A little dated, and hardly the most compelling list -- you need no background in the sciences whatsoever to sign. Take, for instance, Gene Gordon, signer of the open letter, a writer whose webpage makes it clear that he has no authority or background in physics, much the less astrophysics/cosmology.At least the Disco Institute asks people to have some sort of advanced degree (they accept lots of different ones, but beggars can't be choosers, now can they?).For instance, they accept Ph.D.'s in philosophy, marine geology (yes, geology, not biology), electrical engineering, mathematics, psychology, mechanical engineering, nutrition, human development, statistics...http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/Their list at least has a few biologists on it, and the pretense to authority. Nevermind the vacuous statement (who doesn't disagree that RM/NS is insufficient to explain all complexity -- ever hear of the modern synthesis?).
I'm not sure whether you support this petition's view or not, since you didn't comment on it. If you do, I would hope that it is not out of a belief that the Big Bang Model is anti-religious. This it is not.The claim of the petition that the Big Bang Model has not led to any quantitatively verifiable predictions is false. It correctly predicted the cosmic microwave background, which was discovered in the 1960s, leading to a celebrated Nobel Prize in physics. The backers of this petition (I'm very familiar with some of the top names, like Arp and Narlikar) are not presenting alternatives that are more compatible with either the scientific evidence or religion. The Steady-State Model, for instance, (Arp and Narlikar are two of its early proponents) claims that there was no creation to begin with—that the universe is infinitely old—and that there have been no large-scale changes in the universe. Both of these run counter to the Biblical account, if that's your concern. And the denial of cosmological changes is easily invalidated scientifically, as well.The Steady State Model was ruled out on the basis of this discovery, by Hubble's finding that the universe is expanding, and most clearly by the easily-observed changes in the universe over time.They're right that the Steady State Model is not taken seriously among scientists in general today, but it's on the basis of the scientific evidence. Arp has been a respected astrophysicist, but where he tries to promote the Steady State Model, he misuses the statistics.There may be someday a new theory that better explains the development and current state of the universe, but it won't be the ones they've already promoted, and for now, the Big Bang Model does a good enough job.
tim said:"I'm not sure whether you support this petition's view or not, since you didn't comment on it."I think it's useful to make the public aware of scientific dissent. That, of itself, doesn't prove or disprove anything. But it's important for people to realize that the "scientific consensus" on various issues is not as monolithic as the liberal media or scientific establishment would have us believe.
that darn liberal media...:::SNIZZZ!!!:::
What are you talking about Steve?What liberal media bias?I see no liberal media bias
Steve—"But it's important for people to realize that the "scientific consensus" on various issues is not as monolithic as the liberal media or scientific establishment would have us believe."OK, I agree, just not about this specific case. Some of these guys are on the verge of crackpot-ism. But I'd say global warming *is* probably an example of what you're talking about (and I see now that you've posted something similar on it). Global warming is something in which it seems hard to extract objective science from politics.Thankfully, in astronomy, we're a little more insulated from politics...except when it comes to funding for new probes and orbiting telescopes.
People could try actually reading scientific books on the subjects rather than whining about the "liberal media bias" -- a cover used to play pretend that evolution/Big Bang/anything anti-biblical is false.
The Big Bang may not be as political as global warming or as religious (sic) as Darwinism, but it is the latest fad amongst scientists just as aether was back in the day. As Kuhn would say, it is the reigning paradigm. As such, it is assumed to be infallible until a paradigm shift occurs, and it alone will receive funding from the government.BTW: "...peer-review...":::SNIZZZ!!!:::Translation: Closed-Minded Enforcers of the Current Scientific Orthodoxy.
Didn't you know? "Scientific Consensus" = "Whoever disagrees with my position is unscientific."
