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[P]
Uncaused Force. Teach the Controversy!

By Coryoth in Science
Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 01:25:51 AM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

It is time to closely and rigorously examine the prevailing ideas about gravity and force, its limitations and its failures. Our abilities to observe and record the very workings of the universe have improved astonishingly over the last hundred years. We now have space based telescopes, vast radio telescopes, and a stunning array of other equipment for astronomical observation. We also have at our disposal huge and expensive particle accelerators and other equipment to detect and observe interactions at the smallest possible scale. With these tools at our disposal, new observations comes an ever mounting weight of evidence that our very conceptions of gravity and force are deeply flawed.


In the early 1980s astronomers began noticing a strange phenomenon. More powerful telescopes were providing more precise and detailed data about distant galaxies, and it was not what was expected [1],[2],[3]. Stars that cluster into galaxies form orbits about a dense central hub. The nature of these orbits, according to standard theories of gravity (both classical Newtonian and Einstein's General Relativity), should be determined by their distance from the central hub. Just as the more distant planets in our solar system complete slower orbits of the sun, the theory predicted that the further the stars were from the galactic center, the slower their orbit. This was not at all what was occurring however. Distant stars were moving at the same speed as those much closer to the center - in fact stars tended to have a roughly fixed orbital speed regardless of their distance. Quite simply, gravity wasn't working.

Later, in the early 1990s yet more evidence came to light. Observations of certain classes of supernovae gave some startling results. If the observations were to be believed then not only was the universe expanding, but the rate expansion was increasing [4],[5]. Such an acceleration could simply not be accounted for by standard theories of gravity. It was assumed that the observations must be in error. Unfortunately a vast array of other methods that attempted to get a more accurate measurement simply confirmed the acceleration. The theory of gravity fails to explain this adequately.

At the same time that astronomers were collecting observation contradicting the flawed theory of gravity, scientists working at the other end of the scale spectrum were generating equally confounding results. The unreasonable effectiveness of quantum field theory in describing and predicting the interactions of fundamental particles was shown again and again in experiments. Yet at a fundamental level the theory of gravity proposed by Einstein with General Relativity was simply incompatible with quantum field theory [6],[7],[8]. Trying to treat gravity as another particle results in nonsense predictions; particles themselves can't reasonably have a derivable gravitational field if, as predicted by quantum mechanics, its position and velocity cannot simultaneously be known; General relativity and quantum mechanics are entirely at odds when it comes to what happens in the neighbourhood of singularities [9]. In short, at the fine scale gravity simply doesn't work.

So if gravity is flawed at both the atomic and galactic scale, surely it makes sense to question exactly how efficacious it really is at all the scales in between. While Newton's conception of gravity seems to produce adequate results, the reality is that predictions of planetary motion as given by such a theory are simply approximations. The three body problem remains unsolved. One of the greatest mathematicians of the last 200 years, Henri Poincare spent much time trying to resolve the problem as a means to determine if the our solar system is, in fact, stable. He failed. Thus despite claims that Newton's theory has been verified  by observation, it is only correct up to the quality of the approximation. There could very well be other forces at work, subtly adjusting the movements of the planets, keeping the entire system stable. The question remains? How should we deal with the patchwork, flawed and hole-ridden theory of gravity?

The answer is as clear here as it is in dealing with the irreducible complexity and specified complexity that shatter the flawed theory of evolution. There is clearly a force in action causing stars to orbit galactic centers at an almost fixed velocity, the same force that drives the acceleration of the expansion of the universe - a force caused by nothing we are capable of observing or detecting: an uncaused force.  Clearly it is this same uncaused force that acts at the quantum mechanical scale rather than the flawed theoretical "gravity" that is incompatible with the observed phenomena of particle physics. Indeed, in considering such things we can see the actions of such an uncaused force as a delicate and subtle influence on everything in the universe: from the movements of subatomic particles, to the movements of the stars in the heavens. And yet in every high school in America we still teach the fallacious theory of gravity that is so clearly contradicted by the physical world.

It is clear that this inaccurate and defective theory is being pushed by secular scientists seeking to further their anti-religious agenda. A true accounting of physics will show the failures of this "theory" to explain observable results. It is time to give equal time to Uncaused Force as an alternative theory in our classrooms, to let our children see that science itself shows the very action of the hand of God at every level, and every instant, of our Universe. Don't let unchristian scientists pollute the mind of our youth with their erroneous theory of gravity that denies God's hand. Write to your schoolboard and demand equal time for the theory of Uncaused Force. It is time for an open mind in science. Teach the controversy.

References:

[1] Observations of the dynamics of eight early-type galaxies, Royal Astronomical Society, Monthly Notices, vol. 194, Mar. 1981, p. 879-902.
[2] Rotation curves, mass distributions and total masses of some spiral galaxies., Astron. Astrophys., 56, 465-468 (1977)
[3] Rotational properties of 23 SB galaxies, Astrophysical Journal, Part 1, vol. 261, Oct. 15, 1982, p. 439-456.
[4] Observational Evidence from Supernovae for an Accelerating Universe and a Cosmological Constant, Reiss, Adam G, et al. Astron.J. 116 (1998) 1009-1038
[5] Measurements of Omega and Lambda from 42 High-Redshift Supernovae, Perlmutter et al. Astrophys.J. 517 (1999) 565-586
[6] General Relativistic Effects of Gravity in Quantum Mechanics, Konno and KasaiProgress of Theoretical Physics, Vol.100 No.6 pp. 1145-1157
[7] Search for Violations of Quantum Mechanics, Ellis and Hagelin, Nuclear Physics B, Volume 241, Issue 2, p. 381-405.
[8] Gravity and inertia in quantum mechanics, Staudenmann, Werner, Colella, and Overhauser, Phys. Rev. A 21, 1419-1438 (1980)
[9] The Causal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and The Singularity Problem in Quantum Cosmology, de Barros and Pinto-Neto, Nuclear Physics B - Proceedings Supplements, Vol 57, 247 (1997)

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Poll
The Theory of Gravity is...
o a fact. 14%
o just a theory. 44%
o an atheistic attempt to deny God. 16%
o evil and should be banned from our classrooms! 25%

Votes: 84
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Observatio ns of the dynamics of eight early-type galaxies
o Rotation curves, mass distributions and total masses of some spiral galaxies.
o Rotational properties of 23 SB galaxies
o Observatio nal Evidence from Supernovae for an Accelerating Universe and a Cosmological Constant
o Measuremen ts of Omega and Lambda from 42 High-Redshift Supernovae
o General Relativistic Effects of Gravity in Quantum Mechanics
o Search for Violations of Quantum Mechanics
o Gravity and inertia in quantum mechanics
o The Causal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics and The Singularity Problem in Quantum Cosmology
o Also by Coryoth


Display: Sort:
Uncaused Force. Teach the Controversy! | 141 comments (117 topical, 24 editorial, 0 hidden)
So what's flawed? (none / 1) (#1)
by khallow on Mon Aug 22, 2005 at 11:08:29 PM EST

While this is a fair troll, but it's pretty easy to refute. Curved space explains these details. If you were in a flat space then there would be this mysterious acceleration. But, if the observations are correct, we're inside space with a slight curvature.

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Well, that's one... (none / 1) (#4)
by Coryoth on Mon Aug 22, 2005 at 11:46:09 PM EST

Generally the cited scheme for explaining the acceleration is dark energy. Alternatively there's things like TeVeS which is a version of Modified Newtonian Dynamics that is compatible with General Relativity.

