March 16, 2018

"Gal Gadot’s Seemingly Innocent Tribute To Stephen Hawking Pissed Off Some People/ Several disability rights advocates called it ableist."

I haven't read this HuffPo piece yet, but I'm pretty sure I know the sentimental, conventional idea that Gadot expressed and exactly why people who care about disability rights got pissed off. I'm not irascible enough to get "pissed off" about it, but I've been objecting to quite a few things, including a cartoon I saw that showed Hawking's wheelchair empty, and the figure of Hawking walking toward the stars — free at last, supposedly, even though Hawking, the real man, famously said "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."

Now, I'm reading what Gadot (AKA "Wonder Woman") tweeted, and it's exactly what I thought: "Rest in peace Dr. Hawking... Now you’re free of any physical constraints. Your brilliance and wisdom will be cherished forever."

To me, that's like saying about a Christian who has passed on something like "It's so sad that his beautiful soul is gone forever." You're imposing your religion on the person who had his own religion/atheism.

But it's worse than that, because it's saying that the life that he did have was a burden he's lucky to be rid of. Especially given that he did not believe in an afterlife (or so he said), the life he had was all he had. It was not worse than nothing. Hawking said (at the second link, above): "I accept that there are some things I can't do. But they are mostly things I don’t particularly want to do anyway. I seem to manage to do anything that I really want." And:
Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
I'm now reading what the supposedly pissed off people said, and it's what I thought, not just people flying off the handle and being inappropriately mean to an "innocent" actress trying to deliver a "tribute":
I think you’re fantastic Gal but this tweet is very ableist. His physical constraints didn’t stop him from changing the world. People with disabilities don’t wish for death to be free of their challenges. We wish to be valued for what we CAN do, not pitied for we can’t.
You know, Wonder Woman, Gadot's movie character, has superpowers, and we love our superpowers in the movies. We need to think harder about what we celebrate, and Hawking is a stellar example of living well within limitations, and we all have limitations.

210 comments:

1 – 200 of 210   Newer›   Newest»
Joshua Barker said...

And I’m so tired of all the agrievement theater... Just stop... take your rage-machines and go away...

CJinPA said...

I can see the objection here, if not the "pissed off" part.

Maybe if we drop the conceit of speaking to the dead on social media ("Farewell, _____, you were a...") we could avoid some of these problems. You can note someone's passing and their contribution, and show empathy for loved ones, without the self-serving dramatics.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

True, Hawking was an atheist priest, but I don’t read Gal Gadot’s tweet as referencing an afterlife. As far as celebrating his ALS, I would think that was on Hawking’s list of things he would have liked to throw away but couldn’t.

Ray said...

Twitter mob lynching.

Who’s next?

I thought her comment was nice and respectful.

Matthew Sablan said...

Does this make all the people who write about people being free finally from the pain of cancer or Alzheimer's or the like also bad? Or is it just physical disabilities?

For example, will the cast of The Big Bang Theory be called abelist? https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/the-big-bang-theory-stephen-hawking-tribute-cameo-jim-parsons-a8257041.html



Kristian Holvoet said...

But it's worse than that, because it's saying that the life that he did have was a burden he's lucky to be rid of.

2 Corinthians 12:6-10
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

CJinPA said...

I think you’re fantastic Gal but this tweet is very ableist. His physical constraints didn’t stop him from changing the world.

He didn't change the world. And since we're issuing Dos and Don'ts, don't enable the tired cliche that to be judged a good person you must strive to "change the world." It's a staple of advertising and commencement speeches. Hawking's greatest legacy, it seems, is doing so much with what he had to work with. That's a much more productive message than telling an 18-year-old to go change the world.

tim in vermont said...
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tim in vermont said...

So like every other event in modern life, his death was a dogwhistle to the Twitterati to break into one more online therapy free for all, political hatefest, and general thought policemen’s’ ball.

The Germans Have A Word For That. said...

"Rest in peace Dr. Hawking... Now you’re free of any physical constraints. Your brilliance and wisdom will be cherished forever."

"To me, that's like saying about a Christian who has passed on something like "It's so sad that his beautiful soul is gone forever." You're imposing your religion on the person who had his own religion/atheism."

I don't see an imposition of religious sentiment in Gadot's line.

What were the two things most known about Hawking to the general public?

• The guy was really smart.

• The guy was in a wheelchair.

Saying he is now "free of any physical constraints" is , well, true, whether you believe in an afterlife or not.

A typical statement after a person has died from a painful injury or illness is that they are now 'free of pain': they are no longer suffering. Which, again, is true.

There are basically two things that stop chronic pain and confinement to a wheelchair:

• a miraculous cure

• death.

Both are a freedom from the situation.

Being that an atheist doesn't believe in 'miraculous' cures, then death is pretty much the final freedom.

Obligatory quoting of song lyric goes here:

"Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose "

The Germans have a word for this.

MadisonMan said...

Twitter is a big platform. You don't have to use it to interject your thoughts into every single thing that happens.

People do not care what you think about someone's death.

tcrosse said...

So who gets his wheelchair ?

Ann Althouse said...

"I can see the objection here, if not the "pissed off" part."

"Pissed off" is a HuffPo locution, taking sides and taking the wrong side. The tweet was respectful and not angry, making a rational and apt point.

Sebastian said...
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Sebastian said...

"however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at." No.

"Hawking is a stellar example of living well within limitations, and we all have limitations." Of course, the obvious point is that some limitations are more limiting.

If the sorts of constraints he experienced were not a burden, let's not be ableist by claiming they need accommodations to be lightened.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Toxic femininity.

Ann Althouse said...

"True, Hawking was an atheist priest, but I don’t read Gal Gadot’s tweet as referencing an afterlife. As far as celebrating his ALS, I would think that was on Hawking’s list of things he would have liked to throw away but couldn’t."

I did not mean to say that Gadot was referring to an afterlife, but the cartoon I described was. Gadot's tweet can equally well mean that Hawking is free because he has attained nothingness, and that would square with Hawking's own professed religion (atheism).

tim in vermont said...

The real offense was for a Christian to speak out loud about their faith. That is what had to be shouted down.

But I would like to add my two cents of Hawking bashing. He wrote that very popular (I read it and liked it) book A Brief History of Time, and he lectured and hectored us on global warming. Why didn’t he put his prodigious intellect to use on what he clearly believed was a hugely important issue, and lay out the case for us and knock down all of the skeptical arguments with that big swinging dick of an IQ of his?

Ann Althouse said...

"... and that would square with Hawking's own professed religion (atheism)."

Rereading my post, I can see that I said that Gadot's statement is out of keeping with Hawking. Here's why I wrote that: Hawking said life, in this body, is all you have and when it's gone that is the end. So his belief was about the everythingness of whatever life you have. To treat that as something to be beneficially ended is to replace his stated belief with yours.

Bob Boyd said...

Gal Godot is really, really good looking. Maybe we should just focus on that.

Lewis Wetzel said...

"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail."
I never feel sad when a computer stops working. I throw it away and buy a new one. Computers aren't people, they are a commodity. Let's not get sentimental over Hawking the computer, shall we? Hawking the person would be a loss. Not Hawking the organic calculating module.

tim in vermont said...

Smiting him with ALS was God acting as Harrison Bergeron.

rhhardin said...

I'd be a fan of insensitive cartoons.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Hawking is a stellar example of living well within limitations, and we all have limitations.

Yes. And one of those limitations is the inability to accept, tolerate or even try to understand that other people like Gadot have different points of view or that they mean well within the limitations of their OWN framework of thinking.

Fernandistein said...

You're imposing your religion on the person who had his own religion/atheism.

The person imposed upon is dead and can't care.

