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. icon
    Niall (profile), 21 May 2013 @ 6:48am

    Re: Re: Einstein didn't publish a theory of relativity

    The very simple difference is that science makes predictions that CAN BE TESTED and is falsifiable. No religion can do that. Claiming that people 'believing' in science, no matter how strongly, qualifies any science as 'a religion' is seriously moving the goalposts. So little children have the 'Santa religion'? What about 'Tooth-fairyism' and 'The Grand Church of the Easter Bunny'?

    Arguments like these, while they do have some good philosophical elements, largely boil down to people who have issues with science trying to drag it down to the level of religion. Possibly there are philisophical issues with science, but in the end, it WORKS, and unlike religion generally, it self-corrects and advances. Not since the early days of Islam have I seen any religion trying to actually advance science and the knowledge of Man.

    Yes science is only a tool, but it's a damn effective one, and for many of us it's infinitely better than authoritarian hand-me-downs from the Bronze Age.

    You can't complain that science is no use because it's not perfect - that's the point of science. We learn, we add to it, and we develop new ideas and theories.

    I've also noticed a lot of science-deniers fixate on "what ideology is needed for funding", conveniently ignoring that many of the 'anti-science' positions are equally well-funded, if not more so. Science funding is not some sinecure for life, where one has to just publish one thing and lay back in comfort (join the RIAA for that). Science requires justifying everything you do to people who also know the topic, and relies heavily on being published, which only happens reliably if you *convince* people of being correct. It's not logic games or appeals to authority like religious apologetics and debate often are. Unlike religion (or even philosophy), Science doesn't claim to have all of the answers, especially not 'right now'.

    Gravity happens. Evolution happens. In this sense, they are factual statements of what happens about us. There are hypotheses and (scientfic) theories about these which need investigated, but it doesn't invalidate it. As they are different sciences, there are differences in the levels of these. Gravity is more observable than Evolution, but we probably have better theories (and more evidence of mechanisms) of Evolution.

    Natural selection is just one element of evolution (see Dawkins' "The Greatest Show on Earth"). Just because you can subdivide Evolution, and some bits are better understood than others, doesn't mean you can invalidate it as an incredibly powerful description of historical, current and future life any more than doubts about black holes invalidate the ability of an airplane to fly.

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