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What's Wrong With Science And Science Education


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#18 Boerseun

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 01:37 AM

What's wrong with Science Education is what's wrong with education in general. Children are brought up from grade school with the express intent to mold them into obedient and productive taxpayers. Study fields are chosen solely on its potential to generate income. Somewhere, the idea that knowledge should be pursued for its own sake got lost. Now we end up with millions of little ignorant cogs in a vast machine that cares less about knowledge. How often do you see an accountant who studies particle physics as a hobby, with no intent to earn money from it? Or mechanics who're into astronomy? Nope - the almighty buck shapes the average idiot's life into one of getting a degree in a field you're not particularly interested in, but would bring in the moolah - and then, after graduation, settling into a life of endless repetition, doing stuff you don't care about in order to make money to buy the latest and greatest mind-numbing form of mass entertainment.

To hell with it, I say.

...but yes, that's the problem with Education today. Committed teachers should be allowed to foster a love of knowledge for its own sake in their pupils. And accountancy students should be forced at gunpoint to take a course in physics or astronomy or something totally unconnected with their chosen brain-dead field.

#19 FrankM

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 07:19 AM

It is difficult for outsiders to know exactly how an organization like the APS works internally. Although the Council is at the top of the leadership pile and sets policy, the Executive Board has more interface with the implementation of policy, which will include staffing. It is the staff level where things are physically done on a day-to-day basis, and whoever the Director is for a particular function will set the political tone as to how things are accomplished, which can include editorial policy.

Several years ago, I had an interchange with an Associate Editor of one of the IEEE publications, who had written an article and, surprise, had it published in the particular publication where he was the Associate Editor. ((The person later became the Editor of that publication; has since left the IEEE)) I responded to his article, stating why I thought the conclusion was in error. The individual even agreed that my position could be correct, but he countered with an argument to support his conclusion that had more to do with a particular scientific philosophy, rather than discussing the numbers. I had the numbers to support my position, but it seems my numbers were not enough. At that time I had communications with a Professor Emeritus of EE (since deceased). I provided him with the interchange I had with the editor. The professor then gave me a succinct lesson in the politics of science, as he had to deal with it for decades when he was head of the Dept of EE at a major U.S. university. I think the APS leadership has taken a biased view on an issue and doesn't want an independent review conducted on it by its members.

I had read the SFGate article about CARB, and yes, it does give a balanced view on the CARB issues. I thought it made the CARB leadership look inept. I wonder how they could determine that 18,000 deaths are caused by particulate emissions from diesel engines, which has since been downsized to 9,200. I live in the CA San Joaquin Valley, and see the diesel tractors and trucks at work in the fields and at construction sites. It absolutely amazes me that the majority of the equipment operators do not wear respirators to protect them from the churned up dirt and dust. Then, when they hop down from their machines, or sometimes in their machines, they light up a cigarette. Sometimes, driving down Hwy 99, it would be advisable for all drivers to wear respirators, as the combination of vehicle emissions, off road dust and the constant churning of roadway dust, creates an unpleasant looking and smelling haze. I wonder where all the particulates go from tire wear?

For those that follow certain archaeological developments, the term Clovis First had to be followed, else dissenting papers could not be published and individuals would be denied employment or tenure if they questioned that viewpoint. The authority structure in the archaeology community enforced the Clovis First position with an iron fist, and more importantly, promoted those to positions in the authority structure that agreed with that position. Just over ten years ago it began as a trickle, a few articles made it into print, obviously by some renegade publications, that presented evidence that Clovis First was in error. In the last ten years the trickle has increased such that ostracism of those that disagree with Clovis First has been broken, at least partially. The Clovis First old guard, and their acolytes, are no longer able to stop contrary publications as they had done for over a century before.

This ability by the {b}authority structure[/b], in a given field, to suppress evidence that disagrees with their generally accepted position, is one of the things that is wrong with science and science education. The scientific process is supposed to allow vetting of different viewpoints, but that is not how some individuals in authority positions see it.

#20 FrankM

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 05:20 PM

The authority structure of the scientific enterprise has always been slow to accept a new concept, unless it was presented by one of their own. Entry into this one of their own club is not guaranteed, even by a person winning the Nobel Prize, such as, Hannes Olof Gösta Alfvén.

