How Can So Many "Experts" Be Wrong?


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From Physics_Frontier on yahoogroups a physics student asked:


"how can so many physicists be wrong about the Big Bang theory?


My reply:


There is a long history of the majority of scientists being wrong on

a great many subjects:


A recent one:


When I took geology in college my professor was just a few years older

than I was but he knew many geologists who predated plate tectonics.




"A symposium on continental drift was held at the Royal Society of

London in 1965 which must be regarded as the official start of the

acceptance of plate tectonics by the scientific community,"


Some errors are repeated as fact generation after generation even after

being exposed as errors. J.S Bell [the Bell Inequalities of Quantum

Mechanics] wrote about that in his very important book "Speakable and

Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics: Collected Papers on Quantum Philosophy".




You can pick any 2-4 generation time period since Newton and find a

great many reversals on a great many subjects in science. Errors in

"science" [if you can call it science] prior to Newton often persisted

for hundreds or thousands of years. The Ptolemy epicycles are a favorite

example.


How the Big Bang theory became so entrenched is related to specialization

and entrenchment in the sciences generally - more specifically in physics

and cosmology which are more highly specialized than most sciences.


I view the problem as a degenerate feedback cycle closely tied to the

economic consequences of government funding in the sciences and science

education, the journal based peer review process being tied to university

tenure and appointments, the toxic mix of bad philosophy and physics, and

science journalism which is near totally illiterate in its ability to

objectively report on what is going on.


The degeneracy generates higher and higher barriers to market entry [hurdles]

protecting the status quo.


The problems will eventually lead to a series of crises even among orthodox

supporters. Then a generation long - or more - series of reversals

will occur leading to a new paradigm or series of new paradigms.


Anyway that is how science has adapted in the past - which is not to say that

the crisis will resolve itself in that same manner in the future.


There is some chance that given the socialist politics dominating the world

today that science will split into camps - government funded orthodox physics

and cosmology and privately funded science [trade secret science]. Bad

economic models lead to bad outcomes including outcomes in science. Such

a split could last much like the isolated and sometimes lost sciences before

Newton.


Dennis

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How does all the wrong physics lead to so much right technology?

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How does all the wrong physics lead to so much right technology?

Which part of the Big Bang theory is involved with the remote control on my TV? I'm quite certain that none

of the Big Bang theory has anything to do with our "right technology" since the Big Bang theory changes

all the time and has for 30+ years. It has produced no product of technology.

Dennis

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Most technology is developed through bottom-up stochastic tinkering - trial and error and process of elimination, and refinement of concepts over time. It's the areas of study where the system is too complex (medical science, psychiatry, economics) or fundamentally untestable and unfalsifiable (theoretical physics) that are most likely to generate a false consensus or models that seem to work for a while and then go horribly awry. I'm not saying these are illegitimate areas of study - important work is being done - but it should be accepted for what it is and not put on the same level of reliability as fields like chemistry or electrical engineering. In other words, when you hear about a new development in string theory or a new study "proving" that coffee (or whatever) causes/prevents cancer, just be skeptical and understand that the conclusion is probably inaccurate.

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Wrong. Modern electronics is based on quantum physics whose theory was finally straightened out by Diric in the 1930s. First comes physical theory. Then applied physics driven along by the cleverness of the experimentalists. Then the math is simplified and it gets into the hands of the engineers.

We would not have modern electronics were it not for two quantum theorist plus once racist son of a bitch at Bell Labs.

From the wiki article on the history of the transistor:

After the war, Shockley decided to attempt the building of a triode-like semiconductor device. He secured funding and lab space, and went to work on the problem with Bardeen and Brattain.

The key to the development of the transistor was the further understanding of the process of the electron mobility in a semiconductor. It was realized that if there was some way to control the flow of the electrons from the emitter to the collector of this newly discovered diode (discovered 1874; patented 1906), one could build an amplifier. For instance, if you placed contacts on either side of a single type of crystal the current would not flow through it. However if a third contact could then "inject" electrons or holes into the material, the current would flow.

Actually doing this appeared to be very difficult. If the crystal were of any reasonable size, the number of electrons (or holes) required to be injected would have to be very large -– making it less useful than an amplifier because it would require a large injection current to start with. That said, the whole idea of the crystal diode was that the crystal itself could provide the electrons over a very small distance, the depletion region. The key appeared to be to place the input and output contacts very close together on the surface of the crystal on either side of this region.

