Human thermodynamics (objections to)

In science, objections to human thermodynamics are the negative opinions or detractors, in the last two-hundred years, that have professed strong objections to the use of thermodynamics to model or understand the dynamics, processes, and or evolutions involved in the act of human life (human thermodynamics) or the use of terms such as energy or entropy, etc., in human chemistry. These individuals and points of view are listed below.

See main: Goethe's human chemistry
In 1809, German polymath Johann Goethe used Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman's 1775 chemical affinity theory, where single displacement reactions, such as:
Cullen's reaction diagram (modern view)
are characterized as affinity reactions, subject to affinity table formulation (precursor to free energy tables), the force of which is quantified via chemical affinity or elective affinity preferences, which, in modern terms, is known as the change in Gibbs free energy ΔG, as shown by the following expression, where A is affinity:

A= -\Delta G \,
Christoph Wieland
to outline a theory of affinity reactions occurring between people (as if A, B, and C were humans), in a pre-determined way, in coded form, in his novella Elective Affinities. In 1810, Goethe's fellow author and neighbor Christoph Wieland (pictured adjacent) sent a letter (which he suggested should be burned after it is read) to his close friend German philologist and archaeologist Karl Böttiger stating that: [1]

“To all rational readers, the use of the chemical theory is nonsense and childish fooling around.”
Wieland, to note, objected owing to the "radicalness of his Christianity" as he commented.
Charles Cooley
Cooley and Mead
At the turn of the 20th century, supposedly, having been stimulated by the equilibrium and life theories of English philosopher Herbert Spencer and the reserve energy theories of American psychologist William James, American social psychologists Charles Cooley and George Mead questioned the validity of applying theories taken from the physical sciences to the activities of human beings. In particular, thermodynamic laws, they argued, did not appear to make sense of psychological realities. [10]
John Bowlby
Freud's psychodynamics
See main: Psychodynamics
Throughout his career, British developmental psychologist John Bowlby (shown adjacent) was very outspoken against Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud’s use and application of thermodynamics in psychology in his development of, what Bowlby calls, Freud’s “psychical energy model”, otherwise known as psychodynamics. In fact, Bowlby devoted the entire first chapter, titled “Point of View”, of his monumental three-volume Attachment series treatise, towards an effort to discredit Freud in his use of physics terms, such as energy, entropy, force, pressure, or inertia, as in "principle of inertia", etc., in psychology. To cite one example, at the end of this first chapter, published in 1969, Bowlby states: [2]

“Nor is it to be supposed that the principle of entropy apples to living as it does to non-living systems.”

Bowlby is thus under the view that the second law of thermodynamics does not apply to living systems, people in particular.

Ironically, one of the strongest objectors to the use of thermodynamics, particularly entropy, to understand human society and economics was American economist Paul Samuelson
(shown adjacent), winner the 1970 Nobel Prize in Economics, sole protegé of the American polymath Edwin Wilson, who had himself been the sole protegé of Yale's great physicist Willard Gibbs, the main founder of chemical thermodynamics. Samuelson was adamantly against any version of economic thermodynamics, in spite of the fact that he himself used Gibbs mathematics in his own work. Most famously, in his 1970 Nobel Lecture, after digging into a discussion on his reformulation of the Le Chatelier’s principle in economics, a principle based on Gibbsian thermodynamics, Samuelson told the audience that: [3]
Paul Samuelson (1962)
“There is nothing more pathetic than to have an economist or a retired engineer try to force analogies between concepts of physics and the concept of economics … how many dreary papers have I had to referee in which the author is looking for something that corresponds to entropy or to one or another form of energy.”

In another example, in 1972 he commented that: [4]

“The sign of a half-baked speculator in the social sciences is his search for something in the social system that corresponds to the physicist's notion of entropy.”

Likewise, at the 1989 Gibbs Symposium, organized to honour the memory of Gibbs on the 150th anniversary of his birth, Samuelson had become even more pessimistic on the use of thermodynamics in economics:

“As will become apparent, I have limited tolerance for the perpetual attempts to fabricate for economics concepts of ‘entropy’ imported from the physical sciences or constructed by analogy to Clausius-Boltzmann magnitudes”.

