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Re: [physicsnorthyork] Science (and what it's not)

From: Martin
Sent on: Saturday, April 14, 2012 12:53 AM
Why in H*LL is this thread still active?!?

Didn't Betty, our ORGANIZER and BANHAMMER WEILDER, tell you *people* to move this to the message board?

How can we even take you seriously when you can't even follow the simplest of directions?

So please stop wasting my bandwidth with this *stuff* and take it to where Betty said to take it.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

From: Stan Racansky <[address removed]>
Sender: [address removed]
Date: Sat, 14 Apr[masked]:38:21 -0400
To: <[address removed]>
ReplyTo: [address removed]
Subject: Re: [physicsnorthyork] Science (and what it's not)

Dave,

As I said before you take fiction writer's liberty to twist what I wrote to your end. Can you put up the original whole writing or should I?

Sent from my iPad

On[masked], at 9:22 PM, Dave Noel <[address removed]> wrote:

Man this is addictive. ;) Ok, last one I promise.

This is a direct quote from Stan: "I have also my private description, everything what we consider a science is wrong. Its depressing for me if Einstein was right. Can you imagine no space travel. Speed of lights is too slow. We would be stuck in this god forgotten little piece of space. "

What I said below wasn't taken out of context. I merely asked you to clarify and you called me a Nazi. Well done. (slow clap)

Dave

On Fri, Apr 13, 2012 at 12:11 PM, Dave Noel <[address removed]> wrote:
Yes, I consider Homeopathy and therapeutic touch to be the height of pseudoscience. If they had clear cut experiments that didn't count on the placebo effect, special pleading, moving goalposts and cherry picking to get definitive results I would change my mind very quickly. But as it stands now, there is controvacy - I think - because independent peer review couldn't reliably reproduce the the results of the experiments in question. Which means sloppy science is likely afoot. If both parties are being 100% honest in their findings why would there be so much conflict?

Just a note. I currently suck at statistical analysis, but understand underlying mechanisms very well. If there is a real world model that allows for homeopathy or therepeutic touch to be true, without completely destroying other seemingly unrelated fields of study, I would be very very interested in hearing about it. But if it requires a complete rethink of hundreds of years of independent study and findings, then I'm not interested, because its likely non-sense and a waste of time. 

I may be misunderstanding you completely. You had claimed in previous letters that "all of science is wrong". And you also stated that 'Eienstein must be wrong because if he were right we would be too isolated and cut off from the rest of the universe'. But that's not really a valid point, it's an emotional appeal. That's like saying, I will win the lottery today because the thought of living in poverty for the rest of my life makes me sad. Does that actually mean I'm going to win the lottery today? My current understanding of your point of view is, "all of science is wrong, because it doesn't allow room for fantasy". Forgive me, I really don't mean to put words in your mouth, but is that your stance?

My questions seem overly critical because I've seen too many real world examples of people being duped by the unscrupulous. Carl Sagan said it best: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". 



Sent from my iPad

On[masked], at 10:16 AM, Stan Racansky <[address removed]> wrote:

Hi David, 

Let's just take two things from your email for now -  homeopathy and therapeutic touch - you consider it pseudo-science. Am I right? Before I go deeper with scientific clinical research data by credible Indepedent Univeresities like Oxford, Howard, Yale, University of Southern California, university of Maryland, Standford, including some Nobel Prize winning research, can you let me know  if I understood your email properly? Don't want to have misunderstanding.

Stan



Sent from my iPad

On[masked], at 9:23 AM, Dave Noel <[address removed]> wrote:

Well, this has been a heated discussion, indeed. But aside from the all the quotes(some in context), and the posturing and braying, what are we do to with claims that are based on completely unfounded and ill conceived notions of reality? 

I think the root of this whole discussion has been lost... purpose of science is to have a model of reality with predictive capabilities. If you understand a concept well enough to make a prediction, and then test your model (experiment) to see if it holds up in reality and against the scrutiny of your peers, then you have something useful, and something that can be adapted in ways that maybe you never even thought possible. 

Now lets say Bobby has a cool or even beautiful idea, that falls apart when attempted, or doesn't take into account a fundamental and well established aspect of physics that he omitted (due to an honest mistake) or completely ignored. His peers point out his errors experimentally. Now he still choose to believe what has been proven false, and makes products that don't work based on that flawed theory. What happens to science? It's now useless because Bobby wants to model a universe that's different from the one we all live in. What's more, he's making money off something useless and peddling it to people who are counting on you as a scientist to get it right. That makes him dishonest, in my humble opinion. 

