February 17th, 2007


How to distinguish Science from non-Science

Many of you have probably heard about the interesting memo circulated by Texas state representative Warren Chisum (and originally produced by Ben Bridges of Georgia).

Let's just skip over the fact that the document confuses the biological theory of evolution with the cosmological theory of the Big Bang.
Let's skip over the bizarre anti-Semitism inherent in a document blaming the Big Bang on the Pharisee religion and the "mystic 'holy book' Kabbala".
Let's skip over the fact that the informational websites given in the document are to www.fixedearth.com, which supports the view (as its primary issue) that "the Earth is not rotating...nor is it going around the sun."

After all, we are scientists. Yes, you too. I'm sure you took a science class and learned some fable about the scientific method. You have eyes and ears and the ability to draw inferences based on experiment. There, you're a scientist.

And as scientists, we do not simply dismiss those who hold alternative theories. We impartially examine their arguments and evidence.

I was curious to see what they had to say about geosynchronous satellites. I draw your attention to the 4th paragraph:

As physicist Wal Thornhill (et al) agree: “Electromagnetic forces are infinitely more powerful than gravity…” (HERE, p. 4). As we know, a child can test this statement with a plain magnet or an electromagnet and a coin on the ground. Gravity holds the coin on the ground, but pass the magnet over it at some appropriate height and….

Thornhill can perhaps be forgiven his hyperbole that EM is infinitely more powerful than gravity, but then again, his bio doesn't inspire confidence. But that's neither here nor there. More importantly, the paragraph goes on to suggest an experimental test of the theory being developed. One you can test yourself. Surely if a child can do it, then a scientist like you or me can do it. Although the author has coyly left out the experimental results, we can deduce the expected outcome. Clearly, (we are led to believe) if EM is stronger than gravity, then a magnet will lift a coin off the ground.

Now, my little scientists, go and experiment! Really! Get up out of your seat, get a fridge magnet or something and get some change out of your pocket.

Collapse )