New book calls science a "Priesthood"

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by rpenner, Dec 24, 2011.

  1. rpenner Fully Wired Staff Member

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    He did more than "not accept" the empirical fact that the locally measured speed of light in vacuum is always the same -- he asserted that the speed of light measured from a source moving at speed v relative to the observer was c + v (classically ballistic light particles), which has been found to be specifically untrue in the case of stars moving at many km/s and pions moving at appreciable fractions of the speed of light as well as being unsupported in other areas of electromagnetic phenomena. He would cherry pick sources from the fringe in support of this idea to the exclusion of all other data. Science doesn't require him to accept special relativity as some sort of axiom or tenet of belief, but methodological empiricism requires that Wallace accept that special relativity is an extremely precise summary of all relevant empirical fact when he has no facts demonstrated to the contrary just as empiricism requires him to reject the Newtonian theory of ballistic light which he clings to despite the evidence and despite that his objections to quantum electrodynamics are grounded in an aesthetic rejection of some pop-science straw-man description of the physical theory.

    Using the test theory intermediate between c and c+v, many experiments since 1913 have been done to try and directly find evidence for what the value of k is in c + kv.
    K. Brecher, “Is the Speed of Light Independent of the Velocity of the Source?”, Phys. Rev. Lett. 39 1051–1054, 1236(E) (1977).
    Uses observations of binary pulsars to put a limit on the source-velocity dependence of the speed of light. \(k \; < \; 2 \times 10^{\tiny -9}\)
    So Wallace is wrong on the order of a billion sigmas

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  3. ughaibu Registered Senior Member

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    In short, there has not been an observation of the speed of light being constant in all frames, has there?
     
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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Making a list of what appear to be irrelevant nouns is not "making a comparison".

    Lessee: are we to conclude that priesthoods, sanctuaries, etc, are flaws or imperfections in religions?

    The guys who have taken to posting in caps are telling me to settle down?

    Nobody is shouting an pounding tables. We're simply observing that the notion of science as embodying some kind of priesthood is not a reasonable one. Such claims mislead and misinform.

    There has not been an observation of bricks being subject to the force of gravity at all points on the earth's surface, either. What significance should we attach to that?
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012
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  7. rpenner Fully Wired Staff Member

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    Stop trying to use a straw-man of empirical fact. Absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence when a diligent search has been conducted. Having not been able to criticize the more than a century of searching or provide a reliable observation to the contrary, you now seek to shift the goal posts on what constitutes an empirical fact.

    - Stephen J. Gould, " Evolution as Fact and Theory"; Discover, May 1981

    - H. J. Muller, "One Hundred Years Without Darwin Are Enough" School Science and Mathematics 59, 304-305. (1959)

    Also "frame" has no basis in empiricism, as it theoretical construct akin to a coordinate system.

    A correct summary of all reliable observation made by man from the beginning of history is that the locally measured speed of light in vacuum is consistent for all observers and all light sources, regardless of the observer's speed relative to the source or any third reference and regardless of the speed of the source relative to the observer or any third reference. You can cast that in terms of coordinate systems linked to inertial, non-rotating references (inertial frames) and only then do you recover your statement, but if you ever visit a laboratory they will not have any frames (in this sense of the word) to show you.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012
  8. RJBeery Natural Philosopher Valued Senior Member

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    IMHO, yes. Organized Religion is the expression of an ideal tainted by man's natural tendencies.
     
  9. ughaibu Registered Senior Member

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    Bullfuckingshit. There has not and can never be an observation of the speed of light being the same in all frames. End of story.
    I have indulged you in this attempted character assassination so far, but I have had enough. Your claim that he provided no "data" is also false but I won't be wasting time while you wank around trying to defend that. I assume that by a "cognizant argument", you meant a cogent argument, regardless, what is detailed in Wallace's account, is not an argument of any form, it is a history. If you want to accuse him and his sources of lying, do so.
     
