Intelligent Design

Another Stifling Scientific Orthodoxy

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Peter J. Leithart notices Lee Smolin’s The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next

And string theory has achieved this dominance without experimental confirmation. Smolin says that if string theory turns out to be right, “string theorists will turn out to be the greatest heroes in the history of science.” But if they are wrong and all those dimensions and symmetries don’t exist, “then we will count string theorists among science’s greatest failures” (xvii). Physicists have worked out an unfortunate “premature consensus” and “despite the absence of experimental support and precise formulation” some believe in string theory “with a certainty that seems emotional rather than rational” (xx). As a result, physics has stagnated.

18 Replies to “Another Stifling Scientific Orthodoxy

  1. 1
    PaV says:

    While I was reading Smolin’s book some time back, I thought about posting something about this “orthodoxy” as well.

    I read quite widely in physics, and it’s not just string theory that reveals a prevailing orthodoxy, but one finds it in almost every area of physics. Having a ‘prevailing orthodoxy’ is not, in itself, a bad thing, since this brings about a kind of stabilizing center of gravity for any particular field of inquiry; however, it does become a problem when almost fascist means are used to enforce the ‘orthodoxy’. To this day, Smolin is decried by string theorists for his unforgiveable sin of questioning whether, or not, string theory is the right direction forward in particle physics. You ought to hear some of the things his fellow physicists have to say about him; sort of reminds you of what IDers deal with all the time.

    But, noting these other ‘prevailing orthodoxies’, let me say that it would be hard to find an ‘orthodoxy’ being more strictly, and visciously, enforced than that of Darwinism.

  2. 2
    Mapou says:

    This sort of thing happens all the time in science. Behavioral psychology was hampered by B. F. Skinner’s erroneous ideas for many decades until Chomsky put them to rest. During the latter half of the 20th century, the entire community of GOFAI (good old fashioned AI) scientists, following in the footsteps of their hero, Alan Turing, were convinced that intelligence was just symbol manipulation. Heck, those super smart guys were so far out of the ballpark, they were not even wrong. But that did not prevent them from using their political power to suppress much better competing hypotheses. Result: a huge waste of time, brains and money.

    Consensus in science has been shown to be wrong time and time again. String theory is just the tip of the iceberg of the crackpottery that festers within mainstream physics. The physics community is about to experience its biggest upheaval in the not too distant future. Did any of you know that nothing can move in Einstein’s spacetime? Sir Karl Popper once compared Einstein to Parmenides (who, along with his more famous disciple, Zeno, denied the existence of change) and called spacetime, “Einstein’s block universe in which nothing happens.” Source: Conjectures and Refutations.

    It’s scary how wrong science can be.

  3. 3
  4. 4
    turell says:

    This website has had Peter Woit and his book “Not Even Wrong” featured a number of times. He isd a strongly worded as Smolin re’ stringyness and how it is going nowhere.

  5. 5
    Robert Byers says:

    I have no interest in string/physics ideas but suspect they are not right from what I’ve seen.
    Yet this is a excellent example of what happens in evolutionary biology acceptance .
    The same complaints from the author about the undue acceptance of string theory is creationist complaints.
    Conclusions are being drawn and unduely held without the scientific method being employed.
    No experimentation and so on.
    Its the same thing.
    I bet this physics author accepts evolution without complaint and dismisses complaints as a rejection of science and scientists.
    Is he rejecting science/scientists???

    AHA the equation of why there is error in these matters happens also in other subjects besides biology/geology.

    Proving things should be the essence of any conclusion claiming to be a scientific theory.
    This author should agree with creationists on this and agrre there is room for doubt about the untested and untestable ideas of evolutionary bioloy.

    Aha. they walk into a prediction.
    Evolution acceptance is being mimicked in its error of evidence by another subject.