"ableist"

Using or taking that word seriously is lameist.

James K said...

You're imposing your religion on the person who had his own religion/atheism.

How so? That's like saying, if she'd said it in Hebrew, that she's imposing her language on a person who had his own language. She's not doing anything to him. She's merely expressing her sentiments in terms that make sense to her (and to many). People are far too easily offended.

rhhardin said...

Ah, here's a good one

http://comonocreerendios-lem.blogspot.com/2018/03/stephen-hawking.html

Lewis Wetzel said...

" . . . is to replace his stated belief with yours."
But his stated belief was that he was nothing more than a deterministic machine. He did not believe that there was a ghost in the shell. By his own lights Hawking didn't choose to believe what he believed, anymore than a clock believes it exists to tell time.

ddh said...

The reaction to Gal Gadot's tweet is why we can't have good social media.

sean said...

So if I understand the argument, medical researchers who work to find cures for ALS are the same as people who try to cure homosexuality. Each is in fact a good and desirable condition, and those who try to "cure" either one are hateful bigots.

There are some deaf (sorry, Deaf) rights activists who talk that way, but I wasn't aware that it extended to ALS. I know for sure that my father, who had polio, would have been happy at any time to have his legs restored to full functioning. He didn't consider Salk to be a bigot or a hater.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Worse Tim. Gadot is a Jew and from Israel. The horror.

Fernandistein said...

I read this paper as a graduate student, but with little understanding. I am embarrassed to say that I did not know a single person (student or faculty member) at Berkeley at the time (late 1980s) who was familiar with Hawking's arguments and who appreciated the deep implications of the results.
...
The second is from a small meeting on the black hole information problem, at Institut Henri Poincare in Paris in 2008. (My slides.) At the conference dinner I helped to carry Hawking and his motorized chair -- very heavy!"

Bill said...

Remember the commercial that showed Christopher Reeve walking, and the kerfuffle that followed?

Gahrie said...

But it's worse than that, because it's saying that the life that he did have was a burden he's lucky to be rid of

A fundamental idea of Christianity is that we will be free of our Earthly burdens and concerns once we die, and that the "differently abled' will indeed be healed.

This is like deaf people being pissed off that doctors can heal certain types of deafness today.(and they are)

tim in vermont said...
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MartyH said...

I have a Schrodinger's God possibility of the afterlife.

Those who assert that that there is no afterlife are right-there is no afterlife for them.

Those who profess to believe in an afterlife are right-their everlasting souls are freed from this mortal coil, though this does not necessarily mean an eternity of heavenly bliss.

And, perhaps, you get to perceive both paths for a seemingly endless instant after you after you die. Depending on the kindness or cruelty of Schrodinger's God, possibly you have the opportunity to change your mind.

Owen said...

Almost anything we say about the dead will include an imposition of values, in the form of a belief about what happens at/after death. If I say "R.I.P. Steven Hawking," I am addressing him as if he were still able to hear me, and stating my belief that he is now resting. A state that implies some awareness that one is resting. An imaginary scene is automatically conjured up, in which the departed one is still somehow present.

We never let go of the dead.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Interesting site Rh. Alot of old Althouse commentators over there. I'll have to add it to my list.

The Germans Have A Word For That. said...

"I did not mean to say that Gadot was referring to an afterlife, but the cartoon I described was."

Except you wrote:

"To me, that's like saying about a Christian who has passed on something like "It's so sad that his beautiful soul is gone forever." You're imposing your religion on the person who had his own religion/atheism."

after the Gadot quote.

Which brings religion into the mix, and affixes a perceived distaste onto a rather neutral statement. Indeed, I took her statement as being crafted as to avoid any potential offense:""Your brilliance and wisdom will be cherished forever."

But there is potential offense in anything that is written or spoken, now. Or unwritten and unspoken. Because there is always going to be someone who lives to be aggrieved.

And we are not free of these people until either we die or they die.

And if you believed in Hell then being condemned to Hell would mean spending eternity with this kind of people. Which would suck. Because even an atheist understands that the concept of Hell is that Hell sucks.

But if referring to someone dying as being free of their body's ailments is ableist, then we are basically just counting the angels dancing on the head of a pin.

Hawking would understand the meaning of this, even if he would replace 'angels' with 'neurons' or something, because he was smart.

But not smart enough to think his physical body out of his wheelchair.

The Germans have a word for this.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'd be a fan of insensitive cartoons."

The cartoon is trying to be very sensitive, sententious, and corny. The insensitivity comes, if at all, from the observer who hates on the cartoon for its effort at niceness. But I don't think the observation is insensitive, so I won't try to claim credit for deploying the sort of humor you (perhaps) like. I think I have a greater sensitivity, even though I'm pretty sure that the email list where I reacted to the circulation of the cartoon is full of people who judged me to be insensitive. Sensitive people. They're vouching for me in your humor assessment, even as I claim to have a higher sensitivity that is lost on sensitive people.

Ann Althouse said...

"Except you wrote..."

I agree (as indicated in my next comment).

Fernandistein said...

Obama Pays Respect To Stephen Hawking In Usual Barky Style
With A Picture of Himself....


"Have fun out there among the stars", he imposed.

holdfast said...

Re-reading Gadot’s tweet, it didn’t reference an afterlife AT ALL. It didn’t exclude it either.

It was a pretty neutral, even banal statement.

Anyone outraged or upset about it is just shouting at byte clouds in their own head.

Roy Jacobsen said...

Regarding the dead, if the atheists are right, they are truly no more. If the Christians/Jews/Muslims/etc., are right, they are in either a state of joy or torment that we cannot begin to comprehend. In any event, any sentiments we might express regarding them resting in peace or being free from earthly pain or burdens are of no consequence to them.

Thus, those expressions are not for their benefit, but for ours.

And the carpers, fit-pitchers, and pissed-off ones should just make them selves a nice big STFU sandwich. Pretty much nobody cares what they think or how pissed off they are.

Fernandistein said...

"Several people on Twitter" become national news.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Lewis Wetzel said...

By his own lights Hawking didn't choose to believe what he believed...

That is not by Hawking's own lights, that is by your limited understanding of Hawking's beliefs.

I suspect he would say that he did choose to believe what he believed. The fact that his choice was caused by deterministic ( or possibly random ) processes did not in any way make it any less his choice: he was the sum of his deterministic processes.

Assume he was wrong, and people have souls. On what bases do those people make their choices? At the time that you make your choice, aren't all the things upon which you base it ( knowledge, experience, instinct, etc. ) already determined? How is your choice any less deterministic?

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Has anyone criticized Obama for his tweet wishing Hawkins "have fun out there among the stars."

Unexpectedly, nothing coming up on a Google search.

robother said...

Ann shouldn't be so hard on Gadot. Life ain't easy for a gal named Gal.

James Pawlak said...

The next accusation will be against those who are "truthIST"; That is, those horrid people who prefer truth over drama.

The Germans Have A Word For That. said...

I am The Universe.

And as The Universe, I wish to express my aggrievement with Stephen Hawking.

Hawking spent a life trying to impose his understanding of the universe onto Me, The Universe.

Frankly, I found this imposition offensive.

All you of Earth are idiots.

Your stupid minds. You're Stupid. Stupid.

The Germans have a word for this.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

I see Elizabeth Warren standing behind Obama in Fernandistein's link.

Big Mike said...

I think that Gadot is right and that her PAWIASOA* detractors are full of shit, as usual. In time — make that already! — we will forget that he sided with anti-semities against Israel despite his close working relationship with an Israeli scientist, and wevwill forget his stupid remark about earth turning into Venus (not just scientifically improbable, but scientifically impossible). We will remember his brilliance. He defied Shakespeare, because the evil he did is interred with his bones while the good he did lives on.
___________
* People always wildly indignant about something or another.

