I find it disconcerting that office holders in the Brazilian federal government — the President included — give credence to the general nonsense and pseudoscientific theories of former astrologer and “self-educated philosopher” Olavo de Carvalho (see here). A country with a population of hundreds of millions of people is now ruled by politicians who are under the spell of an astrologer who is fond of conspiracy theories. For example, Olavo de Carvalho’s underwhelming cognitive abilities lead him to conclude that former US President Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii (see here).
Ignorance often breeds arrogance. Hence I was only mildly surprised when I found out that Olavo de Carvalho seems to believe that heliocentrism is no better than geocentrism. He goes on to make the foolish claim that Einstein invented the theory of special relativity in order to support the heliocentric theory. See here. Not only does he fail minimally to understand Einstein’s theory of special relativity, he also seems to be ignorant of Occam’s razor, which helps to distinguish Copernicus’ heliocentric model of the solar system from Ptolemy’s geocentric view. Conspiracy theorists such as Olavo de Carvalho often lack even a minimal understanding of the law of parsimony (see here an excellent article on this topic from Time magazine).
Often, those unfamiliar with Occam’s razor have never heard of Hanlon’s razor:
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Tragically, Hanlon’s razor may explain how and why the current rulers of Brazil have made such a spectacularly poor choice of intellectual mentor. Indeed, Albert Einstein, who made many other contributions to natural philosophy, said that “only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” Maybe this is why Olavo de Carvalho is no fan of Einstein.