DARK TIMES OF UNTRUTH
Wiesława Lewandowska talks with Professor Lucjan Piela about a pseudo-commotion around the fight against the climate, applying alleged opinion and defective work in the investigation of the Smoleńsk catastrophe and also about the decline of a scientific discussion.
WIESŁAWA LEWANDOWSKA: – ‘I have never supposed that the existence of the truth, as such, would have to be defended, that somebody would dare to say that the truth simply... does not exist’. This astonishment was expressed by Professor during your lecture in the Institute of the Contemporary Civilisation Problems. Are the obstacles in the scientific search for the truth a frequent phenomenon in today’s times?
PROFESSOR LUCJAN PIELA: - I do not doubt that in physic, chemistry, maths and also technology and many other similar areas, the verification of assumptions and conclusions is always done. However, the danger appears in ‘soft areas of science’, for example, related to politics or economics in which notions are not well defined and it is easy to get confused. The dangers would be smaller even in these ‘soft areas’ if the moral code of science functioned suitably. It does not mean that codes must be written; this code is a conscience of a researcher. If its destruction happened for many reasons, then it is easy to think only in the categories what is advantageous and what is not. When I was young, in fact, I did not even think that somebody would question the very existence of the truth. However, even people engaged in science dare to question the truth now or, I would say, the para-science.
– Do you, Professor, mean any particular event?
– Yes, I do. I have recently been impressed by the ‘Resolution of the European Parliament B7-0571/2011 concerning the climate conference in Durban’ (the end of the year 2011). It starts with the statement that the text consists of 18 pages and is in fact... one sentence. The resolution defines the so-called purpose of 2 , that is, ‘limiting of the average ANNUAL rise in temperature of the surface of the Earth in the worldly scale to 2 ’’ (my emphasis). What does it mean?! After all, if the temperature has annually risen to the minimum of 2 ’’ so far, then we should register its rise by a value approximated to 46 from the year 1989! Additionally, this Resolution is full of not well-considered speech, for example the European Parliament (...) ‘points out to the reactions to the change of the climate influence the sex equality in all levels’. It looks that the Resolution of the European Parliament has the features of a cabaret text but it was not consulted with experts, or any ideologists. It strongly emphasized the necessity of maintaining...the equalities, that is, according to ideologists, suitable participation of women in making any decisions in the matters connected with the climate.
– In this case we must ask about intentions and competences of European experts.
– I think that in this case there is nothing to ask about, here we have a clear situation, at least, as far as competences are concerned. Everybody has a thermometer and everybody can use it. We must help the Europeans realize that our European Parliament did not simply have any experts in such an important matter. Why didn’t it have any experts? It sometimes seems to me that our whole continent with its excellent civilisation has shrewdly been taken under the control of people who are leading Europe towards a bad direction. How far have we departed from the ideals of Fathers Founders! We should demand professional expertises every time and check them all the time.
– Why is it happening Professor?
– In order to answer this question we must think when and why some people questioned the essence of the truth. Maybe for money?...Today it is easy to stupefy the man, telling him with a nice smile: Man, there is no truth – you have a little truth and I have a little truth, we will achieve a consensus that 2x2=4,5 and we will depart from each other according to our tasks in order to build ‘better’ Europe. Well, nothing can be done because Europe will turn out to be hurt, weak and unjust. Questioning the truth in any area is the destruction of the whole system, and a lie is getting – now through a kind of reasoning – into every area like a contagious illness.
– If you say that ‘a lie is getting – now through a kind of reasoning – into every area like a contagious illness’, it means that it is impossible to trust experts having academic degrees fully, who support the present policy which appears in media, using the solemnity of authority?
– Human being clever and must use mainly the reason. The word ‘expert’ is overused while an expert is rare a lot. It is a professional of the highest level who knows hot to reach to the truth and who can announce his verdict regardless the fact whether the authority likes it or not and he can defend this verdict in the process of logical reasoning. Let’s have a look how far it is for gentlemen from this ideal, who are shouting against one another on TV, naming themselves experts. A big problem of functioning of contemporary societies is a kind of dictation by pseudo-experts. In the civilisation race even politicians do not have any time for understanding what their advisors say and they want to have a decision quickly and this can be assured even very quickly by pseudo-experts.
– Are such ‘scientific’ attitudes detectable and shown in the scientific environment?
– Every departing from the truth in the area of science may be – and often easily – pinned. However, it is happening more frequently that those who are trying to negate the popular but politically correct truth, that is, in fact untruth, have limited possibilities for the public expressing their opinion. Reliable publications which discredit the untruth in some areas are rejected, unfortunately, by academic editorial offices, on the basis of negative reviews whose authors are involved in the market of the truth and untruth. In this way a commotion is created in which a penetrating force belongs to a self-interested untruth. For me and many friends of mine it is not doubtful that the centuries XX and XXI will be called ‘dark centuries’ one day because the wave of falsehood is powerful. The truth is dull and poor in many areas of our reality, unattractive in media, begging for attention and disrespected by powerful people of this world. However, it is begging, like in the song of Wysocki, it is moving triumphantly in the world on a swiftly-footed horse and is giggling at the truth. This is going to be only for some time because we will miss the reality very quickly and this will be the end of the giggle: for, conceit is striding before its fall.
– An exceptionally loud giggle appeared in Poland in connection with the investigation of the truth about the reason for the Smolensk catastrophe. Polish experts (of the government) were mocking at the American experts (working for the team of Antoni Macierewicz), and a large part of the society decided that it is tired with this ‘expert’ commotion and does not even want to know the truth...
– It is sad that people are tired with looking for the truth and those who should show it, are giggling... An expert is not giggling, does not take any part in giggling, he does not have to humiliate himself because he has a great power – the truth. An expert is somebody who can logically and calmly answer to the results of scientific experiments presented by somebody else and who can present his own professional counterarguments.
– Polish official experts accuse American experts – professor Binienda and professor Nowaczyk of ‘unscientific approach’ in their expertises. Isn’t it right?
– I know only press reports about solving equations of Newton by a programming used in NASA, and it seems to prove that it is not possible for such accusations to appear here. In theoretical chemistry we also solve equations of Newton (not for an aeroplane, but only for a chemical particle and this is only second-rate difference). It is obvious to me that in order to express a professional opinion on the calculations done by professor Binienda, and especially negate the results of these calculations, we must, as it is usually done in such cases, analyze their methodology (also during a direct discussion) in order to make one’s own calculations. Our official experts, as they had said, resigned from calculations, and applied stories from the area of ‘applied alleged opinion’ for the naives, that I will use travesty about an expression of Jan Tadeusz Stanisławski here...Answering the question about the most important moment of inertia of the aeroplane (necessary to calculate the pace of the decreasing speed of the rotation of the aeroplane round its axis in the scenario of events given by the experts), one of them said that he did not know how much it was..... The chief of the commission said to many millions of TV viewers (without giving any argument) that everybody was killed because the overload was 100g. Maybe, but we are asking for a mathematical proof because at such a road of braking, an every high school student will get a solution of an approximate overload of 1g! These divergences must be analysed on a piece of paper or on a computer. I do not even want to think that the lack of professional preparation for calculations was the reason for the fact that Polish critics of the American professors ostentatiously and disrespectfully avoided the discussion. In science it means only one thing: discrediting of experts who are avoiding a discussion. If I am an expert, I am not afraid of a discussion because I investigated everything well and my investigation is a sequence of reasoning, which I am ready to defend. The truth reveals its whole face only in the process of a scientific discussion, by comparing the results of investigations and mutual pointing out at mistakes and removing them.
– Isn’t it so in this particular case in your opinion, professor?
– Definitely, it is not so, because it is clearly visible that some people simply do not know what the scientific methodology if investigating anything is based on and also of such an event which is the air catastrophe. How can one argue with months in newspapers, and now with years: a birch or not a birch. I am investigating a cross-section of a federal birch in the search for plane paint or micro-fragments of a wing – and science is able to do it with an incredible carefulness – and I am judging the matter. It is the end of the discussion. If it was not done, it is nothing else but an extreme lack of professionalism. And after all, today we have great technical and scientific possibilities in our faculty we can watch even single atoms!
– Polish ‘correct’ experts of experts of NASA – accuse Professor Wiesław Binienda of theorizing, that he is solving ‘a kind of’ equations on the basis of uncertain output data. What does it mean, professor?
– These accusations are not included in the categories of the scientific progress. Let’s say that I do not like something in the pronouncement of Professor Binienda. So, I am solving, for example, the so-called issue contrary to the equations of Newton (it may be the arrangement of even millions of equations, but contemporary computers are successful with it in practice, and I show that I receive something different from what Professor Binienda received. Then we are sitting together and are looking for an answer how this difference was caused. We find a probable mistake and we are making calculations once again. The accusation of ‘theorizing’ or naming the equations of Newton ‘a kind of equations’, shows students saying such words (and not to mention the experts) in a negative light because it suggests that they have defects in their primary education. Professor Binienda invites experts to come to his lecture, invites publicly in media, to come to a conference to listen to his lectures. They have a possibility of informing the whole world about their decisions, like it is always done in science, and here, to my astonishment, on the other side is...an escape from the discussion. It was a very bad sign.
– However, it was proudly emphasized that the best specialists in Poland of the aviation area are engaged in the investigation of the catastrophe. We can even have an impression that Polish scholars are rather not interested in searching for the ‘Smolensk truth’.
– I am sure that we have very good specialists and real specialists know how to solve equations of Newton with using a method of finite elements. This is an ABC of the contemporary technology. Unfortunately, I am deeply sorry that they were not chosen for the investigation. Secondly, Polish scholars of science cannot look any longer at the situation when in the Smolensk matter politicians decide about the laws of physics, but nobody suggests these scholars joining in the investigation of the catastrophe...It is extremely strange because everybody wants an explanation, don’t they?
– Unfortunately, we cannot be sure about it. Those who are determined in searching for the truth are called ‘fanatics’!
– Well, maybe not completely now, because laughter has disappeared from the faces of the omniscient people recently. An initiative of professors of technical science has appeared recently, who presented their idea of independent investigations to get free from politics, both the big and the small one and consider the matter from the point of view of physics laws. Such investigations are already carried out, but in order to give them a suitable stimulus, a group of professors addressed their letter to the director of the National Centre of Investigations and Development with a request for support in organising a scientific conference on the Smolensk catastrophe. The essence of the answer from the director of the National Centre of Investigations and Development is an evasive statement that the National Centre of Investigations and Development despite its name which would suggest it, is not carrying out any investigations...
– It sounds like a cabaret joke from the past times!
– It is only an example of a wordy juggling, because, in fact, the National Centre of Investigations and Development does not initiate but finances the suggested valuable investigations. In the minimal version it would be enough to encourage scholars to give a suitable grant for financing, because the matter is important and disciplinary investigations would be started. I believe that it will come into effect because it would be strange if somebody was causing some obstacles in such an important matter.
Prof. Lucjan Piela - specialist in the field of quantum chemistry, connected with Warsaw University and,the Centre Européen de Calcul Atomique et Moléculaire (France), Facultés Universitaires de Namur (Belgium), Cornell University (USA).He has written approximately 100 scientific publications in international journals and respected book in the world. In 2001 he was elected a foreign member of the Belgian Royal Academy (Académie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et desBeaux-Arts), and in 2004 a member of the European Academy of Sciences.