Unknown said...

Good grief, get a grip. Not every damn thing is meant to be fraught with deeper meaning. Saying God bless you after a sneeze is not an insult.

Matthew Sablan said...

Are Obama and NASA's comments about Hawking "flying" or "being among the stars" equally the same as "free of any physical constraints?"

Matthew Sablan said...

Just what are the rules, darn it!

tcrosse said...

People always wildly indignant about something or another.

Al Capp invented SWINE, Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything. Its spokes-singer was Joanie Phony.

Paddy O said...

"People with disabilities don’t wish for death to be free of their challenges"

I know a number of folks with disabilities who believe this. They're not people? It's not contrary to say they look forward to release from the struggles and want to be.

Paul the Apostle said, "To live is Christ, to die is gain."


"To me, that's like saying about a Christian who has passed on something like "It's so sad that his beautiful soul is gone forever."

Or like saying about Christianity: "that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."

Anyhow, it's impossible for such a sentiment as Gadot said to be offensive to Hawking. The living get the last word in his religious views too. Either she's right, and it's true, or she's wrong and it doesn't matter: computers don't have genuine feelings or sentiments.

rhhardin said...

What an insensitive cartoon is for is the rejection of celebrity interests.

tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignorance is Bliss said...

Paddy O said...

Either she's right, and it's true, or she's wrong and it doesn't matter: computers don't have genuine feelings or sentiments.

If she's wrong ( and Hawking is right ) then computers do have genuine feelings, at least the biological one inside our skulls do. Of course, if Hawking is right then he no longer has feelings, since his computer shut down.

Big Mike said...

@tcrosse, I’m old enough to remember reading the original “Li’l Abner comic strip. And you’re right as to the source of the acronym. But most of the PAWIASOA are not students anymore.

prodigal said...

Can we please try and not hyper-analyze every word a celebrity or politician posts in a tweet? This is why I have given up on "social" mediums like twitter and FB. They just don't seem to be very social...

rhhardin said...

Eddington said the universe is made of mind-stuff.

gg6 said...

This is utter drivel, IMHO. It actually heightens my respect for the comment by Gadot which I found appropriately broad, gentle and empathetic. ...I Luv that the outraged even have a fashionable word for her alleged offense - 'ableist'. Such trendy crap. Who is to say Gadot or anybody can't wish their own sort of blessing on any deceased -it might even be a bigger, better wish than the man even had for himself - so what? A person commits suicide, so what should the 'properly respectful' say...."Oh, how clever and resourceful of you to blow your brains out! Would we all had your indomitable courage!"???
Hawking spent half his life putting down the idea of religion and afterlife - so we have a responsibility to applaud that? And it's not like he can be insulted at that point - he's just a broken computer.

MadisonMan said...

I see Elizabeth Warren standing behind Obama in Fernandistein's link.

(laughing). Nicely done.

Big Mike said...

Mitch Albom wrote a maudlin, but unflinching, view of what it’s like to die slowly from ALS in “Tuesdays with Morrie.”

Not verbatim, but I recollect that Morrie wisecracks that the day will come when he can no longer control his arms to wipe his own ass, and that’s when he will find out who his true friends are.

rhhardin said...

The mind in a vat fantasy. "That's you over there."

robother said...

"Your spirit is free at last" = "Burn in hell, atheist scum!" If you think the handicapped are touchy, wait'll you encounter the deceased.

Birkel said...

So Althouse is typing that Stephen Hawking SAID those things?

Are you sure, Althouse?

Birkel said...

One wonders if Shakespeare should be banned because he wrote "shuffle off this mortal coil" which

1) assumes there is some other coil besides the mortal one, and
2) is ableist because only people who can walk could possibly shuffle, and
3) implies that shuffling after death is possible, so atheists are upset.

I simply cannot be compelled to care about that stuff.

rhhardin said...

The dark matter at the center of galaxies is actually plastic bottles, garbage bags and debris.

William said...

One of the side efffects of chronic, intractable pain or of quadriplegia is suicidal ideation. That's the way the brain, i.e. The computer, processes the information fed it by the physical world. Hawking's great (and possibly only) blessing was that he took so much pleasure from the workings of his own mind that he was able to compensate for other physical losses. It was a triumph of the human spirit but also, in a sense, of an exceptional physical brain. I doubt very much that Lou Gehrig would have found similar satisfaction in the contemplation of black holes. Towards the end, Gehrig was probably just as glad to shuffle off the mortal coil. His wife cheated on him with Babe Ruth. He was never the luckiest man alive.

66 said...

How silly. The tweet said Hawking had physical constraints. He undeniably did. Nowhere did the tweet say or imply that he would have been a better human being without those constraints. In fact the spirit of the tweet is exactly the opposite sentiment. Get a grip.

richlb said...

The key takeaway from all of this is that Gal Gadot is hot.

Henry said...

Goodbye to the legendary egghead!

You can't beat that one.

William said...

If the cosmos turns out to be a simulacrum will that strengthen or weaken the argument for God's existence? In any event or event horizon, the universe will probably be understood in a different way in a hundred years and in a radically different way in a thousand years. My views of the afterlife coincide with those of Hawking, but neither of us have the last word or complete understanding of what's happening. When we finally do reach complete understanding of the cosmos and all its processes we will have proven the existence of God, and we will be God.

rhhardin said...

The being that thinks at first seems to present itself, to a gaze that conceives it, as integrated into a whole. In reality it is so integrated only once it is dead. Life permits it an as-for-me, a leave of absence, a postponement, which precisely is interiority. Totalization is accomplished only in history--in the history of the historiographers, that is, among the survivors. It rests on the affirmation and the conviction that chronological order of the history of the historians outlines the plot of being in itself, analogous to nature. The time of universal history remains as the ontological ground in which particular existences are lost, are computed, and in which at least their essences are recapitulated. Birth and death as punctual moments, and the interval that separates them, are lodged in this universal time of the historian, who is a survivor. Interiority as such is a "nothing," "pure thought," nothing but thought. In the time of the historiographer interiority is the non-being in which everything is possible, for in it nothing is impossible--the "everything is possible" of madness. This possibility is not an essence, that is, is not the possibility of a being. But for there to be a separated being, for the totalization of history not to be the ultimate schema of being, it is necessary that death, which for the survivor is an end, be not only this end; it is necessary that there be in dying another direction, than the one which leads to the end as to a point of impact, in the duration of survivors. Separation designates the possibility of an existent being set up and having its own destiny to itself, that is, being born and dying without the place of this birth and this death in the time of universal history being the measure of its reality. Interiority is the very possibility of a birth and a death that do not derive their meaning from history. Interiority institutes an order different from historical time in which totality is constituted, an order where everything is pending, where what is no longer possible historically remains always possible. The birth of a separated being that must proceed from nothingness, absolute beginning, is an event historically absurd.

Levinas _Totality and Infinity_ p.56

Char Char Binks said...

She's right. He's now free from any physical constraints, and she's imposing nothing on him.

Bye bye, brilliant boffin!

Professional lady said...

Althouse, Gadot was expressing her belief. She didn't attribute the belief (which I agree was pretty neutral) to Hawkins. What's wrong with that?

Jupiter said...

"People with disabilities don’t wish for death to be free of their challenges. We wish to be valued for what we CAN do, not pitied for we can’t."

This is, of course, a lie, and a particularly fatuous one. People who do not wish to be pitied do not refer to themselves as "people with disabilities".

Sad!

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Birkel said...

"Freedom of speech, just watch what you say."
--Ice T (1989)

Isn't it odd that a person with an expansive understanding of the First Amendment should advocate for self-censorship, so thoroughly.