Saint and Sinner—You're right that paradigms can change, and that includes the Big Bang Model. And I say this as an astrophysicist who believes that it is correct.But you're mischaracterizing it as a fad. Neither the ether theory nor the Big Bang Model were or are "fads." Trendiness isn't at play, but rather scientific evidence and the most straightforward ways to explain that evidence. Not even the geocentric model, which reigned for over a thousand years, was a fad. They had very good reasons for believing in it, but their knowledge of the underlying physics was wrong (misunderstanding the laws of motion and of gravity), which made them think their objections to the Earth moving were valid.Yes, we might find a better explanation for our observations one day and discard the Big Bang Model. I believe that the BBM's essential points, though (a beginning time for the universe's creation, followed by expansion and cosmological change) will hold up. The latter two points are actually part of the evidence and are very solid, and the first point is a reasonable conclusion drawn from them.But the alternatives presented by this bunch don't hold up. They can't fit the evidence without going to great and complicated lengths. The BBM does this much more simply. The Steady State Model in particular is just an updated relic of the 19th century, before they discovered the expansion of the universe. It is simply unable to explain the most straightforward observation, that the universe has visibly changed over time. We can see those changes with even small telescopes. It's one of the most solid pieces of evidence.As for your "peer review = closed-mindedness," that certainly could happen, but it's not the case here. In astrophysics, we're blessed to have observations to test our theories against. (I think this is a problem in climate modeling, where I hear that even the best models don't do well at predicting global temperature changes!)I was a "referee" (peer reviewer) on an anti-Big Bang paper once. I won't go into the details, but the guy was trying to find observational evidence for the Steady State Model. I gave the paper a fair shot—I would not reject it out of hand, just because his paradigm is different than mine. And it was nice to see that a SSM guy was actually trying to look for evidence. But it simply didn't hold up. He wasn't able to support his interpretations of his data, the scenarios he tried to come up with were physically ruled out, and I had to reject it in the end.I know that for laymen unfamiliar with the specific physical arguments (I can give them to you, if you like), there's little reason to side with one camp or another, and it often seems like there's a brave bunch of principled scientists bucking the closed-minded orthodoxy. In some cases there are, I'm sure. But not in this one. The Steady-State Model is a relic of classical physics, although it's been updated. The fellows who revamped it half a century ago were within the mainstream at the time, but the evidence and scientific progress have left their theory behind and threaten to relegate some of them to crackpotism. Some of them are still alive and promoting it today, and as Thomas Kuhn points out, the old paradigms often only die when their proponents do.The Big Bang Model is a basic framework for the theories that have the universe (1) begin, (2) expand, and (3) change, as I explained above. Within those three points, there are lots and lots of specific theories that are possible, and which often contradict each other, and which receive research funding. The inflationary model, string theory, Gott's universe that spawns itself, dark energy, and so on. If the Steady State work is no longer getting research grants, it's because the evidence has turned against it. Not because of closed-minded protectors of orthodoxy have prejudices against it. And the establishment is not reluctant to fund research into all kinds of possibly-valid theories, as I've just listed.
Tim,But not in this one. The Steady-State Model is a relic of classical physics, although it's been updated. The fellows who revamped it half a century ago were within the mainstream at the time, but the evidence and scientific progress have left their theory behind and threaten to relegate some of them to crackpotism. Some of them are still alive and promoting it today, and as Thomas Kuhn points out, the old paradigms often only die when their proponents do.Crackpots like Princeton's Albert Einstein Professor of Physics, Paul Steinhardt and Cambridge's Chair of Mathematical Physics, Neil Turok? With crackpots like those, it makes you wonder how brilliant the sane ones must be.
Daniel—I didn't say that they were unintelligent, and I didn't say that all of them were crackpots. Or for that matter, any of them. I said that some of them were verging on crackpotism. I won't name names again, but it doesn't include the two you mentioned, whom I'd never heard of before. I looked up the links you posted and I searched their publication listings, and I see that they're frequent co-authors on string-theory and quantum cosmology papers. Very cutting-edge stuff, if it pans out. But string theorists and quantum cosmologists certainly have managed to get research grants. (Despite the fact that their theories are still far from being able to make testable predictions, and therefore have no need of, say, a new space telescope that would test such predictions.)They're not shut out by The Man. And they've gotten a number of their papers published in peer-reviewed journals, like Physical Review D. No closed-minded orthodoxy, there, apparently.I was talking about the people promoting the actual theories mentioned in the petition, especially the Steady State Model.
Tim,I understand, and I suppose I conflated cyclic models with steady-state models, when the two aren't really the same. The two I named got their "big-bang-big-crunch" cyclic universe model past the review process at Science, not just in Phys. Rev. D.. You ought to check out that original paper, and Steinhardt's FAQ, and his reply to critics, then let me know what you think. (email or my site)