Respectful Insolence

It’s rare that I have much in the way of reluctance to leap into writing about a topic. Any regular reader of this blog should know this to be true, given the topics I regularly take on and how often my writing draws flak my way from various proponents of quackery and pseudoscience, in particular the antivaccine crowd. Still, sometimes a topic gives me pause, although, I must admit, the reason is that blogging about it will bring embarrassment to me. Usually, I can overcome this reluctance, as I have done in discussing, for example, how my alma mater, the university from which I obtained both my undergraduate and graduate degree, has an actual program in magic (i.e., anthroposophic medicine). Then there was the example of how reiki had infiltrated my old stomping grounds at MetroHealth Medical Center, one of the hospitals at Case Western Reserve University where I rotated during my general surgery residency. Then, just last week, there was the most embarrassing fact that I had to acknowledge, namely that the cancer center at Case has gone woo, even going so far as to host the 2011 meeting of the Society of Integrative Oncology.

So what more could embarrass me? One more thing, it would appear, so much so that it’s time to get the paper bag out again; you know, the one I routinely used to get out when surgeons and other physicians spouted embarrassing things back in the day.

I had heard about this a couple of days before P.Z. Myers blogged about it, but had decided that I probably wasn’t the one to blog about it. Then, P.Z. had to go and rub my face in the embarrassment of it all by writing about a paper published by a faculty member at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine named Erik Andrulis. He was, I have to admit, depressingly spot-on in pointing out that a comparison to jabberwocky is inevitable. I, however, have another comparison that I think more apt, as you will soon see. First, though, I must admit that I found it very surprising that someone like Andrulis would publish a paper like this. If you look at his publication list, with one glaring exception, it looks pretty respectable. Basically, he studies enzymes that metabolize RNA called RNases:

My group has been asking two broad questions: How does the spatiotemporal control of RNase interactions and post-translational modifications relate to RNase recognition and metabolism of specific classes of RNAs in living cells? How does RNase activity relate to cell structure and function? To answer these questions, we are studying Dis3, Rrp6, and the ribonucleometabolic exosome. Dis3 is a processive, sequence-nonspecific 3′ to 5′ RNase that is homologous to eubacterial RNase R/II. Rrp6 is a distributive, sequence-nonspecific 3′ to 5′ RNase similar to eubacterial RNase D. The exosome is a multi-subunit complex or set of complexes that contain(s) putative RNases (Rrp41, Rrp42, Rrp43, Rrp45, Rrp46, Mtr3 are eukaryotic homologs of the eubacterial RNase PH) and the S1 RNA-binding domain proteins Rrp4, Rrp40, and Csl4. We have proposed and are testing the hypothesis that these subunits assemble into multiple independent, functionally interrelated complexes called exozymes.

All of which is perfectly respectable and important, as far as science goes.

However, then there was this:

Extending upon this RNA research, I recently compiled an incommensurable, trans-disciplinary, neologistical, axiomatic theory of life from quantum gravity to the living cell.

Uh-oh.

Yes, this is the paper that P.Z. had so much–shall we say?–fun with. It’s also the paper that the CWRU press office described thusly:

Erik Andrulis, PhD, assistant professor of molecular biology and microbiology, advanced his controversial framework in his manuscript “Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life,” published in the peer-reviewed journal, Life. His theory explains not only the evolutionary emergence of life on earth and in the universe but also the structure and function of existing cells and biospheres.

In addition to resolving long-standing paradoxes and puzzles in chemistry and biology, Dr. Andrulis’ theory unifies quantum and celestial mechanics. His unorthodox solution to this quintessential problem in physics differs from mainstream approaches, like string theory, as it is simple, non-mathematical, and experimentally and experientially verifiable. As such, the new portrait of quantum gravity is radical.

The basic idea of Dr. Andrulis’ framework is that all physical reality can be modeled by a single geometric entity with life-like characteristics: the gyre. The so-called “gyromodel” depicts objects–particles, atoms, chemicals, molecules, and cells–as quantized packets of energy and matter that cycle between excited and ground states around a singularity, the gyromodel’s center. A singularity is itself modeled as a gyre, wholly compatible with the thermodynamic and fractal nature of life. An example of this nested, self-similar organization is the Russian Matryoshka doll.