Being a skeptic allows us to at least try to see if someone is peddling sham science. It's not because science is perfect, but it should at least be self moderating. The only thing we should require to change our minds is proper, repeatable experimental evidence. I know that sometimes these things get squashed by some communities, due to technicalities, or funding issues, or soaring egos. Those are science's flaws. At it's core, it's currently the best tool we have for understanding this universe. 

My points are made, now a question to Hari and Stan:
How is it beneficial to hold on to a theory, or a set of beliefs that conflicts with everyone else's solid findings? 

Einstein didn't completely negate Newton with Relativity, he refined the theory using 200 year old plane geometry so it could account for some peculiar observations that were made due to technological advancements, observations that Newtonian physics couldn't take into account. Newtonian physics is still useful today, albeit only in certain applications. A lot of the fringe science out there isn't based on anything but fantasy. It isn't remotely related to something that has been proven, vetted or refined. A lot of pseudo-science isn't standing on the wealth of competing knowledge that came before it, so why should it be taken seriously? Homeopathy, therapeutic  touch, Q-ray bracelets, the law of attraction (the secret), etc..., none of this has a shred of experimental evidence or a coherent explanation for how it might work, but people are still making money and wasting everyone else's time. How is that useful, and how is it closed minded to demand a little better from people?

-- 

DaveNoel





On Apr 13, 2012, at 7:45 AM, Hari Kumar wrote:

You are merely repeating what you have already said. In any case, Stan has shed more light on this and conclusively proven of Kelvin view's on aviation. It is clear that you know little of what you are talking about.
That quote is indeed the crux of this discussion. It epitomizes attitudes such as yours, which could be destructive to science.
Lady, I don't care if you don't take me seriously. It is eminently clear that you had already made up your microscopic mind before you entered this discussion. The only thing you have achieved is making a complete fool of yourself. I am reminded of the saying, there is none so blind as those who refuse to see.

Have a nice day,

Hari

On Thu, Apr 12, 2012 at 10:57 PM, monique <[address removed]> wrote:
(with our current technology of steam powered engine, and factoring the weight-to-energy output ratio...) "heavier than air flying machines are impossible".

Does that sound like a quote that could be taken out of context? It seems that was what Lord Kelvin meant at the time. Again, according to your simple very literal interpretation, why would he mean such a thing when there is clear evidence to the contrary (ie birds)? Gliders were also well known at the time. Doesn't that suggest already that there is more to that quote? But anyway, that quote was hardly the main point of my response. Was it just the easiest to respond to?  For someone who accused me of making a lot of assumptions, you certainly made a lot of assumptions about me. (I only made one - that Lord Kelvin was not that stupid). Also, please don't speak to me like that. It is insulting, and it makes it hard to take you seriously.


Subject: Re: [physicsnorthyork] Science (and what it's not)
From: [address removed]
To: [address removed]
Date: Thu, 12 Apr[masked]:43:37 -0400


You are not making any sense. Please read the quote. It says "impossible". "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." In how many ways can you interpret this simple sentence??? You are making a lot of assumptions and trying to find non-existent meanings. Wait! Isn't that what you accuse "pseudo-scientists" of doing?!
I shudder to think what our world would have been like if skeptics like you held sway during our entire history.
The skeptic caveman would have said, "Fire?? It has no possible use other than burning you to death!!", then it would be "What is that stupid, nonsensical contraption? You call it a wheel?? You can't even put it on any surface, it will just roll down??! It has no use whatsoever! It's just a big round pile of crap!" and then "Come on!  Do you expect me to believe that from this tiny thing that you call a seed will sprout plants that can feed us??? Nonsense!!!" If you skeptics had held sway, we wouldn't have had telephones, automobiles, planes, computers...the list goes on.
No, I don't want all the scientists of the world to stop what they are doing and chase after what your unimaginative ilk deems as 'nonsensical' ideas. I merely want them to continue chasing their 'important work' and not to throw mud at others who chase alternate ideas. I sense a religious intolerance among self appointed guardians of skeptical science (who are actually very poor scientists themselves, but manage to write books, attend talk shows/debates and make money in the process) in their singular crusade against all ideas that they deem as 'pseudo-science'.


