13 Jun 2014

No, I’m Not Anti-Science

Humor 41 Comments

My Facebook post after I took my son to DC:

During the Smithsonian planetarium show we learned (a) the cohesion of galaxies means there must be a bunch of “dark matter,” (b) the acceleration of universe’s expansion means there must be a bunch of “dark energy,” and (c) using E=mc^2, the dark energy + dark matter accounts for 95% of the total universe. In other words, physicists have no freaking clue how to explain their observations. I recognize smart people when they’re bluffing, because I’m an economist.

41 Responses to “No, I’m Not Anti-Science”

  1. GabbyD says:

    Is this tagged humor coz you dont really believe it (what you wrote)?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      No it’s tagged humor because some people might think it’s funny.

      • Gene Callahan says:

        It IS funny. Some people might just miss the humor.

        • Major-Freedom says:

          Humor is subjective.

          • Gene Callahan says:

            Nothing is merely subjective, MF.

            • Major-Freedom says:

              Objective coldn’t be claimed as real unless subjective phenomena existed.

              To be subjective does not deserve the word “merely” as if such phenomena would be complete, or marred in some respect.

              Purely subjective phenomena does exist. This is the phenomena that is absolutely unique to you and nobody, indeed nothing, else.

              Or, in more general terms, subjectivity is that which is true for that which is observing, thinking of, and making claims about objectivity.

              To the point, to say humor is subjective means that something is funny only if your subjective nature is receptive to that something being funny.

              Even more banally, I could just ask you if you have ever heard of anyone not finding a particulsr joke funny, that is, they understand a statement as something other than funny as the jokster intended. If you can at least understand the existence of these events, then those events are examples of some people finding something funny, while other people do not find it funny.

              In other words, yes, humor is indeed subjective. There is no such thing as a joke that is funny in itself in that someone would be “wrong” in finding it not funny at all, maybe even offensive or disgusted.

              • guest says:

                Purely subjective phenomena does exist. This is the phenomena that is absolutely unique to you and nobody, indeed nothing, else.


      • Hank says:

        Hey Bob,

        Some tags don’t work when I click on them. I just tried the ‘inequality’ tag and it came back as ‘Error 404’

      • GabbyD says:

        Oh, ok, but the title is “Not Anti-Science”.

        if you are pro-science and you believe what you wrote, you mean to say that “dark matter/energy” is NOT a scientific explanation. why?

        • Bob Murphy says:

          Oh my gosh GabbyD… Look, I often think Gene Callahan says things with way more confidence than is justified. I’m not anti-Irish.

        • Gene Callahan says:

          I will confidently state that it is a stopgap explanation: I am 100% certain that many physicists themselves would tell you it is not a highly satisfactory state of affairs, and they’d really like to have a better idea of what this “dark matter” is.

          • Grane Peer says:

            It is the word, Gene.

  2. ThomasL says:

    Yeah, I think a lot of modern science can’t really claim the title as such, because it can’t be observed. Don’t get me wrong, the theoretical speculation is still really useful, but it can’t be leaned on with the same level of certainty that traditional scientific inquiry has been able to enjoy.

    There is nothing wrong with having differing levels of certainty, what is wrong is treating all “science” as if it had equal claims of certainty. Scientists in pursuit of their inquiries rarely do that. Scientists advocating public policy often do.

    • Grane Peer says:

      Certainty, probability, doubt, all synonyms for scientific fact.

  3. Andrew' says:

    It is funny that to the science boosters “science” is “that stuff that we can’t possibly understand, can’t possibly be useful to anyone other than scientists trying to impress each other, but those smart guys still look really confident talking about it.”

    What the world really needs is a way to boil water efficiently. This is all nuclear power does, for example.

    • Andrew' says:

      “Dark” matter? More like “Don’t” matter? Am I right? Am I right?

      • Z says:

        Don’t push it Andrew’. We let you keep the apostrophe after your name we don’t want to have to take it away.

  4. GabbyD says:

    Oh, i get it … its about “confidence” — ie they are speaking with certainty.

    my confusion was, i dont think science is about certainty at all. science is a method that allows fallible beings to make conclusions about things observable and unobservable which maximizes the certainty possible, given our current knowledge level.

    so there is no claim that “dark energy” or whetever, is THE “certain” explanation of cosmological phenomena. this is only the more certain we can be, considering the alternative ways of producing explanation (i.e guessing, etc…)…

    i thought this was a play on the word “DARK” that i was missing…

    • Andrew' says:

      Simpler: for our purposes, science is “that thing we can use as a wedge issue until people realize that we don’t know what we are talking about.”

      It’s like racism, only sciencier.

  5. Raja says:

    So 95% of the stuff that’s running the show in the universe is just speculation? My analysis on the other hand shows that the universe actually has been shrinking instead of expanding. The shrinking is proportional to the wealth of the bottom 99% of the people on earth, using Picketty’s data. The expansion of the universe, therefore, is a myth, spread by the rich, to make it appear as if the pie is getting larger. With the resources being scarce, how can everybody start getting richer at the same time? I say tax the rich and it will help in expanding the universe as a result of the poor getting wealthier.