  6. 6
    sixthbook says:

    @Mapou:
    Perhaps the scientific consensus is wrong so often because they are resorting to consensus to support their conclusions, rather than the scientific method.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    of somewhat related note:

    The absorbed energy in the Shroud body image formation appears as contributed by discrete values – Giovanni Fazio, Giuseppe Mandaglio – 2008
    Excerpt: This result means that the optical density distribution,, can not be attributed at the absorbed energy described in the framework of the classical physics model. It is, in fact, necessary to hypothesize a absorption by discrete values of the energy where the ‘quantum’ is equal to the one necessary to yellow one fibril.
    http://cab.unime.it/journals/i.....802004/271

    i.e. The explanation of image formation on the Shroud, whatever it is, does not belong to the world of ‘classical’ physics, but belongs to the world of quantum physics.

    verse:

    1 Thessalonians 5:21
    but test everything; hold fast what is good.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    I find it interesting that everybody seems to intuitively grasp that there should be a ‘theory of everything’, i.e. an absolute truth, from whence everything else flows,,

    “So you think of physics in search of a “Grand Unified Theory of Everything”, Why should we even think there is such a thing? Why should we think there is some ultimate level of resolution? Right? It is part, it is a consequence of believing in some kind of design. Right? And there is some sense in which that however multifarious and diverse the phenomena of nature are, they are ultimately unified by the minimal set of laws and principles possible. In so far as science continues to operate with that assumption, there is a presupposition of design that is motivating the scientific process. Because it would be perfectly easy,, to stop the pursuit of science at much lower levels. You know understand a certain range of phenomena in a way that is appropiate to deal with that phenomena and just stop there and not go any deeper or any farther.”,,, You see, there is sense in which there is design at the ultimate level, the ultimate teleology you might say, which provides the ultimate closure,,” –
    Professor Steve Fuller – Quoted from Cambridge lecture

    Geometric Principles Appear Universal in Our Minds – May 2011
    Excerpt: Villagers belonging to an Amazonian group called the Mundurucú intuitively grasp abstract geometric principles despite having no formal math education,,, Mundurucú adults and 7- to 13-year-olds demonstrate as firm an understanding of the properties of points, lines and surfaces as adults and school-age children in the United States and France,,,
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscie.....-geometry/

    “Nothing in evolution can account for the soul of man. The difference between man and the other animals is unbridgeable. Mathematics is alone sufficient to prove in man the possession of a faculty unexistent in other creatures. Then you have music and the artistic faculty. No, the soul was a separate creation.”
    Alfred Russell Wallace, New Thoughts on Evolution, 1910

    ,,but relatively few want to acknowledge that God must ultimately be that absolute source of truth, that ‘theory of everything’,,,

    The Great Debate: Does God Exist? – Justin Holcomb – audio of the 1985 debate available on the site
    Excerpt: The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist worldview cannot account for our debate tonight.,,,
    http://theresurgence.com/2012/.....-god-exist

    Comprehensibility of the world
    Excerpt: ,,,Bottom line: without an absolute Truth, (there would be) no logic, no mathematics, no beings, no knowledge by beings, no science, no comprehensibility of the world whatsoever.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....the-world/

    Indeed, as string theory and M-theory readily testify, it seems man can easily become a ‘metaphysical simpleton’ as to ascribing causal power to abstract mathematical laws,,,

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: Rather, the transcendent reality on which our universe depends must be something that can exhibit agency – a mind that can choose among the infinite variety of mathematical descriptions and bring into existence a reality that corresponds to a consistent subset of them. This is what “breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe.” Anything else invokes random miracles as an explanatory principle and spells the end of scientific rationality.,,,
    Universes do not “spontaneously create” on the basis of abstract mathematical descriptions, nor does the fantasy of a limitless multiverse trump the explanatory power of transcendent intelligent design. What Mr. Hawking’s contrary assertions show is that mathematical savants can sometimes be metaphysical simpletons. Caveat emptor.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    ‘What is referred to as M-theory isn’t even a theory. It’s a collection of ideas, hopes, aspirations. It’s not even a theory and I think the book is a bit misleading in that respect. It gives you the impression that here is this new theory which is going to explain everything. It is nothing of the sort. It is not even a theory and certainly has no observational (evidence),,, I think the book suffers rather more strongly than many (other books). It’s not a uncommon thing in popular descriptions of science to latch onto some idea, particularly things to do with string theory, which have absolutely no support from observations.,,, They are very far from any kind of observational (testability). Yes, they (the ideas of M-theory) are hardly science.” – Roger Penrose – former close colleague of Stephen Hawking – in critique of Hawking’s new book ‘The Grand Design’ the exact quote in the following video clip:

    Roger Penrose Debunks Stephen Hawking’s New Book ‘The Grand Design’ – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5278793/

    “string theory, while dazzling, has outrun any conceivable experiment that could verify it”
    Excerpt: “string theory, while dazzling, has outrun any conceivable experiment that could verify it—there’s zero proof that it describes how nature works.”
    Peter Woit – Senior Lecturer at Columbia University
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....verify-it/