Brattain started working on building such a device, and tantalizing hints of amplification continued to appear as the team worked on the problem. Sometimes the system would work but then stop working unexpectedly. In one instance a non-working system started working when placed in water. The electrons in any one piece of the crystal would migrate about due to nearby charges. Electrons in the emitters, or the "holes" in the collectors, would cluster at the surface of the crystal where they could find their opposite charge "floating around" in the air (or water). Yet they could be pushed away from the surface with the application of a small amount of charge from any other location on the crystal. Instead of needing a large supply of injected electrons, a very small number in the right place on the crystal would accomplish the same thing.

Their understanding solved the problem of needing a very small control area to some degree. Instead of needing two separate semiconductors connected by a common, but tiny, region, a single larger surface would serve. The emitter and collector leads would both be placed very close together on the top, with the control lead placed on the base of the crystal. When current was applied to the "base" lead, the electrons or holes would be pushed out, across the block of semiconductor, and collect on the far surface. As long as the emitter and collector were very close together, this should allow enough electrons or holes between them to allow conduction to start.

An early witness of the phenomenon was Ralph Bray, a young graduate student. He joined the germanium effort at Purdue University in November 1943 and was given the tricky task of measuring the spreading resistance at the metal-semiconductor contact. Bray found a great many anomalies, such as internal high-resistivity barriers in some samples of germanium. The most curious phenomenon was the exceptionally low resistance observed when voltage pulses were applied. This effect remained a mystery because nobody realised, until 1948, that Bray had observed minority carrier injection - the effect that was identified by William Shockley at Bell Labs and made the transistor a reality.

Bray wrote: "That was the one aspect that we missed, but even had we understood the idea of minority carrier injection...we would have said, 'Oh, this explains our effects.' We might not necessarily have gone ahead and said, 'Let's start making transistors,' open up a factory and sell them... At that time the important device was the high back voltage rectifier".[5]

Ba'al Chatzaf
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Baal - You say I'm "wrong," then present a description fitting exactly the kind of stochastic tinkering I'm discussing. The point wasn't that theory always follows experiment, or vice versa. The point is that such theories are testable and refinable, and either the product will work in the end or it won't. With fields like medicine or the social sciences involving complex systems - or the more theoretical physics that can't practicably be tested - we get less reliable results and people should understand this when interpreting new "findings."

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Baal - You say I'm "wrong," then present a description fitting exactly the kind of stochastic tinkering I'm discussing. The point wasn't that theory always follows experiment, or vice versa. The point is that such theories are testable and refinable, and either the product will work in the end or it won't. With fields like medicine or the social sciences involving complex systems - or the more theoretical physics that can't practicably be tested - we get less reliable results and people should understand this when interpreting new "findings."

True. But the electronics we love and use were kick-started by a theoretical advance in physics. The kick start came from a branch of physics detested and reviled by Objectivists.

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But the electronics we love and use were kick-started by a theoretical advance in physics. The kick start came from a branch of physics detested and reviled by Objectivists.

It is not the branch of physics known as quantum mechanics that is detested - it is the particular interpretation touted [and philosophy inherent to that interpretation] as necessary when in

fact many interpretations produce the same practical results - at least one without the philosophical baggage. It is the lie told and repeated since the foundations of QM that only philosophical

indeterminism can produce QM. That lie was challenged by de Broglie, successfully avoided by Bohm, then shown to be a lie by J.S. Bell when he exposed von Neumann's proof as an

error [it had been proven in error earlier but never saw the light of day]. de Broglie-Bohm quantum mechanics [deBB] or deBB-like theories [i prefer non-linear deBB-like theories] are

the deterministic alternative to the bad philosophy sold under orthodox QM.

Robert Tracinski seems to have figured out what Objectivists should have seen all along:

http://www.tracinskiletter.com/2013/08/rational-quantum-dynamics/

Rational QM is deBB or deBB-like QM with pilot waves - something with a deterministic foundation.

Objectivists don't hate QM - they have been lied to concerning what QM has to be. It doesn't have

to mean bad philosophy to produce good results.

Dennis

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Interpretations don't count. Only the math and the predictions count. If the predictions are on point then screw the interpretations.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Interpretations don't count. Only the math and the predictions count. If the predictions are on point then screw the interpretations.

Ba'al Chatzaf

You are the one complaining that Objectivists detest and revile QM - which is not true - they detest and revile

the orthodox interpretation whose prominence has been sustained through generations of lying and deceit in

various forms.

Interpretations do count - they influence the culture, bad interpretations drive good students out the sciences,

and the interpretation guides further research [which when wrong leads to the pursuit of dead ends].