  10. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    Don't be a potty mouth. You can go to heck for that kind of language.

    What makes you say that?
     
  11. Motor Daddy ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ Valued Senior Member

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    Because it's impossible. It's like saying it can have two different speeds at the same time.
     
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    So?

    Let's try the same kind of observation in a different context, as above:
    So the similarity between science and religion is that they are both expressions of ideals, and both expressions are flawed with reference to their respective ideals?

    That seems reasonable, in some abstract sense. It doesn't mean they are similar expressions of the same ideals, sharing the same flaws, though. That would require argument and evidence.
     
  13. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    I wasn't addressing you - it has already been well established that you are completely ignorant of physics in general and relativity in particular.
     
  14. Motor Daddy ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ Valued Senior Member

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    So now I'm ignorant of physics because I don't agree with some theory you hold to be true? Your membership in the priesthood is nothing to be proud of, I assure you. I'd be ashamed if I were you.
     
  15. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    No. You're ignorant of physics because you don't understand the underlying theories of physics.
     
  16. Motor Daddy ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ Valued Senior Member

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    You mention the word theories. Why don't you refer to them as facts? Has there ever been a theory that physics once held to be true, and then later that theory was shown to be incorrect? Has the wonderful world of physics ever believed a fact to be true, only to find out later that that fact wasn't really a fact after all?
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012
  17. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    "A common distinction made in science is between theories and hypotheses. Hypotheses are individual empirically testable conjectures; while theories are collections of hypotheses that are logically linked together into a coherent explanation of some aspect of reality and which have individually or jointly received some empirical support." (from Wikipedia)

    As an example, if you drop a screwdriver in your garage, it falls. That's a fact. It happens due to the theory of gravity.

    Now, you may misunderstand gravity and think that it's God pushing on your head. That does not change the physical reality of what happens when you drop that screwdriver.

    Yes. A good example of this are the Newtonian reference frames you espouse. They have been demonstrated to be incorrect.
     
  18. Motor Daddy ☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ Valued Senior Member

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    Oh, I think I see what you're saying. You're saying a theory is not really a fact, it is just an attempt to explain something with logic, and that logic has been tested, but in reality you can never be sure your tests are correct, or your measurements are 100% accurate. I see. So what you are telling me is that if a screwdriver hits the floor, you're not really sure if it's the earth moving in the direction of the screwdriver or the screwdriver moving in the direction of the floor. You attempt to describe the scenario using a bunch of logic that can be refuted at any time by better logic, but in the end it's really no better than saying god did it, because after all, you really don't know what causes the screwdriver to hit the floor, do you? So what you are telling me is that in the end, science's explanation (or lack thereof) of what causes the screwdriver to fall, isn't really any better than explaining it by saying god did it? K, got it.
     
  19. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    There is evidence for certain theories, which make them superior to the notion that God did it. Just because something isn't absolute doesn't make it worthless.
     
  20. origin Trump is the best argument against a democracy. Valued Senior Member

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    Theories are theories they are not facts. Facts are used to determine if a theory is correct. This is sort of the opposite of what you do - you ignore facts that show your ideas are wrong.

    By the way there are a whole bunch of theories that were used to construct that computer you are typing on - seems like they must have been pretty accurate theories!

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  21. AlphaNumeric Fully ionized Moderator

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    You're misrepresenting physicists. As the whole "Neutrinos seem to have gone faster than light!" thing recently has shown, physicists are always checking and rechecking all the different phenomena pertaining to even the most fundamental principles in physics and when something comes up to seem to contradict that they work even harder to test it.

    Speaking as a theoretical physicist no one I've ever worked with thinks it's a 'law'. Even the use of such a word is almost absent from mainstream discussion, it's mostly used by lay persons who think "theory" means "an untested guess".

    As for circular reasoning, you're the guy who comes up with his own little world, shows it doesn't agree with relativity and then declares relativity therefore wrong. People have time and again said to you that a mathematically consistent construct doesn't automatically become physically valid, else both Newtonian and relativistic models would be true. What matters is experiment and presently all experiments support relativity and reject Newtonian absolute time or the constructs you always bang on about.

    You need to stop misrepresenting scientists, in doing so you only demonstrate you're willing to lie rather than make a proper case for your position.

    You're doing what you complain physicists supposedly do, assuming your position is how reality actually works. If the universe were to work how relativity says it does then what you've just asserted would not be true. Thus clearly its logically consistent to have multiple frames all observe light moving at the same speed. The question is whether reality works like that. You saying "No, it's impossible!" already presupposes the truth of what you're trying to argue for. Remember how you just complained about circular reasoning you think is used by physicists? Well now you're employing it. Well done, you're not only willing to misrepresent scientists, you're a hypocrite too.

    Facts and theories are different things. Theories are models which are consistent and supported by facts. Facts cannot be refuted but their interpretations can. You can only add new facts, you cannot negate them (else they were never facts in the first place). Adding new facts can falsify a theory if they are inconsistent with that theory.

    It might seem like splitting hairs but it's an important conceptual difference and one you'd do well to get your head around. Part of your problem with these various areas of physics seems to be you don't really understand how the scientific method works and how models, hypothesises and theories are developed and tested. You'd do well to get yourself a working understanding of some basic 1st year freshman physics, it would help your conceptual misunderstandings a great deal.
     
  22. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    Missing in your analysis is the holistic application of science, that it does not limit itself to any particular weakly supported idea in order to shore up its rules and statements about nature. Instead it draws from best evidence, best application of logic, tools and inference, testing, repeatability, and quality control.

    In short, science is a best use of knowledge and reasoning, nothing more. The only police that will ever come knocking are the ones who discovered your error.

    This is why attacks on science, as being something nefarious, appear so ludicrous. To attack science is to attack logic itself, and to do that you will have to reach back through history, not just to Aristotle, but to his predecessors as well.

    That's quite a reach.
     
  23. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    I would say that comparing science to a religion denigrates science, insofar as science is nothing more than a principle, and one that specifically grew out of the division between Natural Philosophy and Metaphysics, namely, that religious ideation (such as superstition) is contrary to the application of knowledge and reason.
    I haven't read Kuhn, but missing from that final statement is the observation that science is merely the enforcement of quality control to detect and correct imperfections. If there is one thing all scientists would agree that they study, it is error. It permeates human activity, so science, in pursuit of truth, is constantly pruning those back. For every fact of nature that science discovers, there is an onslaught of preemptive errors that have to be weeded out. This is not to say that all of science is right all of the time, but that science strives to be right all of the time, and gradually inches its way closer and closer to truth, as fast as human capacity allows.
    These are quality control methods. Do you presume that they are defective? I'm not aware of any gaping problems in any of those methods and institutions.
    I am not able to settle down, not because of you, but because of the systemic attacks on science, usually by fundamentalists. It so happens that this topic is one of their arguments. Science may not need my defenses, but that doesn't satisfy my desire to join the fray and see the battle won. I am actually an optimist. I do believe that in a generation or two these matters will seem passe, and people will wonder what the fuss was all about. At most, I'm just a little pissed that that world can't be here today.
    Best of luck with that. I would extend the term to include anyone who applies knowledge and reason to ascertain truth, according to best practices. By this definition, Charles Darwin was scientist as a kid, when he would go to the woods and trap mice for study. Academics is great for expanding the toolbox and reducing the naivete, so it gives the scientist a fighting chance to prevail. But I wouldn't hang the notion on a sheepskin. In fact, there are several degreed scientists who have chosen to abandon the field for careers as spokespersons for religion, as I alluded to before. It's hard to imagine how you surrender your position as a scientist, but these folks seem to have succeeded.
     

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