Of course you still have the issues with orbital velocities of stars about galaxies to explain. Generally Dark Matter covers that. Then you have the quantum field theory puzzle, for which there's either string theory, or loop quantum gravity.

If you know enough physics you cna make some cogent arguments against all of this reasonably easily. But then if you actually know some biology you can make cogent arguments ID reasonably easily. Which is kind of the point really.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

some comments (none / 0) (#19)
by khallow on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 08:36:17 AM EST

Generally the cited scheme for explaining the acceleration is dark energy. Alternatively there's things like TeVeS which is a version of Modified Newtonian Dynamics that is compatible with General Relativity.

Dark energy is negative curvature. As for TeVeS, the key seems to be that it has the right asymptotics for regimes we know of. But it appears (after I glanced through some stuff) to used to explain dark matter not dark energy.

If you know enough physics you cna make some cogent arguments against all of this reasonably easily. But then if you actually know some biology you can make cogent arguments ID reasonably easily. Which is kind of the point really.

Well, you can make cogent arguments about anything. That's really the point of Sophism.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

TeVeS (none / 0) (#21)
by Coryoth on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 09:46:58 AM EST

Was conceived to cover dark matter (well, MOND was, and TeVeS is essentially that), but it also answers the dark energy question reasonably - see Hao and Akhoury (arXiv:astro-ph/0504130v2)

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

GR, that's what. [nt] (none / 0) (#15)
by Empedocles on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 07:12:02 AM EST



---
And I think it's gonna be a long long time
'Till touch down brings me 'round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home

[ Parent ]
onion did a better job (2.90 / 10) (#5)
by circletimessquare on Mon Aug 22, 2005 at 11:46:58 PM EST

intelligent falling

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Nice (3.00 / 3) (#6)
by Coryoth on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 12:54:35 AM EST

But a slightly different target. It's pure satire. I'm aiming more at the scientific methodology of Intelligent Design rather than mere existence of it.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

IAWTP +1FP anyway [nt] (none / 0) (#61)
by Smiley K on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 08:42:37 PM EST


-- Someone set up us the bomb.
[ Parent ]
I see no equations /nt (3.00 / 2) (#8)
by dhall on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 01:58:20 AM EST



FATMOUSE + YOU = FATMOUSE (3.00 / 5) (#40)
by glor on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 03:44:19 PM EST


--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

HI REZ PROOF OR STFU (none / 0) (#67)
by Sigismund of Luxemburg on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 10:17:30 PM EST


ANONYMISED
[ Parent ]
Asked and answered: (none / 1) (#75)
by glor on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 11:02:04 PM EST

http://www.siliconfire.net/fatmouse/

--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

all that shit just to get this rant in: (none / 0) (#17)
by nietsch on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 08:17:27 AM EST

It is clear that this inaccurate and defective theory is being pushed by secular scientists seeking to further their anti-religious agenda. A true accounting of physics will show the failures of this "theory" to explain observable results. It is time to give equal time to Uncaused Force as an alternative theory in our classrooms, to let our children see that science itself shows the very action of the hand of God at every level, and every instant, of our Universe. Don't let unchristian scientists pollute the mind of our youth with their erroneous theory of gravity that denies God's hand. Write to your schoolboard and demand equal time for the theory of Uncaused Force. It is time for an open mind in science. Teach the controversy.
To which my reaction is: move to -1 vote/slaughter.

Hmmm? (3.00 / 2) (#22)
by Coryoth on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 09:51:53 AM EST

And here I was thinking that "all that shit" was there as a demonstration that plausible sounding "scientific" arguments can be effectively made against almost any scientific theory, and that the method of justification for ID is extensible to any field with disturbing results. Ah well.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

"Plausible Sounding" (none / 1) (#30)
by neuroplasma on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 12:33:56 PM EST

Alright, if you so prove that gravity is flawed, where is your proof that the replacement is 'the hand of God?'

You can't use 'evidence' to debunk something and then use no evidence to hypothesize a replacement.

--
"...you know how you pple are... very sneaky with untrusting slanty eyes" - LxXCaligulaXxl@aol.com
[ Parent ]

Well naturally (3.00 / 3) (#32)
by Coryoth on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 12:56:48 PM EST

for the "strict scientific" version that you'd be pushing to go into classrooms you wouldn't actually mention God at all, and simply ascribe it all to "an uncaused force", while you explain to the Christian lobby groups that it really is all about God to garner support.

Anyway, this is the entire point - this is almost precisely the argument ID uses (I've been reading what I can of ID literature to try and get the parallels as close as possible in style and method of argument). They point to things that are currently unexplained or not well explained in evolution and state that the lack of explanation is "evidence" for their theory. If we can't currently discern a way in which a trait could have evolved, it must have been designed. If we can't find any observable or detectable cause for the action of a force, it must be an uncaused force. Any holes in this are most certainly also holes in ID - and that's the point.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Step away from the keyboard (none / 0) (#100)
by desiderata on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 10:39:24 AM EST

You fail it.

[ Parent ]
Side Comment about Intelligent Design (2.00 / 3) (#20)
by mberteig on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 08:56:52 AM EST

Irreducible complexity is mathematically indefensible.


Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
Your link (none / 1) (#113)
by wurp on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 02:30:49 PM EST

While very worthwhile, your link didn't at all assert that irreducible complexity is mathematically indefensible.  It asserted that the anti-evolution argument that something so complex as life couldn't have been created by accident is flawed, and demonstrated how.
---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]
-1 retarded Troll (1.33 / 3) (#28)
by Masklinn on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 12:28:55 PM EST

And the reference to the supposed "irreductible complexity" (which doesn't, in fact, exist) which supposedly shatters the theory of evolution (and doesn't, in fact, shatter even a nut) doesn't help considering this... thing... seriously



oh well... (3.00 / 2) (#29)
by Masklinn on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 12:31:52 PM EST

...looks like i missed the irony, i'll blame english not being my native language for it

Sorry, was too subtle for me :/



[ Parent ]
+1 SP, good troll (1.25 / 4) (#31)
by rpresser on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 12:43:16 PM EST

Would be better without the over-the-top title.
------------
"In terms of both hyperbolic overreaching and eventual wrongness, the Permanent [Republican] Majority has set a new, and truly difficult to beat, standard." --rusty
-1: Lame Troll (1.50 / 8) (#33)
by ewhac on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 02:08:59 PM EST

If you went for the satire angle, you'd have better luck. Unfortunately, I parsed this as a troll, so down it goes.

Yes, current theories surrounding gravity are starting to fall apart, as is string theory (which was an ugly hack to begin with). A lot of new work needs to be done to make new observations and conceive of new models to try to explain them. It's an exciting time in the world of science and physics.

I'm sure $(GOD) is proud we're taking such a deep, abiding interest in Her creation.

Schwab
---
Editor, A1-AAA AmeriCaptions. Priest, Internet Oracle.

0: humorless cunt (1.71 / 7) (#34)
by Pooping in Urinals on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 02:11:38 PM EST


"...[T]he first midget amputee getting bukkaked by 20 japanese buddhist monks and I bet your gonna say 'well thats what the miscellaneous column is for.'" -- army of phred
[ Parent ]

+1 (1.75 / 4) (#35)
by nanometer on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 02:36:37 PM EST

not hilarious, but it made me smile smugly


--- He who has imagination without learning has wings but no feet.
Funny (3.00 / 2) (#36)
by n8f8 on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 03:08:57 PM EST

Ahh, I used to be able to produce tripe like that while I was in college and had to crank out a paper every few days. Keep it up.

Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
-1, just for the first sentence [nt] (none / 1) (#37)
by alby on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 03:28:03 PM EST



Question about gravity for physics nerds (none / 1) (#38)
by pHatidic on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 03:38:57 PM EST

I never took college physics, but in HS physics we were taught that all mass was attracted to all other mass by gravity. I am wondering if there is any proof of this. For example, refute the following theory:

Let's say we have two particles, A and B. A and B are connected by some sort of bond represented by a - , so we have A-B. What if gravity is a secondary property of the - (the electro/chemical/whatever bond) instead of a property of A and B. That would explain why gravity doesn't hold up at very small scales, i.e. gravity breaks not because there is lass of what's there but rather because there is less of what's not there. Critique.

Critique: gravity doesn't break at small scales. (none / 1) (#44)
by glor on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 04:00:11 PM EST

Gravitation between two objects is Newtonian (1/r^2) down to hundreds of microns separation, the smallest distances measured.  Unfortunately I don't have a reference; I think the experiment was done at U. Washington in 2000 or 2001.  You might look at the Particle Data Book; http://pdg.lbl.gov/2005/tables/sxxx.pdf claims the current limit is 0.22 mm, though you'll have to dig through http://pdg.lbl.gov/2005/reviews/gravrpp.pdf to find the reference to the experiment.

Gravity isn't experimentally tested at the length scale of molecular bonds; such a test would be very difficult, since the electric interaction is so much stronger and more complex in that region.  The "small-scale breakdown" of gravity is a theoretical problem:  the math doesn't work out.

--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

oops (none / 0) (#46)
by pHatidic on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 04:41:51 PM EST

I guess I fail it then. I still don't see why we think it is the objects that cause gravity as opposed to the bonds though.

[ Parent ]
Why? (none / 1) (#47)
by Coryoth on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 04:51:49 PM EST

Because we have detected objects, but we haven't detected any bonds in the sense you're talking about. The gravitational force betwene two objects can be characterised by mass of the two objects (that's precisely what Newton's equations offer you) that is, in every observable case gravitational force is uniquely determined by the objects involved. You could theorise that there are bonds, and that it is the bond that determines gravity, but then bonds happen to occur in such a way that they effectively obey Newton's law almost the time. With no eveidence of bonds and their properties proving to be effectively functionally equivalent to the system we have now, there's no real reason to favour this.

Of course there are things like "Modified Newtonian Dynamics" which sort of does what you suggest: changes the rules for the special cases - basically the claim is that F = ma holds for all sufficiently large a. Get a small enough acceleration (like say a distant star orbiting a galactic core) and a slightly different rule kicks in. That's to handle the large scale "dark matter" problems though, rather than the purely theoretical quantum mechanical ones.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

There are at least two ways to interepret this. (none / 0) (#50)
by glor on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 05:58:41 PM EST

One is a very insightful research question: is the gravitational attraction between neutral objects the same as between charged objects? Both electrical and gravitational interactions have a "universal" form which appears to be good over many length scales; perhaps they should interfere with each other. Unfortunately this would be a devlishly difficult experiment to do, since the two interactions have the same form and the electric force is 1042 times stronger per electron charge than the graviational force per electron mass.

Another way is to take the field-theoretic approach: there's no such thing as an "object." What we call an object is a collection of fields -- an electric field, a gravitational field, a gluon field, a weak field -- which have certain strengths and distributions in space. A chemical bond is the interaction between electric fields. A gravitational bond is the interaction between gravitational fields; it occurs just like an electrical bond but the dynamics are different due to the length scales involved.

You can imagine measuring this with a nuclear bond: A bound system has a lower mass than its unbound components. Which is the gravitational mass? Again the measurement is very hard: for the case of deuterium (whose mass is less than that of a free proton and neutron by 2.2 MeV/c2) the experimental uncertainty on the Newton constant G is nearly as large as the bound/unbound mass difference.

In short, you don't fail it: it's an excellent question to which no one knows the answer.

--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

You seem clever, I'll ask you (none / 0) (#89)
by daani on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 02:41:08 PM EST

Does gravity take time to propagate? i.e. if I were to start moving a planet around a bit would the force exerted on other planets take effect immediately? And can I achieve faster than light Morse code with this patents pending invention?

[ Parent ]
AFAIK..... (none / 0) (#94)
by Have A Nice Day on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 05:35:44 AM EST

.... and I'm not a physicist so this is probably worth verifying - it works faster than light and there's still a bit of a mystery as to how exactly it all works and whether it is actually faster than light or if it just appears tha way for some reason.

You'd probably get a better answer from the guy you actually asked about it though.

--------------
Have A Nice Day may have reentered the building.
[ Parent ]
In general relativity, all information transfer is (none / 0) (#102)
by glor on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 11:05:19 AM EST

limited by the speed of light.  Gravitational waves, which propogate information about accelerating masses through spacetime, move at the speed of light.

You'll have to put your FTL Morse code transmitter on the shelf with your perpetual motion machine.

--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

Clarification to my previous answer: (none / 0) (#118)
by glor on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 05:36:00 PM EST

The speed of a gravitational wave has never been measured, because gravitational waves have not yet been detected.  Several experiments e.g. the LIGO are hunting.

--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

WTF (1.33 / 3) (#109)
by wurp on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 01:50:52 PM EST

Gravitational force on normal scales from 1 mm to 100s of light years (at least) is proportional to the product of the masses of the two objects.  It doesn't seem to have anything to do with what the objects are made of, if they have mass.

What in the world would make you think it was related to the bonds between objects?

Although, to be accurate, there is some influence on the gravitational force by the bonding energies of particles: the energy of the bond counts as mass per E=mc^2.

I don't see you hold up any evidence whatsoever that supports your spurious assertion, yet einsteinian gravity consistently generates the right results in experiments and the observed universe (with the possible exception of galactic cluster scales).
---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]

Excellent satire (2.60 / 10) (#48)
by rusty on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 05:34:02 PM EST

The very fact that so many people think this was serious is a pretty good sign. It perfectly captures the essence of creationist argument -- take a scientific theory, describe the real scientific problems with that theory, and then, rather than staying within the realm of science to propose ways to further test or refine the theory, spiral crazily off into using God as an explanation for any existing flaw.

I suppose it's only to be expected, given how long people have been trying to make scientific arguments that there can be no such thing as god. The lesson of all of it is religion is religion, and science is science, and there simply can be no meaningful boundary crossing between the two.

____
Not the real rusty

Crossing the religion/science boundary. (3.00 / 2) (#51)
by glor on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 06:06:54 PM EST

I disagree with you here.  Crossing the boundary between religion and science is certainly possible, but like most worthwhile endeavors it's difficult to do right.  Furthermore, most of the people who proclaim they have succeeded are trying to sell you something.

--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

How so? (none / 0) (#71)
by rusty on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 10:41:05 PM EST

Religion (specifically Christian and similar monotheistic religions) and science meet at exactly one point -- when you decide whether you believe the universe has fundamental laws or not. Your answer to that question means that you can only fully believe in religion or science. Whichever you do not have faith in you can only trust provisionally.

If the universe does have fundamental laws, then the standard religious conception of God does not work. There could be a Being very much supreme to us, even so much more advanced as to seem god-like. But philosophically, it would be a god that was ultimately subject to overriding basic laws, whatever they are.

If the universe does not have fundamental laws, and all physical laws are subject to god's will, then you can believe in the scientific process only in a limited way -- god could alter the results of any experiment any time he pleased.