By fitting the gyromodel to facts accumulated over scientific history, Dr. Andrulis confirms the proposed existence of eight laws of nature. One of these, the natural law of unity, decrees that the living cell and any part of the visible universe are irreducible. This law formally establishes that there is one physical reality.

Yes, it’s a Theory of Everything. And it turned out to be so embarrassing that the CWRU press office retracted its press release.

But what about the paper itself? Well, let’s just say that I’ve rarely seen a paper that says so little but takes 105 pages and 800 references to say it. Indeed, my eyes started to glaze over about 20 pages into it. The article is entitled Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life and appeared in an open-access journal entitled Life. I’ll cite the abstract:

Life is an inordinately complex unsolved puzzle. Despite significant theoretical progress, experimental anomalies, paradoxes, and enigmas have revealed paradigmatic limitations. Thus, the advancement of scientific understanding requires new models that resolve fundamental problems. Here, I present a theoretical framework that economically fits evidence accumulated from examinations of life. This theory is based upon a straightforward and non-mathematical core model and proposes unique yet empirically consistent explanations for major phenomena including, but not limited to, quantum gravity, phase transitions of water, why living systems are predominantly CHNOPS (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur), homochirality of sugars and amino acids, homeoviscous adaptation, triplet code, and DNA mutations. The theoretical framework unifies the macrocosmic and microcosmic realms, validates predicted laws of nature, and solves the puzzle of the origin and evolution of cellular life in the universe.

Back when I was in high school, I had a friend named Joe. Joe and I were science geeks. (I realize that this must come as a huge shock to readers of this blog, but I assure you that it’s true.) Back when we were in junior high school (7th and 8th grade, to be precise) we used to enjoy speculating about the nature of the universe and coming up with all sorts of what can only be described as wild-ass theories (conjectures, actually) about the nature of reality. In fact, I fondly remember one particularly off-the-wall bit of rambling we engaged in while on the way to our destination for a school field trip. Encompassing speculation about the nature of reality, made-up new particles, and all sorts of other flights of fancy, It was tons of fun. As silly as they were in retrospect, these speculations and “what ifs” were probably part of what inspired me to become a scientist. However, eventually I did grow up and realize that speculation in science is but a starting point, but you need evidence. Andrulis’ paper reminds me of my adolescent flights of fancy, were they to be written by someone who has a command of the language of science that Joe and I had not yet achieved to make them sound as though they were anything more than something we pulled out of our proverbial posteriors. Certainly, 105 pages after his abstract, Andrulis answers none of the big questions in the abstract.

In fact, what Andrulis does is to base his entire “theory of everything” on something he calls the “gyre” (hence the jabberwocky references by P.Z.):

Now, therefore, to know what life is and how life works, scientists need a scientifically accurate theory. The aim of a scientific theory is to construct a formal structure–in which the natural world is being modeled–to explain, predict, and control systems, events, and objects. Insofar as the physical, chemical, and biological sciences are true, physical reality and life itself thus reflexively model such a scientific theory; tautologically, the natural world subsumes said theory. Several investigators have detailed what would be required of a unifying bioscientific theory [1,10-24]. The correct theory would be expected to not only explain how the living cell works now, but also to provide insight into the evolution of life on Earth.

In the theory proposed herein, I use the heterodox yet simple gyre–a spiral, vortex, whorl, or similar circular pattern–as a core model for understanding life. Because many elements of the gyre model (gyromodel) are alien, I introduce neologisms and important terms in bold italics to identify them; a theoretical lexicon is presented in Table 1. The central idea of this theory is that all physical reality, stretching from the so-called inanimate into the animate realm and from micro- to meso- to macrocosmic scales, can be interpreted and modeled as manifestations of a single geometric entity, the gyre. This entity is attractive because it has life-like characteristics, undergoes morphogenesis, and is responsive to environmental conditions. The gyromodel depicts the spatiotemporal behavior and properties of elementary particles, celestial bodies, atoms, chemicals, molecules, and systems as quantized packets of information, energy, and/or matter that oscillate between excited and ground states around a singularity. The singularity, in turn, modulates these states by alternating attractive and repulsive forces. The singularity itself is modeled as a gyre, thus evincing a thermodynamic, fractal, and nested organization of the gyromodel. In fitting the scientific evidence from quantum gravity to cell division, this theory arrives at an understanding of life that questions traditional beliefs and definitions.