On Thu, Apr 12, 2012 at 2:32 PM, monique <[address removed]> wrote:
Once again there is a difference between feasible ideas and ideas that are absolute nonsense. Lord Kelvin, I'm sure, commented on an idea that at the time was probably feasible, which is demonstrated quite simply by looking at birds - obviously denser than air yet able to obtain flight. (I would also say it is deceiving to take single quotes that could be out of context - ie Einstein and god). It's quite a stretch to say that the idea of flight at that time was as likely as the idea of some things proposed here (please, don't give people of the past too little credit). A lot of today's technology was feasible a hundred years ago, but seemed out of reach due to technological limitations - ie the invention of transistors. A new step is quantum computing - it uses no new theory of quantum mechanics of the 1920s, but we've made technological advances to make it possible. Some of the things we are discussing here are not even _physically_ possible under our current working theory, and there is no scientific basis to even believe its possible. Do you really want all of the scientists of the world to stop what important work they are doing and chase nonsensical ideas? And there are not thousands, but millions of them.


Subject: Re: [physicsnorthyork] Science (and what it's not)
From: [address removed]
To: [address removed]
Date: Thu, 12 Apr[masked]:17:33 -0400

My response below:

On Thu, Apr 12, 2012 at 11:11 AM, monique <[address removed]> wrote:
I'm not sure if you're trying to defend very obvious attempts at money making (ie quantum mystics, deepak chopra, perhaps thrive, but I did not watch it),
 
No, I am not. I am not defending anyone. I am just defending the right to dare question without fear of ridicule.  

or your general philosophical approach to 'unfounded' ideas.
I hope the latter, and if so, I still think it's wrong. It sounds great, go through every idea that's ever come up for the small chance that they happen to be right, but who's going to invest all of that effort? Will you do it? Should we be wasting valuable time and limiting resources (especially with the already very limiting funds towards basic science) on ideas that have no scientific foundation?

I am infinitely glad that there were lesser of your kind when Lord Kelvin (British mathematician and physicist and president of the British Royal Society, 1895) declared that “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” Had it been so, perhaps the skeptic herds would have fallen behind such an influential person such as Kelvin and would have ridiculed any attempt to fly tons of metal into the sky. They would have called such an idea "unfounded, preposterous nonsense" and would have said the exact same thing you are saying now, "Should we be wasting valuable time and limiting resources" on such 'unfounded' and illogical ideas?

There are innumerable quotes like the above at almost every stage of humanity's development. I hate to do this, but I am just posting a link to the many such declarations: http://www.thefastlaneforum.com/off-topic-discussion/4750-30-quotes-all-proven-wrong.html

I am concerned now, because the voice of the skeptic is now more vocal than ever wasting no time in ridiculing, blackballing and deriding not only the 'different' idea, but also the people behind it.

Science was not made by the skeptics, but rather by those who dared the skeptics.


 

Yes, quantum mechanics would be considered pseudoscience two hundred years ago, and rightly so. If someone had come up with the idea through wild imaginations and guess work, and happen to be right a hundred years later, they would be lucky, not a genius. There is a misconception that quantum mechanics popped out of no where from one scientist. Physics at the time was leading up to it (involving many scientists, like Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, etc). It was developed based on science and it stood the test of time (for now). But to say that then we must give all theories equal probabilities of being 'true' is nonsense. There is no 'herd' mentally, but common sense.

But that is not to say that the science community does not fall victim to the 'herd' mentality and that they would reject an otherwise feasible idea. But these 'pseudoscientific' ideas are not one of them. (Think evolution and controversial theories like the relative impact of natural selection v gene mutation. ID is NOT a 'competing' theory).


Subject: Re: [physicsnorthyork] Science (and what it's not)
From: [address removed]
To: [address removed]
Date: Thu, 12 Apr[masked]:50:36 -0400

I am at work right now, so I need to keep my message as brief as possible. I will respond to this in detail later today. However I have just this to say at the moment. The true skeptical scientist should begin by being skeptical of even skepticism itself and its role in science. Instead of blindly following the herd and copy pasting links from Wikipedia it would do one well to challenge the existing paradigms and question their validity in an unbiased manner. To me, I would suffer a thousand so called pseudoscientific ideas, rather than risk losing a single discovery that could have changed the world.
Regards, Hari
On Apr 12,[masked]:24 AM, "Hugh" <[address removed]> wrote:
Something can?t be physics without being science.
It?s important to know what science is.

It can also be illuminating (and fun) studying what science is not:
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoscience
 
There?s some crazy stuff out there, that puzzles and delights scientists.

Quantum biology included.
Quantum biology is a recent and surprising discovery,
and full of legitimate and well done science.
 
There?s plenty of pseudoscience too,

much of it based on politics and wishful thinking.
Environmental science is rife with this sort of evangelical propaganda, for example.
 
Then there is criminal fraud,
using the trappings of science to prey on human nature
and bilk people out of money.
This is the category the dangerous THRIVE videos fall solidly into.




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