virus: Discoveries and Inventions

Reed Konsler (
Fri, 7 Feb 1997 11:45:18 -0500

>Date: Thu, 6 Feb 1997 10:57:54 -0600 (CST)
>Subject: Re: virus: Discoveries and Inventions
>1) Observe that these fields are interrelated. For instance, the decline
>of Catastrophism in Geology has much more to do with NeoDarwinism in
>Biology, and the doctrine of uniformitarianism, than any physical
>evidence that I have read summaries of. [It *is* compatible with
>plate tectonics. Another of the annoyances I have with current Geology
>writeups is the systematic misreporting of date estimates computed with
>most radioactive dating methods [C-14 is exempt]. It takes only College
>Algebra, or a decent philosophy background, applied to the procedure in
>question, to see that the dates are "maximum possible ages", rather than
>"ages" as reported in the literature I have read. [Or has the reporting
>convention been reformed since ~1992?]]

Oh, totally. Now the trick is not to fall off in the other direction.
Just becuase geological dating techniques are convtrived (as are all
definitions) that doesn't mean that they aren't useful. I agree that a lot
of assumptions go into dating things by radioactive decay, but at the same
time there is an entire planet of evidence to check those assumptions.
What this means is that the date determined for any one object might be in
error due to unknown confounding factors. However, to extrapolate this
possibility of error in individual data (which is, I might point out, a
universal characteristic of any sort of measurement), as some creationists
do, in order to claim that the age of the Earth cannot be determined is to
ignore (intentionally, I think) basic statistics.

But, I admit, this is just my opinion. Any modern scientific construct is
a bewildering display of guesswork, deduction, careful measurement,
mathematics, logic...etc. Wending your way through it all is no small
undertaking...especially considering how the "experts" keep fiddling with
part of it.

When UNIVAC predicted in CBS studios that Eisenhower would win the (1970?)
elections by a landslide after only 4% of the polls were in the DESIGNERS
and BUILDERS of the machine believed it to be in error. He was favored to
win, but only by a small margin. So UNIVAC's keepers selectively
lobotomized the machine until it gave more "reasonable" results, and then
presented these on national TV. Eisenhower did, in fact, win by a
landslide just as UNIVAC predicted. Eventually the keepers fessed up, but
how different is this than the way we treat people...or science?

This is a parable. The moral of the story is: if you already know the
answer, then why continue to ask the question?

Perhaps I can also harp on a related point: Something which is ambigious
in the particulars can be meaningful as a whole. Take, as my 3rd Grade art
appreciation instructor used to call him, "dot-dot" Cerat. "But the visual
sphere isn't made up of a bunch of paint dots! That's over-simplification!
This is the problem with reductionism..."

Sometimes you have to take a deep breath, step back a little and ask "what
is the message here" instead of "is it true"? You can evaluate ideas at
your leisure...but if you never understand them...

>Geocentrism *hasn't* been refuted, it just has been shown to be
>inconvenient for calculations on the scale of the solar system and larger.

Well, yes, in a sense. It is accepted that the Sun is a much more massive
object than the Earth, just as the Earth is more massive than the Moon.
So, as you say, for convenience of calculation we place arbitrary center in
the Sun. However, there were many other assumptions (like the "crystal
spheres") which were part of the general cosmology of Ptolemy, which have
been more or less refuted (at least such theories don't seem as useful any
more). But I agree with the point I think you were making: The universe
has no accepted "center" anymore...although, doesn't this directly
contradict geocentrism?

>General Relativity effectively reduces to Newtonian mechanics under
>Earth-normal conditions. I have *not* seen a General-Relativistic
>mechanics text; the K-State Engineering department uses Newtonian
>mechanics text. I have not properly convinced myself [worked enough
>classical limits]
>that Quantum mechanics usually reduces to Newtonian mechanics at
>macroscopic scale, but this is usually held to be true. Note that
>Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity have yet to be properly integrated.

I agree with the sentiments here. In fact, this emphasises my point that
our scientific theories are our own inventions...they possess the
characterists of "made things", including incompadibity and the use of
"obsolete" technology for convenience sake.

If you search for the immortal truth then you spend you life frustrated.
Eventually, things begin to look like a conspiracy to fuck with your mind
(sound familiar anyone? ;) ).


"We have to live today with what truth we can get today, and be ready
tomorrow to call it falsehood."


Reed Konsler