And the justification for the use of a “gyre”? Check it out:

Throughout history, scholars have used the gyre in their models. For example, in ancient Greece, Democritus posited vortex motion to be a law of nature. In the 16th century, Copernicus modeled planets gyrating around a stellar singularity and Descartes proposed his vortex theory for planetary motion in the 17th century. The 19th century found Helmholtz rediscovering the Democritean law and Lord Kelvin and Maxwell using the gyre as the basis of different electromagnetic theories. In the early 20th century, Bostick used the gyre in his spiraling helicon fiber model and Thomson proposed that atoms were vortex rings. Many others have promulgated the gyre as core model of nature.

Perhaps one reason for their theoretical appeal is that gyres are detectable throughout the cosmic and tellurian realms. Astronomically, galaxies, solar systems, comets, and lunar bodies gyrate. Atmospherically, tornadoes, hurricanes, eddies, and vortex streets are all gyres. Oceanographically, there are seven major gyres. Molecularly, numerous nucleic acid and protein structures–DNA double helix, RNA hairpins, pseudoknots, α-helices, coiled coils, and β-propellers–all gyrate. Cellularly and organismally, shells, horns, antennae, flagellae, and the cochlea all carry a spiral imprint. Given its theoretical pedigree, empirical ubiquity, and dynamic character, the gyre appears, a posteriori, to be a prime candidate for a core model of natural systems.

I’ll give Andrulis credit for imagination. But for science and making up a coherent “theory of everything”? Not so much. In fact, as P.Z. asks, what is it with the whole “donut” thing? What are we? A bunch of cops on break? OK, OK, I know that was a cheap shot, a “cops and donuts” joke. It was just too easy, and sometimes I have a hard time resisting something that easy. Mea culpa. Hopefully, any law enforcement officers who might be reading this blog will forgive me my succumbing to stereotypes and instead be amused at the similarities between what Andrulis writes and some other fun forms of pseudoscience.

For example, it’s hard not to make connections between Andrulis’ paper and a lot of crank pseudoscience. For instance, it wasn’t so long ago that I wrote about a crank named Jim Carter, who postulates that all matter is made up of donut-shaped particles that he dubs “circlons” that behave thusly:

i-8caec96a2e083704e6781809a2f71cec-Circlon.png

Then, in Andrulis’ paper, we have this image:

i-cddd908a6a35bd1cb1f203186304efa8-gyre-thumb-450x641-72248.jpg

Which, I must admit, reminds me a lot of the sort of woo that a certain apologist for homeopathy named Lionel Milgrom favors:

i-b88847ec4ca0656a66ff609279116c69-fig2.jpg

Or perhaps this other gem from Milgrom:

i-e659b069436936a046eb26bd82d9b343-Milgromwoo-thumb-400x532-72250.jpg

That’s right. Andrulis’ paper and the diagrams within it resemble physics cranks or the most wild diagrams used to defend homeopathy that I’ve ever seen.

What I still can’t figure out here is why. What inspired Andrulis to write such a monumental and ridiculous “theory of everything”? His science seems decent enough. He looks as though he’s on his way to a successful career as a researcher. Why roil the waters and jeopardize it? He doesn’t seem like a crank, as Jim Carter and Lionel Milgrom clearly are; that is, unless this paper is the first public indication of crank tendencies. Another question is how this paper ever got published in the first place. It makes no sense unless it’s an elaborate Sokal-style hoax. However, if that were the case, I’d expect that Andrulis would have ‘fessed up to it by now, and he hasn’t. In fact, he seems proud of the paper if his faculty web page is any indication. Right there it reads:

Extending upon this RNA research, I recently compiled an incommensurable, trans-disciplinary, neologistical, axiomatic theory of life from quantum gravity to the living cell.

