Monday, March 9, 2015

Relativity Denial: Career cost?

Yet another comment whose response became too long for the Blogger comment system.
From the comment stream of Pseudo-Astro: Black Holes and Other Relativity Denial:
Ignoring GR/black hole theory does not harm future scientists and their studies of the stars.

That is unless you can name me one example in which someone studied the stars, and their ignoring of GR/black holes has adversely affected their career?

Seems to me their acceptance resembles the concept of God in seminary. Believe in them or you shall not pass! LOL!

-Jeffrey Wolynski
The importance of General Relativity in stellar evolution depends on the nature of the studies.  Studies of stellar formation, which occupy the lower density regime of the stellar lifetime, might not have problems ignoring relativity.  However, relativity impacts so many additional aspects of atomic physics (atomic absorption and emission in moving flows, etc), that someone who actively ignored the effects would have too many ideas that would just fail under rigorous testing.  Before long, such researchers would get no funding because too many of their ideas would fail to match observations or experiments.  A number of the real incompetents will claim that they're geniuses being victimized by conspiracies, etc. (Neurologica: Lessons from Dunning-Krueger).  

At higher density regimes, such as high-mass stars, relativistic effects become important for structural changes due to gravity, and energy production mechanisms, such as pair plasmas.  If the researcher wants to claim something other than relativity, they had better be working from an idea that can pass the basic tests where relativity has done well.
As for someone who 'ignoring GR/black holes adversely affected their career.'

Adversely affected defined how?   I know loads of former grad students who washed out for various reasons.  Now days, the real relativity denier rarely makes it to grad school because their relativity denial causes them to flunk other things in doing physics.  Instrument precision is now sufficiently high that relativity can impact a number leading-edge laboratory applications (see ArsTechnica: Einstein’s time dilation apparent when obeying the speed limit).

Then there's active, working applications such as the GPS system (links)...

Anyone who denies some component of well-established science limits their own career options.  Their chance of useful discoveries is lower, so granting agencies, etc. are less willing to invest in them. 

For the most part, very few of these cranks ever actually become physicists or astronomers, though a large number manage to become engineers.  I do know of a few support scientists who advocate various crank ideas, but they're kept on because in some sub-field of their actual employment, they are competent.  There are a few I suspect were forced to retire because their crank ideas began to have negative impacts on their professional responsibilities.  Engineers engaged in relativity denial are probably competent to do run-of-the-mill engineering, but they won't be qualified for engineering applications requiring high-precision positional or timing information.  The engineers in the GPS program who doubted relativity effects in the early days of the program (see Scott Rebuttal. I. GPS & Relativity and related links from the earlier post) are probably long gone.

If the account manager in a business doesn't believe in sound accounting principles (also backed by mathematics), do you keep them on the job?

Historically, there are a number of researchers who developed problems with relativity later in their career which had some negative impacts.  Arthur Eddington (1882-1944) believed General Relativity, but didn't believe black holes could form (Wikipedia: Arthur Eddington).  Later in his career, Eddington got involved in some progressively stranger, and sillier, scientific ideas (see Bethe's Spoof).  Then there was Herbert Dingle (1890-1978) (Wikipedia) who claimed to demonstrate a logical contradiction from the 'twin paradox' (MathPages: Dingle and the Twins) but this happened after his retirement.

Relativity is no longer a question of belief, like a fairy tale or religion, any more than the theory of gravity or atoms, or electrons or thermodynamics.  It is a matter that you can make numerical predictions that we can compare to observations and measurements and a great majority of them match to high precision.

While relativity denial might have been justified 50-100 years ago, relativity is now so integrated into techniques and technologies that denying its validity, especially in the realms where it is routinely used, is equivalent to denying the reality of atoms.


Jeffrey Wolynski said...

You nailed it, "the lower density regime of the stellar lifetime".

Gravitation cannot birth stars (which are young planets) because:

1. Gravity cannot heat objects (that takes friction, flame, electric current, etc.)

2. Gravity cannot cause charge separation (that takes electric current, friction, flame, etc.)

3. A cloud of gas cannot gravitationally collapse upon itself absent a gravitating body (that would be philosophically unsound). That is unless you want your readers to believe gravitational fields exist absent gravitating objects?

The jab at having some sort of Dunning Syndrome... Well, it does speak volumes of the people I've interacted with. The people who have been educated are the very worst sufferers. They simply cannot recognize how incompetent they actually are. What is worse is that they have been handed titles, which reinforces their poor attitudes towards people who are original.

-Jeffrey Wolynski

Jeffrey Wolynski said...

Edward Teller and I are in the same boat. We are both stupid. How unfortunate!

W.T."Tom" Bridgman said...

To Jeffrey Wolynski,

The response to your first comment is at Of Gravity and Atoms.

As to your second comment:

What's your point? What do you think Teller is saying?

From the locations Teller mentions, this appears to be a recollection from pre-WWII, perhaps before about 1933, since he suggests Einstein was still in Germany.

As Teller states, Einstein did wonderful things until 1920, a time frame which would include the work on relativity (1905, 1915). So the video is certainly not evidence against relativity.

But after that, Einstein's accomplishments were much less significant, mostly his attempts to find a unified field theory and a way to replace quantum theory, which he regarded as logically inconsistent. While Einstein exposed some interesting apparent paradoxes in quantum theory (see Wikipedia: EPR paradox), these 'paradoxes' were actually verified by later experiments.

It sounds like Teller is describing a talk on one of Einstein's failed attempts at a unified field theory.

Again, Mr. Wolynski has failed to do even the most rudimentary research on his claims and has just assumed Teller's comments mean whatever he needs them to mean.

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