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Astrophysicist: “A vibrant scientific culture encourages many interpretations of evidence”

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From Avi Loeb at Nature, on the achievements and limitations of Mayan astronomy:

So why, I wondered, didn’t the Mayans go further and infer aspects of our modern understanding of astronomy? They determined the orbital periods of Venus, Mars and Mercury around the Sun, but Earth was at the centre of their Universe. I came to appreciate how limiting prevailing world views can be.

I noticed this bias recently while assessing a PhD thesis. The student was asked to test whether a data set from a large cosmological survey was in line with the standard cosmological model. But when a discrepancy was found, the student’s goal shifted to explaining why the data set was incomplete. In such a culture, the current model can never be ruled out, even though everyone knows that its major constituents (dark matter, dark energy and inflation) are not understood at a fundamental level.

Instead, observers should present results in a theory-neutral way. Observations should not converge on one model but aim to find anomalies that carry clues about the nature of dark matter, dark energy or initial conditions of the Universe. Further observations should be motivated by testing unconventional interpretations of those anomalies (such as exotic forms of dark matter or modified theories of gravity). Vast data sets may contain evidence for unusual behaviour that was unanticipated when the projects were conceived. If all results are expected and planned for, babies may be thrown out with the bathwater. More.

Good advice, but it may be running up against the hard reality today: The evidence (fine-tuning of the universe, for example) cannot be accepted for cultural reasons. Non-evidence-based reasoning (the multiverse, for example), is urged without evidence, in order to support naturalist cultural beliefs. In short, the abundant evidence is an embarrassment to the irrational conflicting theory.
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See also: With a signal (at last!), mystery around fast radio bursts only deepens Researcher: “If FRBs have γ-ray counterparts, it would be hugely constraining of models and extremely interesting.”

What next? Physical law as an alien intelligence? This is the most original way we have heard of to get around both the fine tuning of the universe and the absence of aliens. The fine tuning (the constants, the equations) is the aliens. And, as with the multiverse, we can never know if the thesis is true or not.

and

But who needs reality-based thinking anyway? Not the new cosmologists

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4 Replies to “Astrophysicist: “A vibrant scientific culture encourages many interpretations of evidence”

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “A vibrant scientific culture encourages many interpretations of evidence, argues Avi Loeb.”

    And yet as News pointed out, we basically have a heavily left leaning atheistic monoculture that actively seeks to stifle such vibrancy:

    For instance, there is this recent article:

    The Real War on Science
    The Left has done far more than the Right to set back progress.
    John Tierney – Autumn 2016
    Excerpt: Scientists try to avoid confirmation bias by exposing their work to peer review by critics with different views, but it’s increasingly difficult for liberals to find such critics. Academics have traditionally leaned left politically, and many fields have essentially become monocultures, especially in the social sciences, where Democrats now outnumber Republicans by at least 8 to 1. (In sociology, where the ratio is 44 to 1, a student is much likelier to be taught by a Marxist than by a Republican.) The lopsided ratio has led to another well-documented phenomenon: people’s beliefs become more extreme when they’re surrounded by like-minded colleagues. They come to assume that their opinions are not only the norm but also the truth.,,,
    Science advances by continually challenging and testing hypotheses, but the modern Left has become obsessed with silencing (those whom they deem to be) heretics.,,,
    http://city-journal.org/html/r.....14782.html

    also of note:

    The Neoliberal Echo Chamber Is Turning Us All Into Idiots – Nov. 26, 2016
    http://www.newslogue.com/debate/138

  2. 2
    Pearlman says:

    SPIRAL cosmological redshift hypothesis is the key for a cosmology model consistent with all the factual observations.
    It is both ID and ID-YeC consistent.

  3. 3
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Non-evidence-based reasoning (the multiverse, for example), is urged without evidence, in order to support naturalist cultural beliefs.

    Good point, News. I like that descriptor: “naturalist cultural beliefs”. It says a lot. Very often we point to atheism and hard-core materialism as the driver of irrational beliefs (as the multiverse). But it’s much more than that. Our culture (North America and much of Europe) is embarrassed by faith, or anything that points to transcendence. Religion is considered the domain of the simple-minded, gullible, childish or outright stupid people.

    That’s our culture. Science has the supreme authority. It’s the place of all truth and wisdom. “Eventually” science will have all the answers. So, we will tolerate mythological notions like the multiverse as a scientific-placeholder, for the day when we eventually will know the scientific answer. Abiogenesis is the same thing. No matter how incorrect the models are, as long as they are scientific speculations, nobody has any shame in promoting them. The most absurd notions can get published and be respected — as the Sokal affair showed.

    One of the minor tasks that ID has undertaken has been to try to shame these people in some way — try to take them down a notch or two. Bringing a bit of humility in a sea of arrogance and self-importance.

    True, that effort has only been mildly successful, at best so far, but anytime we see the all-powerful science establishment getting irritated, or downright angry about ID, that’s the sign that some very big egos are being disturbed, and that’s a good start.

  4. 4
    BrianFraser says:

    “If FRBs have ?-ray counterparts, it would be hugely constraining of models and extremely interesting.”

    That is indeed extremely interesting. Radio bursts may be the “localized” view of “non-local” gamma radiation. According to “Beyond Einstein: non-local physics” (Fraser, 2015) the frequencies invert at the Rydberg frequency. The paper gives this example for infrared radiation:
    ***
    “What would non-local infrared radiation look like to our telescopes? The inversions have to be worked out in terms of unit quantities. The Rydberg frequency is a possible unit quantity for frequency. So for approximations we will take infrared as 10^12 Hertz and Rydberg as 10^15 Hertz. The calculation is thus 1/(10^12/10^15) times 10^15 or 10^18 Hertz. That is in the X-ray range, and so there should be a diffuse X-ray background appearing in our skies. There is in fact such a background, and for a diffuse background, it is even rather bright.”
    ***
    Gamma rays have a frequency of roughly 10^20 Hertz. Using that number in the formula yields 10 GigaHertz, which is the spectrum of microwave air traffic control radar. A discrete source could put out both gamma rays and, from our standpoint, “inverted gamma rays”, or microwaves.

    The free 22 page paper can be downloaded from: http://scripturalphysics.org/4.....stein.html The .html file gives a link to the .pdf file but the former has additional information, and many more links and insights.

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