Yesterday I introduced a bizarre pseudoscience website that claimed to revolutionize modern astrophysics. It doesn’t actually do that, and I thought I would show exactly why. This is part 1. You can follow along with what I’m debunking here.
The book that this website is summarizing is written by a guy named Donald E. Scott. This guy, believe it or not, actually has a Ph.D. Of course, it isn’t in astrophysics, but electrical engineering. Turns out, he’s actually written a pretty decent electrical engineering textbook, so he’s probably a smart guy. He undoubtedly knows far more about electrical engineering than I ever will.
That said, the crap that he’s pushing on this site is an embarrassment to all of science. It’s an embarrassment to his current employer, it’s an embarrassment to WPI, where he got his doctorate, and it’s probably an embarrassment to every electrical engineer ever. So let’s dive right in.
What is wrong with present-day accepted astrophysics
It is not scientific. In today’s world many people characterize themselves as being ‘scientists’. Only those who always carefully follow the scientific method are deserving of that title. Modern establishment astrophysics fails the test in several ways.
That’s not what a scientist is. That’s extremely restrictive and absolutely false. The scientific method is useful, sure, but scientists aren’t bound to it absolutely. There are plenty of scientists who don’t follow the scientific method, and there are plenty of people who do follow the method who aren’t scientists at all. Creationists come to mind.
A scientist is someone with a natural curiosity about the world and a love of knowledge and discovery, committed to learning the truth. Scientists follow the evidence as they seek to learn more about the world, and they most emphatically don’t make things up. So, Dr. Scott, you’re not really a scientist either.
The Empirical Scientific Method
Scientists are distinguishable from artists, poets, musicians, and others in that they use what is known as the ‘scientific method’. It is not that ‘inspiration’ or ‘the muse’ is not valuable in science, it is – but it is not the starting point of what we call science. In the process called the scientific method a true scientist will:
- Observe nature – carefully record what is seen.
- Seek patterns in the observed data – put numbers on the data – fit equations to those numbers.
- Generalize those equations into a word description of the process – this is a hypothesis.
- Carry out experiments and/or gather independent data to see how well the hypothesis predicts future observations and results. This is called “closing the loop” on your hypothesis.
- Reject, or modify the hypothesis if the experiments show it falls short of success in these predictions.
- Only after the results of several experiments have been successfully predicted by the hypothesis, can it be called a theory.
This is sorta kinda half correct. In reality, a scientist will often start with some sort of research question, and then collect data to try and answer this question. Scientists don’t (usually) grope around blindly for patterns in random data. Generally they set out with some goal in mind.
If two different theories predict a given phenomenon equally well, the simpler theory is probably the best one. This principle is called Occam’s Razor.
Again, sorta kinda half correct. In reality, it’s not the “simpler” theory, but the one with less assumptions. The more things you assume, the more likely you are to be wrong about one of them.
Theories can never be proven to be correct – some other mechanism entirely may be the cause of the observed data. But theories can be disproved if they fail to predict the outcomes of additional experiments. Such theories are termed to be falsified. Sometimes the scientific method as described above is called the empirical method.
This is absolutely correct! Congratulations! Gold star!
The Deductive Method
As an alternative to the empirical method, there is a method of deriving theories from assumed generalizations about the universe. This is called the deductive method. In this process one starts with a “law of nature” or “obviously correct” generalization about the “way things work” and deduces (reasons out – derives) its consequences in detail. A hypothesis arrived at via this method is promoted to the status of being a Theory if a large enough body of experts ‘accept’ it. Thus, in this method, a vote of the experts determines if a theory is correct. Once such a theory has been accepted it is not easily rejected in light of conflicting evidence; it is, however, often modified – made more complex – and, unfortunately, new data is often selectively chosen to support it.
The selection and publication of only the data that support the accepted theory is expedited by the “peer review system”. If the experts who have accepted a given theory control both the funding of future research and also what gets published, there is little chance for conflicting viewpoints to develop.
Yeah… this doesn’t exist. I’m going to have to take that gold star back now.
Sometimes, especially in physics, scientists take theories that have already been confirmed, and use math to generate new results. For instance, Karl Schwarzschild took Einstein’s General Relativity and showed that black holes were a necessary consequence of the theory. That’s kinda like what Dr. Scott is talking about here, except that black holes weren’t elevated to the status of “theory” until numerous measurements were made confirming their existence. There was no cabal of physicists preventing contrary ideas from being published, and there was no “vote” on whether the theory was correct, there was just observation and objective confirmation. You know, science.
Some hypotheses, when presented by august, well established scientists, are given credence without anyone questioning whether the hypothesis has been developed using the scientific method. Yet in most cases it is not difficult to check whether or not the scientific method has been used correctly. For example, consider the hypothesis that “There are gnomes in my garden that always make themselves invisible when anyone tries to observe them.” Clearly, no conceivable experiment or observation could falsify that statement. This is evidence the hypothesis comes from a pseudo-scientific source. Legitimate theories must be falsifiable.
