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 Post subject: Sacred Cows in Science?
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2007 2:05 pm 
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I have noticed a tendency among many referring to themselves as freethinkers, to have perhaps too much faith in the pronouncements of renowned scientists. This seems odd considering there are usually raging debates going on within the scientific community itself over most of the hypothesis that are accepted as conventional wisdom by the general population. I would like to suggest a little mind expanding (pun intended) exercise for your consideration.

In SACRED COWS SCIENCE I have prepared a mind boggling experience for you. Enjoy, and I do hope you come back here to discuss it. Comments Welcome.

-Dave

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 8:36 am 
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Well, I just blew more than an hour of a busy morning, watching Adam's clips! I was utterly mesmorized. Clearly, they need to be studied longer; This was a geological "aha!" unlike any since I first began to see the connection of the planets ("Continental Drift") and scientists finally agreed. (with me, of course!) My one area of concern; Adams doesn't - to my satisfaction - explain the formation, not to mention the location - of mountain ranges. It's somethng I'll want to examine further.
However, Dave, I don't agree this "debunks" either scientists (in this case, geologists) or their methods of examination and study, before accepting a new concept. Nor is this the first time a "new concept" has been put forth by someone without "credentials" but that doesn't mean, if the concept holds up, that it won't be accepted by the scientific comunity. Just not as fast as Adams might like.
Nevertheless, thanks for sharing these amazing clips.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 11:34 am 
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Powder wrote:
Well, I just blew more than an hour of a busy morning, watching Adam's clips! I was utterly mesmorized. Clearly, they need to be studied longer; This was a geological "aha!" unlike any since I first began to see the connection of the planets ("Continental Drift") and scientists finally agreed. (with me, of course!)

Thanks for taking the time, Powder. It sounds like an hour well spent.

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My one area of concern; Adams doesn't - to my satisfaction - explain the formation, not to mention the location - of mountain ranges. It's somethng I'll want to examine further.

Actually he does mention it briefly in some of the clips and his writings (obviously, art is his forte - not literature). I had to think about it myself.

Try this metaphor. Partially inflate a round balloon and think of it as the underlying and ever expanding Basaltic layer of the Earth's crust. Then glue a more rigid continent-sized piece of cellophane (preformed with the same initial curvature as the balloon) to it and think of it as the Granitic upper layer.

If you now continue to inflate the balloon, equal pressure inside is going to want to keep it spherical. The cellophane can't expand (or move for that matter, since it is firmly glued to a single spot), yet its original curvature is being pulled into an increasingly flatter curve. Something has to give, and voila you get wrinkles! Further, as it continues to flatten out, the wrinkles will get higher; on the order of maybe a couple inches a year perhaps?

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However, Dave, I don't agree this "debunks" either scientists (in this case, geologists) or their methods of examination and study, before accepting a new concept. Nor is this the first time a "new concept" has been put forth by someone without "credentials" but that doesn't mean, if the concept holds up, that it won't be accepted by the scientific comunity. Just not as fast as Adams might like.
Nevertheless, thanks for sharing these amazing clips.

To be fair, I think you are misconstruing what I said, which was:

Dave wrote:
My point here is not so much the geology itself, as debunking the notion that the scientific community has all the answers to the puzzles of nature and that independent and less credentialed thinkers are not qualified to play among them. They may not think a comic book writer a 'peer' worth reviewing, but I suspect he is on to something, and has advanced the hypothesis considerably with his graphic arts talents. -Dave

I am not attempting to debunk scientists or the scientific method at all. Only the "notion" rampant among the general population that scientific pronouncements are infallible; that we know things for a fact because we learned them from a science teacher; and/or that those outside that insular community are unworthy to challenge their expertise.

Further, as I noted in my essay, the hypothesis which Adams is furthering with his unique talents is not his own, nor even new. Samuel Warren Carey developed it back in the '50s and even published a book entitled 'The Expanding Earth' in 1976. I would suggest that the adherents to the Pangaea Theory, and the Subduction hypothesis, are clinging to clearly bankrupt ideas and taking way too long to wield Occam's razor. Far too many mysteries, particularly in the field of evolutionary biology and archeological evidence regarding the distribution of taxa on our planet, evaporate with this explanation for it to continue to be ignored.

