Natura non facit saltus
Debunking the Paradigm Shifters
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Sunday, Nov 28, 2010
Most accepted theories
I am wonder what is the most accepted theory today.
It would not be Evolution or the Big Bang, in spite of overwhelming evidence, because of widespread skepticism that goes to the root of what these theories mean. It also would not be gravitation, even tho we have a very good theory and universal agreement about the basics, because it has an assortment of anomalies such as dark energy that are not understood and have competing explanations. And heliocentrism is not even considered correct according to modern thinking. Quantum mechanics ought to be on the list, but confusion about the interpretations of quantum mechanics causes many doubters.
In ordinary conversation, people often ridicule others for believing in some outmoded theory, or failing to believe in some universally accepted theory. Eg, people get made fun of for believing in the Flat Earth, or in geoocentrism, or not accepting the Germ theory of disease. These are bad metaphors for various reasons.
I want theories of hard science (or hard math) where one anomaly would be deadly.
Here is my list of the top contenders for the most accepted theory.
Aether theory is sometimes considered a superseded scientific theory because Michelson-Morley experiment. failed to detect any aether velocity. But everyone agrees that it is pervasive, uniform, measurable, and essential to our understanding of the propagation of light and electricity. Calling it obsolete is about like calling the proton obsolete. It has a structure that is different from what was expected a century ago, but the same basic concept remains.
Causation is sometimes said to be violated by quantum nonlocality, which some people believe in, but it does not because correlation does not imply causation. I don't think that anyone claims that quantum nonlocality is observable, if there is even any such thing. So I include aether theory and causality theory because no one is really objecting to the underlying theory.
Thursday, Nov 25, 2010
When Man Invented Science
The leading view of the history of science is that science was invented in 1543. Scott Locklin writes that it was 300 years earlier:
What we refer to today as “science” is something which was invented by humans, rather than springing forth from Jove’s forehead in some ancient time before time. There is a definite date before which there was no science and a date after which there was science. This isn’t controversial or mysterious: We know exactly when it happened, and some of the original manuscripts which invented science and modern thought still exist.This proves that science was invented centuries before Nicolaus Copernicus and the Age of Enlightenment, and that science was active during the Middle Ages. But I also think that it is pretty silly to say that science was invented in 1200.
The first Egyptian pyramids were built in around 2600 BC. We are still not sure how, but we can be sure that the builders had processes to separate true from false ideas. They had scientific methods. They had to. The Greek Thales predicted a solar eclipse in 585 BC. Eratosthenes uses shadows to determined the diameter of the Earth in 200 BC. Hipparchus is credited with discovering precession of the equinoxes in about 130 BC. The suggestion that any of these folks lacked science is just chronological snobbery.
Nature magazine has a new article about the Antikythera mechanism. It is an ancient Greek astronomical calculator from over two millennia ago. It used about 30 gears and was more sophisticated than any mechanical device made in the following millennium, and there is a debate over whether it was based on Babylonian or Greek astronomy. The story claims that maybe it explains the invention of epicycles:
"Perhaps a mechanic tried to represent the variations in the Moon's speed according to the Babylonian theory using gears," he says — and hit upon an epicyclic arrangement.The claim seems unlikely to me, but an intriguing possibility. Regardless, this device was made by men who knew about the invention of science, and a lot more.
The Armarium Magnum blog explains:
As mentioned above, no manifestation of "the Myth" is complete without the Galileo Affair being raised. The proponents of the idea that the Church stifled science and reason in the Middle Ages have to wheel him out, because without him they actually have absolutely zero examples of the Church persecuting anyone for anything to do with inquiries into the natural world. The common conception that Galileo was persecuted for being right about heliocentrism is a total oversimplification of a complex business, and one that ignores the fact that Galileo's main problem was not simply that his ideas disagreed with scriptural interpretation but also with the science of the time. Contrary to the way the affair is usually depicted, the real sticking point was the fact that the scientific objections to heliocentrism at the time were still powerful enough to prevent its acceptance. ...I previously cited this blog for its excellent review of the movie Hypatia.
Tuesday, Nov 23, 2010
Christopher Hitchens debates William A. Dembski on Does a Good God Exist? They seem to be similarly controversial characters for various reasons. In Part 2 at 3:00 he says:
As you know, the Church did not want Galileo to look thru a tube and make the disconcerting discovery that the Sun does not go around us, we go around the Sun. I presume now that no one is going to give me an argument about that.I would have argued about that. The statement is completely false. The Church never discouraged Galileo from looking thru a telescope, and Galileo never had any telescopic evidence that we go around the Sun.