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    How quickly it seems that these top mathematicians and physicists have forgotten the bombshell that Kurt Godel dropped on the foundations of mathematics with his elucidation of the incompleteness theorem, in which he showed that the truthfulness of any mathematical equation cannot be contained within itself

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable. Secularists can dismiss this as a mere exercise within predefined rules of the game of mathematical logic, but that is sour grapes, for it was the secular side that hoped to substitute logic for God in the first place. Gödel’s critique of the continuum hypothesis has the same implication as his incompleteness theorems: Mathematics never will create the sort of closed system that sorts reality into neat boxes.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    Godel and Physics – John D. Barrow
    Excerpt (page 5-6): “Clearly then no scientific cosmology, which of necessity must be highly mathematical, can have its proof of consistency within itself as far as mathematics go. In absence of such consistency, all mathematical models, all theories of elementary particles, including the theory of quarks and gluons…fall inherently short of being that theory which shows in virtue of its a priori truth that the world can only be what it is and nothing else. This is true even if the theory happened to account for perfect accuracy for all phenomena of the physical world known at a particular time.”
    Stanley Jaki – Cosmos and Creator – 1980, pg. 49

    Taking God Out of the Equation – Biblical Worldview – by Ron Tagliapietra – January 1, 2012
    Excerpt: Kurt Gödel (1906–1978) proved that no logical systems (if they include the counting numbers) can have all three of the following properties.
    1. Validity . . . all conclusions are reached by valid reasoning.
    2. Consistency . . . no conclusions contradict any other conclusions.
    3. Completeness . . . all statements made in the system are either true or false.
    The details filled a book, but the basic concept was simple and elegant. He summed it up this way: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove.” For this reason, his proof is also called the Incompleteness Theorem.
    Kurt Gödel had dropped a bomb on the foundations of mathematics. Math could not play the role of God as infinite and autonomous. It was shocking, though, that logic could prove that mathematics could not be its own ultimate foundation.
    Christians should not have been surprised. The first two conditions are true about math: it is valid and consistent. But only God fulfills the third condition. Only He is complete and therefore self-dependent (autonomous). God alone is “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28), “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). God is the ultimate authority (Hebrews 6:13), and in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).
    http://www.answersingenesis.or...../equation#

    The primary ‘thing’ that needs to be explained with a ‘theory of everything’ is this,,

    The Known Universe – Dec. 2009 – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4240304/

    ,,The entire known universe! The two primary mathematical descriptions of reality, which are verified to an accuracy somewhere around 13 decimal places, are General Relativity,,,

    The 4-Dimensional Space-Time of General Relativity – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8421879

    ,,, and Quantum Mechanics,,,

    Quantum Mechanics – Double Slit Experiment. Is anything really physical? (Prof. Anton Zeilinger) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayvbKafw2g0

    The primary reason why General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics can’t be unified into a ‘theory of everything’ is because of what is termed the Zero-Infinity conflict,,

    THE MYSTERIOUS ZERO/INFINITY
    Excerpt: The biggest challenge to today’s physicists is how to reconcile general relativity and quantum mechanics. However, these two pillars of modern science were bound to be incompatible. “The universe of general relativity is a smooth rubber sheet. It is continuous and flowing, never sharp, never pointy. Quantum mechanics, on the other hand, describes a jerky and discontinuous universe. What the two theories have in common – and what they clash over – is zero.”,, “The infinite zero of a black hole — mass crammed into zero space, curving space infinitely — punches a hole in the smooth rubber sheet. The equations of general relativity cannot deal with the sharpness of zero. In a black hole, space and time are meaningless.”,, “Quantum mechanics has a similar problem, a problem related to the zero-point energy. The laws of quantum mechanics treat particles such as the electron as points; that is, they take up no space at all. The electron is a zero-dimensional object,,, According to the rules of quantum mechanics, the zero-dimensional electron has infinite mass and infinite charge.
    http://www.fmbr.org/editoral/e....._mar02.htm

    Science vs God : Its The Collapse Of Physics As We Know it – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHHz4mB9GKY

    It is relevant to note that there are two ways to get to infinity,,

    The End Of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World – Pg.31
    William Dembski PhD. Mathematics
    Excerpt: “In mathematics there are two ways to go to infinity. One is to grow large without measure. The other is to form a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The Cross is a path of humility in which the infinite God becomes finite and then contracts to zero, only to resurrect and thereby unite a finite humanity within a newfound infinity.”
    http://www.designinference.com.....of_xty.pdf

