Subject: Re: Topic for Discussion? XNewsreader: TIN [version 1.1 PL6] References: 1993Jan2

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From: robd@cherry09.cray.com (Robert Derrick) Subject: Re: Topic for Discussion? Message-ID: <1993Jan29.112651.18752@hemlock.cray.com> Lines: 77 X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.1 PL6] References: <1993Jan28.174818.5505@aurora.com> Date: 29 Jan 93 11:26:51 CST Mark Isaak (isaak@aurora.com) wrote: : In article <1993Jan25.114125.11526@hemlock.cray.com> robd@cherry09.cray.com (Robert Derrick) writes: : >But since you have nothing to replace it with, no : >matter how much disparity you cast, it remains the best available : >theory. : : I disagree. Some time ago, people believed that light propogated as : waves in some kind of ether. A couple people set out to measure the : Earth's velocity relative to this ether, but they found instead that : the speed of light was invariant no matter which direction the Earth : was moving. This experiment (for all practical purposes) demolished : the ether theory, but the people doing it didn't propose a better : theory. That had to wait for Einstein. In fact, it is probably the : case that the need for a new theory was what motivated Einstein to : develop the theory of special relativity. In summary, no theory at : all is better than a theory which is known to be wrong. Truth is, I agree with you while sticking mostly to what I said above. In the case of the Ether Theory, and the failure of the Michelson/Morley experiment to detect the Ether, there are some important distinctions to be drawn. First of all, they were trying to advance the knowledge by experiment and investigation, which they did. The negative result is quite common in scientific studies, and there are countless stories of people who went looking for X and found ~X. This did not simply leave a hole, but left more questions to be asked. This is similar to what Johnson is doing, but not exactly. Where M/M actually performed a repeatable experiment, Johnson simply digs around in the dirt of science for questionable quotes, gee whiz histrionics, false dichotomies, conflicting opinion. There is no visible evidence that he is trying to advance the canon of knowledge. Moreso, there is evidence that he has a hidden agenda. M/M were not secretly trying to overthrow an existing paradigm for private philosophical purposes. Also, where the Ether theory failed, it did not make a vacuum that left all of science with it's hands in the air and a blank expression on it's face. There were still Newton's Laws, numerous observations and calculations, and Jove knows what else (my history of science is a little rusty, but I do believe that the science of physics did not fall on it's face between M/M and Einstein. And there are some people who would say that it was Roentgen's experiments that were really the pivotal point of that paradigm shift.) So, while the failure to detect the Ether was a large blow to current theory, what was left was still the best theory. Perhaps there was even a Johnson back then who decried all of physics as a bankrupt anti-God philosophy. Perhaps Lionel Tun's Great Grandfather said something like: > It seems to me that the theory of physics is suffering > severe setbacks here and may soon be entirely in ruins, > being bashed down under the onslaught of pure logic and > powerful science. It is a fact that one physicist of the time did say that the science of physics was nearly complete, and that all that remained was to clean up a few fiddling details. : Mr. Johnson's problem isn't that he doesn't propose something better : (although that would be nice), but that he doesn't understand the : theory of evolution and the evidence which supports it well enough : to make meaningful criticisms of it. In fact, I get the impression : he doesn't even understand the scientific method. Overturning a : theory requires showing how some data doesn't fit with the theory. : I haven't yet even seen Mr. Johnson present any data. So, perhaps it is unfair that I demand that Johnson be constructive. But it is not that I am against him being destructive, if he had a point supported by evidence. But I believe that we have evidence that he does think he has a better theory. He is just not telling us. At best, I would like to get him to throw off his robes of Sophistry and talk to us instead of at us. -- rob derrick robd@cherry.cray.com

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