This is important to his atheism argument because it (supposedly) shows that the Catholic Church was anti-science, and that we are not at the center of the universe.
Hitchens is a typical leftist-atheist-evolutionist. Those folks have leftist politics, and support causes like socialized medicine. They support atheism as not just a denial of God, but a belief that all of organized religion is backwards and harmful. And they are evolutionist in that they actively promoting beliefs in evolution. And not just the science, but an evolutionist worldview that goes far beyond what any science has demonstrated.
My main complaint with these folks is how they mix these views. They will take some completely bogus science argument, and use it to support some bogus political or religious argument. Galileo is just one example. Most of Hitchin's bogus science arguments have to do with evolution.
MIT physicist Max Tegmark doesn't mind saying that we are at the center of the universe:
Our entire observable universe is inside this sphere of radius 13.3 billion light-years, with us at the center.Of course he is a big proponent of multiple parallel universes, so don't get too excited. He also says that all mathematically structures must exist physically, as some sort of alternate universes. We are allowed to think that we are the center of ours because of the anthropic principle.
Monday, Nov 22, 2010
Father of modern physics
Biographer Dava Sobel writes:
Posterity agrees that Galileo's great genius lay in his ability to observe the world at hand, to understand the behavior of its parts, and to describe these in terms of mathematical proportions. For these achievements, Albert Einstein dubbed Galileo "the father of modern physics -— indeed of modern science altogether."Galileo is most famous for his astronomy, but that work was not very mathematical at all. It was his contemporary, Kepler, who solved the big mathematical astronomy problems of the day. Galileo was not even a player.
The Wikipedia article on Einstein says:
A German-Swiss Nobel laureate, he is often regarded as the father of modern physics.It is very misleading to call Einstein "German-Swiss" in the opening paragraph. Einstein was more American than Swiss. Einstein was born in Germany, spoke German, and got famous as a German professor. He also renounced his German citizenship twice, once to evade military service and once to escape the Nazis. His primary ethnic identification was that of a German Jew.
Here is the source:
The source cited by this wikipedia article is an article on Poincare, not Einstein, and actually says "together with Einstein, Poincare can therefore be regarded as the founding father of Modern physics".I don't know how Einstein could be the father of modern physics when he did not even believe in quantum mechanics. And I don't know how he can be lumped in with Poincare, as Poincare's relativity papers were vastly superior to Einstein's.
The parallels are curious. Kepler was the genius who was way ahead of Galileo on modeling the solar system, and it is doubtful that Galileo even understood his mathematics. Likewise, Poincare was the genius who was way ahead of Einstein on creating relativity, and it is doubtful that Einstein even understood his mathematics. It is not that Kepler and Poincare were obscure, or failed to publish their ideas, or were poor at explaining to the general public. Their works were brilliant masterpieces, and they were appreciated at the time.
So why are Galileo and Einstein idolized so much? I think that the reasons are primarily ideological. They are both leftist icons, and symbols of anti-Christian beliefs.
Saturday, Nov 20, 2010
The latest unification theory
SciAm magazine has a new article on A Geometric Theory of Everything. It says:
Modern physics began with a sweeping unification: in 1687 Isaac Newton showed that the existing jumble of disparate theories describing everything from planetary motion to tides to pendulums were all aspects of a universal law of gravitation. Unification has played a central role in physics ever since. In the middle of the 19th century James Clerk Maxwell found that electricity and magnetism were two facets of electromagnetism. One hundred years later electromagnetism was unified with the weak nuclear force governing radioactivity, in what physicists call the electroweak theory.The proposed unification is nothing like those previous ones. This one is a vastly more complex theory with dozens of new particles and forces that no one has ever seen. The previous unifications were simplifications. I think that it is very strange that so many physicists find such a unified theory philosophically desirable.
This theory appears to be contrary to known physics, and does not have much of a following. But belief in this sort of a unification is much of what drives string theory and related theories.
