DailyDirt: Crackpots Versus Real Scientists

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Over a hundred years ago, Albert Einstein published what would become his theory of special relativity, and since then, there have been quite a few experiments that support Einstein's ideas. That's the way science usually works. A theory hypothesis is proposed, and if it's deemed worthy enough, other people will actually try to test out the theory hypothesis and see if its predictions can be verified (and every worthy theory hypothesis needs to be able to predict something that isn't already known). As non-traditional scientific publishing becomes easier and more popular, though, the signal-to-noise for interesting ideas can get a bit difficult to discern. Luckily, there are still some folks willing to bear the burden of debunking extraordinary claims from an endless stream of nearly-good ideas. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.
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Filed Under: abc conjecture, crowdsourcing, e8, grand unifying theory, gut, math, p=np, proof, science

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  1. identicon
    The Old in The Sea, 14 May 2013 @ 9:49pm

    Re: Einstein didn't publish a theory of relativity

    You're not being pedantic enough.

    First and foremost. "evolution" is not a fact. However, "change in the next generation" is a fact. The word "evolution" has so many additional connotations even when used in scientific literature. An explanation for this change is mixing of chromosomes from the parents (though this is only part of the explanation - single cells replication being somewhat different). The how, the why and the wherefore is up for grabs. (Put an evolutionist and a creationist in the same room and you will only have two opinions, but put two evolutionists in the same room and there will be at least opinions)

    Secondly, "The Theory of Evolution" is a group of philosophical standpoints. There are various hypotheses in play here. All of them have major problems in their predictive capabilities. If one looks at the processes involved in promulgating "The Theory", one can be surprised by the "religiosity" of the believers. If anything can be said here, "evolutionary theorists" are almost Hindu in their standpoint. I have read the writings of a number of Hindu philosophers and they see "Evolutionary Theory" as being a confirmation of their viewpoint. In like manner, "creationists" are coming from a particular philosophical standpoint.

    Thirdly, "natural selection" is a term for how people observe specific events. It doesn't require "evolutionary theory".

    Fourthly, "gravity" is a term used to describe a particular observation. There is currently no one "Theory of Gravity", even though there are a number of different hypotheses to explain the observations.

    Fifthly, I bring this up because scientists are people and are as affected by the various political, religious and philosophical backgrounds affecting them. There are enough discussions going on in the various science fields relating to what is the current politically correct ideology that must be followed to get funding.

    Just to give an example, "Standard Model of particle physics" has had some good success at predicting "New" particles to be had in high energy collisions. Yet it has some major flaws, one being the ability to predict the binding energy of nuclei. The equation used is (how shall we put it) a bit of a "black magic" equation using quite a number of "magic numbers". Yet, I have come across at least two other "theories" that have better predictions for the nuclear binding energy. Both of these "theories" look at creating models that dispense with some of the "base assumptions" used in the "Standard Model". They use less base assumptions.

    How well these will work will require much further study and they may end up failing in some fundamental ways. But, looking for better simpler explanations (without being too simple) is a goal that is admirable. I have a problem with the "big" theories because they keep adding more epicycles to the models to explain new observations. What we need is another Copernicus to cut through the growing waffle.

    Finally, science is a tool/methodology for investigating the world around us. It has its limits, just like everything else. Unfortunately, there are many who have elevated science to a position that is normally reserved for religions. The result is that honest investigation into the world around us has suffered as a result.

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