Moreover, at the Symposium, he continues: [5]

“The monthly mail still brings grandiose schemes to replace the dollar as a unit of value by energy or entropy units. Superficial knowledge of thermodynamics, brought into contact with ignorance of economics, cannot even in the presence of the catalyst of noble intentions beget stable equilibrium of useful products. This is not a tautology, merely a finding of fifty-five years of reading the morning mail.”

Samuelson states here then that during the years 1934 to 1989 he has been receiving article submissions, either each morning or monthly, on the subject of thermodynamics applied in economics.

John Wojcik
Rossini’s political thermodynamics
See main: Rossini debate; see also: Political thermodynamics
In 1971, American chemical thermodynamicist Frederick Rossini argued that governments are regulated by the laws of chemical thermodynamics. In particular, during one part of his Priestley Medal address, used the combined law of thermodynamics to understand the paradox between freedom and security in social life. [6] This lecture, 35-years later, in 2006, came to spark quite a debate between Americans chemist Harold Leonard, physical chemist John Wójcik, and chemist Todd Silverstein. [7] To cite one opinion in this debate, voiced by Wójcik:

“Worst of all, there is some danger that chemical thermodynamics will have ascribed to it a power that it simply does not have, namely, the power to explain the human condition.”

Of course, as discussed in his article, Wojcik, similar to Weiland, is a hardened Christian (in fact taught physical chemistry at Catholic college), and this is where his real objection lies.

Ian StewartCohen and Stewart
In the 1994 work The Collapse of Chaos, English zoologist Jack Cohen and mathematician Ian Stewart (1945-), who seems to be the main objector, give a very derogatory and near elementary school view of thermodynamics, in general, and in the context of the complexity of life, attempt to argue that it is not relevant. [15] In particular, they define the second law simply as "disorder always increases", and comment that: [16]

Thermodynamics is a horrible trap for the unwary. It works beautifully in its original context, heat engines. In most other areas it is usually no more than a metaphor, one that has often been stretched far beyond its breaking point.”

Beyond this, they tout out near anti-scientific advice such as:

“If the laws of thermodynamics seem to conflict with the evidence of your senses, believe your senses and take a long hard look at thermodynamics.”

They go on to give nonsensical statements such as “the second law applies only to closed systems in thermodynamic equilibrium”, that the question of how the existence of life is consistent with the second law “is bogus”, that “the entropy of the universe does not [italics theirs] increase over time.” There basic message to biologists is that “we don’t need to grapple with thermodynamics [or] the molecular structures of chemicals” in order to understand life.

Stewart’s 2012 book In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations that Changed the World, contains a chapter on the second law, wherein he rambles on incoherently about how thermodynamics is related to information and that it doesn’t apply to Darwin’s theory of evolution. [18]

Entropy of students
Irish physicist Philip Moriarty explaining (see: Moriarty-Thims debate) in his 2009 (60 Symbols) YouTube video that ordered arrangements of students (right) can be thought of as being in a low entropy state, and that dispersed arrangements of students (left) can be thought of as being in a high entropy state, but that he cautions that this is only a "metaphor" and that in reality, in his own words, “you cannot say that a particular arrangement of students has a thermodynamic entropy.”
Moriarty-Thims debate
See main: Moriarty-Thims debate
On 23 April 2009, Irish physicist Philip Moriarty (shown adjacent), a professor of thermal physics for six years, contributed to a video on the symbol “S” on the University of Nottingham's SixtySymbols YouTube channel. On April 30, unaware of Moriarty's video, American chemical engineer Libb Thims made a similar video entitled “What is Entropy?. Shortly thereafter, Thims came across Moriarty’s video and ended up commenting on many points in the video, e.g. Moriarty’s comment that “the concept [of the symbol S (as discussed in the context of the video)] was developed by a guy named Ludwig Boltzmann”, etc. Moriarty responded to these comments at the YouTube channel and went on to criticise strongly the applications of chemistry, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics to human activity (including romantic liaisons), posting up a followup video three months later, stating the following view:

“Concepts of entropy apply [only] to gas molecules; you cannot say that a particular arrangement of students has a thermodynamic entropy.”