"When I describe the plasma phenomena according to this formulism most referees do not understand what I say and turn down my papers. With the referee system which rules US science today, this means that my papers are rarely accepted by the leading US journals."

Plasma Universe

Alfvén ventured into a field, astrophysics, where that authority structure did not like newbie upstarts upsetting all their long crafted explanations. The authority structure controls what is taught in text books, thus new graduates keep spouting the same it is generally accepted theories for decades to come, even after a better theory has been presented.

#21 FrankM

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 02:46 PM

The current societal characteristics of the scientific establishment, and its authority structure, functions much like a long established religion. This mimicking the structure of a religion should not be surprising in the early phases of creating the scientific establishment, but one might think, over a century or two, they would recognize they are doing exactly what they fought against earlier, the authoritarian dictates of a religious view, but now in the form of it is generally accepted scientific view.

The scientific establishment now has prophets, saints and martyrs just like a religion. The traditional martyrs are those suffered at the hands of the religious authority by presenting views differing from those of the established religious doctrine. How does one tell who is or is not a scientific prophet and saint, and their stature?

1 - A scientific law is named for them.
2 - A scientific unit of measure is named for them.
3 - A scientific symbol is named for them.
4 - A Greek letter is associated with their name.
5 - A scientific/mathematical process is named for them.
6 - A scientific phenomena is named for them.
7 - A university campus is named for them.
8 - A university department is named for them.
9 - A university building is named for them.
10- A city is named for them.
11- They receive a Nobel Prize.
12- The New York Times prints their obituary free of charge.

Those that satisfy the first four will have their names mentioned every time a physics book is opened. I will not be presumptuous to name those who can be considered prophets, but they should possess one or more of the first four attributes. Anyone that possesses one of the first four attributes can definitely be considered in the scientific sainthood category. I am sure my list is not complete, as it is meant to illustrate some of the characteristics that create stature in the scientific establishment.

The contemporary scientific establishment has created martyrs, those whose views are officially shunned by the authority structure. Contemporary scientific martyrs also have stature, but I will not attempt to establish the categories that define their martyrdom position.

#22 CraigD

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 10:49 PM

I had read the SFGate article about CARB, and yes, it does give a balanced view on the CARB issues. I thought it made the CARB leadership look inept. I wonder how they could determine that 18,000 deaths are caused by particulate emissions from diesel engines, which has since been downsized to 9,200. I live in the CA San Joaquin Valley, and see the diesel tractors and trucks at work in the fields and at construction sites. It absolutely amazes me that the majority of the equipment operators do not wear respirators to protect them from the churned up dirt and dust. Then, when they hop down from their machines, or sometimes in their machines, they light up a cigarette. Sometimes, driving down Hwy 99, it would be advisable for all drivers to wear respirators, as the combination of vehicle emissions, off road dust and the constant churning of roadway dust, creates an unpleasant looking and smelling haze. I wonder where all the particulates go from tire wear?

To the best of my knowledge, equating particulate pollution levels with increased mortality rates involves techniques first notably published in Lester Lave and Eugene Seskin’s 1973 paper An Analysis of the Association Between US Mortality and Air Pollution (free first page only – subscription required for full paper).

I’ve a pretty deep personal acquaintance with this paper. In the late 1970s, I was a fervent and dedicated teenage anti-nuclear activist. Ca. 1980, I read a magazine article by Dean Ing (most well known for post-nuclear war survival fiction, but also a thoughtful non-fiction commentator) that argued that the likely mortality due to nuclear waste pollution and reactor accidents if there were more nuclear power plants might be outweighed by the mortality due to coal and oil burning pollution of conventional power plant if there were fewer. This was quite an eye-opener to me, and an introduction to how mortality could be linked, with good statistical inference and medical science, to environmental pollution of various kinds.

Taking my and organizations like CARB’s word for the legitimacy of the statistics and science, the basic idea is that various at-risk populations – mostly older people and people with predisposing respiratory conditions, such as asthma, not necessarily people who work around diesel-powered machinery – die at a greater rate when they inhale more particles of certain sizes. Diesel exhaust produces soot particles averaging about 10-7 m in diameter, an especially hazardous size. Large particles, such as visible smoke and road dust, are less hazardous, because they are more effectively filtered by nasal hairs and mucous, and removed from the lungs by bronchial secretions (see the wikipedia article particulate: health effects for more explanation and references).