I suppose you could call it that. Personally, what I could stand to read of it read like those more than 30 year old speculations I participated in with my friend. They were entertaining enough at the time, but in retrospect I suspect we were still a bit too enamored of Star Trek technobabble. Be that as it may, Andrulis’ paper reads like bad science fiction. In fact, I’m surprised he didn’t throw The Force and Midi-Chlorians. In fact, while looking up a good link about Midi-Chlorians, I found this article by Chris Knight entitled Midi-Chlorians: Physiology, Physics, and the Force. The depressing thing is that this article makes a heck of a lot more sense than Andrulis’ article does. In fact, if the article is accurate, George Lucas, of all people, has a better grasp on a “theory of life” than Erik Andrulis does. At the very least, Chris Knight creates a more plausible “theory of everything” based on a fictional science fantasy universe than Andrulis does using allegedly scientific arguments.

And, yes, I know that the whole concept of midi-chlorians was a horrible idea. It’s just that Andrulis’ idea is even worse. He would have been better off writing fan fiction saying that it’s The Force that binds everything together. At least then we would have known it was fiction.

Comments

  1. #1 tschill
    January 30, 2012

    Two main explanations – genius, who will be understood in 100 years, or mental illness. The obsessive nature of the description, the lack of coherence and the megalomanic aspect all hint to the latter.

  2. #2 Steelclaws
    January 30, 2012

    This paper somewhat reminds me of Gillette’s Spiral Universe, which comes complete with “The all cosmos doughnut.”

    Gillette gets an amused treatment in Martin Gardner’s Fads and Fallacies, which I recommend, and at http://home.pacifier.com/~dkossy/MIT.html

    Hmmm… Does that Gillette’s diagram in the website remind anyone of anything?

  3. #3 BillyJoe
    January 30, 2012

    This story reminds me of the following:
    A particularly intelligent member of the JREF in the early days, suddenly started a thread where he artistically presented a collection of symbols from his keyboard. I thought he was engaging in a sokal type hoax and played along. However, another member who was a personal friend of the author, was very concerned and paid him a visit. A few days later we were informed that he had been admitted to a mental institution.

  4. #4 daijiyobu
    January 30, 2012

    “Let me expose to you the perpatude of my intestance.”

    -r.c.

  5. #5 palindrom
    January 30, 2012

    Oh dear. This looks it’ll turn out to be a sad story.

  6. #6 @thedisasterist
    January 30, 2012

    I’m curious why the paper made it through to publication. And why the press release? A lot of eyes, and supposedly intelligent eyes, had to see it and approve it. Maybe their gyres were aligned. Or Andrulis is a Jedi.

  7. #7 Michael I
    January 30, 2012

    Andrulis is a Jedi

    “This is the paper you are looking for…”

  8. #8 Old Rockin' Dave
    January 30, 2012

    He really didn’t come up with it all by himself – it was revealed to him in a vision by John Nash.

  9. #9 Jojo
    January 30, 2012

    And here I thought that you needed to spend years in school to become a scientist. If I had known that all I would need was a spirograph I would have run to Toys ‘R Us and picked one up. I would have saved a lot on student loans too.

    The one thing this guy has over George Lucas is that at least he didn’t include Jar-Jar Binks in his ravings.

  10. #10 Daniel J. Andrews
    January 30, 2012

    Bits of the paper did read somewhat like a postmodernist essay. I do hope he is a far-seeing genius…I’d love to live through a paradigm-toppling and rebuilding event.

    I always wondered if you gave a Jedi a complete blood transfusion, would he or she lose their powers, at least temporarily? (gah! just googled my long-standing question and there’s more there than I want to know).

  11. #11 Beamup
    January 30, 2012

    You know it’s bad when the very first sentence is outright false:

    How life abides by the second law of thermodynamics yet evolutionarily complexifies and maintains
    its intrinsic order is a fundamental mystery in physics, chemistry, and biology

    No, it’s not in the least mysterious. It works because a living organism is not a closed system. There is an external source of energy (for biological purposes, we can effectively consider the sun as said external source for virtually all life on Earth).

