Not applicable view

No thermodynamics (t)
Humans (evolving)
In 1824, French physicist-engineer Sadi Carnot initiated the general subject of the phenomena of the production of motion by heat, from the sufficiently universal point of view, as follows:

“[Thermodynamics] is the study of the principles and laws behind the phenomenon of the production of motion by heat, considered from a sufficiently general point of view, applicable to not only steam engines, but to all imaginable heat engines, whatever the working substance and whatever the method by which it is operated.”

The key word here is "whatever" and as long as the working substance (system or body) in question, whatever it may be, is not a human or a system of humans (social system), people generally do not object to the view that the laws of thermodynamics govern the universe, but when applied to humans (human thermodynamics) personal bias comes immediately to the fore, and many will argue, adamantly and fervently, for all sorts of difficult to discern reasons (e.g. religious, philosophical, conflicting belief systems, etc.), that thermodynamics does not apply to the governance, regulation, evolution, and or behavior humans.
In beliefs, not applicable view, similar to the "unbridgeable gap" mindset, as contrasted with the applicable view (e.g. Norman Dolloff), refers to position that thermodynamics does not apply to humans, in short.

The "not applicable view" is the view, held by many, that that thermodynamics and or the laws of thermodynamics do not apply to humans, and or to living organisms, in general; a logic held in spite of the generally held, long-standing position that thermodynamics governs the operation of every material body and system in the universe:

“Gentle mathematicians and physicists still cling to their laws of thermodynamics, and are almost epileptic in their convulsive assurances that they have reached a generalization which will hold good. Perhaps it will. Who cares?”
Henry Adams, June letter, 1903 [20]

The second law in particular being the supreme law (Eddington, 1928) of nature. In short, the "not applicable view" is the unwieldy position, held by some, that humans (or social systems of humans), in some way or another, are exempt (or above the law) from the regulation the first and second law of thermodynamics. While some of this objection can be directly scratched-off as a religious objection (e.g. William James, John Wójcik, etc.), objecting per the belief that humans have souls, spirits, or karma, or life, etc., beyond the auspices of measurable science, others are more difficult to discern, in regards to objection.

In 1909, supposedly with “one foot in the grave”, a few months before his end, American psychologist William James, in objection to the history thermodynamics theories of his Harvard colleague Henry Adams, commented his opposition opinion: [8]

“The ‘second law’ is wholly irrelevant to ‘history’—save that it sets a terminus—for history is the course of things before the terminus.”

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In 1939, French surgeon and biologist Alexis Carrel commented his view that: [9]

“The second law of thermodynamics, the law of dissipation of free energy, indispensable at the molecular level, is useless at the psychological level. As much importance should be given to feelings as to thermodynamics.”

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du Nouy
In 1942, French-born American mathematician, biophysicist, and religious philosopher Pierre Lecomte du Nouy’s used a Boltzmann-stylized statistical view of thermodynamics, to argue that the second law does not apply to humanity and that God is synonymous with anti-chance; in particular, he stated: [1]

“Obviously, Carnot-Clausius law, sometimes called the second law of thermodynamics, does not apply to living organisms.”

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In 1969, in objection to the psychological thermodynamics work of Sigmund Freud, English developmental psychologist John Bowlby commented:

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

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In his 1977 Nobel Lecture “Time, Structure and Fluctuations”, Belgian chemical thermodynamicist Ilya Prigogine opened to the following view: [10]

“Thermodynamic equilibrium may be characterized by the minimum of the Helmholtz free energy defined usually by: F = E – TS. Are most types of ‘organisations’ around us of this nature? It is enough to ask such a question to see that the answer is negative. Obviously in a town, in a living system, we have a quite different type of functional order.”

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Julian SimonSimon
In 1981, American economist Julian Simon commented that in regard to the second law in relation to human activity and economics that: [12]

“The notion of entropy, in the large, is entirely irrelevant to us.”

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In 1981, Greek economist Xenophon Zolotas argues that: [14]

“If it were eventually possible for man to put to use other forms of energy (solar, Aeolian, etc.), which by their nature are virtually unlimited, the entropy law would be practically irrelevant, since the economic process would occur as part of an open system.”

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George Gilder nsGilider
In his 1981 and 2000 publications, American political scientist George Gilder advocated the view that: [13]

“Gone is the view of a thermodynamic world economy, dominated by natural resources being turned into entropy and waste by human extraction and use … the key fact of knowledge is that it is anti-entropic: it accumulates and compounds as it is used … Concerning the microcosm, the mind transcends every entropic trap and overthrows matter itself. Through learning, civilization defies the thermodynamic laws of decline and fall.”

