“It’s doing about as well as consensus science ever does, meaning it’s right until it’s wrong, and in neither case does it affect the truth on the ground.”
Willis Eschenbach, WUWT
Well, Willis, science is not the search for the truth about nature; it is the attempt to interpret nature. Science, then, is a collection of interpretations, not the reality itself, even though it is almost always portrayed as reality itself.
If you look back in the textbooks 125 years (I have to some extent), you will find that the certainty/consensus then was every bit as high as it is now. That was, after all, the period when a US Congressman wanted to eliminate the US Patent Office because everything that needed inventing had already been invented. Brain dead? Certainly. We now know that a VERY sizable portion of what the interpretations 125 years ago were wrong.
The certainty about us knowing all the Big Stuff – thinking that pervades science today – is a claim made by scientists that is as wrong now as it was 125 years ago, and as wrong as religious ideas – founded on a belief in magic – have been all along.
The framework of Gradualism/Uniformitarianism is pervasive in science today. Yet 30 years ago paleontologist Stephen J Gould had to address the fact that the vast majority of evolution occurred during momentary surges such as the Cambrian Explosion. The evidence simply did not support slow, gradual, consistent evolving from one species into another. In between the explosions of species almost nothing happened. Though adaptations can be seen happening even today, evolving from one species to another has not been seen, either in our time or in the fossil record. The evidence “on the ground” simply has conflicted with Darwinian evolution, even before Darwin had personally evolved into ashes and dust. The Gradualism had to be “adjusted” – to allow for “catastrophes” – and Gould called the adjustment “Punctuated Equilibrium” (PE). It meant that Gradualism is the normal static state, but when change comes it comes with a bang – i.e., a catastrophic event. Continue reading
Along my wandering mind path today, I ran across Thomas Huxley quotes. And, being me, I couldn’t help but comment on some of them. I do not comment in any belief that they add to Huxley, but simply as thoughts I am voicing.
THIS Huxley was his era’s foremost proponent of Darwin’s theory of evolution. We have to remember that there was a time when evolution was not universally accepted by everyone except religious folks, and that IT was the upstart. It was also a time shortly after Lyell had established Uniformitarianism (gradualism) as THE reality of science – which reality is still in force today, with few exceptions. Science had only recently established an alternative to Noah’s Flood, with Louis Agassiz’s ice ages, knocking down that one last barrier to science and, in so doing, trumpeting the ultimate victory of science over religion. Before Agassiz, all the signs that are currently interpreted as evidence of ice ages were seen as evidence, instead, as proof of the Great Flood. What God had built in 7 days Uniformitarian Nature had built in some ungodly number of eons. Time became science’s “Deus ex machina” – the answer to all objections and solution to all problems.
So, in the early days of that victory Huxley the evolutionist was not – as would be the case today – the establishment. Some of these quotes, then, reflect that semi “outsider” status.
The quotes begin after the fold… Continue reading
I actually thought of naming this post “An Un-asked Question.” What has it been? Three weeks now? There have been all sorts of astronomers and amateurs calculating that amazing final approach of the meteor that went south of Chelyabinsk, that even just missing an airliner by seconds (perhaps even less than one second) and not so many hundreds of meters. And there have been several papers determining what the Apollo asteroid’s orbit was around the Sun and how it came up behind the Earth from a slightly low, elliptical path.
So there is a fairly well determined Phase 1 path, and there is a fairly consistent Phase 3 path as well, as shown below.
What no one has talked about is the Phase 2 path – the one that transitioned the meteor to its final approach to southern Siberia. Let’s briefly point out the particulars of Phase 1 and Phase 3. Continue reading
We all know well enough by now the story of the Russian meteor. It was the biggest meteor since Tunguska.
It is called the Chelyabinsk meteor, but in reality its biggest flare occurred over a town called Yetluk/Etluc/Etluk (different spellings, depending on who is writing it). Yetluk is south of Korkino, which is itself south of Chelyabinsk.
I have two specific things to blog on, and I should have been blogging on one of them long before. I’ve got a bone to pick on that one.
But this post is going to be on the second one, one that just came to my attention and that has some ramifications of how we think about meteors. Maybe nothing major, but still, interesting to me. . .
Okay, let’s get started on that one:
Take a look at this video.
[This is in response to a post at WUWT by Willis Eschenbach on Feb 8th, entitled Slow Drift in Thermoregulated Emergent Systems. In it Willis talks about forcings (causes) in climate and how maybe they are not the governing factors, that maybe there is an inborn regulatory thermostat in climate that is mostly independent of the inputs (causes/forcings), and maybe it is a series of multi-factorial thermostats, with many backups/redundancies. --- My paraphrasing may not do Willis' idea justice...]
Yes, Willis. Asking the right questions is the first step toward getting the right answers. Everyone here at WUWT is, in one way or another, aware that the wrong questions have been asked by those controlling the dialog on climate. And we others haven’t quite seen those right questions, either.
In simple systems it is easy to find the right questions. The more complex the system the more difficult it is to find those questions. And when questions are asked that have (seeming) non-answers or when they keep on not affecting the answers, it is time to ask, “Are we asking the right questions?”
The existing paradigm controls/dictates the questions. If the paradigm is wrong, the right questions will never get asked.
Thinking outside the box of a current paradigm that is getting us nowhere is the only way to break out of the box and get to where the right questions can be asked. It isn’t that all of a sudden we will see that the questions asked are better. When we are barely out of the box – the current paradigm – our questions are still being affected by our “in the box thinking.” When we are looking outside the box of the current paradigm we need to TRY to get way outside the paradigm, to ask, “What if <fill in the blank> is the real case? What then?” Of course, in the full process anything inside or outside the paradigm still has to then be falsifiable and pass.
To ask such questions as “What would a sea spray droplet do?” or “What if the system is acting like an intelligence of its own?” IS a way of breaking out.
Good questions lead to answers – but that can happen only if we can recognize when the answers are worth a damn. Continue reading