Thursday, Nov 18, 2010
Higgs alternative looks like epicycles
Physicist Steven Weinberg says in this NASW2009 lecture and in this SciAm podcast, about the possibility that the European CERN LHC will discover the Higgs particle:
In that picture, there really isn't a Higgs. ... That's a possibility ... first suggested by Leonard Susskind and myself, independently. I don't think it's likely that that's what's going to be found because it leads to problems. There are observations that you could only understand by tinkering carefully with the theory so that it begins to look like Ptolemaic epicycles, and I don't find it as attractive as the original simple picture. But it's a possibility. ... That's why it is not sure thing that the Higgs will be found, but it is highly likely.So one of the world's most famous physicists rejects a theory because it looks like Ptolemaic epicycles. It would make more sense to reject a theory because of Copernican epicycles.
The history of science should be a simple an uncontroversial subject, but educated people continually draw incorrect lessons from the great events in science history. Ptolemaic epicycles were not wrong, and mathematically equivalent formulations continue to be used today when one circular orbit is observed relative to another circular orbit. An epicycle is nearly always used to describe the Moon's orbit, for example.
If the Higgs boson is found, there will be a fight for the Nobel prize. Peter Woit writes:
What Philip Anderson realized and worked out in the summer of 1962 was that, when you have both gauge symmetry and spontaneous symmetry breaking, the Nambu-Goldstone massless mode can combine with the massless gauge field modes to produce a physical massive vector field. This is what happens in superconductivity, a subject about which Anderson was (and is) one of the leading experts. His paper on the subject was submitted to Physical Review that November, and appeared in the April 1963 issue of the journal, in the particle physics section. It explains what is commonly called the “Higgs mechanism” in very much the same terms that the subject appears in modern particle physics textbooks ...There is also a genius named Ernst Stueckelberg who published a similar idea many years earlier. He apparently has a priority claim on several other Nobel-prize-winning discoveries.
Wednesday, Nov 17, 2010
Lucy did not use tools after all
I was skeptical before about a highly publicized claim that human ancestors used tools 3.4M years ago. Now some experts are skeptical as well:
Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo, writing with my University of Wisconsin colleagues Travis Pickering and Henry Bunn, has challenged the interpretation that two bovid bones from Dikika bear cutmarks made by hominins .The news media is always making exaggerated claims about apes and alleged missing links showing human behavior. It is all part of a leftist-atheist-evolutionist plot to dehumanize people. Lucy was just an ape.
Meanwhile, even Louisiana endorses the teaching of evolution:
A state advisory panel Friday voted 8-4 to endorse a variety of high school science textbooks that have come under fire for how they describe evolution.Evolution is taught as the only scientific theory of life on Earth in all 50 states.
Tuesday, Nov 16, 2010
Testing whether Tycho was murdered
The BBC News reports on one of the greatest astronomers of all time.
The body of a 16th Century Danish astronomer is being exhumed in Prague to confirm the cause of his death.When Galileo had his famous dispute with the Catholic Church, some Church scholars supported the Tychonic system that Tycho developed many years years. It was better than what Galileo supported, by any objective measure.
Kepler worked for Tycho. The Tycho-Kepler work was not just an astronomical breakthru, it was one of the great scientific achievements in human history.
You write "Tycho-Kepler" as if it were joint work. In fact they were completely opposed. Tycho advocated a stationary Earth, while Kepler advocated the Copernican system. Besides, Kepler may have murdered Tycho.It was joint work. Tycho collected the data, and figured out that the orbit of Mars was not spherical. Astronomers had been watching Mars for millennia, and no one else figured it out. He sold Kepler on the idea, and Kepler modeled it with an ellipse. Kepler completed Tycho's work on the Rudolphine Tables. The idea that Kepler murdered Tycho is ridiculous.
The motion of the Earth was just one detail in the Tycho and Kepler models. Those same tables could be used for either. The essential science of the work of Tycho and Kepler were consistent.
Monday, Nov 15, 2010
NPR blames Church for genocide
NPR radio Science Friday refused to apologize (listen at 11:00) for anti-Catholic comments the previous week (listen to Sam Harris at 15:40). Harris accused the Catholic Church of favoring genocide and of being against "human flourishing" in other ways. The other panelists did not disagree. NPR read a letter objecting to Harris's remarks, but refused to read any of the letters that explained why Harris was wrong.
Harris says that scientists can come to moral conclusions better than theologians. But he is on thin ice talking about genocide. The great genocides of the 20th century were done by leftist-atheists like himself, and opposed by the Catholic Church.
