Sunday, May 27, 2018

Arizona revises school science standards

Biology professor Jerry Coyne complains about Arizona watering down education standards for evolution. I am more offended by some of the others, such as:
P2: Objects can affect other objects at a distance
This is clearly wrong. No objects ever affect other objects at a distance. Newton had a theory that gravity worked that way, but even he was not happy about it.

Others are also questionable. Matter is made of quantum fields, not particles.

One says "human processes ... shape the Earth's surface ..." I guess that can be true if humans build a dam, but the effect on the shape of the Earth's surface is extremely tiny.

Coyne doesn't like evolution being called a "theory".
“What we know is true and what we believe might be true but is not proven and that’s the reality,” Diane Douglas, state superintendent of public instruction, tells 3TV/CBS 5. “Evolution has been an ongoing debate for almost 100 years now. There is science to back up parts of it, but not all of it.”

“Not proven”!!!?? She fails to clarify, of course, that nothing is “proven” in science: we just get better and better explanations. But if you use “proven” in the vernacular sense, as something on whose truth you’d bet your house and life savings, then yes, evolution is as “proven” as is the fact that the Earth goes around the Sun and that benzene has six carbon atoms arranged in a ring.
Coyne wrote a pretty good book on this subject, but he needs better examples of scientific facts.

Earth only goes around the Sun if you take the Sun as a frame of reference. So I would not call that a proven fact.

I guess it is okay to say benzene is a ring, but the wave function is more complicated than that.

Update: A comment quotes from the full document:
All objects have an effect on other objects without being in contact with them. In some cases, the effect travels out from the source to the receiver in the form of radiation such as visible light. In other cases, action at a distance is explained in terms of the existence of a field of influence between objects, such as a magnetic, electric, or gravitational field. Gravity is a universal force of attraction between all objects, however large or small, keeping the planets in orbit around the Sun and causing terrestrial objects to fall towards the center of the Earth.
This reads as if it were written 150 years ago. Since about 1880 we have known that visible light is a pulsing electromagnetic field. Since about 1915, gravity has been understood as curved spacetime, and not a force acting at a distance.

1 comment:

  1. Roger,
    "Earth only goes around the Sun if you take the Sun as a frame of reference. So I would not call that a proven fact."...You've got to be kidding.

    There is no way for the Sun to orbit the earth, it has a mass about 333,000 times the Earth, this is tantamount to saying the dog is on the flea. If you are going to dodge into 'well, that's how it looks from Earth (if you don't know what you are looking at)', then you might as well say that the magic coin trick makes money come out of thin air because 'that's how it looks from a frame of reference of the rube in the audience', and that things actually get closer together depending on your viewing angle of spatial perspective. Being fooled by an optical illusion due to a lack of information does not make it 'a frame of reference' worthy of challenging the fact that we orbit around the sun...or the barycenter of the sun if you wish to get more technical.

    I also think you saying matter isn't particles but 'quantum fields' is rubbish. Quantum levels of anything only indicate an underlying mechanism that is not properly understood (much like the idea of epicycles being used in place of any kind of understanding of planetary orbits), something is definitely acting on something and drowning yourself in very unassigned ambiguous calculations wont fix this. Statistical and mathematical abstraction posing as something that carries physical forces and levels of energy is nothing but a pushed fudge covering the ignorance of how atoms function (mainstream theory is utter nonsense concerning how atoms even move or bond, or what electrons even do in atomic structure). Just remember, fleas do not carry dogs around subatomically , at human scale, or macroscopically.

    Only the scientific elitists of humanity has the hubris to blather on about black holes/white holes/whateveryouwant holes and the big bang coexisting theoretically, (believing singularities explode into universes on one hand and then on the other hand you want to favor much smaller masses collapsing into inescapable singularities is just plain stupid) when we don't even know how to model a hydrogen atom properly, or fully explain the functioning of our own sun...much less the gravity which makes it possible which is entirely absent from the standard model.