Here, Moriarty is representative of someone who fundamentally misunderstands entropy, which applies to any and all material bodes of the universe, which is why it is one of the laws of the universe. Moriarty continued on to engage with Thims in a prolonged online debate during Sept. 2009. Moriarty's objections to Thims' human thermodynamics "thesis" are detailed in that debate (during which Moriarty repeatedly describes human thermodynamics as nonsensical pseudoscience). During the debate Moriarty summarised Thims' views as follows:

“Thims’ laughable central premise is as follows [in Moriarty’s view]: ‘well, a human is made of lots of atoms. Therefore a human is just a big molecule. Big molecules will behave just like small molecules. Therefore I can apply all thermodynamic principles to human ‘molecules’.”

This, however, is not Thims' central premise, which is namely that the Lewis inequality applies to human surface interactions as it does to any and all isothermal-isobaric freely going chemical reactions, which is what defines what is "natural" and "unnatural" in earthbound conditions; that a human (according to physical mass) is a 26-element molecules, a now textbook definition (see: Ecological Stoichiometry, 2002), is an aside.

Recent views
On November 24, 2005, American chemical engineer Libb Thims added a link to the Wikipedia chemistry article on a simplistic overview of "human chemical reactions", and within fifteen minutes the overview was skimmed and the link was removed by a retired high school geology teacher, by the name of V. Smith, with the following reasoning:

“The presentation of love viewed as a human chemical reaction (Mx + Fy → MxFy) between two human molecules is good for a laugh, but not much else.”
Stephen Lower
Of note, this last quote was, in large part, a turning point in the irritation level of Thims' mind, impelling him into the irreversible task of writing up the world's first textbook on the subject of human chemistry, a process which took 18-months and 14-days to complete (finished in September, 2007).

In 2007, Canadian chemist Stephen Lower (shown adjacent) considered the following statement, written by American chemical engineer Libb Thims:

Human chemistry is the study of reactions between individuals who are viewed as chemical species and with the energy, entropy, and work that quantify these processes. In modern human chemistry, people are viewed as chemical species, or specifically human molecules, A or B, and processes such as marriage or divorce are viewed as chemical reactions between individuals...”

to be "crackpot", meaning it is something akin to an eccentric or lunatic notion, and listed it among a grouping of pseudoscience subjects. In regards to conflict of interest, in the case of Lower, we note that one of his favorite websites is the Scary Bible Quotes site, meaning that he is objecting on religious grounds. [8]
Octavian Ksenzhek
In 2007, Russian bioelectrochemist Octavian Ksenzhek (shown adjacent) put forward the argument that thermodynamics is applicable to economics, but that is reign in political affairs is not possible. According to Ksenzhek, in relation to the thermodynamics of the formation of unions: [9]

“Apart from economic reasons for joining or not joining societies into huge unions, a significant role may also be played by political considerations ... this aspect, however, is beyond the scope of a thermodynamic approach.”

On March 16, 2008, Thims found out about the 22nd Annual Gibbs Conference on Biothermodynamics (October 4-7, 2008), at Southern Illinois University, and on a whim sent out a letter of interest to present (poster or lecture) on human thermodynamics to site organizer American biophysicist Michael Johnson, using as a reference. [13] Johnson then passed the email on to current year site organizers American biochemists Jannette Carey and John Correia (shown adjacent). [14]
John Correia
On March 18, Carey emailed back to Thims that the program is focused on molecular thermodynamics and that the "program is already set" and Correia emailed back:

"Is this [a] joke?"

Correia, of coincidence, is a graduate of Villanova University, a Roman Catholic university (meaning Christian-values centric), similar to same as Wojcik (who taught physical chemistry there), meaning that four of the "objectors" on this page (Wieland, Wojcik, Lower, and Correia) are objecting because the premise that chemical thermodynamics governs human activity conflicts with Christianity.

In 2010, Ian Forrester, in comment to English computer scientist Tim Lambert, defined American chemical engineer Libb Thims as "more of a crank than complete whack job Nasif Nahle" as follows: [17]

“Yes Nasif Nahle is a complete whack job. I did a little bit of searching and found that he has one English paper listed by Google Scholar. It is published in a 'journal' called Journal of Human Thermodynamics. It contains such gems as: 'On the Mechanical Equivalent of Heat and Occupation', 'Facial Vibration Imaging Technology and Quantification of Thermodynamic States of Individuals', 'Coriolis Force and Asymmetry in Chemical-Biological Evolution', and 'Human Thermodynamics and Business Efficiency'. The journal is run by someone called Libb Thims who is even more of a crank than NN.”