Yes. This is correct. Another possible indicator of pseudoscience is when someone claims to disprove an entire branch of science, but writes a book about it instead of publishing in a peer-reviewed journal. Like you are doing. Right now.
The Problem Faced by Modern Astronomy is that Experiments Are Not Possible
Because the stars are light years away, we cannot hope to be able to go there and perform experiments on them. Until relatively recently even the planets were out of our reach. Thus, cosmologists never get to complete the scientific method. We cannot ‘close the loop’ in cosmology. But, if we cannot test our hypotheses, how can we reject or modify them? The answer, of course, is that astrophysicists, more than those in any other branch of science, must be exceedingly careful to continually examine their hypotheses in light of any new data. It is the contention of the author of these pages that they have not been doing this.
It’s bizarre how Dr. Scott seems to think that experiments are the only way to test a theory. That’s absolutely not true. You’ll notice earlier when talking about the scientific method that I said, “a scientist will often start with some sort of research question, and then collect data to try and answer this question.” Not “and then do an experiment to try and answer this question.” That’s because what really matters is data. It doesn’t really make a difference if the data are collected through experimentation, observation, or calculation. As long as there is data to compare the hypothesis to, then the hypothesis is falsifiable, and good science.
Einstein was a purely theoretical physicist – he never went near a physics lab. He conducted only ‘gedankenexperimenten’ – thought experiments – in order to arrive at his general theory of relativity (GR). This is a perfect example of the deductive method at work. Its use is exceptionally dangerous in an area like cosmology wherein it is difficult to falsify any theory. Now that the GR Theory is accepted by establishment astrophysics, any new data (such as photographs of the astronomical object known as the “Einstein Cross”) are discussed only within the framework of this complicated theory.
The images of the four small objects in the Einstein Cross when looked at only from this viewpoint, are considered to be supporting evidence for the GR Theory. However, they could just as well be interpreted as being evidence supporting a much simpler cosmological theory.
Evidence contradictory to the accepted Big Bang Theory, such as images of connections between objects that have widely different red shift values, are dismissed as being mirages.
Einstein also did math. Like, a lot of really complicated math. Which was based on previous experimental data. Also, his theories are pretty solidly proven. For instance, GPS devices make GR calculations, because the time difference between you and the satellite is actually large enough to affect your apparent location by several meters.
Two more things. One, if you’re wondering what the “Einstein Cross” is, it’s this. It’s actually a pretty neat example of gravitational lensing, a phenomenon predicted by GR. Secondly, you know who else likes to hate on GR? Wingnuts. Just saying…
False Assumptions in Astrophysics
Most of today’s accepted astronomy/cosmology is a set of deductively arrived at hypotheses precariously based on two false assumptions :
- Electrical fields, currents, and plasma discharges are not important in space. Only gravitational and magnetic fields are important.
- If the light from an object exhibits redshift, the object must be speeding away from us. And its distance from us is directly proportional to that speed.
Both of these assumptions are demonstrably wrong. They have been, and continue to be, contradicted by actual observations of the sky. Those observations tell us that
- The universe is highly electrical in nature.
- Redshift is more a measure of an object’s youth than its velocity.
The continued refusal of astrophysicists to re-examine their hypotheses in light of these new observations is the focus of these pages.
You know what’s funny? Those are actually the same two bullet points. They’re phrased differently, but they’re essentially saying the same thing. It’s telling that Dr. Scott doesn’t realize this.
Bullet Point Number One:
In the early 1800’s, Michael Faraday performed a series of experiments that showed that changing electric fields produced magnetic fields, and changing magnetic fields produced electric fields. This led him to the conclusion that electricity and magnetism were the same field. Turns out, he was completely correct. Today, we recognize electricity and magnetism as a single field, the electromagnetic field. So when Dr. Scott argues that astrophysicists pay too much attention to magnetic fields, and not enough to electric fields, he’s really just showcasing his ignorance.
Bullet Point Number Two:
The electromagnetic field is transmitted via particles called photons, which are also waves. (Trust me, it’s complicated.) These waves are electromagnetic waves, which make up the EM Spectrum. The EM spectrum goes by a more common name you’ve probably heard before: light. Like all waves, they are subject to the Doppler effect, where if the object producing the waves is moving towards you, the frequency of the waves increases, and if the object is moving away from you, the frequency decreases.
In astronomy, the objects that produce EM waves are usually stars. When stars move away from us, the frequency of the EM waves decreases. This phenomenon is called redshifting, because the color red is at the lower end of the EM spectrum. Similarly, if stars move away from us, then their EM waves are blueshifted. By looking at the EM spectrum a star produces, you can tell if it’s moving towards or away from us.