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    I consider the ‘growing large without measure’, such as what we have with the 4-D space time of general relativity, to be a lesser quality infinity than a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The reason why ‘growing large without measure’ would be a lesser quality infinity than ‘a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero’ can be firmly grasped in these following videos:

    Georg Cantor – The Mathematics Of Infinity – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4572335

    Can A “Beginning-less Universe” Exist? – William Lane Craig – video – 4:30 minute mark
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8YN0fwo5J4

    Yet if God is rightfully allowed His place in reality as the ultimate source for absolute truth,,,

    The God of the Mathematicians – Goldman
    Excerpt: As Gödel told Hao Wang, “Einstein’s religion [was] more abstract, like Spinoza and Indian philosophy. Spinoza’s god is less than a person; mine is more than a person; because God can play the role of a person.” –
    Kurt Gödel – (Gödel is considered one of the greatest logicians who ever existed)
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    ,,then a very credible reconciliation between general Relativity and Quantum Mechanics pops out for us in the space-time singularity (Event Horizon) noted between both the frontal and dorsal images on the Shroud of Turin,,,

    A Particle Physicist Looks At The Turin Shroud – Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbl4EmoH_jg

    Particle Radiation from the Body – July 2012 – M. Antonacci, A. C. Lind
    Excerpt: The Shroud’s frontal and dorsal body images are encoded with the same amount of intensity, independent of any pressure or weight from the body. The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image. Radiation coming from the body would not only explain this feature, but also the left/right and light/dark reversals found on the cloth’s frontal and dorsal body images.
    http://www.academicjournals.or.....onacci.pdf

    of related note: by all rights 4-D space-time ‘should’ emerge from quantum mechanics:

    LIVING IN A QUANTUM WORLD – Vlatko Vedral – 2011
    Excerpt: Thus, the fact that quantum mechanics applies on all scales forces us to confront the theory’s deepest mysteries. We cannot simply write them off as mere details that matter only on the very smallest scales. For instance, space and time are two of the most fundamental classical concepts, but according to quantum mechanics they are secondary. The entanglements are primary. They interconnect quantum systems without reference to space and time. If there were a dividing line between the quantum and the classical worlds, we could use the space and time of the classical world to provide a framework for describing quantum processes. But without such a dividing line—and, indeed, with­out a truly classical world—we lose this framework. We must ex­plain space and time (4D space-time) as somehow emerging from fundamental­ly spaceless and timeless physics.
    http://phy.ntnu.edu.tw/~chchan.....611038.pdf

    ,,, and the image on the Shroud belongs to the ‘quantum world’:

    The absorbed energy in the Shroud body image formation appears as contributed by discrete values – Giovanni Fazio, Giuseppe Mandaglio – 2008
    Excerpt: This result means that the optical density distribution,, can not be attributed at the absorbed energy described in the framework of the classical physics model. It is, in fact, necessary to hypothesize a absorption by discrete values of the energy where the ‘quantum’ is equal to the one necessary to yellow one fibril.
    http://cab.unime.it/journals/i.....802004/271

    Music and verse,,

    Natalie Grant – Alive (Resurrection music video)
    verse “Death has lost and love has won!”
    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=KPYWPGNX

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    A new study,, challenges the inflation model – April 12, 2013
    Excerpt: CfA astronomers Anna Ijjas, Paul Steinhardt, and Avi Loeb have just published a paper arguing that the new Planck results, far from lending credibility to ideas of inflation, actually undermine them. Indeed, they argue that they pose a challenge to cosmology overall. In an ironic and subtle twist, the scientists point out that the results of Planck are actually too good, because they confirm with high precision only the very simplest version of inflation. Yet, they argue, if one believes in the principles of inflation the simplest version is actually by far the most unlikely version. Hence the whole edifice of inflation becomes untenable.
    http://scitechdaily.com/new-st.....k-results/

    related notes:

    The Absurdity of Inflation, String Theory & The Multiverse – Dr. Bruce Gordon – video
    http://vimeo.com/34468027