This is the same NPR that fired Juan Williams for saying on another network that he gets nervous on airplanes when he sees those who "identify themselves first and foremost as Muslims."
Apparently NPR supports the most bigoted and false comments about Catholics, but cannot tolerate any criticism of Muslims.
Here is a list of aircraft hijackings. Check it out yourself. The hijackers are not Catholics. Sam Harris and NPR are the bigots, not Juan Williams. It is a sad day when govt radio has to criticize Catholics as a proxy for others who might kill us.
Sunday, Nov 14, 2010
Pres. Wilson preferred Darwin over Newton
Glenn Beck says that Woodrow Wilson was one of our worst American presidents. A recent NPR interview interview accused Beck of being an "extremist" for having this opinion, and here was the historian-guest's best example of Beck being wrong about something:
Particularly troublesome, Wilentz says, are the gross historical inaccuracies Beck makes on his Fox show, which now reaches more than 2 million people each day.Huhh? That's it? Beck is on the air for an hour a day, so you would think that the NPR leftists could find a better example than that. Supposedly Beck is wrong because Wilson put the symbol on the dime in 1916, and the Italian fascists did not adopt it until 1919. I thought that Beck was making a joke, but if the Wilson and the fascists adopted the symbol only three years apart, then a relationship seems possible.
If you want to know why Beck hates Wilson, just tune into his show on FoxNews, or check thingsglennbeckhasblamedwoodrowwilsonfor.com. Wilson was a progressive, a racist, and a warmonger. He left us with the income tax, the Federal Reserve Bank, and something similar to the United Nations. These things helped cause the Great Depression, World War II, and many other evils.
I think that the root of Wilson's evil is his philosophy of science. You have to read it here, because Beck won't talk about it. Wilson was a leftist-evolutionist who cited Darwin to justify undermining the US Constitution.
Wilson in The New Freedom, 1913, wrote:
For example, after the Newtonian Theory of the universe had been developed, almost all thinking tended to express itself in the analogies of the Newtonian Theory, and since the Darwinian Theory has reigned amongst us, everybody is likely to express whatever he wishes to expound in terms of development and accommodation to environment.This is from 1912 campaign speeches that were published in a 1913 book.
Physicist Frank J. Tipler says this is nonsense, (also here), and says:
This conflict is a reflection of a battle between the two greatest scientists of the past two centuries, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein. Einstein famously claimed that “God does not play dice with the universe,” whereas Darwin claimed that God does, indeed, play dice with the universe. Codevilla pointed out the self-image of the ruling class rests on its belief that humans are the unforeseen outcome of chance mutations acted upon by natural selection. Not so. God decreed the evolution of humans before time began. The ruling class stands with Darwin. We stand with Einstein.Wilson's essay is an example of a goofy use of science to support leftist ideas. A later version of such ideas is Prof. Tribe's Curvature of Constitutional Space, written with the assistance of Pres. Barack Obama. The point of these essays is that the US Constitution has no objective meaning that we have to respect.
Academic philosophers go further, and and say that science has no objective meaning. They say that theories get replaced because of fads among scientists. I call them the paradigm shifters, and criticize their Marxist view of history.
There are historians who rank Wilson as one of the best 20th century American presidents. The Beck fans think that Wilson is one of the worst. I am going with Beck. Wilson's statement is anti-American and anti-science. His presidency was a disaster, and this is why.
Saturday, Nov 13, 2010
Climate propagandists say all science was heresy
NPR radio just had a Science Friday program interviewing a panel of experts on how to best promote leftist climate policies:
Scientists and Advocacy?The host did say that he asked a couple of Republican congressmen to appear, but he did not ask any climate skeptics with expertise comparable to the leftists on the program. The Republicans probably figured (correctly) that they were being ambushed.
At 13:30 a caller Ryan from Nashville asked:
I just want to encourage these scientific folks there to really in these peoples' faces. You have to find a cross between Carl Sagan and Karl Rove and get him out there. Because what -- for 5 to 7 hundred years of our history, all science was heresy -- and imagine where we'd be if that hadn't taken place.No one on the panel disagreed.
This is leftist-atheist propaganda. No science was ever heresy in the West. The only specific example that anyone ever alleges is the Galileo affair of 1633:
Galileo was found "vehemently suspect of heresy," namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the centre of the universe, that the Earth is not at its centre and moves, and that one may hold and defend an opinion as probable after it has been declared contrary to Holy Scripture.I argue that no actual science was suppressed, or declared heretical, as explained here. Galileo was commissioned to write a scientific book, but he wrote an unscientific book making fun of the Pope instead.