#23 Don Blazys

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 01:08 AM

What a great thread!

Quoting Boerseun:

Somewhere, the idea that knowledge should be pursued for its own sake got lost.
Now we end up with millions of little ignorant cogs in a vast machine that cares less about knowledge.
How often do you see an accountant who studies particle physics as a hobby, with no intent to earn money from it?
Or mechanics who're into astronomy?


Isn't it ironic that much (if not most) of the truly profound mathematics that exists today was
discovered and/or developed by amateurs who simply enjoyed what they did and gladly dedicated
much of their often limited and therefore precious free time to exploring new ideas and/or searching for solutions
to often intractable problems.

Pierre de Fermat, widely regarded as the father of modern number theory was a lawer.
Marin Mersene, whose "Mersene primes" are by far the most studied prime numbers in history, was a friar.
Turtle, who pioneered the study of non-polygonal numbers was (and is) a reptilian Hypographer.
George Boole, the inventor of Boolean algebra was almost entirely self taught,
as were Karl Weinstrass, the "father of analysis", Jean Fourier, the founder of Fourier analysis,
and Srinivasa Ramanujan who pioneered in the developement of partition theory.

Quoting FrankM:

The authority structure controls what is taught in text books.
Thus new graduates keep spouting the same "it is generally accepted" theories for decades to come,
even after a better theory has been presented.


Eventually, those graduates (who are really nothing more than parrots and mynah birds
who simply regurgitate what they look up on Wikipedia) weasel their way into that authority structure,
and lacking any creativity of their own, proceed to hand wave and harrumph every time a new idea
is presented to them. Therefore, it is best not to present them with any new ideas whatsoever,
but to simply post them on internet forums. This allows the pompous buffoons to stew in their own juices
while the rest of us decide for ourselves whether or not a particular idea has any merit.

Complaining about the authority structure is one thing, but actually doing something about it is quite another.
Consider this...

We the "common folk" vastly outnumber those pompous buffoons in the "authority structure".
Therefore, if we encourage, support, promote and publicize the carefully scrutinized, time tested achievments,
discoveries and ideas of our own amateur scientists while ignoring their mostly vacuous and often plagiarized
"contributions", then it will be they who will find themselves ostracized from us !

After all, who needs them?

They are definitely not "smarter" than we are, and now that we have practically all the information
that they do right here on the internet, there is absolutely no reason for us to even glance in their direction,
much less look to them as "authority figures".

There are "underdogs" out there whose ideas are truly revolutionary, yet easily understood.
If we are to change science for the better, then we must muster up the courage to find them, and support them.
If we ourselves can't seperate the good ideas from the bad, the simple ideas from the complicated,
the honest researchers from the kooks, cranks and crackpots, then the "authorities" will do that for us!

Is that what we really want?

Don.

#24 FrankM

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 06:33 AM

Isn't it ironic that much (if not most) of the truly profound mathematics that exists today was discovered and/or developed by amateurs who simply enjoyed what they did and gladly dedicated much of their often limited and therefore precious free time to exploring new ideas and/or searching for solutions to often intractable problems.


The authority structure of the scientific enterprise has partitioned the various academic study areas such that interlopers with credentials in other areas are not welcome. Professor Barry Fell was a Harvard ichthyologist who had the opportunity to travel to many places, and he had an interest in archaeology and epigraphy. Barry Fell received the undivided ire of the authority structure in archeology and epigraphy. He couldn't get his material published in the journals controlled by the authority structure of these two groups, so he wrote books; there are six on his Amazon page, and I have the one below.

America B. C. - Ancient Settlers in the New World, Barry Fell

There is a wikipedia article describing the antagonism toward this interloper into a study area he was not welcome.

http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Barry_Fell

One professional archeologist that criticized Fell also laid out how they, "the professionals," dropped the ball (the last paragraph of the wiki article).

Despite my occasional harsh criticism of Fell's treatment of individual inscriptions, it should be recognized that without Fell's work there would be no [North American] ogham problem to perplex us. We need to ask not only what Fell has done wrong in his epigraphy, but also where we have gone wrong as archaeologists in not recognizing such an extensive European presence in the New World.

