Raymond Tallis: A "philosopher" who is either ignorant or in bad faith.

I was listening to the BBC Start The Week podcast a few weeks ago. It was called "Dissecting Death", and was about approaches to death. Halfway through this bloke, introduced as a "philospher", Raymond Tallis came on. I've heard him waffle on other programs before. He just published a 700 page (yes seven hundred page) book about time and lamentation.

The other guests on the program were intelligent informative and interesting:
Mark O'Connell talked about transhumanists, Carla Valentine talked about life and death behind mortuary doors, and Laura Yunbridge spoke about late works of artists. But all Tallis could say was: "Physicists have shrunk time to little 't'. So it can be squared or used as a denominator in an equation. Well you'd never do that to an afternoon..."

Now why did a "philospher" say such stupid things? I can think of only answers:

Answer 1) He is ignorant of how time is still an important and large mystery to scientists. He is ignorant of any physics research/thought into time and space since he left school. At school he maybe he learned those few equations which deal with speed and acceleration. He thinks that since he left school (maybe because he left) all physics research into time stopped. He is a "philosopher". Hasn't heard of Wittgenstein's saying: "Whereof we know knothing thereof we must remain silent"?

Answer 2) He is in bad faith. He knows he is being flippant. He knows that the few equations he remembers from school (or has looked up) have nothing much to do with the real physics mystery of time. He is playing to an arts audience who have trouble adding 41 to 32 (and are proud of the difficulty). Maybe they'll buy his little 700 page book and feel they can grasp the the reality of time that way.

Whichever answer is true, he can't be listened to seriously. If he is ignorant and/or in bad faith, how can we believe whatever else he pronounces on? Shouldn't we expect a bit more rigor in the arguments of a philosopher?

One last, er, idiocy, he said was that it was impossible to live in the moment because the moment is infinitely small. So suddenly he has gone all calculus on us? So he has never experienced the sudden and fleeting pleasure of seeing something in nature which will not repeat itself? The swoop of a bird, or a cloud which transforms itself, second by slow second, into a different abstract shape?

If you want to know about the physics of relativity time and space I can recommend this book:

It shows you, step by step, how the equations come about. To be honest I had to write my own extra explanatory notes to myself to be able to completely understand it, but that was an education in itself. Microstep by microstep I saw the strangeness of time. Real strangeness. And remember your GPS would not work without Einstein's Theory Of Relativity. And there'd be no medical scanners without physicists.


Who was the marketing genius who got to associate SEAT with crime, death and drug dealing?

Crime dramas on ITV1 are currently sponsored by SEAT. But who was the marketing genius who persuaded SEAT to associate their good looking cars with death, crime, missing persons and drug dealing? Take Vera for example. Just before the start of an episode, and at the end of each commercial break, there is an ad which associates a SEAT car with a crime scene. All the ads are shot at nighttime. Some examples I can remember:
  1. A woman in white walking in the middle of the road picked out by the SEAT's headlights.
  2. A message to a missing mother (really? a missing mother?) on the smartphone (presumably connected to the SEAT's electronics system).
  3. A nasty looking package lying in the dark near a white SEAT car.
  4. A man who drops something as he closes the boot of his SEAT car, probably a clue after his murder in a few minutes time.
Surely they could have come up with something more reassuring. Something which suggests that SEAT cars are solidly reliable and will keep you safe even in the urban night environment. 

Every time I see a SEAT car now I think of murder, death, crime...


Since I wrote the above the other day I think I have changed my mind. I was thinking about a supermarket logo (Tigros) which annoys me...

...and I've vaguely thought I'd never go to a their shops. Then they open one directly on my route to and from work...and in I pop. 

I don't like the logo because it is aggressive and twee at the same time, with the tiger in one two tone 2D style, while the apple is colourful with a shadow to give a 3D look. But though it annoys me it does not stop me shopping there, which leads me to think that much marketing/logo design/adverts have no effect whatsoever.

So maybe I will have a look at a SEAT car the next time it is time to buy a new car. Hopefully not for years...

Marketing (apparent failures or successes) does not always beat convenience and price.