What we have here is a common fellow, not unlike myself, stumbling upon an intriguing, if obscure, scientific debate and using his common sense to side with the minority. For whatever reason, he has chosen to make it a cause; and is applying his particular talents and notoriety to try to get the general public on board to force a paradigm shift in the way we view our Universe. I wish him well.

-Dave

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 11:58 am 
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Re: Debunking
I stand corrected - sort of! Yes, your original assertion was aimed at the populace, not the geologists. But then, don't you proceed to "debunk" them after all?

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:49 pm 
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Powder wrote:
Re: Debunking
I stand corrected - sort of! Yes, your original assertion was aimed at the populace, not the geologists. But then, don't you proceed to "debunk" them after all?


I agree that I excoriate those clinging to old paradigms, and to that extent I am abetting the debunking of their positions. But that was not the purpose of my essay, and I do hope my larger point is not lost in the fascination with the lesser subject matter I used to make it. This is what happened on the freethinker forum when the ensuing discussion narrowly focused on the politics of "global warming," rather than the point of my looming "Dark Ages" essay.
-Dave

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:27 am 
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The Judge sent the following comment on this post, to Powder:

I had some philosophical differences with What Rule of Law, but it was Sacred Cow Science that caught my attention. Although I enjoyed reading it, I think it's a case of someone with a very large ego who doesn't know as much about science as he thinks he does.

If you go to Neil Adams website (from the link near the bottom of the page: http://www.nealadams.com/nmu.html) it provides a more in depth discussion of the theory. It's there where I found confirmation of the biggest hole in the idea. The article goes on and on attacking and belittling the idea of continental drift, but is very weak in explaining the idea behind the claim that the earth is expanding. In fact, it holds the scientific theory to a standard it doesn't come close to meeting.

The entire expanding earth theory obviously rests on the concept that the earth is expanding, yet there is almost no discussion on how such a thing could be happening. In fact, the only mention of how such a fantastic thing could happen is:

An aside....you may fairly ask how this matter can be created. It's created at the plasma core of all planets, moons and suns by a process that is so common that science has a name for it, "pair production!" It's how all matter is made from energy.

That statement (which is the essential concept underlying the whole theory) is absurd. First, plasma is an ionized gas. Second, pair production is a process which creates a particle and a corresponding anti-particle. The classic example requires a high energy particle, such as from gamma rays, slamming into an atomic nuclei and producing an electron and a positron. Even assuming that the core of the earth was made up of ionized gas (which it isn't), and assuming that somehow enough high energy radiation could pour into the core of the earth to actually generate enough matter to actually change the volume of the earth, half of that matter would literally be anti-matter. Anti-matter literally explodes into energy when it comes into contact with regular matter. The particles and anti-particles annihilate each other releasing the massive amounts of energy which it took to create them.

The suggestion that pair production could be creating enough matter to expand the earth indicates that Neil Adams has a very weak understanding of physics, yet throws scientific and physics terms around in a manner that makes it seem he that he knows more than he actually does. The same is true of his claim that all planets and moons have a plasma core. While I'm at it, doesn't it seem odd that the explanation for the central premise of the entire idea is merely an aside?

Years ago, I came across a website by a man who wrote similar articles belittling and dismissing the Special Theory of Relativity. He claimed to have dozens of proofs of how the theory was obviously wrong. That's a theory I understand pretty well for a non-physicist. At first glance, his attacks seemed formidable. Upon review, however, I found the mathematical flaws in all of his "proofs" and sent him an e-mail. At first he would try to refute what I said, but soon he simply would just try to change the subject or argue some different proof. He was so condescending at first that he was almost pompous - claiming that he had challenged physicists and nobody could prove him wrong - yet after a short while, it became very clear that he would refuse to listen to anything that undermined his attacks on Special Relativity. He wanted to be the brilliant lay person who had undermined the theory, and wasn't going to let anything get in the way of that, even the fact that he was wrong. When I read Neal Adams' article, I get that exact same feeling. He knows just enough terminology to sound like he knows what he's talking about, he's condescending to the point of being pompous, and he has staked his identity on being the layman who has proven that geologists aren't as smart as he is. The problem is his theory is wackier than the idea of continental drift could ever be (no matter how many times he declares it to be "silly", "nonsense", or "wrong").