The ogham inscriptions pre-dated 1492. Professor Bell was responsible for starting amateur epigraphy groups in the U.S.

I am not a mathematician, but I doubt a mathematician would have recognized the relationships that led to the preparation of the paper mentioned in another post Mathematically Defined Units - Benefits. I am curious how a well known mathematician received my paper. I sent an email to the Wolfram organization, citing the link to the paper, and the next day my web page received a hit from a Wolfram specific web server. I have received no response from the Wolfram organization other than I know someone in that group accessed my web page.

#25 Kriminal99

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 09:06 AM

Simple, privatize secondary education, voucher system, make non-disclosure agreements illegal, make it illegal for the same company to both educate and test the education of students.

What does this have to do with what you are talking about? Simple - get rid of the generally ignorant tax-dollar leeching self-important university academics. Leave in their place people who will be held responsible for what they do and say in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. With all the government sponsored unenlightened know-nothings back on the street where they belong, hopefully only responsible reasonable people will be left to edit the journals.

The current system decisively targets the most capable people and favors mindless drones who do whatever professors tell them and make minor revisions to other people's work. Ask a question the professor doesn't know the answer to? Who do you think you are?! Give a thought provoking answer on a test that goes above and beyond what was talked about in class? You obviously don't understand even the basics of the material. Have a novel research topic you wish to discuss with a professor? What do you know?

And it is only getting worse. The 2003 lawsuit against Michigan University for their blatant anti-American, stupid foreigner favoring policy is not a sign of a single unrepresentative problem school but rather of a growing trend that finally became easy to gather evidence against. The trend isn't just that the foreign academic network likes being around people from their own cultures. They like people that are easy to control and make them look good. A foreign student who could face economic instability and deportation if they don't maintain their assistant-ships are 100% at the whim of the university professors. They never challenge the professor's claims, always talk them up, and depend 100% on the professors for understanding of the material.

#26 Erasmus00

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 11:50 AM

I have read that China is producing more scientists and engineers than their economy can absorb, relegating large number of graduates to scrape by in whatever job they can find, most not in their field of education. This is a totally different mechanism than being explained by Goodstein.


This is exactly the mechanism being explained by Goodstein. The US also produces far more scientists than the economy can absorb- leaving most phd holders scrambling to find a job completely unrelated to their training. There is a reason that so many phd scientists end up in management consulting, finance, etc- they can't get jobs in science, because the jobs just aren't there.

The enthusiasm to pursue many additional years of education is not being created. This desire for a science education starts at a very early age. It was what I read in grade school that induced me to pursue an engineering education, there was no family history in this area.


This enthusiasm still exists, and in abundant supply. It is this enthusiasm that drives people into scientific phd programs even though the job prospects are so miserably awful.

You are posting with the assumption that the US has an undersupply of scientists- this simply is not true. We have a huge oversupply. Most companies have downsized basic research, and funding in the public sector has remained stagnant. Where are scientists supposed to work?

#27 FrankM

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Posted 04 November 2010 - 06:02 PM

Goodstein was not referring to the quantity of engineers and scientists being produced by academic institutions, he was noting the stagnation in scientific progress. I have no doubt that every year some graduating class contains a number of very capable individuals that could successfully challenge aspects of the contemporary scientific dogma which could break the stagnation currently keeping scientific thought chained to near medieval concepts. They are taught not to challenge the it is generally accepted, and this is not isolated to just Western scientific institutions.

How many very intelligent people are going to risk the almost sure economic hardship that comes with challenging the cherished beliefs of those in the scientific authority structure? This means they will be denied grants and access to research facilities, and mostly certainly behind the scene machinations that will prevent them from proving that a contemporary belief is wrong. To start with, the authority structure would never allow an individual to present a PhD thesis that contravenes the contemporary it is generally accepted scientific positions. If a person is not independently wealthy they have to take another path.

These individuals get their PhD's and get employed in a research facility of their choosing, then they begin to gather evidence, through experiments and observations, that supports a different conclusion. Some might start out having accepted the generally accepted views, but found evidence that presents a contrary conclusion. Ask Halton Arp if there is a right time to bring up evidence that a it is generally accepted view is challengable.