Even if you disagree with me about Galileo, that was just one decision applied to one person. Every civilization has punished innocent people. How do you get to 500 years? Are there 500 other such decisions?
Nobody even argues that astronomy research was slowed down one year as a result of the Galileo trial. Galileo was already decades behind the research frontier. Even Galileo continue to publish his work.
People wonder why I write about some issue that died centuries ago. The answer is that false myths about the history of science are being used to today to trick you into accepting dubious climate policies. The proof is on yesterday's NPR science broadcast.
Thursday, Nov 11, 2010
How Lorentz credited Poincare
Many of those who credit Einstein for relativity draw great attention to the fact that Lorentz credited Einstein, and paid little recognition to Poincare. Lorentz appears to not have understood Poincare's papers.
However, Lorentz later in 1914 wrote a paper crediting Poincare with priority over Einstein. He wrote Two Papers of Henri Poincaré on Mathematical Physics (1921), recently translated from French to English:
The following pages cannot at all give a complete idea of what theoretical physics owes to Poincaré. ...Einstein got his 1921 Nobel prize for a 1905 paper supporting Planck's 1900 quantum hypothesis. Here, Lorentz praises Poincare for showing the necessity of that hypothesis, without even mentioning Einstein.
Lorentz generously credits others in this paper. He refers to the "group of relativity", when Poincare called it the "Lorentz group". He admits to defects in his own work when he could be pointing out the similar defects in the work of others. But he only credits Einstein and Minkowski with doing what Poincare had already done.
Some people say that it is wrong to credit Lorentz and Poincare over Einstein, because Lorentz never claimed such credit in his lifetime. But he does here. He pretty clearly explains how he and Poincare had all of special relativity, with an acknowledgement only to Voigt and FitzGerald for priority. He only mentions Einstein and Minkowski to say that they redid what Poincare had already done. This seems to me to be about as direct a repudiation of Einstein's and Minkowski's priority as I could expect from a gentleman like Lorentz.
Lorentz is right. Everything he says here is verifiable by reading the original papers.
Lorentz's paper is in French. His other relativity papers were in Dutch (1892), German (1895), and English (1899, 1904). I guess scientists had to be multilingual back then. Einstein wrote in German, and in English after moving to the USA. He was also fluent in French and maybe Italian, as he attended college at a French-speaking University, and his family lived in Italy for a while.
Wednesday, Nov 10, 2010
Coyne hates science magazine
Leftist-atheist-evolutionist Jerry Coyne complains that NewScientist publishes articles casting doubt on the standard evolutionist dogma, and got this response:
Perhaps some of your ire should be turned on your scientific colleagues - if Bennett is so hopelessly wrong, why was he ever invited to give that keynote (alongside Niles Eldredge)? Why did the symposium even take place? Bennett wasn't the only one to question the primacy of natural selection in macroevolution. Why does the Royal Society support his work? Similarly, if the tree of life concept is unimpeachable, why is there such a large literature questioning its validity and a major project on it at a leading UK biology department?Coyne refuses by saying:
What I won’t do is help New Scientist sell magazines by fanning the flames of controversy. I wash my hands of this rag, and I’d advise readers to do likewise until it cleans up its act.It is not that baffling. People like Coyne just hate it when anyone deviates from the party line.
Yes, the magazine overhypes new ideas. All the science reporters do. But this is not about the religion and creationism that Coyne really hates. He is complaining about ideas that have been proposed thru accepted scientific channels.
Tuesday, Nov 09, 2010
The embrionic stem cell fraud
Nicholas Wade reports in the NY Times:
This is why it was such a risk for California to earmark $3 billion specifically for stem cell research over the next 10 years. Stem cells are just one of many promising fields of biomedical research. They could yield great advances, or become an exercise in sustained failure, as gene therapy has so far been. By allocating so much money to a single field, California is placing an enormous bet on a single horse, and the chances are substantial that its taxpayers will lose their collective shirt.The California fund was passed with heavy lobbying from scientists who stood to profit from it, and from pro-abortion groups who were making an anti-Bush political statement. Nothing good has come out of the fund and the money would have been much better spent elsewhere.
