Sunday, August 2, 2015

PseudoScience & the Ego-Centric Universe

Every once and a while I receive emails and/or comments accusing myself (and/or others who choose to engage pseudo-scientists), of arrogance.  That occurred in the comments to the previous post.  In addition, I recently stumbled across some notes for a response to a previous comment expressing similar sentiments.

Suric: it takes arrogance, lameness, utter self love and desperate need to be in the limelight, to come up with an idea which allows one to erase, in one stroke, anyone's attempt to question and correct.

These are the types of responses when opponents don't have any actual facts to back them up.

Let's examine the commenter's statement piece by piece...

it takes arrogance, lameness...

Who is more arrogant, those who actually plan, build and operate these missions, or those who claim they can who have not demonstrated that they can do even the basics (like calculate spacecraft trajectories, compute particle fluxes) and going so far as to claim that those who CAN do these things are 'faking the data', 'lying to protect the status-quo model', etc.? 

Challenging on this leads to evasion or silence...

...utter self love and desperate need to be in the limelight...

I'm not a research-grade scientist.

However, thanks to a rather broad training in physics that I obtained as an undergraduate and graduate student, I am a sufficiently good generalist that I can do support work with sufficient accuracy and reliability to aid those who actually do research.  I'm quite happy with that.

I've been criticized, told I was wasting my time, by professional scientists, for being willing to deal with the cranks and crackpots.   Though there are others who've actually thanked me for addressing some of the problems created by the cranks.

If I'm doing this to get attention for me, I'm clearly doing something wrong.

Meanwhile, many pseudo-scientists attempt to harass professional scientists (the more prominent the better) in an attempt to raise their profile.  Since the pseudo-scientists can't meet the standards of REAL science, this is probably their only actual accomplishments.

...to come up with an idea which allows one to erase, in one stroke, anyone's attempt to question and correct.

What most cranks, pseudo-scientists, and their supporters fail to address, is the faults in their claimed 'corrections' to the 'status-quo' model.  I've yet to find one of these 'corrections' that has less severe problems than the mainstream problem they claim to correct. 

Consider the Standard Solar Model.   That model, as it exists today, has been developed over the past 100+ years with contributions from hundreds of individuals.  While there are a few stand-out names among the contributors: Cecilia Payne, Henry Norris Russell, Hans Bethe, etc., most of their names are lost to all but those who work actively in the field.

Among pseudo-scientists, there are as many theories as there are ego-maniacs. 

As I have noted before, there are, at minimum, FOUR separate, and outright contradictory Electric Sun models pushed under the "Electric Universe" banner by as many individuals, as well as loads of others lesser known.  You see similar behavior in young-earth creationists, where different 'centers', ICR, CMI, AiG, etc. may utilize the same 'problems' in mainstream science, but often advocate different solutions to the problems, usually oriented around the products which they wish to sell to believers. 

The proponents of each of these models are all hoping their model will 'win', but we have yet to determine:

What is the standard for 'winning'?

While each of these EU or creationist 'researchers' has their own fan club, how many other individuals are actively involved in research on any of these models, as opposed to pushing another radical variant of their own?

But the really funny part which Electric Universe supporters is even with just these four 'Electric Sun' models are so radically different from each other that the proponent of any one of them is calling all the others nonsense. 

EU supporters claim these alternatives can explain such solar mysteries as:
- the solar neutrino deficit (or maybe not)
- the multi-million degree 'temperature' of the chromosphere and corona
- the acceleration of the solar wind (actually more related to the corona temperature)

Yet not only have EU 'theorists' not provided details of these theories with numerical predictions of these claimed 'successes', we have yet to see how any of these models can provide predictions of the particle environment around the Sun where we routinely fly spacecraft. 

Attempts by others to answer these questions not only demonstrates that the model fails.  Presentations of these facts are usually met with bizarre excuses:
  • "You did the computation wrong."  Okay, so demonstrate the 'correct' calculation...
  • "It is up to mainstream science to prove our theory."  So it appears EU 'theorists' want mainstream scientists to do the actual hard work while EU theorists hang around to take the credit?
  • "The EU model isn't sufficiently worked out yet."  If your theory is insufficiently worked out that it cannot provide numerical predictions  which can be compared to measurements, then such a theory is, at best, not a serious contender.  At worst, it is scientific fraud. (see Electric Universe: More Confusing Claims from the EU 'Worldview'
And we still get no 'correct' calculation.

Talk about self-delusion!

Yet while Electric Sun advocates claim these 'corrections' to the Standard Solar Model explain many problems with the model, we have yet to obtain any useful quantitative predictions from these models which we can compare to actual experiments and observations.  And many of these failures of these 'corrections' are things which the Standard Model does well (see also Challenges for Electric Universe Theorists).

Pseudo-science 'models' claim to explain everything, yet can predict nothing except in the most ambiguous fashion, more like the predictions of a tabloid psychic than real scientists.