I have some issues with the idea of global warming, I'm a little skeptical of continental drift, and I think there are many areas that science is likely wrong - but the expanding earth idea is one I don't buy into either.

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 Post subject: It's not the Messenger
PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:46 am 
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Hi Powder,

My first reaction to the Judge's remarks was what a pity he has chosen not to participate directly with us. His obviously thoughtful and erudite mind, and cogent writing style, would have been a most welcome addition and a challenge not to unduly provoke. I do hope to hear more from him, even if he continues to deem it prudent to filter it through you. Given the radical nature of some of the ideas expressed hereabouts, his trepidation is understandable.

Next I was struck by how I agree with his characterization of the manner of Adams' assault on those scientists rejecting the expanding earth hypothesis. I noted as much above obliquely with my aside regarding art being his forte. It is not uncommon in my experience for the spokesman for an idea to have considerably less appeal than the idea itself. I know well how unfortunate it is when the temperament and demeanor of the messenger obscures the message, for I suffer from the miscommunication as a result frequently myself.

It brings to mind President Bush, for whom I have a love/hate relationship. I could support his impeachment for mayhem on the English language, yet back him to the hilt on his resolute prosecution of WWIV. I do so wish it were possible for him to be kept out of sight, and allow Dick Cheney, or better yet Tony Blair, to do his public speaking for him.

I do think it only fair to reiterate my remarks above that Adams did not originate this venerable debate, and is by no means its only current proponent. There are many more imminently qualified, credentialed, and articulate proponents of it among the geological community only a Google click away from discovery.

I also noted that insofar as I have dug into the history of this scientific debate, the Judges demand for a mechanism by which additional matter might be produced appears to be the predominant, and perhaps only cogent, argument against the hypothesis. I agree that Adams' flippant dismissal of the argument is ridiculous, but I suspect that discovering that process is not what interests him. Nor is he willing to ignore the overwhelming evidence that supports the hypothesis, for lack of that admittedly intriguing piece of it.

If you will pardon my putting it this way, Judge, this is akin to a Coroner demanding that the murder weapon itself be produced, before he will believe his lying eyes regarding the autopsy photos of the bullet hole in the back of the head, and the x-rays of the lead storm in the cranium, to rule on the manner of death. To extend the analogy, if the police were fortunate enough to find the gun, he could then demand scientific proof that gunpowder expands when ignited, etc ad infinitum.

I am not sure how many of the clips on Adams' website the Judge took the time to view, but I do hope he watched the one of Europa. Sometimes one's eyes aren't lying, and it is useful to employ uncommon common sense. Unless Adams' whole effort is an elaborate hoax, Europa did it for me. I haven't really spent all that much time digging deeply into this subject; just enough to learn that there are plenty of real and serious scientists propounding the same hypotheses. Thus, I find Adams' artistic contribution to the debate, and his vocal advocacy of it to the general public, very much a useful tool for hastening the paradigm shift in our scientific understanding of the Universe that would be occasioned by its general acceptance.

Finally, it is gratifying to note by his last paragraph that he did not miss the overall point of my essay, which so often happens in similar excursions into the examples used to make a point. Thanks much for that, Judge; and we can agree to postpone the indictment until more evidence is found. Thankfully, I am not the detective assigned to that case. -Dave

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 Post subject: Evidence?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:22 pm 
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Somewhat to my dismay, most of the debate I am having on this subject is happening elsewhere. It is remarkable how much the credibility and personality of Mr. Adams figures into those debates. My friend Scott and I had a lively discussion of it over coffee yesterday evening, and this morning I received an e-mail from another that ended with:
Quote:
… I'm beginning to wonder why you are so determined to cling to Adam's explanations, when there appears to be little evidence to support them?

