The Feynman Lectures online

For those who are interested in scientody rather than scientistry, the famous Feynman Lectures on physics are now online. “The Feynman Lectures on Physics was based on a two-year introductory physics course that Richard Feynman taught at Caltech from 1961 to 1963; it was published in three volumes during the years 1963 to 1965, and used as the introductory physics textbook at Caltech for nearly two decades.” In reading them, it’s not hard to understand why he is quite rightly revered as a minor secular saint of Science:

Each piece, or part, of the whole of nature is always merely an
approximation to the complete truth, or the complete truth so far
as we know it. In fact, everything we know is only some kind of
approximation, because we know that we do not know all the laws
as yet. Therefore, things must be learned only to be unlearned again or,
more likely, to be corrected.
The principle of science, the definition, almost, is the following:
The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the
sole judge of scientific “truth.” But what is the source of
knowledge? Where do the laws that are to be tested come from?
Experiment, itself, helps to produce these laws, in the sense that it
gives us hints. But also needed is imagination to create from
these hints the great generalizations—to guess at the wonderful,
simple, but very strange patterns beneath them all, and then to
experiment to check again whether we have made the right guess. This
imagining process is so difficult that there is a division of labor in
physics: there are theoretical physicists who imagine, deduce,
and guess at new laws, but do not experiment; and then there are
experimental physicists who experiment, imagine, deduce, and
We said that the laws of nature are approximate: that we first find the
“wrong” ones, and then we find the “right” ones. Now, how can an
experiment be “wrong”? First, in a trivial way: if something is wrong
with the apparatus that you did not notice. But these things are easily
fixed, and checked back and forth. So without snatching at such minor
things, how can the results of an experiment be wrong.
Only by
being inaccurate. For example, the mass of an object never seems to
change: a spinning top has the same weight as a still one. So a “law”
was invented: mass is constant, independent of speed. That “law” is
now found to be incorrect. Mass is found to increase with velocity, but
appreciable increases require velocities near that of light. A
true law is: if an object moves with a speed of less than one
hundred miles a second the mass is constant to within one part in a
million. In some such approximate form this is a correct law. So in
practice one might think that the new law makes no significant
difference. Well, yes and no. For ordinary speeds we can certainly
forget it and use the simple constant-mass law as a good approximation.
But for high speeds we are wrong, and the higher the speed, the more
wrong we are.
Finally, and most interesting, philosophically we are completely
with the approximate law. Our entire picture of the world has to
be altered even though the mass changes only by a little bit. This is a
very peculiar thing about the philosophy, or the ideas, behind the laws.
Even a very small effect sometimes requires profound changes in our

It’s always fascinating to see how far a cult departs from the ideas of its inspirations. I think Richard Feynman would be even more disappointed to see how far today’s science fetishists have drifted from scientody in favor of scientistry that Jesus Christ would be to see the grotesqueries and abominations that are so often justified in his name. Jesus knew Man was hellbound of his own volition; Feynman was usually a bit more of an optimist.