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Joseph McCauley nsMcCauley
In 2003, American physicist and econophysicist Joseph McCauley, founder of the Econophysics department at the University of Houston (see: thermodynamics education), in his “Thermodynamic Analogies in Economics and Finance: Instability of Markets” (see: financial thermodynamics), argued that: [15]

“Real financial markets cannot behave thermodynamically.”

Likewise, in 2011 he corroborated this with his opinion that: [16]

Thermodynamics is impossible in economics.”

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Edward Sanville (new)Sanville
In 2005, American computational chemist and quantum molecular dynamics researcher Edward Sanville commented: [7]

“Of course, human beings obey the laws of thermodynamics like everything else in the universe, but the Gibbs free energy equation [ΔG = ΔH – TΔ] only [can be used] to describe large systems of microscopic particles; [and cannot be applied] to analogous situations between human beings, just because the everyday and scientific words involved happen to correspond (in English).”

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Anon | Wikipedians
In 2005, Wikipedian The Literate Engineer, a civil engineering intern, commented: [15]

“I admit, open systems do exist and can be described with thermodynamics; nonetheless, their application to group dynamics is a major stretch, and modeling human relationships on them involves all sorts of unstated assumptions, for instance that a state function (like Gibbs free energy) even applies. Or that they're spontaneous.”

In 2005, Wikipedian Ten of All Trades, with a BS in physics and chemistry and a PhD in biology and biophysics, stated his view that: [16]

“Thermodynamics isn't meant to describe human relationships.”

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In the 2006 Rossini debate, American physical chemistry professor John Wójcik commented: [6]

“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.”

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Philip Moriarty nsMoriarty
In 2009, after being told (by Libb Thims) that an arrangement of students in a field has a measurable entropy and that the original view of thermodynamics, according to Gibbs (1876), is that “the comprehension of the laws which govern any material system is greatly facilitated by considering the energy and entropy of the system in the various states of which it is capable.’ A society is one such material system. If you think that you are exempt from these laws, that is your prerogative”, Irish thermal physics professor Philip Moriarty went on to argue that you cannot say that a particular arrangement of students has a thermodynamics entropy (see: Moriarty-Thims debate) and moreover that:

“Your thesis is that the laws of thermodynamicsgovern human existence’ is a grossly misleading understatement. Your thesis (such as it is) is that there are quantum mechanical, chemical bonds between humans which can give rise to ‘human reactions’ and that there are enthalpic/entropic contributions to a human’ free energy function (see: human free energy). This is delusional and based on fundamentally nonsensical premises.”
Philip Moriarty (2009), Moriarty-Thims debate (post #61), Sep 8


“Where did Gibbs say that ‘a society is one such material system’? He didn’t –that is your particular (incorrect) reading of the application of thermodynamics.”

In response to this comment, YouTube user PenguinJin commented to Moriarty:

“So, why are we exempt from this application of thermodynamics? Why would energy alter its behavior in a fundamental way when it began manifesting as the patterns of human behavior? Recursion is everywhere.”

To this, Moriarty offered the following terse reply:

“The main points are:
(i) An arrangement of students (or socks, or objects in a room) will not *spontaneously* rearrange themselves (unlike the milk molecules mentioned in the video).
(ii) There is no change in the thermodynamic free energy of, e.g., socks [or students], if we rearrange them.”

Moriarty, to summarize his views, also offered the following in-video interview statement: [4]

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

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Anon | Student
In 2010, following a lecture by American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims on an introduction to human thermodynamics to bioengineering students at a Chicago university, to exemplify, one student commented, in rather overtypical and frank style of American homogenized belief system rhetoric, in written response: [18]

“I believe thermodynamics can only function in man-made things: mechanical devices (such as vehicles), combustion, politics, and stuff. However, things like morals and love go far beyond thermodynamics. It can perhaps be argued to a certain point that thermodynamics can explain these phenomena. But if thermodynamics can’t even be fully explained in the physical body, how can it explain the mind and the soul.”

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Lubos Motl nsMotl
In 2010, Czech-American theoretical physicist, black hole thermodynamicist, and former Harvard professor Lubos Motl commented: [2]

“You've got to realize the blatant absurdity of trying to model the laws governing human relationships using the rules of thermodynamics, a set of rules that only apply at a molecular level. Human beings are not molecules, they are composed of molecules, but we aren't giant molecules. Human relationships are governed mostly by human psychology. I can only assume you're senile or crazy to believe this nonsense.”