    Looking through the sections where he purports to express fundamental physical laws in this “gyre” format, I can’t help but notice that there’s something missing. That being contact with reality. Sure, I CAN write down some symbols and claim that they represent an electron. But unless I then proceed to show that I can manipulate those symbols in a way which produces correct predictions about the behavior of actual electrons, that representation is completely meaningless.

    Complete crank, or mentally ill. These are the only possibilities.

  12. #12 Beamup
    January 30, 2012

    I do hope he is a far-seeing genius…I’d love to live through a paradigm-toppling and rebuilding event.

    Your hope is definitely misplaced in this case. This isn’t an example of someone coming up with something so deep and fundamental that it isn’t understood by anyone else at first. This is an example of someone coming up with something profoundly disconnected from reality.

  13. #13 palindrom
    January 30, 2012

    I think it’s telling that the press release was withdrawn. This sounds like an “oh s***” moment for the school’s administration.

  14. #14 Narad
    January 30, 2012

    Received: 15 November 2011; in revised form: 10 December 2011 / Accepted: 13 December 2011

    That’s what I call prompt peer review.

  15. #15 madder
    January 30, 2012

    And reference number 800 is titled “The End of Science.”

    Indeed.

    It’s a good Sokal, if it is one, but its length and intricacy make me think that palindrom was correct at comment 5.

  16. #16 kruuth
    January 30, 2012

    When they say peer review in this case, does it mean spell checked?

    Seriously, doesn’t peer review take weeks if not months?

  17. #17 Edith Prickly
    January 30, 2012

    I for one am looking forward to the follow-up paper where he explains the role of the mimsy borogoves and vorpal sword.

  18. #18 Mu
    January 30, 2012

    As Life is a new pay-to-publish journal from a pay-to-publish publisher it will have to establish a good record of peer-review to not be seen as strictly a vanity publication. So far they’re striking out spectacularly.
    On the other hand, if you have a 100 page manuscript that Medical Hypotheses rejected lying around and are in need of a publisher, they are running a “no fee for 2012″ special, might be worth looking into.

  19. #19 Green Eagle
    January 30, 2012

    Sad to say, what this reminds me of is the descent into madness of the once brilliant and respected Wilhelm Reich.

    In the forty years or so that I have been following the purveyors of pseudoscience, I’ve seen a number of cases (I’m sure you know what I mean) which obviously go beyond scientific confusion, and clearly reveal psychological impairment. Andrulis is considerably more adept than most pseudoscientists at adopting the outward form of real scientific writing, but underneath it all, I sense something very sad indeed. I hope he has just taken a little walk on the epistemological wild side, but I fear that this work is a very bad sign for him.

  20. #20 Calli Arcale
    January 30, 2012

    Oh dear…..

    I’ve always felt that a convenient shortcut to detecting crankery is that many of them feel the need to define new terminology and insist that their theory cannot be understood without the new terminology. I mean, it’s fair to invent a new word occasionally, but cranks will redefine half the language. If you feel the need to define a whole new set of vocabulary, clearly you feel you have stumbled upon something totally novel in their history of human thought, and to feel that way requires a great deal of arrogance — the sort of arrogance that blinds.

  21. #21 RBH
    January 30, 2012

    Orac remarked

    Another question is how this paper ever got published in the first place. It makes no sense unless it’s an elaborate Sokal-style hoax.

    A friend of mine at CWRU has spoken with Andrulis and assures me that he believes/means it.

  22. #22 Karl Withakay
    January 30, 2012

    “Extending upon this RNA research, I recently compiled an incommensurable, trans-disciplinary, neologistical, axiomatic theory of life from quantum gravity to the living cell.”

    Once you’ve used the word quantum when describing anything much larger than a single particle, you’ve probably already jumped the shark, but bonus points for the sciency sounding word salad bordering on gish gallup.

    “Dr. Andrulis’ theory unifies quantum and celestial mechanics.”

    Hello Nobel prize. If you did this, they might even consider retiring the prize and replacing it with a new prize in your name. Just putting forth a viable theory of quantum gravity alone (even one that only worked on a quantum level and did not translate to celestial scales) would guarantee the Nobel prize.