Birches said...

I seem to remember a popular meme going around when Robin Williams died that showed Aladin saying "you're free Genie." No one batted an eye in our press or popular culture. I think the people getting angry are just angry someone with religious convictions said anything at all.

n.n said...

Hawking came to accept that there is a conservation of signals even in a black whore... I mean, hole. A belief that there is an "afterlife" for coherent energy and perhaps consciousness, whatever that may be.

That said, she should be tried for involuntary religion, which has forced residual Hawking signals (e.g. memories) into a particular frame of faith.

mtrobertslaw said...

"Hawking spent half his life putting down the idea of religion and afterlife..." This is true. And by doing so, wasn't he "imposing" his "religion" on others? Of course he was. Following Althouse's reasoning, this should be objectionable.

Birches said...

This would also explain why Obama is getting a pass for his sentiments. Whatever he professes to believe, they believe he is one of them.

Christopher said...

Althouse, this is kind of an inhuman post. Gadot's sentiment is the most normal thing in the world, and good.

But it's worse than that, because it's saying that the life that he did have was a burden he's lucky to be rid of

The part where he was strapped to a wheelchair and severely physically impaired on top of that was a burden.

We are even discussing these things, 2018, man.

Char Char Binks said...

Obama's hawking tribute tweet is so childish and stupid I'm surprised it's not being attributed to Trump. "Have fun out there among the stars."!?

All astronomers go to heaven.

dbp said...

People are far too sensitive. Isn't it possible that Ms. Gadot didn't know that Hawking was an atheist? Further, if Mr. Hawking is correct about there being no after-life, he is in no position to care what people are saying about him and if he is wrong, it would be churlish of him to be insulted.

Hawking was indeed handicapped, that he accomplished more than most able-bodied people does not take away that life was harder for him than it would otherwise have been.

This should not be controversial.

California Snow said...

Should I be outraged at the Gal Gadot or outraged at the outragers for being outraged? Or maybe outraged at the outragers who outraged at the outragers for being outraged?

rcocean said...

The only thing interesting about Hawkings was his science writings.

His writings on religion wouldn't get more than a B- in most University Philosophy classes. Just standard Asperger Scientist Atheism.

And what practical effect on the world did all his blah, blah all the stars have anyway? People get all worked up about "being so smart" - but what does it matter if it doesn't actually improve human life. Just another version of "angels dancing on a pin"

rcocean said...

Gal Gadot - they should've cast an American as Wonderwoman

Roughcoat said...

Note to all you atheists, agnostics, and non-believers: "religious toleration" also means being tolerant of religion -- and of people of faith. People of faith are not, should not be, requited to go mute in their expressions of faith for the sake of sparing atheists, etc., the unbearable pain of religiously inspired consolation.

Have a blessed day.

Fernandistein said...

rcocean said...
His writings on religion wouldn't get more than a B- in most University Philosophy classes. Just standard Asperger Scientist Atheism.


I enjoy reading the egotistical ramblings of superstitious fools - where do you post your ideas on science and philosophy?

And what practical effect on the world did all his blah, blah all the stars have anyway?

rcocean is anti-science, too. That's not surprising.

RNB said...

The new other-abled activism: Bite the hand that reaches out to you.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Roughcoat said...

Note to all you atheists, agnostics, and non-believers...

You have a point, but you are addressing a broad audience that largely agrees with you. It would be kind of like an atheist saying Note to all you Christians: It's not cool to show up at a funeral with "God Hates Fags" signs.

MikeR said...

She said something nice. People don't need to grade the spelling.

mgarbowski said...

I find this suddenly widespread notion that religious people are not supposed to pray for deceased atheists bizarre and inconsistent. It's prevalence is bipartisan. For those ho wondered, the Daily Wire had an article criticizing Obama on this point (plus the self photo).
But back to the main issue. Nobody insists that Christians, atheists, Muslims and all others recite the Kaddish or El Maleh Rachamim when a Jewish person dies. Nobody expects non-Christians to make a sign of the cross when a Christian dies. I tried looking up the appropriate acts or prayers for when a Muslim dies, and could not even find a clear consistent answer, so I would not even know how to comply with such requirement there. Also, I have never seen or heard any Christian, Jew or Muslim complain that somebody said a prayer that reflected that person's own faith when someone of a different religion died. Nor are they so petty as to whine that an atheist did not recite some prayer they don't believe anyway.
But suddenly when an atheist dies we publicly all have to pretend we agree that his or her existence absolutely ceased and acknowledging our own beliefs is inappropriate? For people who think they stop existing when they're dead, atheists are pretty demanding about what we say about them when that happens.

Mike said...

Gadot was still much more respectful of Hawking in her comment than he was when referring to non-atheists. I’ve always been slightly put off by the arrogance of atheists. Gnostics I can understand. They at least have the humility to take the “I can’t be certain” POV, while atheists insist, with no evidence, that “there is no God.” Other than faith, on what can that statement be based?

MikeR said...

I remember when Hank Aaron was about to hit his 715th home run. Of course, there were some fools who were all about defending Ruth's honor - he had done it in fewer at-bats... So someone made this awesome cartoon of Babe Ruth looking down from a cloud in heaven, saying, "You can do it, Hank - we're all pulling for you!"

Peggy Coffey said...

You all who get so upset that she offered her condolences need to get a life. He was handicapped and got on with his life. She was expressing herself in a way that was comfortable for her. But the "ists" have to get their dig in. They are the morons who want special attention because they are disabled. They need to get on with their lives.

Roughcoat said...

It's not an imposition to Hawking, saying what Gal did, because ... E's DEAD! 'E's passed on! This scientist is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-SCIENTIST!!

rhhardin said...

People who don't stop existing when they're dead are the problem.

tim in vermont said...

"Bye bye, brilliant boffin!"

Thought crime! Assumes Hawking's soul can hear the good wishes!

tim in vermont said...

"People who don't stop existing when they're dead are the problem"

Can we leave Hillary Rodham Clinton out of this?

tim in vermont said...

He did once regret out loud that his voice machine sounded American. That thing isn't dead yet.

Mike said...

Nice work, Roughcoat. Classic. And true. Hawking is gone and can’t hear these arguments over this Gal’s good wishes.

Unless he’s wrong about God. Even then, would one even care what earthlings are saying or doing?

chuck said...

Kids will be kids. Thankfully, I don't need to care.

Roughcoat said...

I just wish his caregivers had taken better care of his teeth. It's an English thing, I guess.

Too soon? Not according to Hawking.

Yancey Ward said...

If you believe as Hawking did, he cannot be insulted by Gadot.

This sort of thing is so tiresome, I basically find it hard to give a flying fuck about any claims of aggrievement- they can never be mollified regardless of how supinely you apologize- so why even bother?

exhelodrvr1 said...

Let's see, what can I be offended by today?

Yancey Ward said...

Let's see, what can I be offended by today?

Thems fighting words!!

Professional lady said...

Yes, if Hawking was right in his belief, what Gadot said cannot offend him. Her statement could only affect him if he was wrong.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Maybe you remember the little ads in the back of National Geographic for Eckankar, the Science of Soul Travel. They have some quaint ideas regarding the transmigration of souls. One is, abortion is AOK, the fetus is only a body. The soul that it intended to use it can find another one. Another is, you shouldn't pray for people because prayers are effective, and your prayers might impose on the object, a kind of post-mortem fascism.

Anonymous said...

I read the column and it is a bunch of gobbledegook about "ablieists" and "ableist fantasies". I don't know where to start with these people that create useless concepts like "ableist" as though naming something makes it valid and attaches meaning to it.

(I have a bit of a disability myself, and would I rather not have it ? Well, hell yes I'd rather not have it.)