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Ryan Grannell nsGrannell
In 2011, Irish atheist biochemistry student Ryan Grannell commented: [3]

“This is all just a horrendous analogy. Chemical laws apply to humans, but our behavior is more complex than something that can be modeled with a couple of thermodynamic equations. A + B → AB is just a pretentious way of stating something we already know; it tells us absolutely nothing new.”

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In 2011, American chemical engineer and ecological thermodynamicist Robert Ulanowicz, noted for his three decades worth of work on his free energy themed “ascendency” model of evolution (see: ontic openness), commented rather paradoxically his stern opinion that: [11]

Entropy or entropy-related measures (such as free energy) should *not* be invoked for living systems!”

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John PrausnitzPrausnitz
In 2013, American chemical engineer and molecular thermodynamicist John Prausnitz commented the following, in response to a query made by American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims about the fit of a possible "two cultures department" at the University of California, Berkeley: [19]

“I don't know what the Rossini debate is but I hope to find out. [The] idea for a department for teaching two cultures would not be appreciated at Berkeley. In the social sciences and in some humanities, thermodynamics may be useful as an analogy, as a suggestion for looking at a problem (e.g., information theory) but beyond that, I see little use of thermodynamics outside [physical] science.”

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See also: Unbridgeable gap

See also
John Hibben
Petre Trisca
Pitirim Sorokin
Paul Samuelson
Philip Mirowski
Peggy La Cerra
Tony Rothman
Granville Sewell
Tominaga Keii
Human thermodynamics (objections to)
Libb Thims (attack)
● Human chemistry (objections to)

1. (a) Nouy, Pierre Lecomte du. (1947). Human Destiny. Longmans, Green and Co.
(b) Nouy, Pierre Lecomte du. (1948). L’homme et sa Destine. Paris: Colombe.
2. Motl, Lubos. (2010). “Comment: Group Application Michael Kearney”, YouTube, Nov. 19.
3. Grannell, Ryan. (2011). “Category: Human Chemistry”, Bag of Many Things, (Jun 26 –Jul 22).
4. Moriarty, Philip. (2009). “Entropy – Sixty Symbols”, SixtySymbols (4:25-min), YouTube, Apr 23.
5. Bowlby, John (1969). Attachment and Loss: Vol I, 2nd Ed. (pgs. 20). Basic Books.
6. Wójcik, John F. (2006). ‘A Response to Chemical Thermodynamics in the Real World.’ (PDF) J. Chem. Educ. (83) 39.
7. Sanville, Edward and Thims, Libb. (2005). "Human Thermodynamics: Science or Pseudoscience", conversation originating on Wikipedia talk pages (Sep–Oct). IoHT Publications.
8. Browning, Don S. (1980). Pluralism and Personality: William James and Some Contemporary Cultures of Psychology, (pg. 35). Bucknell University Press.
9. (a) Carrel, Alexis (1939). Man: the Unknown (thermodynamics, pgs. 34, 149, 279). Harper & Brothers.
(b) Chehabi, H.E. (1990). Iranian Politics and Religious Modernism (pg. 52). I.B. Tauris.
10. Prigogine, Ilya. (1977). “Time, Structure and Fluctuations”, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 08.
11. Email communicate to Libb Thims, 2011.
12. Simon, Julian L. (1996). The Ultimate Resource 2 (ch. 4: Grand Theory, section: Entropy and Finiteness: the Irrelevant Dismal Theory, pgs. 77-83). 1981 1st ed. Princeton University Press.
13. (a) Glider, George. (1981). Wealth and Poverty (entropy, pgs. 59, 247, 258, etc.; thermodynamics, pg. 260-61). Basic Books.
(b) Gilder, George. (2000). Telecosm: How Infinite Bandwidth will Revolutionize Our World (pg. 260). Simon and Schuster.
14. Zolotas, Xenophon. (1981). Economic Growth and Social Welfare (pg. 57). New York University Press.
15. McCauley, Joseph L. (2003). “Thermodynamic Analogies in Economics and Finance: Instability of Markets.” Physica A, 329 (2003): pp. 199-212.
16. Email communicate to Libb Thims (23 Aug 2011).
17. Human thermodynamics (2) – Wikipedia: Articles for deletion.
18. Written critiques and review of Libb Thims' lecture ("An Introduction to Human Thermodynamics"), by eight students, submitted to the professor; copies sent to Libb Thims (15 Apr 2010).
19. Email communication from John Prausnitz to Libb Thims (28 Feb 2013).
20. Adams, Henry, Samuels, Ernest. (1992). Henry Adams, Selected Letters (thermodynamics, pgs. 438 (quote), 466, 517). Harvard University Press.

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