It's probably worth noting that both paths are choices of faith. There is nothing to science that can justify itself logically, from first principles. The idea that there are fixed laws that are discoverable is an axiom, just like the idea that there is an omnipotent and omniscient god. The only way to weasel out of the dilemma is basically to discard logic, and say that both axioms are true, despite being contradictory, because god is not subject to logic. Which I suppose is an answer too, since we're dealing in questions of faith here, but it's not one very many people on any side find very appealing.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

This deserves a fuller answer than I can offer. (3.00 / 2) (#78)
by glor on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 11:50:36 PM EST

I don't see the dichotomy you present.  One can imagine a world where God has the power to alter physical law, but chooses not to.  Or a God who uses the nondeterministicness of physical law to weave patterns in history grander than any experiment.

My religious faith and my scientific curiosity spring very much from the same place, from my sense of wonder at the world I inhabit.  The world is here.  It works.  How amazing!  How does it go?  Can I guess what it will do next?  

In terms of the debate parodied here, I think it's possible and desirable both to understand a mechanism and admire its designer.

It will take me a very long time to answer your question more completely.

--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#80)
by rusty on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 03:10:42 AM EST

I look forward to your longer answer.

On the points you present here, I don't think they contradict what I said.

One can imagine a world where God has the power to alter physical law, but chooses not to.

Certainly. That's a world where science can only be taken provisionally, since you are not likely to be privy to God's decision-making process when he does decide to monkey with the previously immutable laws. That is, a religious world. I understand that you can believe this and live your life according to accepted scientific beliefs and not have any personal disharmony. But I'm talking about your bedrock philosophy here, and deep down, someone who believes this does not completely believe in science.

Or a God who uses the nondeterministicness of physical law to weave patterns in history grander than any experiment.

But where's the religious value in that God? If God is solely hiding in the flip of a coin, why should anyone worry about any of the social or moral prescriptions that attend religious faith? Or, to put it another way, if that's all God does, why would we need such a being at all? Would that God be distinguishable from chance over a sufficiently large time span?


____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Religious value? (none / 0) (#99)
by thejeff on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 10:30:59 AM EST

The same place religious value is in any God? Inspiration, moral codes, reward and punishment in the afterlife.

Really the same as most mainstream Christians expect of God in their lives. They may believe in miracles, but most don't expect them. Not blatant ones anyway. They may thank God when the cancer goes into remission, but few actually expect wounds to spontaneously close.

It probably would be hard to convince people to worship a God that couldn't do miracles, but I don't think  that practically it's any different than a god that doesn't really do miracles anymore.

Scientificly such a God would be of no use. He would add no explanatory value. Though the idea of such a God being detectable statistically is good.

[ Parent ]

Some further replies. (none / 0) (#103)
by glor on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 11:22:57 AM EST

Science is always taken provisionally, which distinguishes it from dogma.  I don't "believe" in science:  I believe in the world, and I use science to try to understand it.  I do this because it works, and to the extent that it works.

Whatever sort of God there is, our duty is to understand its religious value, not to assign it.  (This includes the possiblity of a universe with no God, or a God we have as yet seriously misapprehended.)

I didn't mean that God is "hiding in the flip of a coin."  Rather, I meant that God guides our lives through the flips of millions of coins, every second, in ways that are too subtle for us to notice but which we are free to ignore anyway.  Your question about distinguishing this from chance is ill-posed:  if that's how it is, then that's how chance has always been defined.

I seem to have slipped from the speculative into the affirmative; excuse me.

--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

hmm (none / 1) (#81)
by gdanjo on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 03:16:13 AM EST

If the universe does not have fundamental laws, and all physical laws are subject to god's will, then you can believe in the scientific process only in a limited way -- god could alter the results of any experiment any time he pleased.
I don't see the dilemma: there's nothing in the laws of physics that prevents a bunch of shattered wine glass pieces from "falling into" a pristine, intact glass ... but we never see it happen. Similarly, why can't a universe have laws, as well as a supreme being that is able, in theory, to circumvent these laws, but we simply never see it happening? (ie: the chances of the universe being so screwed up that God must intervene are extremely remote - perhaps even (ironically) due to our belief in God!)

In other words, I think your definition of "God's will" is too strong, yielding room to the percieved dillema. After all, is it not the "universe's will" to never 'magically' fix that shattered wine glass? All within the framework of physical laws?

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Why? (none / 0) (#105)
by Harvey Anderson on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 11:26:23 AM EST

I submit that someone should be able to believe in a universe that is mostly rational but eventually with a 'bottom'.  Maybe gravity, for instance, is just fucked up and beyond comprehension, and we'll never know why it does the stuff it does.  Why is this not a reasonable thing to believe?

If the universe does not have fundamental laws, and all physical laws are subject to god's will, then you can believe in the scientific process only in a limited way -- god could alter the results of any experiment any time he pleased.

This is true, but perhaps not everything that is able to be discovered is actually observable, God or no.  Maybe eventually you hit a big wall that says "Just Because" with nothing else for it.

[ Parent ]

And this can be somewhat observed (none / 0) (#121)
by echarp on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 07:14:01 PM EST

how many scientific questions from 2 or 3 thousand years ago are still left unanswered? Or are just invalid considering our current knowledge...

(not including philosophy, metaphysics or ethics here, which are mostly a matter of point of view... of course it could be said that science is one point of view)

[ Parent ]

Well maybe... (none / 0) (#123)
by MorePower on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 10:20:33 PM EST

I don't usually find myself defending religion, but it is possible for both axioms to be true. Since it is presumed that god exists outside of time (time being one of his creations), so if god changes his mind at all, the changes won't neccessarily occur over time as we know it.

So in what ever "meta-time" that god lives in (there has to be some kind of dimension of "time" if god is changing) god could have created our entire universe, from the beginning of time (big bang?) to the end of time (big crunch/heat death/???) in one of his "instants". If he later changed his mind, that would create an entirely different (parallel?) universe from start to finish. So god can change his mind, but from our perspective, the universe runs from start to finish without the laws ever changing.



[ Parent ]
But (none / 0) (#65)
by dhall on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 09:19:31 PM EST

Science may not be able to prove there is no God, but it is (so far) able to reduce God's power.

[ Parent ]
-1: turns your brain off (1.50 / 2) (#49)
by t1ber on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 05:52:12 PM EST

You get a -1 because you go to all this work to put together a good field that needs investigation, and then promptly ask us all to turn our brains off instead of investigating the problem further.

If everyone were like you, lightning would still be Shits from Zeus.

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

Um... (none / 0) (#52)
by Coryoth on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 06:12:45 PM EST

You get a -1 because you go to all this work to put together a good field that needs investigation, and then promptly ask us all to turn our brains off instead of investigating the problem further.

Well it would have spoiled the joke if I had laced the article with appropriate references to dark matter, dark energy, modified newtonian dynamics, the Lambda-CDM model, string theory and loop quantum gravity. There is plenty of good investigation in this field, a lot of which pretty much sews up a lot of those "holes" (and some of which still has some serious kinks to be worked out).

I think perhaps you missed the point of my article, which was to dissect the lines of reasoning used by Intelligent Design "scientists".

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

The file it as... (none / 0) (#92)
by t1ber on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 07:27:41 PM EST

Then file it as humor.  

And she said...
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.

