quadibloc on November 08, 2009, 01:27:03 am
Let us examine a fairly typical paper by Thornhill, IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Aug. 2007, Volume: 35, Issue: 4, Part 1, Page(s): 832-844; the paper's content is notable for a number of points:

I am strongly inclined to agree with you, although if you are correct, this would imply that the refereeing standards of IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science have a problem. Of course, checking that a paper's citations actually provide a balanced representation of the existing literature may be too much to ask.

deliberatus on November 08, 2009, 08:39:45 am
Not the point.
This is represented as a manifestation of Reggi's subconscious mind; therefore it is trying to communicate to the conscious using the knowledge and symbols available to it. While technically incorrect, it is perfectly suited FOR HIS MIND, as it is a mnemonic device to help retrieve to conscious thought all he kno9ws about the oracle, and out best guess at how it worked- gas induced hallucinations triggering the opening of the doors of the mind.

FOR HIM, it is the perfect expression to trigger full recall, which is it's intended purpose by the subconscious mind. For him only. This is a psychic event, not a history pop quiz.

gdp on November 08, 2009, 09:38:30 am
Let us examine a fairly typical paper by Thornhill, IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Aug. 2007, Volume: 35, Issue: 4, Part 1, Page(s): 832-844; the paper's content is notable for a number of points:

I am strongly inclined to agree with you, although if you are correct, this would imply that the refereeing standards of IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science have a problem.

The paper in question appeared in a "conference proceedings" issue, the "Special Issue on Space and Cosmic Plasmas." Refereeing standards for conferences are necessarily much more lax than peer-reviewed publications, since to be approved for a conference one only submits an abstract not a full paper, and publication in the proceedings is virtually guaranteed merely by virtue of presenting the paper at the conference. (Hence, the relatively lower value of conference papers relative to peer-reviewed journal papers.)

Fold in the fact that the conference organizers and issue editors in question were themselves "Plasma Cosmologists" (i.e., "Electric Universe" partisans), and one might no longer be surprised by the refereeing standards used to vet that particular issue...

Quote
Of course, checking that a paper's citations actually provide a balanced representation of the existing literature may be too much to ask.

Admittedly, that does require that one be quite familiar with the available literature, and have a more than general knowledge of the field in question (which I am, and do, being a Ph.D. Physicist with postgraduate training in Astrophysics, and an Electrical Engineering undergraduate background --- not that "argument from authority" proves anything... :))
« Last Edit: November 09, 2009, 02:20:12 pm by gdp »

Brugle on November 09, 2009, 08:59:03 pm
the so-called "Electric Universe" is not in fact a "theory" as Physicists use that term, since it does not provide a quantitative mathematical framework that explains the full body of empirical data while not predicting anything that is already empirically falsified.
It seems that your definition of "theory" would exclude anything that isn't a GUT.  No matter--I don't want to quibble over definitions.  If you'd rather substitute "hypothesis" wherever I use theory, go right ahead.

I'll continue to use ordinary language.  For example, I call the idea that comets are composed of ices and dust and maybe rocks the dirty snowball theory (or the snowy dirtball theory), and I also consider it to be a part of mainstream solar system creation theory.

Thornhill's "theory" ... has been falsified on a plethora of its alleged "predictions."
Another bald assertion.  Please, tell us an EU "prediction" which has been falsified.

I have heard of several purported falsifications of some aspect of EU.  All appeared to not understand what EU theory is.  One modeled a plasma current using electrostatics!  I hope that your example shows a better understanding of basic physics.

Nor is Thornhill's "Electric Universe" even "scientific," since Thornhill does not make use of the Scientific Method, but instead uses the methods of Historical and Literary Criticism and polemic rhetoric.
Bullshit.  Any theory which makes specific, falsifiable predictions is scientific.  If it has been falsified (as you maintain), then it is scientific!

For example, if it could be shown that there are no electric currents between the sun and the earth, then a major part of EU theory would be falsified.

For another example, I expect that eventually we'll learn much more about comets.  If comet effects are due to sublimating ices, then that part of EU theory would be falsified.  Similarly, if comet effects are due to plasma currents, then that part of mainstream theory would be falsified.  (Both could be falsified.)  From the observations of various comets from spacecraft, I consider the EU theory of comets to be far more likely to be (eventually) proven true.

4.) All "explanations" are at best phenomenological analogies of the logically fallacious form "A visually resembles B, therefore A is B," or  ad hoc additional hypotheses, or (and at worst), false-dichotomy assertions that "conventional theory cannot explain phenomenon X, so therefore the author's unconventional theory must instead be correct."
That could be considered a pretty good summary of mainstream practice.

