Bob Henderson is an 80 year old retired electrical engineer who thinks “Albert Einstein was a dunce.” So convinced is he of this that he has written a third book on the subject: Einstein and The-Emperor’s-New-Clothes Syndrome: The Exposé of a Charlatan. Notes the AZ Republic:
Henderson was, and is, qualified to be asking these questions because his work was science. He says he graduated second in his class from the University of Arizona in 1950 with a degree in electrical engineering. He then worked for RCA in New Jersey before returning home to work at Motorola. Some of his work was in the guided-missile division. And yes, that technically makes him a rocket scientist.
Eh, no, he’s not qualified. He is an engineer, not a scientist, and being an engineer does not necessarily provide any expertise in relativity. The reporter falls into a common trap – because Henderson’s “work was science,” Henderson can comment on all scientific ideas. This is obviously not the case.
“When I was younger, it was repeated and written everywhere that only three people understood (Einstein’s) theories … I always thought science was supposed to clarify things, so that didn’t make much sense to me… I said to myself this is the greatest intellect in the world, I need to understand him. I believed that because everybody did… I started reading everything I could by him and about him and every one of them was double talk. It began to occur to me that this is all gobbledygook… His theory was so lacking in common sense. It became clear to me that Einstein was a dunce.” (emphasis mine)
What has “common sense” got to do with science? “Common sense” tells us that the Sun goes round the Earth, that the Earth is flat, and that it is not hurtling through space at a god-awful speed. The fact is, Einstein’s theories have been vindicated by experiment and observation. Yes, his ideas go against “common sense.” Get over it.
It all sounds very … familiar, doesn’t it? Evolutionary theory has been suffering the same idiotic attacks for a long time now. As Andrew Odell points out in a letter in today’s Republic:
[T]he rightness or wrongness of a scientific theory depends on how well it agrees with observations of nature, not on whether or not Henderson can understand it… Many people make this same mistake in trying to discredit biological evolution. Just because you can’t understand it, it isn’t necessarily wrong. It is also possible that the dunce is on the other side of the book.