William said...

Not so long ago, it would have been impossible to posit the existence of Stephen Hawkings or at least of a Stephen Hawkings who could live up to old age and contribute to the thinking of his era. My views on the afterlife mirror those of Hawking, but due, no doubt, to my lesser understanding of astrophysics I hold these views with lesser conviction or certainty........A computer can be programmed to say anything, but the one thing that it cannot assert is that it does not exist. Hawking's existence was extremely unlikely. So is God's.

etbass said...

Women can find the darnedest things to start a cat fight over.

SteveR said...

We are limiting the existence of God with our understanding, which even in the case of Hawking, is limited. Safe to say no one knows and it’s all a guess, just be happy.

Kelly said...

The man couldn’t breathe without a machine, couldn’t eat without someone inserting a tube to feed him directly in the stomach, couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk without a computer. How dare anyone point out he had physical constraints.

Howard said...

During my late 30's and very early 40's I had crippling arthritis in both hips. Bone on bone, couldn't sleep, used crutches. Mentally, the best and worse part of the experience was vivid dreaming of running and jumping with abandon, then waking up and remembering the dream. Even as a cripple, I was an ableist. Fortunately, my crippledom intersected in time with an FDA trial for a new hip replacement surgery designed to work best for young large athletic men who hithertofore had no good options.

Fuck disability. I guarantee that 100% of the disabled ableist activists would fix their crippling disability in a New York minute if they could. But I get it. The thing is that your being knows that as a helpless cripple that if you lived in the natural world before the spread of toxic white masculinity problem solving, you would be left out in the cold for the wolves. You are a dead man. That's tough to live with and has a tendency to make the non-saints among us a little more prickly than normal. The other survival instinct is the need to love yourself, so there is some transference to the crippled parts. This is one reason why after going from pathetic cripple to fully able can cause periods of depression over the death of your crippled self.

Of course, it's easier to lash out at a fully functioning Hot Hollywood Hittite than the bringer of Hope a Dope.

Earnest Prole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mikee said...

This model/actress/superhero keeps getting criticised by SJWs for saying and doing relatively anodyne things. Is it true that feminism is only a thing for ugly hateful spiteful women to do to other women?

Jim S. said...

Hawking wasn't an atheist at all, much less an "atheist priest." He was agnostic.

Darrell said...

Hawking will never play Wonder Woman.

robother said...

"Safe to say no one knows and it’s all a guess, just be happy."

Another Taoist Supremacist is heard from. How dare you say "just be happy" in the midst of all this human suffering and tragedy?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...But it's worse than that, because it's saying that the life that he did have was a burden he's lucky to be rid of.

No; this is wrong. What you wrote might be correct w/r/t the cartoon, but not to what Gadot wrote. Gadot refers only to "all physical constraints." Non wheelchair-bound people--all people, in fact--are burdened by physical constraints. It's very common for people who believe in an afterlife to see that afterlife as one where existence is without physical form/limitations. Maybe you want to say that Gadot's expression of that sentiment in this case is especially egregious since Hawking is so associated with physical limitation/disability, but her words themselves do not require that interpretation. The cartoon you reference is a much better example.

Now: people getting upset about others expressing a nice sentiment/belief towards or about someone who didn't share the religious beliefs that underpin that sentiment...those people are assholes. If you don't believe in a God who listens to prayers and someone says "I'm praying for you" the non-asshole response is "thanks," not "that's so offensive to me as a non-believer."

Ann Althouse said...To me, that's like saying about a Christian who has passed on something like "It's so sad that his beautiful soul is gone forever."

Right, that's a good inverse example, and the non-asshole response would be something like "thank you for your sympathy--I believe his soul will live on with God but I understand you don't believe that and are expressing a feeling of loss for someone we both cared about."


But hey, what do I now about empathy?

Ken B said...

Who is imposing their views? I am an atheist but me telling my friend NOT to pray for me is me trying to impose my views isn’t it? Him praying imposes nothing on me. A believer saying RIP for an unbeliever imposes nothing. Screaming at her for it does.

Earnest Prole said...

It sounds like the mean girls are in another catfight. Weren’t most people raised to accept well-intentioned expressions of condolence?

tcrosse said...

It's not so much that atheists don't believe in God but that they don't believe in people that do.

MayBee said...

Why can't we just accept that she said it with kindness? Let it go.

Jay Elink said...

If "ableism" is so bad, and being severely disabled no biggie, why does Shriner's Hospital run those TV ads using severely disabled kids as props in order to beg for money??

Indeed, why do hospitals try to cure any birth defects at all? It's all good, right?

Dr.D said...

Hawking, the real man, famously said "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."

Now he knows that he was wrong. Unfortunately for him, it is too late.

Darrell said...

Stephen Hawking in Hell. Opening November 2018. Reserve your tickets now! Contact the Barons Court Theatre for details. . .

Darrell said...

Talk about reducing your carbon footprint!!11!!!!
Way to go, Stephen!

Known Unknown said...

"Gal Godot is really, really good looking. Maybe we should just focus on that."

Yes. And she's also super cool.

Jim at said...

Find me something - anything - the doesn't piss off a bunch of sniveling leftists constantly looking for offense, and I'll pay attention.

Jim at said...

Admittedly, I have/had no idea who Gal Gadot is/was. Looked her up.

At age 18 she was crowned Miss Israel 2004. She then served two years in the Israel Defense Forces as a combat instructor.

She'll do.

tcrosse said...

Stephen Hawking in Hell. Opening November 2018.

Stephen sings favourites from the Barry Manilow Songbook, accompanied by Ted Kennedy at the keyboard.

Howard said...

Hawkings finds himself in Heaven, Waiting for Gadot.

Darrell said...

Gal Godot can say anything she wants about me when I die as long as she sends me her knickers now. Contact Althouse for forwarding arrangements.

William Chadwick said...

Isn't Ms. Gadot an Israeli? If so, I wonder if she knew of Hawking's antagonism to her country.

Rabel said...

You can get a Hawking voice synthesizer app for your computer or phone like this one.

You just type in some words and they come put in a Hawking-like voice. I suggest typing in "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."

PackerBronco said...

In the same vein ...

Praising Stephen Hawking for his intellectual gifts is disrespectful to everyone who flunked high school physics.

Geoff Matthews said...

You don't think that deep down, Stephen Hawking wished he could go for a walk, or climb the stairs, without any help?
My grandfather was confined to a wheel chair for as long as I knew him, and was relatively successful in his (more-modest-than-Hawking's) endeavors. But he still couldn't climb stairs, ride horses (which he used to enjoy), or even walk. And he wished that he could, but accepted that could not.
And if he heard this crap about abelism, he cuss these people out.

Rabel said...

The Jews are pretty wishy-washy as far as an afterlife, Heaven/Hell, or reincarnation.

If it's reincarnation, there's always a spot for Steve at second base.

Rigelsen said...

Jim S. wrote: Hawking wasn't an atheist at all, much less an "atheist priest." He was agnostic.

This Newsweek article provides a good summary of the devolution of Hawkins’s faith. He seems to have started out as a deist/agnostic but could be hardly described as other than atheist late in life. If not an “atheist priest”, he could be said to have been an evangelist for scientism.

As far as the “ableist” nonsense, how silly can people get? Happy with your disability? Bully for you. The disabled certainly do not deserve disrespect for their disability, but for many of us, the lack of recognition of the limitations that disabilities impose are a bigger burden. Being disabled means that you simply cannot do or are severely restricted in doing things others take for granted. Still able to live a good life despite this? Great, be grateful for the grace the universe, God, or humanity has bestowed you.

Hawking was lucky in his disability, that it only affected his body. Some diseases take not just the body but also the mind, and sometimes the best some can do is shout voicelessly in the dark.

n.n said...