For example, let's say a mainstream scientist analyzes a channel on a planet or moon.  It visually resembles a riverbed or a collapsed lava tube.  Since accepted theory denies that there has ever been rivers on that planet or moon, the scientist concludes that the channel is likely to be a collapsed lava tube.

Of course, an EU scientist would do similar things, starting with observing that the channel visually resembles a riverbed or a collapsed lava tube or an electric discharge channel.  Various features of the channel would be analyzed.  If some features are inconsistent with it being a riverbed or collapsed lava tube, and if no features are inconsistent with it being an electric discharge channel, then the scientist concludes that the channel is likely to be an electric discharge channel.

There may be other explanations that neither scientist considers.  We are fallible!

The above are not characteristics of a solid, empirically well-supported paper in the Physical Sciences;

I understand that you have to prepare papers that will be published.  Also, if you are funded by grants then proposals must be written in whatever is the accepted style.  If it takes lots of mathematics and citations of the proper authorities, then in your position I'd do the same and put my career first.

However, I'm not in your position, so I can focus on other things, such as truth.  I would certainly prefer a quantitative prediction, but I consider an accurate qualitative prediction to be superior to any inaccurate prediction.

Early last century, Kristian Birkeland published his theory that auroras were caused by electric currents between the Sun and the Earth.  For decades, this was ridiculed by mainstream scientists, especially Sydney Chapman, who apparently had a mathematically elegant theory of aurora creation within Earth's magnetosphere (and who apparently refused to examine data from plasma experiments).  Even after currents around the Earth (sometimes called "radiation belts") that supported Birkeland's ideas were detected by satellites, some scientists didn't accept that currents flowed between the Sun and the Earth.  (EU scientists did, of course.)  It was just a few years ago that those currents (sometimes called "flux ropes") were confirmed.  Even though Chapman was wrong, I suspect that new physics students at that time did better in their careers if they accepted Chapman's mathematical models (or at least pretended to).

Similarly, I don't know if the mainstream theorist who predicted that there would be a cold spot at Saturn's north pole (as mentioned in reply #13) used a highly mathematical model that would be acceptable in a mainstream physics journal, and I don't care.  What interests me is that that theorist was wrong and the EU theorist was right.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2009, 09:03:26 pm by Brugle »

quadibloc on November 10, 2009, 03:50:26 am
Similarly, I don't know if the mainstream theorist who predicted that there would be a cold spot at Saturn's north pole (as mentioned in reply #13) used a highly mathematical model that would be acceptable in a mainstream physics journal, and I don't care.  What interests me is that that theorist was wrong and the EU theorist was right.

Certainly that seems to make sense. However, Velikovsky was right about Venus being hotter than scientists of the day expected. Science is a way of finding the truth, not just a body of facts: and sometimes someone who isn't really looking for the truth can get lucky.

While successful predictions are at the heart of the scientific method, and scientists have indeed on occasion rejected out of hand new ideas that clashed with preconceived notions, one successful prediction does not make it reasonable for people to accept as likely to be true a theory that does not appear to have been constructed with respect for all the facts.

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on November 10, 2009, 11:24:02 am
Science is a way of finding the truth, not just a body of facts: and sometimes someone who isn't really looking for the truth can get lucky.

I must respectfully disagree.  Science is not about finding the "truth" per se; it is about finding useful models of observable phenomena (models when so applied or ["mapped" are theories)  where "useful" here means that results predicted by the given model map sufficiently close to the actual observable phenomena as to have some value to the one applying the model/theory.

In short, science does not find truth; it finds arbitrarily useful approximations to truth.

I should probably add that the developed models are in fact the "mathematics"  gdp referred to; however part of the scientific method (and hence is "science") occurs prior to the (mathematical) formalization of the developed model, which Brugle points out.

Note that I do not make any judgments as to the fitness of the "Electric Universe" hypothesis.

SandySandfort on November 10, 2009, 11:57:53 am
... science does not find truth; it finds arbitrarily useful approximations to truth.

I agree, but I think it is best to steer away from the often ambiguous, and always emotional, word "truth." I prefer say science is an approximation of reality (or apparent reality to those solipsists, quantum-subjectivists and Matrix fans among us).   ;)

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on November 10, 2009, 12:28:18 pm
... science does not find truth; it finds arbitrarily useful approximations to truth.

I agree, but I think it is best to steer away from the often ambiguous, and always emotional, word "truth." I prefer say science is an approximation of reality (or apparent reality to those solipsists, quantum-subjectivists and Matrix fans among us).   ;)

Actually, that's my preferred terminology as well; I didn't want to introduce a new (and equally confusing) term, however.