    “His unorthodox solution to this quintessential problem in physics differs from mainstream approaches, like string theory…”

    I don’t think you can really reasonably call string theory a mainstream approach. It is a distinctly different approach from mainstream physics.

    I’m sure there’s already a term for this variation of the Dunning-Kruger effect where a high level of competence in one field sometimes makes one incapable of realizing their limitations in another field. (I’m smart about X, so I can fully understand Y on my own without going back to school and getting another PhD – the Linus Pauling effect?)

  23. #23 JohnV
    January 30, 2012

    @kruuth

    One of the journals I’ve reviewed for has a 2 week turn around on reviews. It’s not top tier, obviously as I’m reviewing for them, but the editors make it clear when they contact you to do a review that if you can’t get it done in 2 weeks, they’ll find someone else to do it.

    In some cases, but clearly not this time, papers can get a really fast turn around if they’re extremely well done or perhaps a 2nd submission of a manuscript after reviews at a different journal.

    In this instance I don’t know how a review could be done very fast considering the length of the paper.

  24. #24 Beamup
    January 30, 2012

    I’m sure there’s already a term for this variation of the Dunning-Kruger effect where a high level of competence in one field sometimes makes one incapable of realizing their limitations in another field.

    Ironically, it’s physicists who tend to be most often accused of this – and here Andrulis’s victim IS physics!

    I suspect that there’s truth to the accusations, too. In principle one could derive all other sciences from physics, given a sufficiently complete theory and enough computational power (Deep Thought, anyone?). The “in principle” bit is a killer, of course, but it doesn’t prevent some of us from acting like we (e.g.) can do biology better than biologists…

  25. #25 herr doktor bimler
    January 30, 2012

    Or perhaps this other gem from Milgrom:
    Milgrom’s theory may look like a pretentious way of propping up gibberish, but as they say, it has hidden shallows.

    The topological metaphors are stolen from Lacan’s psychology. The ‘bra-ket’ quantum-operator notation is old-school quantum theory thought in this context it conveys nothing.
    If Milgrom wanted to be more up-to-date he’d be stealing the garments of Penrose’s Twistor theory.

  26. #26 Denice Walter
    January 30, 2012

    He actually uses the word, “neologistical”- I doubt that he has the self-awareness to be using it as psychologists do, though- it usually doesn’t work that way.

    I feel that many woo-meisters and pseudo-scientists might really be frustrated fiction-writers/fantacists who have yet to find their own true calling in life: maybe I should tell them. Please go study literature and art : spare us.

  27. #27 herr doktor bimler
    January 30, 2012

    In principle one could derive all other sciences from physics, given a sufficiently complete theory and enough computational power (Deep Thought, anyone?).

    Mandatory:
    http://xkcd.com/793/

  28. #28 Karl Withakay
    January 30, 2012

    My college physics professor told us that all sciences (including social sciences) derived from physics. He also said that when he told chemistry professors that, they replied that chemistry was the branch of physics that was too complicated for physicists to understand.

    Another possible name for the Linus Pauling effect: The Sheldon Cooper effect.

  29. #29 Scott Cunningham
    January 30, 2012

    Denice Walter,
    Maybe his brain went kablooey during a stint of last-minute grant proposal writing. I don’t know a famous precedent for it like Mr. Elron Hubbard fits your scifi hypothesis, but it sounds plausible. Now we have two hypotheses for why scientists go woo.

  30. #30 Phoenix Woman
    January 30, 2012

    Herr Doktor Bimler:

    http://xkcd.com/801/

    As for the use of “gyre”, all I can think of (and what makes me, faintly, hope against hope that this is a put-on) is this:

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  31. #31 Dangerous Bacon
    January 30, 2012

    “”Dr. Andrulis’ theory unifies quantum and celestial mechanics.”

    Hello Nobel prize. If you did this, they might even consider retiring the prize and replacing it with a new prize in your name.”

    Karl, isn’t Nobel Disease supposed to develop after you win the prize (i.e. Linus Pauling, Kary Mullis et al)?