For posterity, and to get it on the record for discussions that may come from future participants, I will answer here:

First, and importantly, I don't see them as just "Adams explanations," but a scientific debate that has been going on for half a century, which it is somewhat irritating that it took the likes of Adams to make the public aware of. I have admitted the flaws of the messenger and insist on not allowing them to interfere with my thinking.

Next, Occam's Razor. Far too many mysteries in multiple scientific disciplines, for which even more fanciful theories have been propounded to explain them, evaporate if the hypothesis is accepted. Reverse the process. If the expanding earth hypothesis were the accepted conventional wisdom, and someone challenged it with the notion that it had always been its current size, and proposed the Pangaea theory to explain the distribution of taxa, suggesting that all the continents were once joined together on one side of the world, with the other side being just one huge ocean, we would all think that was simply preposterous on many levels. The issue of how the dinosaurs bodies could have functioned as designed in our gravity is even more problematical.

Then, the only objection I have heard yet to the hypothesis is the lack of an explainable mechanism, comporting with the known laws of physics, by which matter could be created. I just don't see the need for the creation of matter to explain it. For one thing, I have seen the inside of a geode. Then, the overwhelming content of all of what our senses perceive as solid matter is the relatively vast empty space between particles in atoms, and the even greater spaces between atoms.

What our senses perceive as a solid, dull, sedate, and lifeless rock, is a veritable beehive of activity of swarming atomic particles within these vast reaches. The very term "motionless" is merely an illusion of the mind. Some atomic bonds are so strong that we regard the properties of the matter they compose as "brittle," rather than "elastic," but even glass is a liquid. Window panes taken out of very old buildings are measurably thicker on the bottom than the top, because the brittle stuff sags over time.

I recall being struck as a child in science class by the comparison of atoms with solar systems, and molecules with galaxies. I speculated in my juvenile mind as to whether there might be miniscule creatures populating an electron here and there, as it revolved around the nucleus of its atom. Although I have never accomplished getting my mind around the notion, physicists have no difficulty proposing that the entire universe started as a singular dot, which somehow expanded like a bubble to include all the matter we now perceive. They claim it is still expanding, so is it so preposterous to propose a similar process somehow at play within what we perceive as matter, not just in what we perceive as empty spaces between it (which many scientists now believe is actually filled with "dark" matter we cannot perceive at all)?

Then, I have to ask where the continents came from to begin with. If the Earth began as a primordial molten blob, presumably its crust is the result of cooling of its surface into a solid. It would seem logical to speculate that this cooling process would be rather uniform all over the revolving planet. Geological evidence, such as the mid-continent Petrified Forest high in the Rockies, proves that vast portions of continents were once under water themselves. Core samples of the continental "plates" lead geologists to speculate that the Earth is 4.5 Billion years old. Yet core samples of the 2/3 of the Earth that is under the oceans show that this crust averages only 70 Million years old.

Since it ranges from brand new at the rift zones mid-ocean to no more than 180 Million years old near continents, where it purportedly "subducts" to be melted back into the magma, one has to ask why such an active anti-cooling process would have ever allowed some plates to continue to cool and grow older and so much thicker to begin with. If you go there, it opens the speculation of how many more billions of years the Earth might have been chugging along "subducting" all of its crust before it neglected doing so for those parts of it we now call continents.

But then there is the little matter of the continents being composed of granite on top of basalt, and the other two thirds of the crust being only basalt. How could that have happened? If you try to tell me that once all the crust was billions of years old, but some of it got "subducted," I won't even go into the relative densities of granite, basalt, and magma, but simply ask, why? If the earth cooled uniformly for 4.5 Billion years, and then stopped and started eating itself, please explain what initiated that new mechanism.

I'm sorry, but to suggest it should be dismissed because there is little evidence to support the hypothesis, just doesn't work for my open and inquisitive mind. I perceive very much evidence worth pondering. -Dave

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