FWIW, my complete epistemology consists of "'truth' is that which conforms to reality,"  thus shifting the entire issue into the realm of metaphysics.

Brugle on November 10, 2009, 02:04:14 pm
... science does not find truth; it finds arbitrarily useful approximations to truth.

I agree, but I think it is best to steer away from the often ambiguous, and always emotional, word "truth." I prefer say science is an approximation of reality (or apparent reality to those solipsists, quantum-subjectivists and Matrix fans among us).   ;)

I agree with you both.  When I said that I focused on truth, I didn't mean to imply that I expected to find it with 100% certainty, just that understanding reality (the best that I can) is my goal.

In that line, I didn't mean to imply that considering evidence is simple.  It appears to me that a Bayesian approach is best, but I don't know much about the details.

Science is a way of finding the truth,

I'd define science as investigation of reality in whatever ways are likely to be accurate.  If the methods you define as being scientific include all of those and only those that help understanding, then our definitions are effectively the same.  But if you want to say that certain investigations are not science, regardless of whether those investigations improve our understanding of reality, then that's fine with me.  (For example, some people might consider investigating history to not be science.)  As I said before, I don't want to quibble over definitions.

Velikovsky was right about Venus being hotter than scientists of the day expected. ... one successful prediction

Velikovsky made multiple specific predictions which were pooh-poohed by mainstream scientists and later confirmed.  Of course, any finite number of correct predictions could be due to luck.

It's been a long time since I read Velikovsky and writings on his theories.  (I did hear him speak once--he had a thick accent which I found difficult to understand--it was a waste of time.)  The basis of his prediction of Venus's temperature, that humans appeared to have seen Venus with a much different visual appearance than is seen today, implying energetic events that would leave residual heat, is certainly contrary to mainstream theory but is not, as far as I know (which isn't very far), contradicted by any evidence.  Of course, Velikovsky proposed much more: that Venus was ejected from Jupiter, that those events occurred in historical times, that Venus interacted with Earth and caused events mentioned in various ancient documents (biblical and otherwise), and probably others.  From what I remember, people who've studied Velikovsky's theories consider him to have been wrong about some of those additional details, but there was much I didn't read (and I expect that additional evidence has been gathered in the meantime).

The other part of Velikovsky's theories that I consider interesting is that some of the dating of early historial cultures, accepted by mainstream theory, is likely to off by hundreds of years.  I wouldn't be surprised if some of the specific details of Velikovsky's redating were rejected by later investigators.  But evidence for historical questions is sometimes not available.  We can get lots more evidence about comets (given enough effort and time), but maybe not about ancient Egypt.

quadibloc on November 11, 2009, 04:05:37 am
Velikovsky made multiple specific predictions which were pooh-poohed by mainstream scientists and later confirmed.  Of course, any finite number of correct predictions could be due to luck.

It's been a long time since I read Velikovsky and writings on his theories.  (I did hear him speak once--he had a thick accent which I found difficult to understand--it was a waste of time.)  The basis of his prediction of Venus's temperature, that humans appeared to have seen Venus with a much different visual appearance than is seen today, implying energetic events that would leave residual heat, is certainly contrary to mainstream theory but is not, as far as I know (which isn't very far), contradicted by any evidence.  Of course, Velikovsky proposed much more: that Venus was ejected from Jupiter, that those events occurred in historical times, that Venus interacted with Earth and caused events mentioned in various ancient documents (biblical and otherwise), and probably others.  From what I remember, people who've studied Velikovsky's theories consider him to have been wrong about some of those additional details, but there was much I didn't read (and I expect that additional evidence has been gathered in the meantime).

Venus being ejected from Jupiter wasn't just a detail; events like that were the basis of Velikovsky's theory, and the reason why he predicted a hot Venus.

Well-established scientific laws, that have made successful predictions and been tested by experiment, make it absurd that electrostatic charges on the planets could build up to a level that would take precedence over gravity. The temperature of Venus can be accounted for by a much more reasonable cause than cosmic billiards - the greenhouse effect operating in Venus' thick carbon dioxide atmosphere.

Brugle on November 11, 2009, 03:01:08 pm
I didn't want to get into a discussion of Velikovsky's theories.  For what it's worth (approximately zero) I'd guess that much of what Velikovsky theorized was wrong.  Anyway...

Venus being ejected from Jupiter wasn't just a detail; events like that were the basis of Velikovsky's theory

I assume that this isn't a quibble over definitions.  I consider the basis for his theories to be the evidence that he presented.  As I understand it, the most fundamental part of Velikovsky's theories is that there were catastrophes so widespread that they were experienced by people all over Earth.  This idea is expanded in two main parts.