[ Parent ]

It was originally (none / 0) (#93)
by Coryoth on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 12:06:59 AM EST

I had filed it under humour, but that didn't got over very well either - people wanted an Onion style Intelligent Falling or Flying Spaghetti Monster extreme parody from a humour article. And in the end this is about science, it's just not the overt message that's important. The article is a dissection and articulation of how not to do science - in precisely the manner that is being used by a well publicised "science" movement. It's about more than just humour. If people were incapable of reading between the lines I'm sorry. If the big "Teach the Controversy!" in the title didn't give you a very strong hint about where it was going... well, you haven't been reading the news lately.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

I admire the attempt, (3.00 / 4) (#53)
by originalbigj on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 06:13:28 PM EST

but it takes too long to get to the satire, and I (and apparently everyone who took this seriously) got bored by then. I'm sorry, but this is no spaghetti monster.

The reason I wrote this (3.00 / 3) (#55)
by Coryoth on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 06:44:26 PM EST

Is that while there are lots of satircal takes on ID, such as the flying spaghetti monster, they are mocking calls for equal time for a theory with limited evidence. I wanted to mock the very nature of the argument that ID people make. The flying spaghetti monster is very amusing if you know ID for the crap that it is. If you are a fence sitter, or believe in ID to some extent then you can simply say "well, yeah, but that's obviously complete crap" and continue to ignore it. This piece, on the other hand, attempts to sound as plausible as possible. Even if you don't believe it, you could probably imagine that there are some people who would be convinced by this and start campaigning for it. That's the difference, and the point of this piece: to show that you really can construct an argument just as good as ID for getting rid of the theory of gravity in classrooms; to show that science is about theories, which naturally have elements that, for now, remain unexplained - but that's no justification to deny the theory as a whole; to provide a careful dissection of the method of argument used for ID, rather than a blatant parody.

I'm sorry that that's apparently not to you taste.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

I think that's the brilliance of it (none / 1) (#56)
by QuantumG on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 06:46:52 PM EST

You don't know you've been had until you've gotten into the nodding state. By then you're either ready to accept everything or you're at least open to hearing another point of view. People who have never heard the Intelligent Design arguments are suckered. It's great.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]
Thank you! (none / 0) (#57)
by Coryoth on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 07:05:57 PM EST

I'm glad someone gets what I was trying to do with.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

I like the flying spaghetti monster too, but (none / 0) (#116)
by JetJaguar on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 04:32:44 PM EST

Your qualm with this essay is exactly what's right about it. The spaghetti monster, while built on the same type of reasoning, is obviously wrong to everyone. This also makes it all too easy for the ID gang to dismiss it as the joke that it is (yes, ID is a joke, but it does need to be taken seriously in order to be able to properly point out the flaws). The arguments used by the ID crowd are a lot more subtle, and to properly fight back against those arguments requires an equal amount of sophistication.

[ Parent ]
You north americans are so interesting. (none / 1) (#120)
by jamesotron on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 07:04:20 PM EST

It's very strange.  In my country if there was something like this debate then some very important scientist would have a 5 second soundbite on the 6 O'clock news litterally pissing themselves laughing and that would be the end of it.

You don't think perhaps the reason that you have so many problems with cranks is because you keep taking them seriously?

I'm sure there were people at Salem going "you know, I'm not really sure about this witch thing" but the fact that you have to actually give your very important brainspace to debunking their theories instead of just laughing at their obvious crankness is too much for the average punter to bear (and lets face it, the "average punter" in the midwest US is a little more average than most).

Another factor may be that the above "very important scientist" may not exist in the US.  In a world where someone like j-lo can get famous for having a huge arse and no actual artistic talent I imagine there isn't really a lot of scope for "actually smart people"(tm).

In summary, stop dignifying them with a response.
I like to make things out of bits
[ Parent ]

I'd agree with you except that (none / 0) (#124)
by JetJaguar on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 11:02:03 PM EST

We've tried ignoring them and not dignifying their shenanigans with a response, and in return we've had our school boards packed with people that believe this crap and politicians elected that pander to these people (regardless of whether or not the politicians believe it themselves). The proponents of these positions have become very organized and have managed to push an agenda that is more or less anti-science and anti-reason, and they've gotten away with it through subtle arguments and playing on the ignorance of the populace.

About all I can say is that the US seems to be a very strange place right now. Reason has taken a back seat to reaction, and paranoia of what might be lurking in the shadows outside your house at night has made many people turn to anything that might make them feel marginally better.

[ Parent ]

Most of our country is run by those cranks (none / 0) (#128)
by rusty on Sat Aug 27, 2005 at 12:11:31 AM EST

"Intelligent design" keeps getting voted onto school curricula by school boards composed of Important Civic Leaders. Much of our government is operated by people who believe that the book of Revelations is the literal truth and will really happen.

Your mention of Salem is mighty apt. This country was founded (partly) by religious nuts, and they're still here. The actual smart scientists do exist, in spades, and many more people think this stuff is bullshit than don't. But there's a vocal and energetic enough minority, and it's not a tiny minority either, that will crusade for anything religious no matter how idiotic.

Many of us would be happy not to take them seriously, but a lot of them are the people in charge. It's all well and good to say "stop dignifying them with a response," but that would just mean that God-science would be in every school in the country.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

But are they really a minority? (none / 0) (#130)
by GileadGreene on Sat Aug 27, 2005 at 03:05:21 PM EST

My impression is that the US is dominated by "true believers" - they are hardly a minority. Certainly, I keep seeing surveys that show that the majority of Americans believe in God and reject evolution. Here are the results of just a few surveys (one focused on "highly educated" US doctors) that I managed to turn up with a quick Googling. Believers seem to run around 70% in the US. That's not a minority. Scary but true.

[ Parent ]
Interesting topic (2.50 / 2) (#54)
by k31 on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 06:39:44 PM EST

A lot of people seem not to like the article; but the topic is important because it reveals fundamental flaws in our model of gravity and, by extension, the physical world in general.

The solutions are wide and varied, and it would be good to have a discussion about them esp. as we enter an era where space travel is becoming more commercialized, and at the same time where "inner space", or mental models and their effect on individuals, is just as important, if not more so.

Your dollar is you only Word, the wrath of it your only fear. He who has an EAR to hear....

'Just' a theory, eh? (3.00 / 3) (#58)
by Russell Dovey on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 08:08:35 PM EST

Do you ever point at a church and express your disdain for this building that seems so important for so many people with the words "It's just a pile of bricks"?

What about saying that the wheels on a car are "just rubber balloons" and advocating that they be removed?

A theory is not just some everyday hypothesis. Scientists reserve the word "theory" for those explanations which make predictions that are then supported by observation, not just any old theoretical wank.

Now that my little pissed-off tirade against the creationist push to demean the word "theory" is over, let me congratulate you for a good summary of the gravity debate, even if you do throw in some unsupported crackpot theory at the end.

I'm sorry, but your term "uncaused force" is just not relevant to the gravity debate. There's no reason to suppose that the discrepancies we see between theory and observation are caused by the benevolent tinkering of a superintelligent being. Rather, as in all science, if the observations contradict the theory we must modify or junk the theory.

What, you think scientists profess to know everything about how the universe works now? Obviously you haven't been paying attention to science's proud history in which cherished theories, thought by all to be good approximations of reality, are proven by new observations to be utterly wrong. The ether is a good example, as is Newtonian gravity.

So get thee in front of me, creationist, so I can see where your hands are.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan

It's a poor summary (none / 0) (#60)
by Coryoth on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 08:41:08 PM EST

Of the gravity debate because it really fails to cover any of the theories that can be used to remedy these issues. Sure there is still debate, and a few competing theories in certain area, and plenty of fine detail to be worked out, but it fails to touch on any of them (hint, there's a reason it is reasonably well informed about the problems but not at all about the solutions). If you want some links try my comment here.

