Sunday, October 23, 2011

Einstein's method compared to creationists

Biologist Michael Zimmerman writes:
A couple of weeks ago the scientific world was shaken by a report out of the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) claiming that, after years of study, neutrinos were found to be traveling faster than the speed of light. The results were so shocking because, if accurate, they contradict Einstein's theory of special relativity which asserts that nothing in the universe can travel faster than the speed of light. ...

Independent of whether or not the CERN results are correct, they have an enormous amount to teach us about the very nature of science and how dramatically it differs from the ways in which creationists characterize science. It also highlights the differences in methodology between those practicing science and those promoting the pseudoscience of creationism. ...

How does one go about attempting to overthrow a scientific paradigm? ...

Creationists, on the other hand, simply make assertions. They offer no data and perform no experiments.
That drew this comment:
It is easy to underestim­ate the importance of this CERN discovery, if it turns out to be true. Einstein, whose theories provide the foundation for much of modern physics, didn't come up with relativity though experiment­ation or other inductive methods. He didn't come up with it with the scientific method they teach in school. He did through deduction, much like a philosophe­r. It thus can't be tweaked with other observatio­ns. It would be overthrown outright, though could be retained in a limited extend, like Newton's theories, due to its usefulness­.
If this comment were correct, then Einstein would be in a category with those anonymous creationists that Zimmerman attacks, and a great scientific advance would be like the revealed wisdom of the Bible.

This is not just some kooky comment. It is the mainstream view of academic historians and philosophers of science. Today's universities teach this, and use it as the example of what science is all about.

But they are wrong, as explained in How Einstein Ruined Physics. Relativity was discovered before Einstein thru experimentation. Einstein's role was only to write an exposition of what others had done. He could ignore experiments because he was just explaining an existing theory.

If relativity is the great example of science, then the textbooks should get it correct.

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