Hawking was physically constrained. His physical state influenced people's perception. Her comment was not a criticism of his disability, but a remark on the separability of traits. Also, a testimony to his belief that energy patterns (e.g. consciousness) survive in a state ("death", black hole) where some people believe it is destroyed or otherwise rendered incoherent.

Francisco D said...

"He seems to have started out as a deist/agnostic but could be hardly described as other than atheist late in life. "

I agree.

His thinking evolved from deism in "Brief History of Time" to skepticism, but clearly not atheism.

He was also skeptical about scientific hypotheses in debunking "The Big Bang Theory," stating that it could only be true if we suspended all known laws of physics.

I would have loved to hear a discussion about science between Hawking and Thomas Kuhn.

traditionalguy said...

It's a rigged system. Hawking was the best ever known at talk that takes an observer's position of matter and time. Eienstein was an amateur at that. He used mathematics instead of Words.The observer is a subtle assertion that we can control matter and time by contemplating it.

Poor old Gadot is beautiful person stuck in human perspective. But she dares to say she appreciated Hawking's genius.And that makes her into an observer's position of Hawking. How dare she!

The Germans Have A Word For That. said...

Gal Gadot is a pretty woman.

If given the choice between getting a blow-job from Gadot or from Hawking I would pick Gadot.

So Science ain't all that.

And Hawking's mouth definitely had a vagina dentata thing going on.

Giving this further thought, I don't see how someone could get a blow-job from Gadot and remain an atheist.

Because if Gadot gave you a blow-job and you remained an atheist it would also mean that you're probably gay. A gay atheist.

Maybe gay atheists getting a blowjob from dreamy George Clooney would make them at least agnostic.

We'd have to ask Brad Pitt on that one, I think. Or Matt Damon.

Finally: the fact that I have not personally received a blow-job from Gadot also proves there is a God.

Because only God could be that cruel.

In an Old Testament way.

The Germans have a word for this.

Roughcoat said...

Hawking was a political naif and, judging from a number of his pronouncements, an outright jackass. What's more, he was an anti-Semite who publicly supported the BDM movement against Israel.

See, e.g., http://freebeacon.com/blog/stephen-hawking-wrote-popular-book-physics-spent-rest-life-crusading-awful-causes/

Bay Area Guy said...

@Herr German,

"If given the choice between getting a blow-job from Gadot or from Hawking I would pick Gadot"

So would every sentient male alive, even Barney Frank!

Darrell said...

If your answer requires the existence of 87 dimensions to be right, I'm going to take a guess and say that you are wrong. That's just how I am.

Ron Snyder said...

You have too much time to think, and too much of a life of leisure if her comment bothers you. Get a life.

Paul J said...


"Now, I'm reading what Gadot (AKA "Wonder Woman") tweeted, and it's exactly what I thought: "Rest in peace Dr. Hawking... Now you’re free of any physical constraints. Your brilliance and wisdom will be cherished forever."

To me, that's like saying about a Christian who has passed on something like "It's so sad that his beautiful soul is gone forever." You're imposing your religion on the person who had his own religion/atheism.

But it's worse than that, because it's saying that the life that he did have was a burden he's lucky to be rid of."


It doesn't quite say that, O thou fan of close reading. That is quite an unkind leap of fanciful inference.

Always remember you are not obliged to come to some definite opinion on every circumstance touching your awareness. Sometimes it is better to let many things just pass by, acknowledged but not critically sized up.



mccullough said...

Hawking wasn’t Lou Gehrig.

What he was good at he didn’t need much use of his limbs.

It was a tragedy what happened to Gehrig. He was a gladiator. To waste away in two years was a tragedy. He went from the greatest player ever — yes Gerhrig was a better player than Ruth or Cobb — to an emancipated shell.

It’s not ableist to mourn for Gehrig and hope there is an afterlife where his youthful physical vigor could be restored.

As for Hawking, who cares.

The Germans Have A Word For That. said...

Darrell said...
"If your answer requires the existence of 87 dimensions to be right, I'm going to take a guess and say that you are wrong. That's just how I am."

And I bet you think there are only two genders, not 37+.

Also: the binary system is ableist to numbers that are not zero or one.

The Germans have a word for this.

tim in vermont said...

"If your answer requires the existence of 87 dimensions to be right, I'm going to take a guess and say that you are wrong. That’s just how I am."

Are you guys arguing about string theory again?

tim in vermont said...

Gadot is pretty, but she goes to show how you can elevate a prettier than average girl next door to a knockout with clothes, hair, makeup, youth, and a gym membership.

Drago said...

Howard @ 3/16/18, 12:01 PM

Great post. How are you doing these days?

I had a good rugby buddy who has undergone several hip transplants and each one lasts about 7 to 10 years before needing replacement.

He was also the guy who's errant pitch during a rugby match led to my nose being a bit "reconfigured".

I still let him be my Best Man.

Drago said...

"And I bet you think there are only two genders, not 37+."

Actually, according to the left, the number of genders is...infinite.

Since it's a "continuum" as they say, there are infinite (though bounded, for the mathematicians amongst us) genders along the continuum.

Which makes it impossible for anyone to remain "safe" from transgressing at some point.....which is precisely the lefty intent....

heyboom said...

Good grief, he wasn't a freaking god! He was smart and he survived ALS far longer than expected. We really have become a bunch of hypersensitive wusses as a society!

Richard Dolan said...

"You're imposing your religion on the person who had his own religion/atheism."

Oh, please. No one is imposing anything on anyone, and it's hard to understand what it even means to impose something on a dead man. Only the living get to read, and gripe, about such anodyne stuff.

Darrell said...

Only the living get to read, and gripe, about such anodyne stuff.

I thought his handlers were speaking for him in the last couple of decades. He'd move a finger a bit twice and several sentences would come out of the computer. Or did the British develop a mind/computer interface when we weren't looking?

Michael McNeil said...

Stephen Hawking got to do at least some things that are very cool, and I wish I could do — for instance, for his 65th birthday he got treated to many seconds of zero-g weightlessness (available for $5,000 from Zero Gravity Corporation). For a person in his condition, one would think that would be a glimpse of freedom.

Darrell said...

Off topic, Prince Charles needs handlers.

OGWiseman said...

As an atheist, I've never understood why some atheists get so exercised when people say they're praying for dead atheists or that dead atheists are in heaven now. They're wrong, but so what? Isn't the whole point that Hawking has no idea any of this is even happening? So it is by definition not offending him. Who cares?

As far as the "ableist" stuff, I'm a liberal, but come on, guys. Everyone get over yourselves. She didn't say he was a twisted freak whose life was meaningless. Movie stars as a type are a bunch of entitled, thoughtless pricks, but leaping down the throat of someone with obviously not-bad intentions only makes you look shrill and takes away your authority to call out the actually malevolent actors in the world.

heyboom said...

Perhaps it would be better to ask Gal herself what she meant instead of parsing her words.

Darrell said...

Kate Upton did zero-G better--

https://laboroflike.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/kate_upton_in_zero_gravity_12757789.jpg

Unknown said...

If she's going to put the words out in public the only responsible thing to do is own them cuz we're going to read them and take her meaning based on the words she uses.

I'm on board with Althouse's take.

-sw

Anonymous said...

You know, I'm a nearly lifelong atheist, but if someone I cared for died, and someone told me one of the Christian sentiments, I wouldn't be telling them why I disagreed, or condemning their motives, any more than I do when someone tells me they'll pray for me. I think the range of courteous responses is roughly from silence to "Thank you."