In the early 1900’s, a man named Edwin Hubble decided to look at galaxies to see which ones were redshifted or blueshifted. What he found was remarkable: nearly all the galaxies were redshifted! With the exception of a few galaxies, such as Andromeda, every galaxy was moving away from us. What’s more, galaxies further from us are moving away faster than closer galaxies. The further away a galaxy, the more it’s redshifted. This is actually a very reliable metric, so much so that if you calculate the redshift, you can tell the distance to a particular galaxy.
As an aside, this is an astounding result, because it means that the universe is expanding. In fact, you can even use the rate of expansion to calculate the age of the universe. It’s not a very accurate calculation, however, because it wouldn’t take into account that the universe is not only expanding, but accelerating.
Because light can only travel so fast, when we look at distant galaxies, we really see them as they were millions of years ago. The light that those stars and galaxies produced took millions of years to reach us. The further away a galaxy, the further back in time we’re looking. Also, the further away a galaxy, the bigger its redshift. So in a way, redshift is a measure of the apparent youth of a galaxy.
Invisible Entities Invented To Patch Up Failing Theories
The theories that have sprung from these faulty, overly complicated mathematical models have given birth to such arcane notions as: curved space, neutron stars, WIMPs (and now WIMPZILLAS), MACHOs, several different types of black holes, superluminal jets, dark energy, and magnetic field lines that pile-up, merge and reconnect. All of these inventions are fictions put forth by astrophysicists in desperate efforts to defend their theories when faced with contradicting observations. None have ever been observed or photographed. Many of them are demonstrably impossible. But their existence is repeatedly invoked to explain new observations and measurements that contradict the enshrined theories of modern astronomy without resorting to the use of electrical principles.
You know something? Sometimes theories have to be complicated, because reality is complicated. I would very much prefer that all of physics could be encompassed within Newton’s Laws, but the real world doesn’t work that way. Simpler isn’t always better.
Also, that “None have ever been observed or photographed” bit is bullshit. Look, here is a picture of a superluminal jet. Do some research next time. And seriously, “demonstrably impossible”? Please, demonstrate it. I’d like to see your proof. Oh, what’s that? You’re just going to say that it’s “demonstrably impossible” and then move on without proving it? How convenient.
We continually hear statements such as, “There must be a black hole at the center of that galaxy.” (Otherwise we cannot explain its level of energy output.) “There must be invisible dark matter in that galaxy.” (Otherwise we cannot explain how it rotates the way it does.) “Ninety nine percent of the universe is made up of dark energy.” (Otherwise the Big Bang Theory is falsified.) “Pulsars must be made up of strange matter.” (Otherwise we might have to look for an electrical explanation). We are also asked to believe that two objects (like galaxy NGC 4319 and its companion Markarian 205) are not connected together even though we have photographs of the connection. So, we are told not to believe in the things that we can see, but that we should believe in the existence of the magic entities that their theories require – even though we cannot see or measure them.
No. We say, “There must be a black hole at the center of that galaxy,” because we can see the object, and it’s so heavy it must be a black hole. We say “There must be invisible dark matter in that galaxy,” because it has more mass than we can observe, so there must be something there we can’t see. We say “Ninety nine percent of the universe is made up of dark energy,” because the universe is expanding, and accelerating, and that energy must come from somewhere.
You don’t get to point to one or two things that the current theory can’t explain, and then say that this proves the theory wrong. The theory is incomplete, not wrong, and the existence of a few mysteries doesn’t give you the right to trash all of physics.
Astrophysicists Denigrate Outsiders – Then Quietly Adopt their New Ideas
There have been several instances in the past when the astronomical mainstream has long rejected an idea that is later accepted. There is usually no public disgrace for the in-group who were on the wrong side of the issue. When, after being viciously denigrated, the validity of a new idea becomes inescapably obvious, a few years go by, and then we quietly hear: “Well, Everyone has known for a Long Time that this (the new idea) was always true.” An example of this is Hannes Alfvén’s discovery of plasma waves. This relatively recently discovered property of plasmas is now being wrongly used by astrophysicists to explain away all sorts of (what is for them) enigmatic phenomena – such as the temperature inversion in the Sun’s lower corona.
Yes, Hannes Alfvén was so ignored by the physics community that he won the Nobel Prize. Seriously. Fucking research.
In a few years, perhaps we will hear: “Well, Everyone has known for a Long Time that quasars are not extremely distant, and red shift is more a measure of the youth of an object than its recessional velocity and distance. No one said for sure there ever was a Big Bang. It was just another false theory. Everyone has known for a Long Time that electric currents flowing in plasmas produce many of the mysterious observed solar and cosmic phenomena.” And we will not hear of machos, wimps, neutronium, dark energy, and broken magnetic field lines from any serious scientist ever again.
Time will tell.
Will the founders of the Electric / Plasma Universe Theory be acknowledged as having been the pathfinders they are?
Or will lesser men quietly adopt these ideas without giving credit to their originators and then claim them to be ‘well known’?
Allow me to paraphrase: “Wah! Pay attention to us!”
So that was chapter 1. Color me not impressed. Let’s see if chapter 2 is any better. Hint: not really.