Saturday, September 10, 2011

Electric Universe Apologetics, or, With Friends Like These...

(I had really hoped to get this out sooner, but other things kept intervening.  Sorry Jon.)

Back in May, 2011, Jon Voisey of “The Angry Astronomer”, wrote a story for Universe Today which was also picked up at

    •    Universe Today: Energizing the Filaments of NGC 1275,
    •    PhysOrg: Energizing the Filaments of NGC 1275,

As part of the article, Jon pointed out that this release would probably be exploited by the Electric Universe (EU) crowd as 'evidence' for their claims.  He was very quickly proven correct as the comment stream at became filled with comments from EU supporters.

There was one entry by a particularly long-winded commenter hiding behind the pseudonym “HannesAlfven” in the posts:
“To be clear, there will come a day when EU proponents create their own curriculum, based upon their own interpretations of observations and experimentation. Once this occurs -- and it is absolutely inevitable -- these quantitative models will be refined.”
I summarized a number of issues EU 'theorists' like to ignore in a recent post (Challenges for Electric Universe 'Theorists'). The problems of standard cosmology pale in comparison to the problems of EU claims which supporters repeatedly ignore.

So let's break up “HannesAlfven's” statement into smaller pieces to better explore its high density of nonsense...
“there will come a day when EU proponents create their own curriculum, based upon their own interpretations of observations and experimentation”
Science in the classroom is supposed to be well established - Newton's Laws, gravitation, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, nuclear physics.  Maybe a little speculative stuff is sprinkled in areas on the scientific frontier, to demonstrate that not all problems have been solved.  I suspect neutrinos were mentioned in 1940s physics classes even though not a single one had yet been detected directly. 

But since EU theories, such as the Electric Sun and galaxy-generating currents, have numerous problems, it cannot be considered as well-established so it does not belong in the classroom.

“HannesAlfven” proceeds to arrogantly claim that EU adoption “ is absolutely inevitable”.

While the standard model of the Sun has great (but not perfect) success, EU supporters have yet to demonstrate that their model can do things as simple as predict solar wind particle densities and speeds, issues vital for the safety of satellites and astronauts.  This is something the standard model does quite well.  Without this basic capability, EU will have a hard time designing radiation shielding for space flight.  How will anyone adopting EU 'theories' maintain a presence in space if they don't know how to shield their satellites?  EU's 'inevitable' adoption spells death for the space-faring capability of the adopter.

And finally, there's the really ROTFL close “...these quantitative models will be refined.” 

Huh?  Which quantitative models are those?  WHERE are they? 

Of course, the really funny part of this statement is the claim that the EU models just need to be 'refined'.

Astronomical models off by a factor of 2, or even a factor of 10, need 'refinement'.  When a model's predictions are off by factors of thousands or more, as EU models are (see Electric Cosmos: The Solar Resistor Model, Electric Cosmos: The Solar Capacitor Model. III., etc.), saying the models will be 'refined' is a joke more akin to a self-delusion.

But even more interesting about “HannesAlfven's” statement and attitude is how similar it is to the stated tactics and goals of Creationism and Intelligent Design movement - they want to push their material into the classroom first - and THEN they'll refine their 'scientific support'.

This same tactic was used in Dover PA by ID supporters.  This was the reason for the Dover 'Intelligent Design' Trial (wikipedia). 

EU supporters constantly try to promote their cause, not with actual scientific facts and testable hypotheses (like real scientists) but as a conflict of worldviews or a 'culture war', a tactic used in religion or politics. 

The fact is that science works regardless of your worldview or culture.  A cell phone or satellite works based on the quality of the science, and quality of the construction and maintenance, independent of whether you 'believe' it will work. 

However, one's worldview or culture can strongly impact whether one can actually build the technologies that science enables - those who don't understand the science behind a cell phone or satellite will never be able to design it or build one from the fundamentals.


Jon Voisey said...

I think the real irony of that article was in what wasn't said. My note at the end of the article specifically called attention to how weak of an effect this was and how it couldn't be used to support the larger claims of electric suns, galaxies, etc... that make up so much of the EU cannon. This was never even disputed by the EU propagandists. Instead, they simply whined about suppression. Creationists would have at least tried a Gish Gallop to muddy the waters.

Ivan3man said...

xkcd: Revolutionary.

Anonymous said...

It will come as no surprise to learn that there are, every now and then, newbies to the TB forum (the main, possibly only, "official" EU forum), including people with physics (or similar) degrees. Before they get banned (which always happens, as far as I know), the sorts of things they ask about include the sorts of claims "HannesAlfven" made, particularly the one concerning quantitative models.

There's a thread on that forum which discusses this, if briefly (I was, until I too was banned, an active participant in that thread):
Qualitative versus Quantitative models

There are also threads elsewhere in that forum on what "EU textbooks" should - even could - be; the conclusions are not the least bit surprising: no TB forum member ever posted a suggestion for material suitable for high school science students!

So, it would seem that "HannesAlfven" lives in an alternative universe, one that even the most ardent of EU proponents do not know of ...