Monday, Nov 08, 2010
Lorentz aether theory
Lorentz's relativity is now called the Lorentz aether theory, in order to emphasize the aether and its obsolescence. But no one called it that at the time.
Lorentz is said to have believed in an immobile aether at absolute rest, and therefore an absolute frame of reference for space and time from which absolute velocities can be deduced. Eg, Einstein's 1909 paper said that Lorentz's theory "depended on a completely immobile aether." I am looking for where Lorentz actually said this.
This is from the introduction to Lorentz's 1895 paper, after reciting a couple of other competing aether theories:
The book is apparently still in print, altho a modern reader would have a tough time with the terminology and notation. Here is a machine translation:
It is not my intention to enter into such speculations closer or expressing suspicions about the nature of the aether. I only wish to keep me from preconceived opinions about the substance and the same as free as possible, for example, none of the properties of ordinary liquids and gases due. If it appeared that a representation of the phenomena succeed best under the condition of absolute penetrability, then one would have to be such an assumption for the time being already understand and leave it to the further research, us, maybe open up a deeper understanding.I read this as saying that he is pointedly disavowing any aether theory. He is saying that this theory is independent of how the aether really works, and that he is denying that the aether is of absolute rest. He is mainly rejecting Fresnel's theory that parts of the aether can have velocity relative to other parts of the aether. Fresnel's believed that solid bodies like the Earth drag the aether along with it, somewhat like the way the Earth drags the atmosphere with it. He is not saying much to endorse or deny the aether, and leaves it to further research to understand its properties.
I do not agree that Lorentz's theory depends on an immobile aether. It does not depend on any properties of the aether except for Maxwell's equations.
Section 1 starts:
The equations for the aether.So he talks about the aether being at rest, but it is just a figure of speech, as he explains above.
Lorentz's 1904 paper first mention of the aether is:
The first example of this kind is Michelson's well known interference-experiment, the negative result of which has led FitzGerald and myself to the conclusion that the dimensions of solid bodies are slightly altered by their motion through the aether.He mentions the aether five more times, and in each case it is just a way of talking about electromagnetic fields in empty space. When he introduces Maxwell's equations, he says, "if we use a fixed system of coordinates". He does not say "in the absolute coordinates of the aether" or anything like that.
Lorentz was not convinced by arguments that the aether should be undetectable. Long after relativity theory was accepted, he argued that the theory was the same whether the aether was detectable or not, so it was unnecessary to assume that it was not. The story is explained in Faraday to Einstein: constructing meaning in scientific theories By Nancy J. Nersessian.
A reader adds:
Roger: My German is shaky but I agree with your analysis of those German passages. Lorentz is very clearly disclaiming any broad theory of, or speculations about, aether. He declines to attribute any properties of liquids or gas to the aether. He suggests the need for more research. He denies any belief in the absolute rest or immobility of the aether. He uses the phrase "the aether at rest" only to mean that different parts of the aether don't move relative to each other; perceptible movements of heavenly bodies are movements [by those bodies] relative to the aether.
Sunday, Nov 07, 2010
Denouncing the progress of evolution and technology
Leading leftist-atheist-evolutionist Jerry Coyne writes:
Up at the Sunday New York Times Book Review — it appears online a day early — is “Better all the time“, my review of Kevin Kelly’s new book, What Technology Wants.Coyne is hung up on Stephen Jay Gould's view that evolution does not increase complexity:
Gould  felt so strongly about it he was moved to deny that, at least since the Cambrian explosion, there has been any progress at all.The Cambrian explosion was 530 million years ago. Here is a more reasonable view of progress and direction in evolution.
Yes, of course there is direction in evolution. There is direction for some of the same reasons that there is a time direction in physics, and there is a Second law of thermodynamics. You can read about it in Entropy (arrow of time). Only a leftist-atheist-evolutionist kook like Gould would deny that there has been any progress in 500M years.
Coyne is strangely silent on the book's argument that The Unabomber Was Right:
The system does not and cannot exist to satisfy human needs. Instead, it is human behavior that has to be modified to fit the needs of the system. This has nothing to do with the political or social ideology that may pretend to guide the technological system. It is the fault of technology, because the system is guided not by ideology but by technical necessity.I guess Coyne was more interested in making some dubious ideological point about evolution than to address the main points of the book. The Unabomber manifesto was considered the rant of a madman, but it actually had a lot of strong arguments in it.