    Remember people, dis-ease is the opposite of ease!

  32. #32 Denice Walter
    January 30, 2012

    @ Scott Cunningham:

    Well, I don’t think that this reflects a temporary situation ( a rx to exhaustive writing sessions)- no, it’s too elaborate, like something pored over for months and re-phrased many times to be gotten *just* right. Oh, he’s *worked* on this!

    While I was being a little facetious, some might be having problems differentiating internal and external reality: woo-meisters try to bend the external world to fit the dimensions and patterns of causality in their own hoped-for-world. The “world-as-I-would-like-it” or even “as-I-see-it” is not identical to “what’s-really-out-there” veridically- a few people have a problem with that.

  33. #33 herr doktor bimler
    January 30, 2012

    As for the use of “gyre”
    The word appears in some translations of the Divine Comedy, to describe Geryon’s helical descent to the 8th Circle.

  34. #34 Sauceress
    January 30, 2012

    t’s too elaborate, like something pored over for months and re-phrased many times to be gotten *just* right. Oh, he’s *worked* on this!

    Yes he has.
    Erik Andrulis has been registered at the The Tinfoil Palace for a little over a year.

    He gives a timeline there of his efforts to get his “theory” out to the world:

    I have spent the last 7 years or so working on a complete and consistent theory of the universe.

  35. #35 Narad
    January 30, 2012

    As for the use of “gyre”, all I can think of (and what makes me, faintly, hope against hope that this is a put-on) is this

    I’m finding the superficial similarity between John Hall Wheelock’s “My Lonely One,” which seems to have been contemporaneous, and the Yeats somewhat curious. Emily Dickinson also contributed some gyres.

    I do wonder whether Andrulis was aggravated by the change in stub-column alignment when Table 1 hit a page break. This typesetting really isn’t very good.

  36. #36 anthrosciguy
    January 30, 2012

    Really, all this is explained by Fudd’s First Law of Opposition: “If you push something hard enough it will fall over.”

  37. #37 Denice Walter
    January 30, 2012

    Oh lord! It just dawned on me where he might have found his inspiration- altho’ I personally see a resemblence to discarded fluids encircling a drain- he wants to mimic Leonardo da Vinci! Drawings of spirals, helices, vortices which became “helicopters”, water transport, staircases, twisted hair stylings on goddesses or female saints!

  38. #38 Narad
    January 30, 2012

    James P. Driscoll:

    The Unfolding God of Jung and Milton will synergize Jung and Milton to manifest Father, Son, Satan, and Holy Spirit in a widening gyre of consciousness of psyche and Godhead.

    I’m sure it’s an archesomething or other.

  39. #39 Captain Quirk
    January 30, 2012

    This sounds like something I would’ve come up with when I was ten, except even then I understood that given my extremely limited understanding of physics (I had only studied one third to one half of a calculus-based physics textbook), it was mind-bogglingly unlikely that my “theories” had any relation to relaity. And at that age, I was about as arrogant as Sheldon Cooper (I was a lot like Sheldon as a pre-teen, actually – I’m far less arrogant and obsessive-compulsive these days).

    BillyJoe @3:

    A particularly intelligent member of the JREF in the early days, suddenly started a thread where he artistically presented a collection of symbols from his keyboard. I thought he was engaging in a sokal type hoax and played along. However, another member who was a personal friend of the author, was very concerned and paid him a visit. A few days later we were informed that he had been admitted to a mental institution.

    This is a major reason I’m going back to college despite my frustration at the slow pace of classes and my bitterness that I never got to take classes at my level while in public school, and the resulting extremely poor work ethic and expanding arrogance. I would skip classes because they bored me, but without even the minimal mental stimulation you get by keeping to a schedule and interacting with people, I would get pretty detached from reality. If I don’t maintain some kind of order and activity consistently in my life, I would probably become very unhinged from reality and start thinking up bizarre TOEs like the circlons guy and be absolutley convinced there was a conspiracy to keep me from getting a Nobel. Mental illness is harsh enough when it comes out of the blue from genetics; long-term planning might at least keep self-imposed madness at bay (even if I’m a little late on that).