HTH.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Compared to the average journo... (none / 0) (#63)
by Russell Dovey on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 09:01:48 PM EST

...the author of this piece on science reads like Carl Sagan. Most people would have no idea that there was such a exciting debate over something as basic as gravity.

Well, I find it exciting, anyway.

>_<

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

As an up-and-coming mathematical physicist (none / 1) (#59)
by My First K5 Account2 on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 08:20:39 PM EST

and, most importantly, a Putnam fellow, you've managed to write exactly my thoughts in the matter of whatever the hell you are writing about. Kudos to you! Sir, you deserve this +1 FP.

Hmmm (3.00 / 2) (#62)
by cibby on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 08:45:04 PM EST

A well-written, informative article. However, you can't support the existence of an 'uncaused force' simply by pointing out that our current theories are not valid in all frames of reference. That would be similar to suggesting that, because I don't know where marshmallows come from, they must have been produced as an excretion from seven slippery seals making love in turbulent seas.

But that is exactly where marshmallows really come (none / 0) (#119)
by your_desired_username on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 06:05:11 PM EST

from!!!

[ Parent ]
-1, needs an education, or to pay attention (1.00 / 6) (#66)
by fyngyrz on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 10:00:37 PM EST

-1...
  • doesn't understand "science"
  • doesn't understand "theory"
  • doesn't understand "approximation"
  • doesn't understand "unknown"
  • unable to integrate "yet to be determined"
  • unable to integrate "may never be determined"
  • reaches for the magic cookie instead of thinking.

Fails it miserably. MMMMM k.


Blog, Photos.

flew over your head did it? [nt] (none / 1) (#68)
by mtrisk on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 10:26:04 PM EST



______
"If you don't like our country, why don't you get out?"
"What, and become a victim of your foreign policy?"
[ Parent ]
Had you considered (none / 0) (#72)
by Coryoth on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 10:53:51 PM EST

That maybe that was the point? That perhaps I actually have a rather firm grasp of science, scientific method, and hat is meant by scientific theories and I was simply dissecting the style of argument that deliberately misinteprets and misuses those concepts? You don't think that sort of argument crops up much at all? You haven't been reading the news much then.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Yes, I did. But since you posted it in SCIENCE... (none / 0) (#79)
by fyngyrz on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 12:33:30 AM EST

...I evaluated it as SCIENCE, and as such, it's moronic.

Next time you want to post political commentary, religious blundering, lame attempts at satire, or outright fiction, pick your section more carefully. Post tripe like this under science, and I'll vote it down. It no more belongs here than "ID" belongs in a classroom.


Blog, Photos.
[ Parent ]

IAWTP -1 sorry Coryoth -nt (none / 0) (#86)
by Kasreyn on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 11:54:47 AM EST

nt
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Labelled Satire Only: A Modest Proposal. (none / 0) (#104)
by glor on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 11:24:22 AM EST


--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

A Wonderful Article (3.00 / 3) (#69)
by mtrisk on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 10:30:29 PM EST

This should be posted to the front page.

There's always the danger, however, that someone will begin to advocate "intelligent falling", and really mean it.

______
"If you don't like our country, why don't you get out?"
"What, and become a victim of your foreign policy?"

Unfortunately (none / 0) (#73)
by Coryoth on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 10:58:04 PM EST

A front page posting now looks unlikely - there are simply too many votes against and I doubt it can climb out. Perhaps I should have made it a little more obvious (though I figured "Teach the Controversy!" in the title ought to do it), or left it under humour. Ah well.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

I agree wholeheartedly... (none / 0) (#70)
by joto on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 10:37:14 PM EST

We need this theory in the classrooms right now!

Like the guys before me... (none / 0) (#74)
by taste on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 11:01:46 PM EST

It did come off more as a troll rather than a satire. For a moment, I was hoping it would lead to the discussion of dark matter but instead you sorely disappointed me by trying to make a joke out of the whole thing.

If this had been in the edit queue, I'd have suggested you to sound alot more feverish and livid when you begin the creationist mumbo jumbo then perhaps it would have gotten a Sa+1re from me instead of this -1 that I am about to deliver once I submit this.

Sorry (none / 1) (#77)
by Coryoth on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 11:46:31 PM EST

But I think the subtlety is the strength here. An obvious feverish raving piece dos not at all reflect the majority of ID literature out there. The whole problem is that ID has managed to do exactly what I've tried to do with this article: couch everything in very reasonable sounding scientific terms; begin with a detailed and (selectively) referenced critique of the existing theory, and as people begin to get weighed down by the detail slip to the alternate hypothesis, sounding as reasonable and "scientific" as possible. It's not hard for most people to dismiss raving creationists, it's the subtlety and sleight of hand that makes ID as effective as it is. Thus I am seeking to use the same techniques, the same style, to produce an absurd result. To fail in mimicing the style of ID literature is to fail to attain the goal: showing up the methods that ID uses to justify itself for the crap they are.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Good for you (none / 1) (#95)
by A Bore on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 06:26:26 AM EST

Resist calls to dumb down. Your article is very well written and persuasive, and makes its point very well. I enjoyed it.

[ Parent ]
Spot on (none / 0) (#98)
by desiderata on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 10:30:41 AM EST

I absolutely agree, and think the story was brilliant. Creationists have abandoned the smack-in-the-face-with-a-mackerel approach in the hopes that a dumbed-down public won't see beyond the sham that is ID.

[ Parent ]
Interesting Submission (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by Pluto on Tue Aug 23, 2005 at 11:14:51 PM EST

You know, looking at your score in the voting queue, analytically speaking, strikes me as rather mathematically indicitive of the conumdrum surrounding the topic issue.

(A shitload of votes all cancelling each other out.)

Of course, this is all due to your presentation, which may be either purposefully effete or accidently obscure. Nonetheless, your presentation aptly reflects the primitive level of fear vs. logic in this species.

That said, you got a "section post" from me.
_______________________________________
Burgeoning technologies require outlaw zones... deliberately unsupervised playgrounds for technology itself. -- William Gibson

-1 Doesn't work as satire (none / 0) (#83)
by danro on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 10:12:54 AM EST

This just doesn't work as satire.
It is too subtle, and too plausible sounding if you don't scratch the surface.

I know, I know... if you actually take the time to read it all the way through it is a regular "A Modest Proposal" but still you demand too much of the reader.
You obfuscate the ridiculous position with so much science-lingo that it is hard to see through if you don't know much about science (much like some actual ID-proponents do).

People who get the satire almost certainly agree with you already, so you are essentially preaching to the coir.

Sorry, -1.

Doesn't work? I think not. (none / 1) (#97)
by desiderata on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 10:27:15 AM EST

This just doesn't work as satire.
It is too subtle, and too plausible sounding if you don't scratch the surface....
People who get the satire...

Satire: you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Perhaps you would care for some parody? If people don't "get" the satire, it is n't really satire, is it?

[ Parent ]
Nice Work (2.40 / 5) (#84)
by JetJaguar on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 10:54:09 AM EST

I think the people that are complaining about this article being too subtle are missing the point. This is exactly how the ID'ers operate. They wedge their ideas into a person's psyche by trying to appear as reasonable as possible before going off into nut job land. It's a very subtle and rather clever use of language that undermines rational thinking and the scientific method while at the same time appearing to be very reasonable to the untrained eye.

I know a number of people that would fall for this hook, line, and sinker, and not because they are particularly religious but because the argument appears to raise a lot of seemingly very cogent and scientific sounding questions about our understanding of gravity without ever directly addressing what the real issues are.

It's a textbook case of misrepresentation and distortion. You wouldn't happen to be thinking about running for political office would you? :)

Oh yeah, one other thing (none / 1) (#85)
by JetJaguar on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 11:16:54 AM EST

Coryoth, please email me at phasespace at gmail dot com, I know of another blog that has been dealing with some "true believers" that would be interested in reading your article.

[ Parent ]
Teach the Scientific Method! (none / 1) (#96)
by Des Beelzebubs Rechtsbeistand on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 08:39:51 AM EST

It's pretty clear that everything but the last paragraph is a reasonable criticism of the current theory of gravity.

Valid criticism of scientific theories is not a threat to science, it is the very foundation of scientific progress. Science does not evolve by proofing existing theories. Indeed it is impossible to proof any scientific theory. Science evolves by criticizing and improving or replacing flawed theories.

If we would really teach the Scientific Method in science class to students, prior to exposing them to actual scientific theories people wouldn't fall for the inductivist trap.

For any person reasonably familiar with the Scientific Method it's pretty obvious why the first paragraphs are science and why the last one is bullshit.

Rate comments: [no |v]
[ Parent ]

Yes and no (3.00 / 2) (#106)
by JetJaguar on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 11:44:58 AM EST

While I agree with the general leaning of your comment (teach the scientific method), I disagree that everything but the last paragraph is a reasonable criticism of our current theory of gravity. The reason I say that is because it's a huge misrepresentation and a very one sided view of our understanding. The whole point is to lead the reader to the conclusion that gravity is totally useless based on a few unexplained observations while completely ignoring the vast majority of cases where gravity works just like we expect it to.

In particular, the article "blames" gravity for not being able to explain observations when the theory of gravity may not have anything to do with the unexplained observations, eg. darkmatter and the expansion energy. Neither of which probably have anything to do with gravity other than how these things manifest themselves in the presence of gravity. It's an intentional misrepresentation to make it appear as though our understanding is not nearly as advanced as it really is.

And *that* is what makes the ID arguments so insidious, and allows them to get under people's skin. The intention of arguments like this is to misinform while at the same time appearing to be very rational and even handed.

[ Parent ]

Point taken. (none / 1) (#108)
by Des Beelzebubs Rechtsbeistand on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 01:43:04 PM EST

I should have been more clear about that, thanks for pointing that out. What I mean is that everything except the last part is not an attack on the foundations of science. Pointing out unanswered questions is a good thing and well within the framework of the scientific method.

I don't think that there can be a one sided view of our understanding though. Science is not Journalism, there is no need to be fair or unbiased. If there's a problem, talk about it. No need to say "Sorry theory of gravitation, don't take it personally". Political correctness is not a scientific concept. And let's be honest: The current theory of gravity is flawed and the three body problem shows us that. Sorry Einstein!

The last part however is definitely not science as is obvious to anyone with a basic understanding of the scientific method. Armed with a minimum of understanding the ID "arguments" won't get under your skin at all. Especially not the ridiculous conclusion they draw. If we let that one pass, we throw science out of the window altogether.

On the other hand I don't care about the ID nuts anyway, since they don't have any credibility outside of the US. Science will go on as usual despite their puny crusade.

Oh and i meant to write "prove" in my previous post, stupid me.

Rate comments: [no |v]
[ Parent ]

Your definition of 'fair and unbiased' is strange. (none / 1) (#111)
by glor on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 01:54:01 PM EST

I thought 'fair and unbiased' meant the truth irrespective of political correctness.

--
Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

Quite honestly (none / 1) (#112)
by Des Beelzebubs Rechtsbeistand on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 02:09:08 PM EST

I don't know the definition of political correctness.

Also I don't really know the definition of the scientific method.

More to the point I'm just talking out of my ass.

I really prefer personal conversation. People don't listen to you anyway and will at best pick up on the last sentence of your tirade. It makes it much easier to appear smart.

So yeah, I blame the Internet.

And my poor english skills.

Rate comments: [no |v]
[ Parent ]

Well, sort of (none / 1) (#115)
by JetJaguar on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 04:19:32 PM EST

I think if you are strictly working within the confines of the research process then I would more or less agree with you that bias isn't as big an issue since you always have to follow the trail of evidence. Although, to say that it doesn't exist at all is to over estimate human nature.

But, this essay wasn't written in that context and bias can certainly live there. It's an essay intended to persuade, and in that effort the author bombards the reader with a lot of technically correct information while purposefully omitting a large body of evidence that would make it immediately apparent to the reader that the theory is not nearly on so shaky ground as it first appears.

Case in point, the three body problem isn't unsolved. It just doesn't have an analytic solution. It's possible to solve the three body problem to arbitrary accuracy with a simple computer simulation. All you need is a fast enough computer with enough ram to carry out the calculations to the accuracy that you need. Which leads me to ask the question, is it the theory of gravity that is flawed or is it that our mathematics just hasn't advanced enough to solve this kind of problem in closed form? The theory seems to work we just can't express all the intricacies of it in a simple mathematical formula.

Anyway, I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but I just wanted to point out how the short comings of language can often lead to confusion even amoung people who basically agree on things. Then when you throw in someone with an agenda and some political skill, they can play with that to make others come to a completely different conclusion in spite of the facts being all layed out right in front of them.

As for not having to worry about ID nuts... I wish I had that luxury...

[ Parent ]

Teach the 'controversy'? -1 (none / 1) (#87)
by Roman on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 01:04:46 PM EST

There is no controversy.  As far as I understand the church has already agreed that science should not be fought against but should be worked with.  There are simply too many eggs on religions' faces and those eggs seem to make larger and larger stains if you know what I mean.

I certainly wouldn't want anyone to teach this, as you call it controversy because there is no controversy.  Religion follows its principles, sciense follows its principles.  The two should not be mixed, this article is a flamebait.

-1

Uh, which "church" are you talking about (none / 1) (#88)
by mcc on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 01:37:01 PM EST

Your statements are accurate if "the church" means, say, the Roman Catholic Church...

However if "the church" means the Southern Baptist Conference, then your statements are almost as far from right as they could be.

And, well, the thing is, frankly it's the SBC and not the RCC who has power in America.

[ Parent ]

well (none / 0) (#91)
by khallow on Wed Aug 24, 2005 at 06:58:49 PM EST

And, well, the thing is, frankly it's the SBC and not the RCC who has power in America.

Well, the Roman Catholic Church is more organized and politically skilled, and has a much greater international reach (the SBC doesn't have a genuine head of state, for example). Besides if you look at US politics, you see that organized religion while it motivates a lot of voters just isn't a real power. None of their real issues: reintroducing religion in schools and government, stopping abortion, removing nudity and violence from the media, eliminating recreational drug use, etc are currently in their favor. They are just a resource for the Republican party to exploit for those it favors.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

You been livin' under a rock? (none / 0) (#101)
by Mr.Surly on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 10:42:49 AM EST

There is no controversy.

Really?

[ Parent ]

No, you've never got from under the rock (none / 0) (#129)
by Roman on Sat Aug 27, 2005 at 02:21:51 PM EST

None of that is controversial.  Stupid, yes, controversial?  As in scientifically controversial?  No.