And if they continue to be confronted with too many challenges which they can't answer, the pseudo-scientists will occasionally resort to claiming some technology was 'faked' (Apollo Moon landings, relativity in the GPS system, space flight in general), to extract themselves from the from the corner into which they've backed themselves.  Then they have to hope none of their fans and supporters get wise to their retreat, but that's usually not that difficult...
“They are not mad. They're trained to believe, not to know. Belief can be manipulated. Only knowledge is dangerous.” -- Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah

The Real Ego-Centric Universe

I'm reminded of the great quote from Schadewald's "Worlds of their Own":
"While orthodox science has had its share of egomaniacs, unorthodox science attracts even more."
EU has never even demonstrated that they understand enough about celestial mechanics to model an interplanetary trajectory as it is developed by the professionals, much less demonstrated that they can model a similar trajectory in a solar system awash in regions of significant charge which they claim exists.  Yet they still claim they are the geniuses and insinuate the people who actually do this stuff are everything from incompetents or liars.

Nature is under no obligation to conform to our expectations...

In legitimate science, we conduct experiments and work to make sure they have results that are reproducible, and predictable.  This practice has made possible technologies that were not possible one hundred, or three hundred years ago.  It is because we now understand, in reproducible mathematical detail, behaviors of atoms and electrons at the atomic scale (making possible the computer on which you are reading this) to the motions of objects in distant space (making possible space missions to the outer reaches of our solar system).  Sometimes this means there are some problems to which real science does not have an immediate answer, which are an ongoing area of research.  Sometimes the answer to the problem requires a revision to what we previously thought we understood well, but there are rigorous procedures for making that determination.

On the other hand, pseudo-science is based on the idea that the Universe must conform to the expectations and/or 'worldview' (i.e. political and/or religious ideologies) of its advocates (see Pseudoscience and 'World-View').  In this model, pseudo-scientists claim they can 'explain' any problem which exists in mainstream science, often at the expense of ignoring well-established science.  Considering how many different (and competing) 'worldviews'  have adopted some form of pseudo-science, or adopted some fact of established science to attack, statistically, what are the odds for ANY of them being correct?!

Which system requires more arrogance?

Monday, July 6, 2015

PseudoScience and Models

With the recent Electric Universe 'conference' in Phoenix AZ, I just had to do a little browse over to the Thunderbolts forum to see if there were any interesting threads related to it.

While not directly related to the conference, there was one interesting recent thread, started by user Metryq, that died a quick death.

Thunderbolts Forum: Space Sim with EU?
There are many space sim/planetarium apps to choose from. Some are "Earth-bound" while others allow one to tour the Solar system, or farther. Many of these apps are like interactive textbooks, delivering only the mainstream view of astronomy.

Some apps, like Celestia (which seems to have fallen out of development), permit mods and add-ons and interactive lessons. Is anyone aware of an app that includes EU material, or perhaps a multi-platform app that would accept an EU mod/lessons? Thunderbolts is promoting EU extremely well, but a space sim might be one more avenue to explore.
The short answer for Metryq is that there are many simulations involving electric fields in space. 

But those simulations just don't demonstrate what Electric Universe supporters claim they would show.  Because if they did, this could have been done a LONG time ago.  Computing power is more than up to the task of doing this. 

Many of the papers on REAL electric effects in space I've documented elsewhere on this blog.
These papers reference known electrical effects in space that are incorporated into simulations that provide important information for the planning of future space missions, such as these
which are also referenced in the Thunderbolts forum:
NONE of these NASA simulations use the gigantic electric arcs and currents claimed to exist by Electric Universe supporters, yet these models work perfectly well in planning the level of protection needed for un-crewed and crewed space missions.  Funny that none of the Electric Universe fans seem capable of comprehending why that might be...

Now many of these simulations are not that difficult to write.  I wrote my first gravitational n-body simulation back in 1979 on an Apple II computer (Wikipedia) using AppleSoft Basic.  All it requires is a good understanding of the necessary mathematics and physics, and access to a sufficiently powerful programming language.  In terms of programming languages, C and C++ are good if you want the better speed of compiled languages.  Python now has extensive scientific libraries and graphical support and is my language of choice when speed is not critical.

I've written numerous other simulations since then.  More recently, I've written some 2-D plasma simulations and even an n-body particle code that combines gravity and electromagnetic forces.
Sample from from one of my 2-D plasma simulations of a ring Birkeland current in a magnetic field flowing perpendicular to the plane of the image.

Modeling of plasmas is routine today, and many can be done without access to supercomputers.  Consider the aspects of plasma modeling I've documented, many of which are now part of standard applications:
So why aren't there similar simulations for Electric Universe models?

If the Electric Universe 'theorists' were as smart as they want their fans to believe, they would have been able to demonstrate this YEARS ago, yet the only models that looked even encouraging, failed many other tests (see Scott Rebuttal. II. The Peratt Galaxy Model vs. the Cosmic Microwave Background).

The bottom line is these simulation programs don't exist because Electric Universe claims of gigantic currents powering stars and galaxies and etching canyons and craters on planets just doesn't work.

General list of failures of Electric Universe models.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Exposing PseudoAstronomy: Big Bang Denial

Stuart Robbins over at Exposing PseudoAstronomy has posted a new podcast on Big Bang Denial (BBD), a topic often covered here.

Stuart goes into a number of the more basic aspects of the problem, mostly from the types of bad reasoning involved.
  • arguments from personal incredulity
  • Dark Matter is fake.  
  • Big Bang cosmology does not describe what started the universe, only how it evolved afterwards - rather like how biological evolution takes place regardless of how life started independent of abiogenesis (wikipedia).
I have explored some additional claims in detail at the links below: