Sorry that the blog has been so quiet lately; I managed to catch a vicious flu for the first time since I started getting flu shots, so I’ve been feeling too ill to write. I’m still far from recovered, but I’m feeling well enough to share a bit of delightful foolishness with you.
After seeing my recent post about a relativity denier, a reader sent me a link to another extremely amusing anti-relativity site. (In fact, I’ve recieved a bunch of links to anti-relativity sites; I’m only posting the most amusing ones.) This one has
several particularly amusing properties, but from my point of view what makes it
such a great target is that it uses the mathematical precision of relativity as part of its argument against it. You see, math is ultimately the basis of a grand anti-religious conspiracy to replace god with randomness and evolution!
The site is called “Common Sense Science”. Alas, the full range of their insanity isn’t available for me to view: they publish textbooks and journals, and to get the full details about their “theories”,
you must buy the books and/or subscribe to the journals. But there’s more than
enough there on the site to see what they’re going on about.
You can mostly guess what their problem with relativity is, just from the title of the site. Modern physics – both relativity and quantum physics – is often quite
counterintuitive. Things don’t behave the way your common sense says it should. To them, this is a fatal flaw in the physics.
At the end of the 20th century, Barnes, Bergman, Lucas and others began to build on the older classical work that had been largely abandoned nearly a hundred years earlier. Working outside the mainstream physics establishment, their common goal was to correct what they perceived as deficiencies in modern physics by reapplying what they deemed to be sound scientific methods in order to develop better fundamental theories of the elementary particles, atoms and the forces between these objects. By striving to maintain the principles of reality, causality and unity throughout their work, they hoped to bring “common sense” back to the field of physics. The expression “common sense”, in this context, alludes to their belief that physics, even at the atomic scale, ought to be intuitive and consistent with the laws of physics that are commonly observed on laboratory scales.
So, anything that you can’t observe directly at laboratory scale is completely
excluded by their theory. It’s an interesting claim, given that a lot of what they’re going to propose about how things work aren’t directly observable at lab-scale.
So what’s there alternative to standard modern physics? Here’s their description of what they’re about:
Common Sense Science is a body of theory regarding matter and forces that
describes the physical world using geometric models, absolute time and Galilean space
in a way that strives to be consistent with experimental observations and free of
internal contradictions. The foundational principles of CSS theory are based upon the
law of cause and effect and the assertion that the universe and all natural phenomena
are fundamentally electrical in character.
These principles have led to the derivation of a universal force law that applies on all scales ranging from the sub-atomic to the cosmic domain and to the development of physical models for elementary particles, nuclei, atoms and molecules. Although the new models are novel and in many ways strikingly different from the standard model of elementary particles, they have an inherent simplicity and physical form that appeals to common sense. One reason for this is because the CSS models can be visualized and analyzed using the math and physics commonly found to hold true at laboratory scales.
We can start to get a nice sense of what they’re trying to do just from this. They’re another variant of the “electric universe” nonsense. Everything is
electromagnetic forces, regardless of how well electromagnetic forces fit reality.
How does gravity work in an electromagnetic universe? You just wave your hands.
Of course, the math of this doesn’t work out. It can’t. Electromagnetic phenomena generate forces between things with opposing charges. But gravity generates forces between any two objects, regardless of charge. Electromagnetics don’t behave much of anything like gravity – that’s sort of the point of the whole unification problem. Gravity is an anomaly. It defies common sense why it should be so different from the other forces we observe.
But hey, to the “common sense” guys, that doesn’t matter. Because
math is bad. Y’see, the whole problem with modern physics is that they waste way too much time on that math stuff anyway. After all, the number one problem with new scientific theories is “Physical models of matter were replaced with mathematical equations”.
Of course, that rejection of math doesn’t necessarily last too long. They have a bizzare contrived derivation of their “universal force law”, which is basically a sloppy attempt to shoehorn relativistic terms into equations from the work of people like Faraday and Maxwell – without adopting the basic framework of relativity from which those terms were derived. Does it follow common sense to do that? No. Does it make mathematical sense? Not particularly. Does that bother them? No.