    • Matt M *Dude Where's My Freedom* says:

      I saw “tax the rich” and decided you were a brilliant scholar despite not having read the rest of your post.

    • Gene Callahan says:

      “So 95% of the stuff that’s running the show in the universe is just speculation?”

      Of course it is. There is a discrepancy between the cosmic observation and the amount of matter we can see. So, someone says “Ah, there must be matter we can’t see!” That’s a speculation. It’s the best we got right now, so fine, run with it. Like we ran with the ether for 100 years: it was the best explanation we had at the time.

      One day, we might find that our theory about cosmic expansion was all wrong, and we don’t need the dark matter hypothesis: then we will chuck it aside, just like with the ether.

  6. Andrew' says:

    “Dark Matter” sounds a lot sciencier than “fudge factor.”

    • Tel says:

      That’s probably the shortest way of saying it.

  7. jozef says:

    You of all guys out there are well aware of at least one branch of science that is way off, that is economics. There are others like astrophysics which builds on physics in general, that are contested by credible sources. Some people claim that gravity is not the only force that shapes the universe – electricity which is proven present in “outer space” and is 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 times stronger than gravity could amount to things measured out there, things deemed “dark”, “black”, “invisible” i.e. they fit into the story they learned and the equations mainstream produces. But electricity is not allowed in astrophysics to be the driving force, because dogma. That’s all they really got and that is not science.
    What science is?
    The evidence and the lies of the orthodox dogma:

    ps. bad example, really bad, 98% bad, seriously 😀

    • Tel says:

      Yeah, I’ve seen a few electric universe theories. To credit the scientists, there have been a few attempts to measure electric and magnetic fields in space via secondary effects, but it’s really difficult to do. You have a weak field spread over a large volume (probably not uniformly distributed either), so calculating the energy contained in that field is going to result in huge measurement errors.

      There’s more useful problems to work on anyhow. Why does the Earth magnetic field flip over every so often? When is the next flip going to happen?

      • josef says:

        I don’t think you have dealt with my argument at all. There is a force that is 10 to 39 zeroes greater than gravity present in space – are You questioning that? I’m dumb as f*** – round 130 IQ. Let me link to Wal Thornhil explain (on some obscure idiotic conspiracy medium probably funded by TPTB as a disinfo medium):
        I need it to be “dumbed down” to my level . Feynman level for ex. – he seems quite down to common folk out there when he tries to explain stuff – I watched a multi-hour series of his lectures on youtube with understanding.
        I don’t get what you’re saying when you say they can’t measure the energy of electric/magnetic phenomena – isn’t it the whole spectrum of photons arriving at instruments, what else is there to measure?

        When is the next flip going to happen? How about like right now, didn’t you know? talk about being behind the cruve 😀

  8. Andrew' says:

    Bob, I think you are only not anti-science once you accuse someone else of being anti-science.

    Thus, you are still anti-science.

    And now I’m not anti-science.

  9. Tod says:

    For these types of bad-tasting physics in the mainstream, try an alternate theory

  10. Innocent says:

    We don’t yet know enough to know what we don’t know. Please Bob give science time. They have theory and as those theories move forward some will be discarded and all will be modified. We have only been in the modern era for 150 years. It takes time to amass enough knowledge to know how dumb we all are.

    • Gene Callahan says:

      “Please Bob give science time.”

      What? Did Bob issue a “last call” for science and I missed it?

      “We have only been in the modern era for 150 years.”

      What happened in 1864?

    • Andrew' says:

      As low-hanging fruit gets picked it is likely science will get more speculative. That means they should have stronger views held more weakly.

      Is this what the “science denier” pitchfork crowd is doing? Or are they doing the opposite?

  11. Cody S says:

    An “anti-science”-related word problem:

    Jim believes that all modern life came about through evolution, with no input from or design by a previous consciousness, and he is correct.

    Greg believes that all modern life came about though the intention of a divine being, and is wrong.

    How much better is Jim’s life than Greg’s?

    • Gene Callahan says:

      -50% better

    • andrew' says:

      Question 2: how much does each “support” “science” in general, if there even is such a thing?

      Some day I’ll be able to articulate how anti science the supposedly pro science crowd is. By then they will have probably moved on to a new wedge issue/subgroup political protection racket.

  12. Harold says:

    That is the beauty of science. The more we discover, the more we find there is left still to find. The questions are getting harder. Newton tired to describe the movement of the planets with gravity. He had no theory of what the origin of the force was. Now we try to get closer to an explanation of the force of gravity.
    Andrew’ says [scientists?] should have stronger views held more weakly. Not quite sure why, or even what it means.

  13. Gamble says:

    IT is all infinite.

    Are we really any smarter…

Leave a Reply