Krzysztof KulakowskiIn 2013, Polish physicist Krzysztof Kulakowski, noted for his 2008 sociophysics article “Sociophysics: an Astriding Science”, focused on asking if the second law of thermodynamics can be useful in the social sciences”, commented the following to American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims in query about if he would be interested in being on the JHT review board: [19]

“I would accept it willingly, but the problem is that I deeply do not believe that thermodynamics can be fruitful in solving social sciences, where I work.”

The following is a list of people who wanted their Hmolpedia article deleted, for reasons to the effect that they viewed their theory or point of view as not being "human thermodynamic", or something along these lines:

Peggy La Cerra (29 Aug 2011)
Sarah Wolf (19 Mar 2013)

See also

Elective Affinities (enemies)
Human thermodynamics (objections to)
● Human chemistry (objections to)
Libb Thims (attack)

1. Wieland, Christoph Martin. (1810). "Letter to Karl August Böttiger" July 16. Weimar. Quoted from Tantillo 2001, pg. 9-10.
2. Bowlby, John (1969). Attachment and Loss: Vol I, 2nd Ed. (pgs. 20). Basic Books.
3. Samuelson, Paul. (1970). “Maximum Principles in Analytical Economics”, Nobel Lecture, December 11.
4. Samuelson, Paul. (1972). The Collected Scientific Papers (pg. 450). Vol. 3, ed. R. Merton. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
5. Caldi, D. G. and Mostow, George D. (1989). Proceedings of the Gibbs Symposium, May 15-17, (section: Gibbs in economics, by Paul Samuelson, pgs. 255-68). American Mathematical Society.
6. (a) Rossini, F.D. (1971). Chem. Eng. News., April 5, 49 (14): 50-53, American Chemical Society. (Priestly Medal Address)
(b) Leonard, Harold, E. (2006). “Chemical Thermodynamics in the Real World.” Letters, Journal of Chemical Education, (83) 39, Jan, No. 1. pg. 39.
7. (a) Leonard, Harold, E. (2006). “Chemical Thermodynamics in the Real World.” Letters, Journal of Chemical Education, (83) 39, Jan, No. 1. pg. 39.
(b) Wójcik, John F. (2006). ‘A Response to Chemical Thermodynamics in the Real World.’ J. Chem. Educ. (83) 39.
(c) Silverstein, Todd, P. (2006). “State Functions vs. State Governments”, Journal of Chemical Education, Jun. (83): 847, Letters.
8. (a) Lower, Stephen. (2007). “List of Flim-flam, Pseudoscience, and Nonsense”, Online listings.
(b) In regards to conflict of interest in the case of Lower, a point to note is that he is religiously predisposed or biased, e.g. one of his favorite websites is the Scary Bible Quotes site. This is a common factor to look for behind a person's motives to objecting to a science of "human chemistry".
9. Ksenzhek, Octavian S. (2007). Money: Virtual Energy - Economy through the Prism of Thermodynamics, (pg. 118). Universal Publishers.
10. Russett, Cynthia E. (1991). Sexual Science (pgs. 162-63; also: entropy, pg. 128). Harvard University Press.
13. (a) Annual Gibbs Conference on Biological Thermodynamics – Gibbs Society.
(b) Michael L. Johnson (faculty) – University of Virginia.
14. (a) Jannette Carey (faculty) – Princeton University.
(b) John Correia (faculty) – University of Mississippi Medical Center.
15. (a) Cohen, Jack and Stewart, Ian. (1994). The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World (thermodynamics, pg. 249-52, 254, 257, 264, 326). Viking.
(c) The Collapse of Chaos – Wikipedia.
16. Clark, Robert P. (1997). The Global Imperative: an Interpretive History of the Spread of Humankind (pg. 6). Westview Press.
17. Posted by: Ian Forrester, 03 Apr 2010.
18. Stewart, Ian. (2012). In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations that Changed the World. Basic Books.
19. (a) Kulakowski, Krzysztof. (2008). “Sociophysics: an Astriding Science” (abs), May 26, ArXiv.
(b) Email communication with Libb Thims (14 May 2013).

External links
Human thermodynamics: science or pseudoscience? - IoHT, Chicago.
Comments on human thermodynamics – IoHT, Chicago.
Is this website completely pseudoscientific/a pisstake? (2011) –

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