As you wander through this stuff, you’re bound to find yourself asking: Why? This stuff makes no sense at all. Despite its insistence of simple
physical models, it doesn’t fit with the results of well-known, easily repeatable experiments. It claims to be focused on common sense. But it’s pretty hard to argue
that common sense would imply that you should throw relativistic terms into non-relativistic equations without any explanation of how they can work in a non-relativistic frame. It’s also hard to argue that common sense means “If experiments differ from the prediction of my physically based theory, then
the experiments must be wrong”. So where’s all this coming from?
And that’s where things get really strange.
In their page on “Atomism and
Quantum Mechanics”, they go into a diatribe against Lucretius, claiming that all of modern physics is derived from the idea of atomism as proposed by Lucretius, and that Lucretius proposed atomism not as an explanation for how things
work, but as a way of freeing mankind from the bonds of religion. In fact:
While matter was considered to be eternal, in the atomistic view, life itself was not: “The [atomists] supposed that life had developed out of a primeval slime, man as well as animals and plants. Man was a microcosm of the universe, for he contained every kind of atom.” As this is the viewpoint of modern evolutionists, the reader may appreciate that Lucretius, not Darwin, has been the principal spokesman for evolution during the last two millennia.
No one should contend that a scientific theory of matter has no bearing on his religious and moral views. The implied purpose of “On the Nature of Things” was to combat what Lucretius perceived to be the bondage of religion. In the second stanza of his poem he claimed that “human life lay foul before men’s eyes, crushed to the dust beneath religion’s weight.” The Greeks admired by Lucretius “used the atomic philosophy mainly to combat religion, not to extend man’s understanding and control of nature.”
This is where the real insanity sets in. These common sense guys don’t seem to have the common sense necessary to understand things like time. Lucretius, whatever he said, had nothing at all to do with “evolution”. Lucretius, whatever he said, had nothing to do with the probabilistic nature of what we understand about quantum mechanics. He didn’t propose either of those ideas; they didn’t come into existence for thousands of years after his death. And his notion of “atomism” had nothing whatsoever to do with modern theories of physics. They’re just randomly grabbing a bunch of things that they’ve connected in their own minds, and tying them into a grand, imaginary anti-religious conspiracy.
And naturally, the root of that evil, atheistic conspiracy against common sense? Math.
The atomistic view is not universally accepted, but is opposed by the Judeo-Christian worldview with its underlying assumptions, the chief of these being the Law of Cause and Effect. This law is rejected both by ancient and modern atomists who insist, wrongly, that elementary particles are subject to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, that they emit light spontaneously and move randomly, that life arose by chance and evolved into its current forms by chance processes. At the turn of the century, new discoveries in physics came so fast that scientists were unable to explain the experimental data solely on the basis of classical physics and the established laws of physics. So, around 1920, when atomists were able to explain newly discovered characteristics of light and matter by the use of mathematical equations (instead of physical models consistent with proven laws), modern science adopted the atomistic world view.
To make matters even sillier, after all of that ranting about dirty rotten nasty
evil atomism, and all of the problems it’s caused, their next step is… To propose a
new model of the atom. Of course, their model of the atom is totally inconsistent with
what some of us like to refer to as “reality”, but they won’t let that stop them.
Their proposal is based on an idea of “spinning charge rings”. They’ve got some very
nifty diagrams of what they think atoms really look like. And they’re all
astonishingly accurate – that is, if you discard all of the observations and
experiments where they’re inconsistent. But that’s no problem for the common sense guys. Because those observations aren’t consistent with common sense, and when common sense and experiment are inconsistent, it’s the experiment that’s wrong. That’s really the short version of what they say. They don’t need to explain things like the double-slit experiment: since the results of that experiment are contrary to common sense, there must be something wrong with the way the experiment is set up, because reality must match with common sense.