I'm remembering my cousin's death, a number of years ago (she was a few months younger than I am). At her funeral, the priest (Episcopalian, not Catholic) said that she was now in heaven, and happy, and not missing us, and we shouldn't grieve for her, but be glad. And I thought that was really appalling; even if you actually believe that the dead person has merely gone on a journey to a good place, you can still be sad at being parted from them, and miss them, can't you? It seems to be telling people they weren't allowed to have the natural human response of grief. But I didn't say anything there; I went home and talked about it with C, privately.

I think it was C.S. Lewis who wrote about having served as a wartime censor of soldiers' letters, and finding, in reading vast numbers of them, that the great majority of people could not write about an emotionally important event without sounding insincere or hackneyed, because they simply weren't good at expressing themselves in words. That's one of the reasons we have standard things to say, of course. But if someone has tried to express good wishes toward another person, and been clumsy, or not thought through the implications of their words, isn't it both kind and polite to respect what they were trying to do, and excuse them for not being brilliant at something that's not their profession? Gal Gadot's profession is to say words that other people wrote; it's not public speaking. And it isn't as if she were rejoicing at Hawking's death, or attacking or mocking him, or even criticizing him; her whole intent seems to have been to join in honoring him.

(Besides, and finally, saying that someone is now free of physical disability or suffering doesn't imply belief in an afterlife. When Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, he stated that he wanted to die, and hoped to be allowed to terminate his life rather than linger on in dementia; is it senseless to say that he was freed of something bad, just because I believe that there was no afterlife for him to go on to?)

William said...

Both in his life and in his work Hawking inspired a lot of thought. Whatever you think of his life and his thoughts, you must admit that just living and thinking were an extraordinary achievement. My views on the afterlife are similar to his, but my hopes are that he has passed on to a better existence.......He did try to have a moral presence in the world, and he deserves to be remembered well. Where does this wish to be good come from? It's pleasant to think that it's derived from God.........If Lou Gehrig in his farewell address at Yankee Stadium had proclaimed that "Jeez, this really sucks. I'm going to die young and soon, and my last days are going to be painful. Babe Ruth slept with my wife and is a total dick. He's the guy who deserves the shitty hand I got. Fuck him and fuck you all. I'm going to go home and sulk now." Lou would have been entitled to express such thoughts, but the grace and dignity with which he said goodbye made his life and its passing meaningful. Hawking's works in physics demonstrate the absence or remoteness of God, but such observations are to some extent disproved by the meaning of his life

heyboom said...

Unknown said...

If she's going to put the words out in public the only responsible thing to do is own them cuz we're going to read them and take her meaning based on the words she uses.

I'm on board with Althouse's take.

-sw


Oh good, the old "no good deed goes unpunished" take.

Michael McNeil said...

But his [Hawking’s] stated belief was that he was nothing more than a deterministic machine.

Stephen Hawking is (or was) a modern-day physicist and as such knows that the world we live in is fundamentally not deterministic, in that — illustrated in phenomena such as radioactivity and physical principles such as Bell’s theorem and Fermi-Dirac statistics (well supported by evidence) — these phenomena cannot be explained in any deterministic system of cause and effect. The free neutron (not part of any atomic nucleus), just as one example, decays with a halflife of about 1/4 hour into a proton, electron, and a kind of neutrino. By quantum mechanics and the aforementioned principles, we know that there are no complex inner constituents (so-called “inner variables”) of neutrons which could — by their computations — “cause” the neutron to disintegrate when it does. No, as a result of Fermi-Dirac statistics we know that all neutrons (as well basically as all subatomic particles of a given type) are absolutely identical with no distinguishing inner variables possible.

Beyond the nondeterministic nature of the universe itself, it isn’t known whether the brain per se is itself “wired” deterministically (certainly no such “fact” is even close to demonstration), but even if it were someday to be proven that the brain’s workings are fully deterministic, the fact that the universe around us is not deterministic — thereby injecting random information into the inputs of our biological neuronal processing — unless all the brain does is simplistically throw away all its inputs (which obviously [at least most] brains do not), this would ensure that the human brain’s outputs aren’t going to be deterministic either.

The Germans Have A Word For That. said...

If Gador was a Native American and Tweeted that 'Hawking is now one with the Universe and finally learning its secrets from The Great Warrior Spirit Bear' what would take priority:

His religious sensibilities

or

Her communicating through the context of her culture for which we should not judge without being culturally ableist*?

Of course, it is a moot point, because I think that statement has too many characters for a Tweet.

Maybe if she used Native American Emojis to be more concise.

Three Smoke Signal symbols, an Arrow, a TeePee, a Star, and a Great Warrior Spirit Bear.

And an emoji of a bottle of Fire Water.

Because when you walk with the Great Warrior Spirit Bear you can drink all the Fire Water you want.

And as an aside: White People cannot use the Fried Chicken and Watermelon emojis.

Ever.

(*'culturally ableist' is when people say you are racist because you prefer cultures with indoor plumbing)

The Germans have a word for this.

Darrell said...

Gal Gadot is my Great Warrior Spirit Bear. Live with it.

Mark said...

We need to think harder about what we celebrate, and Hawking is a stellar example of living well within limitations, and we all have limitations.

Um -- we need to think a hell of a lot LESS about things like these, rather than going far out of our way to find something objectionable. Accept it in the charitable, good will spirit it was said, and move on.

Meanwhile, what a lot of people probably really object to is that Gadot is a Joo.

Mark said...

The only thing interesting about Hawkings was his science writings.

Except that his atheism came to taint his science whenever it got close to suggesting a Creator for the universe, leading him to postulate various absurdities that are a variation on the universe being its own cause, rejecting more or less the Big Bang (which was proposed by a Catholic priest).

The Godfather said...

Hawkin's ideas about religion were simplistic. I assume he was sincere, but he certainly didn't apply his intellectual powers to figuring out whether God exists (or gods exist), and what characteristics he/she/it/they have. For example, in The Grand Design he claimed that primative peoples invented the idea of gods to explain things in the physical world that they didn't understand. As evidence he cited myths of two primative societies. That's it. It's sad that because he was a brilliant theoretician in certain fields some people think they ought to pay attention to what he said about religion (or Israel, for that matter -- I hadn't known he was anti-Israel). Isaac Newton was a pretty smart guy, too, and rumor has it he was a believer. Augustine of Hippo. St. Paul. Martin Luther. I'm sure I'm leaving some smart people out.

I'm a Christian who inclines to think that God is very generous in granting the gift of eternal life. I think that Hawkin has received that gift, notwithstanding his lack of faith and (as I understand it) his unkindness sometimes to others. I like imagining Hawkin awakening and realizing that he was not a mere worn-out fleshy computer, and that the real universe is vaster and more beautiful than he ever imagined. If that's ableist, so be it.

Howard said...

Drago: Thanks, doing great, just got back from my daily 3-mile mountain hike. This summer will be 17-years on a double hip replacement. Sorry about your Best Man, I was lucky to avoid the type of hip replacement he got that needs recycling every 8-10 years. I got a resurfacing where they just shape the top of the femur and cap it like a crown on a tooth with a big metal ball (57mm). They ream the socket and install a large metal cup.

What your friend got was likely where they cut off the head and neck of your femur and drill out the marrow 1/3 of the way down what remains of your thigh bone, then install an implant down into the bone. The implant then has a tiny metal ball (28mm) and a plastic bearing in the socket. The older plastic created wear particles that your body then tried to build bone with around the implants causing something called osteolysis which turns the bone to mush and causes loosening.

My Doc was one of the inventors of resurfacing which was designed specifically for young active males to prevent what your buddy has to go through.

So far, so good. Knock wood.

Only played a couple rugby matches with an old HS friend down in LA on the SFVRFC. They put me at lock since I was rowing crew at the time. Learned to point with my elbow. Those old guys in the 1970's were tough!