    One of cosmic (Rapid) inflation theory’s creators now questions own theory – April 2011
    Excerpt: (Rapid) Inflation adds a whole bunch of really unlikely metaphysical assumptions — a new force field that has a never-before-observed particle called the “inflaton”, an expansion faster than the speed of light, an interaction with gravity waves which are themselves only inferred– just so that it can explain the unlikely contingency of a finely-tuned big bang.
    But instead of these extra assumptions becoming more-and-more supported, the trend went the opposite direction, with more-and-more fine-tuning of the inflation assumptions until they look as fine-tuned as Big Bang theories. At some point, we have “begged the question”. Frankly, the moment we add an additional free variable, I think we have already begged the question. In a Bayesean comparison of theories, extra variables reduce the information content of the theory, (by the so-called Ockham factor), so these inflation theories are less, not more, explanatory than the theory they are supposed to replace.,,, after 20 years of work, if we haven’t made progress, but have instead retreated, it is time to cut bait.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....wn-theory/

    Dark energy alternatives to Einstein are running out of room – January 9, 2013
    Excerpt: Last month, a group of European astronomers, using a massive radio telescope in Germany, made the most accurate measurement of the proton-to-electron mass ratio ever accomplished and found that there has been no change in the ratio to one part in 10 million at a time when the universe was about half its current age, around 7 billion years ago. When Thompson put this new measurement into his calculations, he found that it excluded almost all of the dark energy models using the commonly expected values or parameters.
    If the parameter space or range of values is equated to a football field, then almost the whole field is out of bounds except for a single 2-inch by 2-inch patch at one corner of the field. In fact, most of the allowed values are not even on the field. “In effect, the dark energy theories have been playing on the wrong field,” Thompson said. “The 2-inch square does contain the area that corresponds to no change in the fundamental constants, (a ‘true cosmological constant’), and that is exactly where Einstein stands.”
    http://phys.org/news/2013-01-d.....-room.html

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Faith, Science & Philosophy: an interview with William Lane Craig at Texas A&M – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHgCv9brkmU

  13. 13
    jstanley01 says:

    Physics is in just as bad shape as biology, as commenter Bill Weronko notes under a (very humorous) Amazon review by Peter W. Shor of Smolin’s book:

    I think String Theory persists because of the intense frustration in the [physics] community that they are not “getting it”. As a matter of fact they seem to be getting less and less. Now we have Dark Matter and even more puzzling Dark Energy. We have gone from a situation of the Standard Model where we felt we needed nothing more than dot a few i’s and cross some t’s to have a true unified field theory to a situation that we do not have a clue what 97% of the universe is made of.

  14. 14
    jstanley01 says:

    With apologies to Mr. Shor, if need be, his review is too good not to paste a portion of it here. Rofl…

    Nature: Here’s a great new theory I can sell you. It combines quantum field theory and gravity, and there’s only one adjustable parameter in it, so all you have to do is find the right value of that parameter, and the Standard Model will pop right out.

    String theorists: We’ll take it.

    String theorists (some time later): Wait a minute, Nature, our new theory won’t fit into our driveway. String theory has ten dimensions, and our driveway only has four.

    Nature: I can sell you a Calabi-Yau manifold. These are really neat gadgets, and they’ll fold up string theory into four dimensions, no problem.

    String theorists: We’ll take one of those as well, please.

    Nature: Happy to help.

    String theorists (some time later): Wait a minute, Nature, there’s too many different ways to fold our Calabi-Yao manifold up. And it keeps trying to come unfolded. And string theory is only compatible with a negative cosmological constant, and we own a positive one.

    Nature: No problem. Just let me tie this Calabi-Yao manifold up with some strings and branes, and maybe a little duct tape, and you’ll be all set.

    String theorists: But our beautiful new theory is so ugly now!

    Nature: Ah! But the Anthropic Principle says that all the best theories are ugly.

    String theorists: It does?

    Nature: It does. And once you make it the fashion to be ugly, you’ll ensure that other theories will never beat you in beauty contests.

    String theorists: Hooray! Hooray! Look at our beautiful new theory.

    😀

  15. 15
    jstanley01 says:

    Here’s a TED talk by a particle physicist, Patricia Burchat on the problems of dark matter and dark energy. With a pie chart, even…

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    jstanleyo1 at 14 🙂

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    Here is a fairly recent lecture by Alvin Plantinga at NYU:
    God = ? NYU Questions World-class Philosopher Alvin Plantinga on Science & Religion
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Sp7U9Es3yw

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    God Is the Best Explanation for the Origin of the Universe – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwRR5WTgpp8

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