acknowledge them at some point.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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