Got a badly busted nose and cracked cheekbone that went untreated for 25-years. I wished I knew then that I was a lover, not a fighter. Finally had a couple sinus surgeries that fixed chronic snoring and restored my sense of smell.

tim in vermont said...

Stephen Hawking is (or was) a modern-day physicist and as such knows that the world we live in is fundamentally not deterministic, in that — illustrated in phenomena such as radioactivity and physical principles such as Bell’s theorem and Fermi-Dirac statistics (well supported by evidence) — these phenomena cannot be explained in any deterministic system of cause and effect.

I am pretty certain that there is a lot of stuff going on under the Plank’s Constant covers that we can’t see for reasons long understood by physicists that were were able to see them, we might well conclude that the universe is determistic. What you are saying is we can’t know what is going to happen next, that in no way implies that there is not some system of determinism under the covers. If “God” is playing dice games with the Universe, to quote somebody, He also controls the dice.

I agree that it is unproductive, from the point of view of a physicist to throw up one’s hands and say “we just can’t know” and it is unproductive, as a physicist, to speculate about forces we don’t understand,(unless you are a string theorist, I guess), and their effects on nature, (“Shut up and calculate!”) but that doesn’t mean that there is no underlying determinism. It’s just that the math we have that works to the level we can experimentally explore works fine assuming pure chance. The math is not the Universe.

The Germans Have A Word For That. said...

"And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at."

I like self-actualizations that can make Crack Whores feel better about themselves.

But then, Crack Whores have simplified all of life's nuanced struggles to a simple equation: Need more Crack. Will suck cocks to get it.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs:
1.physiological
2.safety
3.belonging and love
4.esteem
5.self-actualization
6.self-transcendence

The Crack Whore's hierarchy of needs:
1.Need Crack.
2.Need more Crack.
3.Need to suck Cocks to get more Crack.
4.Need Medicated Ointment for the Mouth Sores.
5.Fuck the Medicated Ointment: need more Crack.
6.Damn this is Good Crack!

Achievement is an Achievable Goal.

The Germans have a word for this.

tcrosse said...

Just once I would have liked to hear Hawking say "Klaatu barada nikto"

The Germans Have A Word For That. said...

I once fell in love with a Crack Whore.

I gave her a box of chocolates.

She traded the box of chocolates to a diabetic drug-dealer for some crack.

The diabetic drug-dealer went into hypoglycemic shock after eating the box of chocolates and died.

She blamed me for killing her diabetic drug-dealer.

And then she blamed me for making it harder for her to get crack.

Because her diabetic drug-dealer was dead.

And her new drug-dealer charged higher prices.

So now she had to suck more cocks just to get the same amount of crack.

Because she had to suck more cocks she needed her Mother to babysit her child more often.

The increased time spent baby-sitting made her Mother's pimp angry.

Because she was supposed to be on the street earning money, not watching after a kid.

So I tried to help by occasionally taking the child to the park.

I took the child to the park and he went into convulsions from Severe Crack Baby Syndrome.

I drove him to the Hospital and he threw up blood in my car.

At the Hospital they asked me for the child's last name.

I told them I didn't know the child's last name.

They then asked for the Mother's last name.

I told them I didn't know the Mother's last name, either.

They looked at me with disdain.

I explained that the Mother was a Crack Whore, and I never learned her last name.

But then it didn't matter because the child died from convulsions brought on by Severe Crack Baby Syndrome.

I went to the Mother's street of work and asked one of her Crack Whore friends where she was, so I could gently tell her the bad news.

The Crack Whore friend told me that the mother died that afternoon from Anemia: she bled to death from ulcerated Crack Whore Herpes sores that ruptured while she was giving a blow-job.

So now I am worried that I might have Crack Whore Herpes.

So much for being a White Guy In Love.

The Germans have a word for this.

Michael Murray said...

I'm to the point with all of those who get offended at drop of a tweet and I hate to be this way but go fuck yourself. Hard and long.

Drago said...

Howard: "SFVRFC"

Egads! LA! Ugh.

Im a San Diego lad and many of my high school and later small college football coaches pkayed for OMBAC, so naturally thats how i first picked up the game but I didnt play consistently until later in the Navy.

I was primarily an Inside/Ouside Center but also did a little Prop work when playing 7's.

Glad to hear your surgeries/techniques/therapies went well.

tim in vermont said...

In reality, the law always contains less than the fact itself, because it does not reproduce the fact as a whole but only in that aspect of it which is important for us, the rest being intentionally or from necessity omitted. - Ernst Mach

I like this Mach guy, and I think I am going to read some of his work. I guess I am a “Machian” because, like him, I recognize that our intellects evolved to solve certain problems of survival and reproduction, and it has been repurposed to things like scientific inquiry.

I am long past the time I should be reading “A Critique of Pure Reason” because I just no longer believe in pure reason anymore. It’s fine, as far as it goes, but people keep insisting that it take them places that reason can never reach! It’s like driving your Ferrari off road just because it’s a great car.

tim in vermont said...

Just once I would have liked to hear Hawking say “Klaatu barada nikto"

Maybe his voice machine will go up for sale on eBay!

robother said...

I do think it was sad that Stephen was reduced to hawking that brain supplement on the internet the last 5 years of his life. Lou Gehrig had more dignity than that.

mccullough said...

Just because physicists don’t have it all figured out, doesn’t mean the brain and the universe aren’t deterministic.

Nothing worse than atheists who believe in free will. It’s a child’s fantasy they cling to. Hawking knew that what we call “Hawking” was just a bunch of bio-chemical reactions. There was no “individual” there. He’s just like a bear that shits in the woods. If the bear were in a wheelchair and needed someone to help wipe its ass.

I’m honoring “Hawking” by saying this. This is his view of the cosmos.

As I said, Gehrig was more important. Who gives a shit about black holes?

tim in vermont said...

So now I am worried that I might have Crack Whore Herpes.

Have you been reading Infinite Jest again, to think up a story like that, and then end it with that fucking punch line, at which, still I laugh?

tim in vermont said...

Nothing worse than atheists who believe in free will.

I agree. My take on free will is that I don’t think about it because I wouldn’t change the way I act either way, and I am enjoying the ride, even if I am just unwinding like a mechanical toy.

Howard said...

People from LA don't consider the Valley LA, a much lower status... "It's a Long Day, Livin' in Reseda"

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

What a crock. No one if given the choice between having arms and legs or not would choose the latter.

Howard said...

tim in vermont "My take on free will is that I don’t think about it because I wouldn’t change the way I act either way, and I am enjoying the ride, even if I am just unwinding like a mechanical toy"

100% Free will is a philosophical/psychological singularity. Anyone who claims to understand its' presence or absence is a liar or a fool.

Howard said...

Blogger The Toothless Revolutionary said...What a crock. No one if given the choice between having arms and legs or not would choose the latter.
You really need to re-watch Ken Burns' Civil War documentary.

Josephbleau said...

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. This is the creed of all faiths even the atheistic.

Darrell said...

In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.

Like, wow, man.

Lewis Wetzel said...

The important part about free will is that, if true, it destroys the scientific world view. If I choose to bend and pick up a stone (or choose not to) it is no less a miracle than Christ rising from the dead.
IIRC, the ancients (meaning Aristotle) had a less absolutist view of free will than we do. Some choices have more of an element of free will than others.
But from the scientific POV, any actions of admits the reality of the supernatural, because you have effects in the physical world w/o a cause in the physical world, so it is contaminating. Thus the absolutism of people like Hawking.

Real American said...

Whiny pc cunts can fuck off. Go away. Do humanity a solid. Kill yourselves, you vile losers.

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