Friday, Nov 05, 2010
More Neanderthal than chimp
Amazon has a book titled, What it Means to be 95% Chimpanzee: Apes, People, and their Genes, but the cover clearly says "98% chimpanzee". Which is it?
Estimates of how much of our genome is shared with chimps varies from 94% to 98.8%, as noted here and here. Here is an example of the confusion in an Amazon review:
Years ago a colleague who knew how fond I was of explaining our primate origins to students asked me, "Did you know we share 98% of our genes with chimpanzees"? "I'm comfortable with that", I replied, "as long as I still only share 50% with my brother", introducing a conundrum for many students that few professors can adequately resolve.Instead of explaining these percentages, the book seems to be mostly an argument that and such data is meaning. He rejects any scientific argument that humans are similar to animals, or that human are dissimilar to other humans, based on genes. He says:
Humans are marked by a large number of physical, ecological, mental, and social distinctions from other life...what does genetics have to say about all this? Nothing. Sameness/otherness is a philosophical paradox that is resolved by argument, not by data. (p.22)The book is attacked here for trying to deny that human racial differences exist.
I would expect this book to be praised by PC journalists for its left-wing view of science, but one of the Amazon reviews attacks it for not being suffiently critical of creationists!
Meanwhile, we are supposed to have Neanderthal genes:
The study shows that Neanderthals are not as extinct as everyone thought. Somewhere between one and four percent of the DNA in people who are ethnically non-African comes from Neanderthals. In other words, they live on in some of us.A UK newspaper reports on the latest dubious Neanderthal research:
Neanderthals really were sex-obsessed thugsI have omitted the evidence because the article gets it backwards.
Your article has a mistake in it.The article is anti-male propaganda. Anti-Neanderthal, also. Maybe modern men are wimps.
Thursday, Nov 04, 2010
Reignier on Poincare
J. Reignier writes on The birth of special relativity:
"What would have happened if Poincaré's papers of 1905 did not exist"? The answer is immediate since these papers were nearly forgotten 41 and didn't really influence the later development of physics!No, this is backwards. Einstein's 1905 paper was of no long term consequence. His approach is sometimes mentioned in special relativity textbooks, but it was obsolete by 1908. By 1909, most of the relativity papers were not using his approach, and the general relativity books do not even mention it.
Maybe Poincare's papers were forgotten, but not his ideas. Those 1905 papers had several crucial ideas that were never independently discovered by Einstein or anyone else. Most of them are listed here (except that the first four were before 1905).
Presumably Poincare's ideas would have eventually been independently rediscovered, but it is not known that any of them ever were.
You can find Poincare's papers in French on Wikisource, or translated to English, and I have some previously-posted links here. Other relativity papers are on Wikisource:Relativity, including Einstein's famous 1905 paper. Einstein's most famous papers are also here.
There are some Frenchmen who credit Poincare. Eg, there is the recent book by Jules Leveugle, outlined here, and translated here. Leveugle proposes some conspiracy theories, which have been attacked elsewhere, such as by Gingras.
Other good sources include the Wikipedia article on the Relativity priority dispute and Einstein's 1905 paper (also here). Here are translations of Poincare's 1905 short and long papers.
Wednesday, Nov 03, 2010
Not voting for Einstein
I just voted in California, and the sample write-in was Albert Einstein! You would think that they could at least choose an American.
Einstein eventually became a naturalized USA citizen, but he was Communist fellow traveler and Stalin apologist.
Monday, Nov 01, 2010
Pay for your dark science
A SciAm cover story has the latest theories about dark energy and dark matter, but a reader doesn't like the paywall:
“Just like the newsstand version, the online version of the article costs money of course. But if you do read it, I hope you enjoy it.”Funny. Secret knowledge about dark matter will not let the elites control us. Nobody was even figured out how to detect the stuff! He could read the magazine in the library, if he really wants.
SciAm is a commercial magazine, owned by the British Nature magazine. It is much more annoying when academic research articles are not freely available online, even tho the researchers have that choice.
It is a nice article. Most of the articles on this subject refuse to speculate what the dark matter and dark energy really are. This article lays out the leading possibilities. The array of possibilities shows how little they know.
It is amazing how little string theory has to say about any of this. How can it be a theory of everything when it cannot even say anything about the nature of empty space?
The Dark Buzz is still free.