So I have a friend, henceforth referred to as Joe the Skeptic, who likes to talk to the LaRouchebags and other crazy people on campus. It's like a hobby for him.
"LaRouchebags" is our name for the LaRouche movement, a cult of personality around economist and philosopher Lyndon LaRouche. They are a very cryptic and bizarre political movement. If I were to pick an overarching theme, I'd say that it is their opposition to the British Empire. You know, as if we were still fighting the American Revolution.
And because Isaac Newton was British, he couldn't possibly deserve the credit which is given to him. He is a Babylonian witch, and may not have even existed. They believe all of Newton's laws of motion were stolen from Kepler's laws of planetary motion. As a physics student, they would say I'm part of the cult of Newton.
I think these guys prey on college dropouts.
At a previous point in time, Joe the Skeptic had given the LaRouchebags a simple physics problem. The problem involved frictional force. He asked them to solve it through use of Kepler's laws alone, without reference to Newton's laws. Of course, this is impossible, since Kepler's laws only refer to planetary orbits, and say nothing about non-orbital motion. But wouldn't you know, the LaRouchebags never admit it (and never solve the problem either).
The other day, I accompanied Joe the Skeptic on one of his ventures to speak with the LaRouchians. He asked one if he ever solved that physics problem he gave them. Yes, he said, he had e-mailed him the answer. Joe says he never got that e-mail. So the LaRouche guy starts talking about pre-Newtonian concepts of force. Allegedly, such-and-such scientist had decided that F=mv. And then later, another scientist decided that F=mv2. So when Newton came up with F=ma, that was nothing new. He just changed a "v" to an "a".
So, I said, Newton changed a wrong equation to a correct one? Doesn't that deserve credit? No, he says. All he did is change a letter. It doesn't matter whether you call it "v" or "a".
So my friends and I started telling him how ridiculous this is. The units aren't correct. "v" and "a" represent completely different concepts. No, they're not measured the same way. Would you say that Einstein simply took the equation E = mv2/2, dropped the 1/2, and changed the "v" to a "c" to make his famous equation E=mc2?
After a bit more of this, the guy Godwinned us all. See, it's people like us that allow this to happen. He points down to the sign on his table, which has a picture of Obama with a Hitler mustache. See, Hitler approves of Obama's health care policies. And if there's one thing we don't like about Hitler, it's his health care policies. Also, all of us are liberals, and liberals can't be scientists!
And then he said he wanted us to go away. He didn't want to talk to us anymore. Joe the Skeptic told me that this was the first time he had seen them ask anyone to go away.
Oh, the stories! Supposedly, many years ago, the LaRouchebags had a formal debate with the campus Objectivist club. Guess who won?