[ Parent ]
You're Very Clever, Young Man (3.00 / 2) (#107)
by Western Infidels on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 01:42:33 PM EST

But it's turtles all the way down.

re: turtles (none / 0) (#141)
by tylerw on Tue Oct 11, 2005 at 02:20:32 AM EST

ha, nice reference, couldn't have said it better

[ Parent ]
so gravity is flawed, so what? (none / 1) (#110)
by hswerdfe on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 01:52:52 PM EST

the important thing about any scientific theory. is that it is falsifiable. which probably means that it is false. nothing in sicence is exact, its just mostly right. when you come up with something better let me know.
--- meh ---
Dude. Satire. Dude! (nt) (none / 0) (#114)
by Have A Nice Day on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 02:47:59 PM EST



--------------
Have A Nice Day may have reentered the building.
[ Parent ]
ID as religious agenda (none / 1) (#117)
by jeremie on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 04:47:06 PM EST

What really irks me is that I, as someone who loves the scientific process and solid math and evidence backings, agrees that there are clearly some areas we have a lot to learn and are possibly overconfident in our understanding of. But, tossing down the God card is just a crazy cop-out.

So, I like the debate these questions cause, but I despise the motivation behind them lately.

Personally, I believe we have a lot to learn about information theory and it's relationship to the physical forces. Could it be as simple as all physical forces are the result of one simple "information" formula on an infinite data entropy plane, where patterns and complexity become forces ultimately resulting in our dimensions of physical existence? Heh :)

that was wonderful. (none / 0) (#122)
by lilnobody on Thu Aug 25, 2005 at 08:32:21 PM EST

Best.

Troll.

EVAR!!!

I didn't even see it coming until I was laughing in the last two paragraphs. Thank you, good sir, for brightening my day. That was fantastic.

ben

No no, (none / 0) (#131)
by Lisa Dawn on Sun Aug 28, 2005 at 01:03:03 PM EST

This is. But I was delightfully reminded of it by this article.

[ Parent ]
This is because... (none / 0) (#125)
by dissonant on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 12:16:56 PM EST

...gravity is controlled by The Flying Spaghetti Monster and His Great Noodly Appendage.

HAHAHAHAHALOLOLOLLOOOOMGOMGOMGCLEVERBOY!#!*#!! (none / 0) (#133)
by Harvey Anderson on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 10:31:46 AM EST



[ Parent ]
too fast there at the end (none / 0) (#126)
by fullmetalcolumnist on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 05:10:44 PM EST

I've got the same sort of attitude/goal but it's simpler... someday I have to write it all. It starts in 2001 when (I proudly admit that) I was smoking pot and realized infinity is an inescapable fact that requires no proof other than this: the universe will *never* run out of decimal places. it's sort of a calculator and we live in the display... or if you like, God's computer.

Later on I found out that quantum reductionism is the name for part of it-- the part that says there is no smallest object, the properties of anything are governed by its components, and everything is divisible. For obvious reasons I had been calling it the Infinity Principle.

And the universe being a computer... infinity bits of RAM, means infinity single objects of any size in the universe; infinity bit registers, means no limit on size of any object, all values are infinitely precise; and the ∞Hz CPU means no lower limit on any measurement of time -- time is also inf. precise, of course--- being another dimension. I only compare it to the clock cycles because it's like that when we do our math. In the universe, all functions are updated immediately and universally, on a continual basis, throughout time. There are no race conditions. All the usual items -- distance, speed, duration, acceleration, gravity, inertia... just functions. Matter and energy are literally nothing but numbers. Space and time are just a grid, a sort of 4D framebuffer.

Anyway, if you need to prove God, prove that the impossible really is impossible but that reality demands it nonetheless. Start with pi. Only with infinite mathematical precision can the universe have regular circles, since pi is of course an infinitely precise constant. Even (10 / 3) requires infinite decimal places, but it's less profound since it makes a nice human-digestible fraction. There's a reason many call pi the Holy Number.

Just find anything that both requires and defies math and is observable, and maybe you don't need to call it GOD at all, since God pokes into the audience's mind and says, 'hey...' anytime he wants to.

Me personally? I believe infinity is intelligent and gave (him)self a name, decided to invent finite things and interact with them, and talks about himself in an ancient Hebrew text, then later on condensed himself into a body and pointed out how we could do the best for ourselves by doing it his way, and also that we can escape the equal and opposite reaction (punishment) demanded by our action. So for proof and for fun, the smallest non-zero number: 1*10-∞



---
Sanity is not statistical. --George Orwell
Oh dear (none / 0) (#127)
by Coryoth on Fri Aug 26, 2005 at 05:44:17 PM EST

I won't other going through that because there's really no point, instead I'll just ask "which infinity?" because there are many different infinities, and some are bigger than others.

I'll also mention that the whole point of quantum theory is that things occur in quanta not continua, whih renders so much of your argument meaningless I wouldn't know where to begin. How about Planck Length?

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Infinities (none / 0) (#132)
by Lisa Dawn on Sun Aug 28, 2005 at 01:50:01 PM EST

[...] there are many different infinities, and some are bigger than others.

... and some infinite with respect to others. That's what I like.

[ Parent ]

there can be only one (none / 0) (#134)
by fullmetalcolumnist on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 11:26:26 PM EST

If you can have more than one of something, it must be finite. Only infinity has the quality of being necessarily singular -- the real mathematical one, not the count of some objects or distance, the one that contains all and is contained by none. And exactly one person in history, a certain character in the Bible claims that as just one of his own qualities. Call me stubborn, it's OK. I'm just trying to give props to the Uncreated... ever read 'The Knowledge of the Holy' by A. W. Tozer?

---
Sanity is not statistical. --George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Read some Cantor (n/t) (none / 0) (#135)
by Coryoth on Tue Aug 30, 2005 at 08:59:45 AM EST



[ Parent ]
then i call myself stubborn.new life's work? (n/t) (none / 0) (#137)
by fullmetalcolumnist on Wed Aug 31, 2005 at 09:12:24 PM EST



---
Sanity is not statistical. --George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Should be in the Humor section (none / 1) (#136)
by Alpha Prime on Tue Aug 30, 2005 at 10:52:48 AM EST

This was a really humorous piece.  Labeling it as Science was a mistake.  "Uncaused" force?  With something else (god?) "causing" it?  Gimme a break!  If god caused it, then what caused god?  That's the sticking point on all of this.  If there is a god, does that god have a god to explain his "creation".  On and on ad nauseum.

BTW, I'm not anti-religous, just anti-organized religion.  Religion is good for people until someone organizes one group against another, then it becomes bad.


An interesting and... (none / 0) (#138)
by God of Lemmings on Tue Sep 06, 2005 at 03:36:15 AM EST

... very well thought out troll, however it makes me wonder how many people are actually out there writing articles trying to convince us of some measure of validity within religion. I've seen others like it, pointing at one mistake or another in commonly accepted theory. But then, that's just it, isn't it. Science basically built upon theories that get refined and corrected over and over again.

One of my points (none / 0) (#139)
by Coryoth on Tue Sep 06, 2005 at 10:31:57 AM EST

in writing the article is that every theory, everything we "know" is simply a matter of the best description we have that fits the facts at hand. They all have small points that are, at some level unexplained. As soon as you take the position that something unexplained by a current theory is proof of your alternate supernatural theory (which doesn't require explanations) then you sink yourself into a quagmire because you can apply the same logic to absolutely any field of knowledge and get absurd results.

The fact that people don't immediately see this for what it is - that people can believe there are people out there who would believe this - that's the problem really, and that's why Intelligent Design gets as much traction as it does.

Jedidiah.

[ Parent ]

Gravity is flawed? (none / 0) (#140)
by ENOENT on Tue Sep 06, 2005 at 02:07:50 PM EST

Then I'll take it back to Wal-Mart and exchange it for some levity.

So nyah.


Uncaused Force. Teach the Controversy! | 141 comments (117 topical, 24 editorial, 0 hidden)
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