Modern Physics, Pseudoscience, and Conspiracy


In 1900, Lord Kelvin supposedly declared “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now”. Although apocryphal, this quote captures the fact that in the late 1800s it increasingly seemed that physics had described the whole of our experienced universe. And, with the exception of a few anomalous observations, this view was nearly right. Since the start of the 20th, physics has developed at a precipitous rate, those small anomalies spiraling into vast fields of study with far reaching implications. Weird implications. Yet in spite of how odd these discoveries were, ever-mounting evidence made the strange precepts of modern physics grew ever more irrefutable.

Progress within physics does not occur in vacuo. New discoveries in physics seep slowly into other academic fields and aspects of daily life. Since the last century, the revolution in physics has utterly transformed technology, politics, and society. Philosophy has numerous existential debates resolved, nullified, recontextualised, or nuanced by a growing understanding of the universe. And ordinary people have sought for answers in physics too. In fact, this is primarily where a certain ugly problem rears its head. A problem of communication between the scientific community and the general public. We have seen in the last century an abundance of pseudoscientific concepts whose flesh hangs loosely from skeleton of quantum weirdness. Or flat out conspiracy theory, either actively refuting modern physics when it is inconvenient for them or placing enormous spiritual, theological, and ideological importance on modern physics. This is where physics most obviously encounters science-denialism, and as such it is an area that needs active attention from the physics community lest we contribute to a growing distrust of scientific-establishments.