Before the internet, it was very difficult to get a differing scientific view published where it could be viewed by a large number of individuals. arXiv has helped, but if one strays too far from the it is generally accepted view, you, and unless you and your supports are high in the elite level of the scientific establishment, are banned from that publicly funded science archive. How many people do you know that even know of the existence of viXra?

Don't confuse the proliferation of technology devices as being evidence of scientific progress.

#28 Erasmus00

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 12:30 AM

Goodstein was not referring to the quantity of engineers and scientists being produced by academic institutions, he was noting the stagnation in scientific progress.


No, you missed his point entirely- the big crunch in his analogy is what happens when funding doesn't keep pace with the number of scientists being produced, and jobs aren't there. His "growth of science" isn't talking about progress, but rather the number of scientists and the number of journals. i.e. the amount of people working on science.

There are less people working on science today than an exponential growth curve would predict. Its NOT because there aren't enough people interested in science. Its not because people "sell-out" and go into finance. Its because THERE ARE NOT MANY JOBS IN SCIENCE.

The problem with jobs is not on the "pipeline" side, its on the job side.

His metaphor for scientific education points out that as a country, we produce the best scientists (who then cannot find work), but at the same time our general populace is largely scientifically illiterate, which is another (related) problem.

#29 FrankM

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 01:50 PM

... There are less people working on science today than an exponential growth curve would predict. Its NOT because there aren't enough people interested in science. Its not because people "sell-out" and go into finance. Its because THERE ARE NOT MANY JOBS IN SCIENCE. ...

The second paragraph of Goodstein's article, dated 1994, points out when the problem was first observed, and there were plenty of jobs at that time. I added the bold emphasis.

According to this theory, modern science appeared on the scene, in Europe, almost 300 years ago, and in this country a little more than a century ago. In each case it proceeded to expand at a frightening exponential rate. Exponential expansion cannot go on forever, and so the expansion of science, unlike the expansion of the Universe, was guaranteed to come to end. I will argue that, in science, the Big Crunch occurred about 25 years ago, and we have been trying to ignore it ever since.


http://www.its.calte...crunch_art.html

Another point Goodstein raises is how peer review keeps science on an even keel.

For example, peer review, one of the crucial pillars of the whole edifice, is in critical danger. Peer review is used by scientific journals to decide what papers to publish, and by granting agencies such as the National Science Foundation to decide what research to support. Journals in most cases, and agencies in some cases operate by sending manuscripts or research proposals to referees who are recognized experts on the scientific issues in question, and whose identity will not be revealed to the authors of the papers or proposals. Obviously, good decisions on what research should be supported and what results should be published are crucial to the proper functioning of science.


Another way to say it, a new science theory should not rock the boat, that it, it cannot deviate from what is generally accepted.

Goodstein gives just slight criticism to a referee missing the significance of a new theory or different way of approaching a solution.

Peer review is usually quite a good way to identify valid science. Of course, a referee will occasionally fail to appreciate a truly visionary or revolutionary idea, but by and large, peer review works pretty well so long as scientific validity is the only issue at stake.


It is the truly visionary or revolutionary idea takes science out of a rut, and it seems the scientific enterprise has been in a long created rut since before 1969.

Unfortunately, the reward structure enforced by the scientific enterprise authority structure inhibits the vast majority of individuals from stepping outside the bounds of what is generally accepted.

A number of years ago, I responded to an article in and written by one of the editors of a widely distributed scientific journal. I presented an alternative solution to the problem he was writing about, and the individual responded. He agreed that my solution would be valid, and then he provided a rebuttal that I found unbelievable. I forwarded the rebuttal text to one of my correspondents at that time, a Prof. Emeritus of EE (once headed the EE dept at a large U.S. university). He stated,

Frank, you must understand that the special theory of relativity (SRT) is the holy grail.  It's the place where religion and science become one. If one has the audacity to suggest other possibilities, he is forever shunned, banned, and is a candidate for being burned at the stake.
 
However, there are a few of us hiding in caves that still believe there may be alternatives.

There are people inside the authority structure that are aware of what happens to people that take an official stance that goes against what is generally accepted.

