Monday, August 01, 2005

A critique of Einstein

Apparently there's a whole bunch of them out there advocating some mixture of what might be loosely termed under the umbrella of so-called 'common sense science'. They being so-called because they attempt to refut areas of science which to the layperson might seem utterly preposterous.

But what is 'good' about this particular article is the manner in which the author forthrightly states, "His theory of relativity sends the message that all things are relative in the cosmos, with the strong implication that the realms of morality, truth and culture are relative. I dissent. I disagree that morality, truth and culture are purely relative." Thereby demonstrating where his real opposition to the theory lies. It's not the science but the confounded post-modernist thinking!

It's bad enough denying something which with a little thinking does make sense (General and Special Theory of Relativity) but to attempt to parlay it (fallaciously) into the larger cultural war stinks not only of opportunism but more disturbingly, an implication that science must necessarily take a back seat to his form of 'morality' i.e. fundamentalist protestantism. A morality that asserts its universality and spits upon any others that dares the affront of thinking otherwise. Dissent is fine, except when it's against them.

Thus to them, the fact that science operates outside of religion (in the sense that it seeks not answers of the supernatural) and ought to do so free from the interference of religion is not an issue. For the subsumation of all work towards the greater glory of their particular doctrine is all that matters. We see this trend very strongly in the anti-evolutionist stance taken by the creationist and explemplified even by the more 'scientific' Intelligent Design advocates in the 'Wedge Document' leaked by the Centre for Science and Culture (formerly Centre for the Renewal of Science and Culture).

I remember being told how Einstein came upon his theory. He said, imagine sitting on board a train with a mirror held in front of you. As the train approaches the speed of light, can you still see yourself? Assuming that the speed of light remains constant (I don't quite understand the math but it looks fine to me), then time must necessary dilate (slow). Proof? Global Positioning System (GPS) sattelites (because they orbit Earth at a great speed that Newtonian physics takes a back seat) require relativity imputted into their programs so their clocks remain accurate, thereby allowing the accurate triangulation that gives our accurate position.

For a much more extensive review of current literature and especially the erronous ones, check out the rather quaintly named Some Scientifically Inaccurate Claims Concerning Cosmology and Relativity.

As long as the peer review system holds, I think I'm going to trust that particular system where publication will only occur when the paper is subjected to a rigourous level of checking for logic and facts by people qualified to do so. The fact that this system has created holes in the theory in a bid to discover a better theory speaks well of it. Railing against accepted scientific law without proposing a valid counter model which has anything near the predictive value of Einstein's theory will have to remain the rantings of fringe groups. Publish or die.



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