  40. #40 Bruce of Canuckistan
    January 31, 2012

    “Advance in science comes by laying brick upon brick, not by sudden erection of fairy palaces.”
    - J. S. Huxley

  41. #41 palindrom
    January 31, 2012

    Bruce @40 — lovely quote!

    Occasionally the brick that is put in place is the capstone of an arch — for example, special relativity beautifully united electricity and magnetism. Cranks think of relativity as being pulled out of thin air by an unrecognized genius (“Like me!”), but that’s a gross mischaracterization of Einstein’s work.

  42. #42 Jenora Feuer
    January 31, 2012

    palindrom @41:
    Yes, it is a gross mischaracterization. A lot of people were working on the unification that would become relativity at the time. (Ernst Mach, for example. Yes, that Mach, as in Mach numbers for the speed of sound.)

    Einstein’s great advance wasn’t in E=mc^2 or the like… it was in getting to the point in the derivation where it became obvious that the flow of time would have to be different for different observers, and then not throwing the whole thing out because that was ‘obviously wrong’. It was in realizing that a self-consistent description that matched all observable reality trumped ‘common sense’ that only matched part of it.

  43. #43 DLC
    February 1, 2012

    Hm.. As I studied physics (not at Case) for a time I feel like I should also grab myself a paper bag. Or a much more cooler Dr. Doom mask.

  44. #44 VikingMoose
    February 1, 2012

    hey – they gotta pay for that snazzy new building (on Euclid, right? basically across the street from the Church of the Covenant) and they gotta compete with the CCF.

    appealing to woo is a result of the (Ron Paul types’ worship of the mythical) “free market”. DEMAND KURV!

    (at least in the corner of the internet i inhabit, the “paultards” are big on “woo” and short on science (e.g., Amy Alkon, the folks at “reason.com”, etc))

  45. #45 DAN PREDA
    February 3, 2012

    Erik D. Andrulis do not hear about ROMANIAN unified theory, is published and copyrighted from 3 years!
    His theory is included …there!?…and experienced from …3 years?!

    See
    http://www.thefundamentaluniverse.ro/
    project!

  46. #46 Ivar Nielsen
    February 9, 2012

    Orac wrote:
    “Back when we were in junior high school (7th and 8th grade, to be precise) we used to enjoy speculating about the nature of the universe and coming up with all sorts of what can only be described as wild-ass theories (conjectures, actually) about the nature of reality.

    In fact, I fondly remember one particularly off-the-wall bit of rambling we engaged in while on the way to our destination for a school field trip. Encompassing speculation about the nature of reality, made-up new particles, and all sorts of other flights of fancy, It was tons of fun. As silly as they were in retrospect, these speculations and “what ifs” were probably part of what inspired me to become a scientist.

    AD: You poor thing! You lost your imaginative powers and became a specialized conformist.

    - An know you are judging a respected scientist who still has his powers to imagine how things works in the micro- and macrocosmos?

    - If you are unable to see that everything in the universe from the smallest to the biggest is rotating and swirling i.e in thermodynamic and electromagnetic “gyre”s, then you are really lost.

    And therefore you are just exhibiting your own ignorance in your criticism here. New ideas demand the powers of imagination to grasp – which you certainly have lost.

    You poor thing!

  47. #47 Ivar Nielsen
    February 9, 2012

    Orac wrote:
    “Encompassing speculation about the nature of reality, made-up new particles, and all sorts of other flights of fancy, It was tons of fun. As silly as they were in retrospect, these speculations and “what ifs” were probably part of what inspired me to become a scientist.
    AD: You poor thing! You lost your imaginative powers and became a specialized conformist.
    - An know you are judging a respected scientist who still has his powers to imagine how things works in the micro- and macrocosmos?
    - If you are unable to see and imagine that everything in the universe from the smallest to the biggest is rotating and swirling i.e in thermodynamic and electromagnetic “gyre”s, then you are really lost.
    And therefore you are just exhibiting your own ignorance in your criticism here. New ideas demand the powers of imagination to grasp – which you certainly have lost.
    You poor thing!

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