It is not the number of scientists in the pipeline, it is their effectiveness in presenting theories that challenge the status quo. Science has stagnated because there is really very little of what is truly new being published. The only way an individual can get their papers published is to agree with what will get published in a peer reviewed journal. Publish or perish still rules who does and does not get rewarded within the scientific enterprise.

#30 Erasmus00

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Posted 06 November 2010 - 12:28 PM

The second paragraph of Goodstein's article, dated 1994, points out when the problem was first observed, and there were plenty of jobs at that time. I added the bold emphasis.


The whole point of the "big crunch" is that it is where funding and resources stopped growing exponentially. This happened in the 1970s, when scientific job production slowed dramatically, and funding began to level off. The whole point of the article is that funding and jobs are horribly tight for phd level scientists, and science has managed to dodge dealing this fact by importing scientists willing to work with less job security, and dramatically increasing the number of postdoctoral positions. This competition for funding is not good for productive science.

Another point Goodstein raises is how peer review keeps science on an even keel.


The point Goodstein raises about peer review is that in an extremely competitive environment, the temptation is for reviewers to be dishonest. Your point about peer review (that it stifles "truly innovative theories") is not the one Goodstein is making, and has nothing to do with scientific education.

It is the truly visionary or revolutionary idea takes science out of a rut, and it seems the scientific enterprise has been in a long created rut since before 1969.


In what way? What is your evidence of this rut? A few revolutionary theories originally difficult to publish, but that did make in-roads? Goodstein's article does not seem to say what you think it does. Where do you feel progress isn't being made? Was the standard model of particle physics visionary? How about Prigogine's work in dissipative structures? Recent work on horizontal gene transfer? High Tc super-conductivity?

As to whoever told you:

Frank, you must understand that the special theory of relativity (SRT) is the holy grail. It's the place where religion and science become one. If one has the audacity to suggest other possibilities, he is forever shunned, banned, and is a candidate for being burned at the stake.


I know people working in universities who have suggested alternatives to general relativity and special relativity. I've seen talks given on "deformed special relativity," and modified Newtonian dynamics as a replacement to general relativity. They get their papers published.

HOWEVER, most people who think they've found an "alternative" to special relativity do not understand what they are doing. Special relativity makes many, many predictions and your theory MUST account for all of them, or its a less useful theory. This is why its hard to make a contribution to physics as an amateur nowadays- its very difficult to be abreast of all the experimental data science has accumulated.

#31 FrankM

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 02:43 PM

I stated in Post #21 that the current societal characteristics of the scientific establishment, and its authority structure, functions much like a long established religion, with its prophets, saints and martyrs. Every religion has dogmas and the contemporary scientific establishment has its own, which are contained in the its generally accepted theories, often presented as facts.

How does a scientific dogma become established? The classic example is the earth is flat controversy. This dogma was accepted by the scientific thinkers for centuries because it seemed plausible, and it fit the religious philosophy of the then religious authority structure. Using improvements in observation instruments, by a scientific martyr named Galileo, eventually led to the contemporary it is generally accepted view of the solar system.

Did this it is generally accepted solar system view affect scientific thought in other areas?

The early theories on the structure of the atom, circa 1900, had a central core surrounded by orbiting electrons. It is not difficult to realize how the earlier atomic scientists adopted this concept, as it was reasoned that the orderly structure of the solar system could serve as a model for the much smaller system of atomic particles. It didn't make any difference that the objects in the solar system did not have charges attached to them, or that objects orbiting around the central core, the sun, had elliptical orbits, it was the only model available to the scientists of that period. No reason to let the details interfere with a good way to sell the easy to understand orbit concept.

This dogma, the orbit concept, has influenced the its generally accepted view of the structure of an atom for decades. Has it abated?

#32 FrankM

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 03:40 PM

I stated in Post #21 that the current societal characteristics of the scientific establishment, and its authority structure, functions much like a long established religion, with its prophets, saints and martyrs. Every religion has dogmas and the contemporary scientific establishment has its own, which are contained in the its generally accepted theories, often presented as facts.

The dogma extends to more than just scientific theories, it extends to how they define units of measure. Many other individuals have found how entrenched a scientific dogma has become when they personally challenge a facet of this dogma. I have challenged the manner in which the basic units of measure are defined, and there is a well entrenched bureaucracy, with many acolytes, that support the contemporary system.