How do you expect science to advance when interpretations guide future research but the monopoly on

interpretation at the educational level is sustained through lies and deceit concerning the foundations of

the very subject under discussion? It seems you desire a static science fixed in the concretes known at

the moment - unable to adapt to new information, evolve, or improve because only the results of the

moment are what matter. That is very unscientific. Science is built around interpretations.

Dennis

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Interpretations don't count. Only the math and the predictions count. If the predictions are on point then screw the interpretations.

Ba'al Chatzaf

You are the one complaining that Objectivists detest and revile QM - which is not true - they detest and revile

the orthodox interpretation whose prominence has been sustained through generations of lying and deceit in

various forms.

Interpretations do count - they influence the culture, bad interpretations drive good students out the sciences,

and the interpretation guides further research [which when wrong leads to the pursuit of dead ends].

How do you expect science to advance when interpretations guide future research but the monopoly on

interpretation at the educational level is sustained through lies and deceit concerning the foundations of

the very subject under discussion? It seems you desire a static science fixed in the concretes known at

the moment - unable to adapt to new information, evolve, or improve because only the results of the

moment are what matter. That is very unscientific. Science is built around interpretations.

Dennis

Fuck the interpretations. They DO NOT count. Only the predictions count.

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Fuck the interpretations. They DO NOT count. Only the predictions count.

So you would support the removal of all educational material in the sciences supporting the in-deterministic interpretation of QM? That would of course include the

Feynman lectures on the subject which the orthodoxy [during my education] put forward as the last word on the subject though Feynman was shown to be completely

wrong by J.S. Bell the very same year [actually submitted for publication 2 years earlier].

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUJfjRoxCbk

If you're not going to scrub indeterminism from education then you are in fact in favor of setting the status quo in concrete as the official interpretation.

The interpretations are out there - not wanting to deal with the issue does not make it go away.

Dennis

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Fuck the interpretations. They DO NOT count. Only the predictions count.

So you would support the removal of all educational material in the sciences supporting the in-deterministic interpretation of QM? That would of course include the

Feynman lectures on the subject which the orthodoxy [during my education] put forward as the last word on the subject though Feynman was shown to be completely

wrong by J.S. Bell the very same year [actually submitted for publication 2 years earlier].

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUJfjRoxCbk

If you're not going to scrub indeterminism from education then you are in fact in favor of setting the status quo in concrete as the official interpretation.

The interpretations are out there - not wanting to deal with the issue does not make it go away.

Dennis

I pay no attention to such matters. I pay attention to the math and the predictions.

I leave it to you to worry about interpretations.

quantum electrodynamics with renormalization predicts to 12 decimal places. I do not care if the theory is based on reading tea leaves. With predictions that good, who cares?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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quantum electrodynamics with renormalization predicts to 12 decimal places.

I know you've said this many times - in a few Google searches I was able to find 12 decimal places with an error bar of 2 decimal places

so really 12 +/- 2 decimal places = 10 decimal places. The speed of light is good to 10 +/- 1 decimal places = 9 decimal places. Of course

the 12 decimal places you site is in the best modeled simplest systems. Once you go outside of the simplest systems the predictions

loose many significant digits.

Gravity modeling gets 8 +/- 2 decimal places = 6 decimal places. So what importance are we to place on this? The best plain mechanical

watches get 5 decimal places.

With enough epicycles we can model any system to as many significant digits as you would like - kind of the idea of Fourier Series modeling -

any repeating pattern shape can be created with the appropriate use of enough sinusoidal waves added correctly.

Finding a pattern then creating math to get you correct predictions is not the same as having a model that gives you an underlying

explanation of what is going on so it can actually improve and adapt to new information over time.

Dennis

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quantum electrodynamics with renormalization predicts to 12 decimal places.

I know you've said this many times - in a few Google searches I was able to find 12 decimal places with an error bar of 2 decimal places

so really 12 +/- 2 decimal places = 10 decimal places. The speed of light is good to 10 +/- 1 decimal places = 9 decimal places. Of course

the 12 decimal places you site is in the best modeled simplest systems. Once you go outside of the simplest systems the predictions

loose many significant digits.

Gravity modeling gets 8 +/- 2 decimal places = 6 decimal places. So what importance are we to place on this? The best plain mechanical

watches get 5 decimal places.

With enough epicycles we can model any system to as many significant digits as you would like - kind of the idea of Fourier Series modeling -

any repeating pattern shape can be created with the appropriate use of enough sinusoidal waves added correctly.

Finding a pattern then creating math to get you correct predictions is not the same as having a model that gives you an underlying

explanation of what is going on so it can actually improve and adapt to new information over time.

Dennis

O.K. it predicts to 8 decimal places. The point is that it is a very accurate theory which has yet to be falsified by empirical means.

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