One, that at least some of the catastrophes occurred within the past several thousand years and can be identified in the historical and archaeological records of various cultures.  From those recorded events, the chronologies of different cultures can be synchronized.  Finally (in terms of how one idea depends on another, not on the order that he presented the ideas), he proposed specific changes to some dating accepted by mainstream theory.

Two, that the catastrophes were caused by astronomical objects interacting with Earth.  At least some of the interactions were electromagnetic.  Finally, he proposed that one such object (I think it was the first that he discussed--it's been a long time) came from Jupiter and that it eventually became Venus.

There are connections between the two parts, but I think they are independent enough to be considered separately.

Let's look at it another way.  Say that somehow we learn exactly what happened.  Consider two scenarios, both of which assume that Velikovsky's prediction about the heat of Venus was dumb luck.

One scenario is that Venus did come from Jupiter, but that nothing else about Velikovsky's ideas is true.  Venus did not interact with earth, people did not observe Venus's birth and evolution, astronomical objects did not pass close to Earth, the catastrophes Velikovsky considered were local, his redating is wrong, etc.  Velikovsky's theories are completely falsified--even though the prediction that Venus came from Jupiter happened to be true, the evidence he used to make the prediction did not actually support it.

Another scenario is that no significant astronomical object came from Jupiter and Venus never came close to Earth, but that everything else about Velikovsky's ideas is true.  Some other astronomical object(s) came close to Earth and caused global catastrophes, people all over Earth saw them, some occurred in historical times and caused the specific effects mentioned, Velikovsky's redating is entirely correct, etc.  Velikovsky's theories would be considered to be essentially correct, and his incorrect identification of an object as Venus and incorrect theory of its origin would be minor details.

and the reason why he predicted a hot Venus

Of course it is.  That was his story.

But, say Venus came from Saturn instead of Jupiter--that would still predict it to be hot.  Even if Venus didn't start off hot, the interactions proposed would be highly energetic, and (depending on the specifics) might either heat Venus's surface considerably or disrupt the planet's surface allowing interior heat to escape.

Please understand that I'm not suggesting that any of these explanations are likely to be accurate, just that we don't know enough to be sure.

Well-established scientific laws, that have made successful predictions and been tested by experiment, make it absurd that electrostatic charges on the planets could build up to a level that would take precedence over gravity.

As I've suggested before, modeling electromagnetic effects in plasma using electrostatics is silly, as silly as modeling Earth weather assuming that all water in the atmosphere is gaseous.

Do your "well-established scientific laws" explain X-rays from comets?  Mainstream scientists were surprised.  X-rays are not commonly observed coming from ices sublimating in an electrically neutral environment, but are commonly observed coming from electric discharges in plasma.

GeoModder on November 11, 2009, 03:37:09 pm
Hi all. First post here.

A quick response on the EU topic at hand, more specifically on the notion that the planet Venus would/could originally come from Jupiter or Venus.
I'd say that's unlikely because of the density/composition differences between Venus and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Venus is the planet that comes closest (besides Mercury but that's another story) to Earth in density. While the composition of most of Jupiter's and Saturn moons is a mixture of rock and ice, Venus about completely lacks the latter (in form of water then).
I know that water in any form couldn't have survived on Venus under current conditions, but IF it by any chance came from the outer part of the Solar System, and IF it's current orbit only happened in historical times it's water simply couldn't have evaporated in such a short timespan (in the order of thousands of years instead of billions of years).
Next to that, Venus' orbit around the sun is the second-closest that comes to a circle instead of an ellipsoid from all the planets. It takes an unlikely regular 'slingshot' from whatever gas giant to push a heavy planet like Venus in a quite close to circular orbit around the sun.

Brugle on November 11, 2009, 06:17:08 pm
Hi GeoModder.  :)

Let's not confuse EU theory with Velikovsky's ideas.  While many EU scientists appreciate Velikovsky, I'm pretty sure that they consider much of what he proposed to be wrong.  (Similarly, psychologists who reject Freud's specific theories can appreciate Freud.)  The idea that Venus came from Jupiter in historical times is from Velikovsky and is not part of any EU theory that I know.

By the way, the only discussions I remember reading about Venus's orbit being quickly circularized assumed that it was done by electromagnetic effects, not by gravitational effects (slingshot or otherwise).  But a) I'm sure there were similar discussions which I never heard about, and b) my memory isn't too hot.

Sean Roach on November 11, 2009, 07:38:29 pm
So.  What does everyone say?  Burn the heretic?  Or make him wear a funny hat?

SandySandfort on November 11, 2009, 09:54:08 pm
So.  What does everyone say?  Burn the heretic?  Or make him wear a funny hat?

What if he already wears a funny hat?

 

anything