The scientific establishment is investigating a better way to measure, and hopefully define, mass. When the French pushed for the adoption of the kilogram as a unit of mass, as opposed to the pound or other dimensional concept of mass, scientists were just beginning to learn that electromagnetic waves existed, and, later in the 1800's, that light was an electromagnetic phenomena. What do electromagnetic waves, or more specifically, its velocity have to do with mass? We have part of the answer to the previous question, but because of the way mass was officially accepted to be defined, in the 1870s, it has been difficult to reconcile it's archaic definition to contemporary knowledge that there is a relationship between mass and energy. Keep in mind there is no contemporary SI base definition for a unit of energy.

To avoid the mistake the French made, which the scientific enterprise adopted in 1875, because of limited knowledge at that time, a completely different approach has to be made to overcome the inertia of the long established scientific dogma on how units of measure are to be defined. I believe Eddington and Torretti have identified the root problem. Two sentences are quoted from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP).

Philosophers such as Torretti (1996) and physicists such as Eddington (1929) have adopted the same-property interpretation. ...

Like Eddington, Torretti points out that mass and energy seem to be different properties because they are measured in different units.

http://plato.stanfor...ntries/equivME/

From what I read, the authority structure of the scientific establishment is still using the artifact of the kilogram as the starting point for a new definition of mass. I am constantly amazed that so many people accept doing something the same way will result in a different answer.

#33 Erasmus00

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Posted 08 November 2010 - 07:19 PM

The classic example is the earth is flat controversy. This dogma was accepted by the scientific thinkers for centuries because it seemed plausible, and it fit the religious philosophy of the then religious authority structure.


The early theories on the structure of the atom, circa 1900, had a central core surrounded by orbiting electrons. It is not difficult to realize how the earlier atomic scientists adopted this concept, as it was reasoned that the orderly structure of the solar system could serve as a model for the much smaller system of atomic particles. It didn't make any difference that the objects in the solar system did not have charges attached to them, or that objects orbiting around the central core, the sun, had elliptical orbits, it was the only model available to the scientists of that period. No reason to let the details interfere with a good way to sell the easy to understand orbit concept.


That isn't true at all. The first model of the atom was proposed by J.J. Thomson after he discovered electrons. His model was a "plum pudding" of electron ("plums") surrounded by a positively charged goo ("pudding").

Rutherford then demonstrated with his famous scattering experiment that the positive charge of the atom was concentrated in the center of the atom, and was much more massive than the electron(he discovered the nucleus, if you will). This was around maybe 1910. This left the lighter electrons to orbit the nucleus. However, this model lasted approximately 3 years before Bohr modified it quantum mechanically. And that model only lasted another 5-10 years before Schroedinger's equation gave us our current model of the electron. In short, there was one model, in a progression of models, that looked like a solar system. It was short lived, and holds no sway today, apart from maybe "lies we tell children" in grade school science texts. I guess I don't see your point.

#34 CraigD

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 12:38 AM

How does a scientific dogma become established? The classic example is the earth is flat controversy. This dogma was accepted by the scientific thinkers for centuries because it seemed plausible, and it fit the religious philosophy of the then religious authority structure. Using improvements in observation instruments, by a scientific martyr named Galileo, eventually led to the contemporary it is generally accepted view of the solar system.

This also isn’t true.

With rare exception, all educated people since the time of Eratosthenes (ca. 200 BC) believed that the Earth was spherical, and knew its radius to within a few percent of the modern measurement.

Both these facts are fairly common knowledge – as I recall, I learned them by about the 4th grade – appearing in unnumbered history and science textbooks, and websites (Eg: The Myth of the Flat Earth).

Copernicus and Galileo were proponents not of spherical earth theories (because the theory was accepted scientific dogma in their times), but of sun-centered (heliocentric) models of the solar system. Although Galileo was persecuted by the Roman Catholic church, he wasn’t martyred – that is, executed. Copernicus, a protestant, wasn’t even persecuted.

:naughty: Frank, you seriously need to research your claims before making them! Hypography is not a forum for unsupported opinions – in general, you should support your claims with links and references. Without such research, you’re at risk of perpetuating scientific folk myths.