Einstein’s Black Box

| 41 Comments | 2 TrackBacks

The Discovery Institute’s Wishful Thinking Division has a piece by Jay Richards arguing against relativity based on an insight derived from a New Yorker article: “ Did Einstein really show that time is an illusion?.”

Sean Carroll at Perposterous Universe has taken it apart: “Time-saving tips for understanding Einstein.”

And here’s a little request for anyone else who wants to point out flaws in Einstein. Whatever else you might think, Einstein was a smart cookie. Nothing he said was sacred (my first published paper proposed a theory that violated some of Einstein’s ideas, as have several of my subsequent papers), but you should at least understand what he said before you claim to improve on it. So take a gander at the problem sets for my course in general relativity, and have a go. If you get an average of over 50% on all the sets (as all of the students in my class did), I’ll give your ideas a respectful hearing. Otherwise, you should go back and hit the books if you expect anyone to take you seriously.

2 TrackBacks

Over the last few days, I've been watching the discussion of Jay Richards ' post at "Intelligent Design the Future" about Einstein and the theory of relativity. You can read about it here and here and here and here. Richards... Read More

Over the last few days, I've been watching the discussion of Jay Richards ' post at "Intelligent Design the Future" about Einstein and the theory of relativity. You can read about it here and here and here and here. Richards... Read More

41 Comments

If one abandons the concept of absolute time, then one is faced with what appears to be insurmountable paradoxes.

While checking out the Einstein link, I found this: Kauffman on testing ID experimentally by Dembski. Does anyone know, does Kauffman, in fact, suffer fools gladly?

It’s only a matter of time before they turn off trackbacks. Take a look at them. Nothing but scientists calling their stuff nonsense. Paul Nelson’s hypocrisy aside, they’re going to supress that pretty soon I bet.

I love these guys. Seriously. The Discovery Institute provides me with hilarity, much like Cartman on South Park does.

Also at the same site you can read what My Favorite Charlatan is up to

Dr. Wells is currently working on a book criticizing the over-emphasis of genes in biology and medicine.

I look forward to Wells’ follow-up book criticizing the over-emphasis of atoms in chemistry and pharmacology.

I have to agree with you guys on this one–Richards is wrong.

The Discovery Institute’s Wishful Thinking Division has a piece…

Wouldn’t that be better titled their “Hopeful Monsters Division”?

Cheers,

ID Physics, ID Biology…pretty soon they’ll have enough for a whole textbook. Probably a few million home-schoolers would buy it.

Steve, do you think Cheesy Poofs are “irreducibly complex?”

That could explain a lot! What if, just What IF the South Park characters were designed! Boggles the mind.

I dunno, Arne. I’m still trying to come up with a suitable euphemism for the site. The “Media Complaints Division” is an excellent description for their first blog. We need something to rival that. Maybe sticking with “ID the Future” is a good call since it is such a humble and non-crackpot title.

I had the opportunity to debate Jay Richards on the radio here in Colorado Springs last year. Our discussion concerned Science/Faith and I asked him point blank, “Can you define faith for me, Jay”. His answer was, “Believing in something without having all of the evidence in house.” I then countered, “Is faith, then, an appropriate domain for science?” “Absolutely!”, was his reply. I did get around to having him define science but I wouldn’t put much “faith” in his definition holding water.

Logicman

“If one abandons the concept of absolute time, then one is faced with what appears to be insurmountable paradoxes.”

Since the alternative is to cling to absolute time in the face of overwhelming experimental evidence that time is relative, I’ll cope with the paradoxes, thanks. Fortunately, all of the intuitively obvious ones have been dealt with, mostly by Einstein decades ago. There are a few left, mostly having to do with the apparent non-locality of QM; but I would rather search for resolutions for those than deny the hard-won insights of modern physics.

hey, guys, maybe this means they’re making progress. Instead of saying “150 year-old science is wrong”, they’re saying “100 year-old science is wrong.” For creationists, a viewpoint which is only 100 years behind is a sign of progress!

I suggest that if that DI article amuses you, you save a copy to your hard drive. It probably won’t be around too long. I’m sure the trackbacks won’t.

I suggest that if that DI article amuses you, you save a copy to your hard drive. It probably won’t be around too long. I’m sure the trackbacks won’t.

Full text of my email to Paul Nelson:

Dear Mr. Nelson: I noticed on Panda’s Thumb that you were offended when a contributor removed information from a critic, John A. Davison, in the comments section. You demanded the restoration of the critical information. As you may know, the site Intelligent Design the Future just published “Did Einstein really show that time is an illusion?” by Jay Richards (http://www.idthefuture.com/index.ph[…]b=1&pb=1). While IDtheFuture has not enabled comments, it has enabled–or failed to disable–trackbacks. Several scientists, among them physicists, have trackbacked to the article with extremely negative comments. It is my expectation that someone at Discovery Institute will act to hide these criticisms. I am sure that in the event the DI removes this information, you will be upset and demand the restoration of these trackbacks. I simply wanted to bring the article to your attention.

Steve Story

David Heddle,

I commend you for being objective regarding Richards on this matter.

Cheers.

David Heddle: I have to admit, I was holding my breath - well, figuratively - wondering whether you would defend the DI on this one. Thanks.

Gosh Behe is a slimeball. Rading this blog makes me depressed, because there was a time I really thought that he was sincerely interestingly wrong, rather than hacktactularly wrong. But he happily links to Jonathan Witt’s supposed takedown of Dawkins “Methinks like a Weasel” http://www.idthefuture.com/index.ph[…]b=1&pb=1

Hmm, what’s wrong here. Well, hasn’t Witt found Dawkins out? “Despite Dawkins’ eloquent protestations, this isn’t how natural selection works. Natural selection doesn’t have a distant goal in mind.”

So is Dawkins pulling the wool over our eyes here? Well geez, Dawkins only makes the EXACT SAME FRIGGIN POINT that Witt makes right there in his book! Hell, if I recall correctly, he says it in almost the same language Witt uses to claim that Dawkins is fooling us.

Now kids? THAT is slime.

The appearance of Richards’ gobbledygook “disproving Einstein” is a fine event. It complements such pearls as Schroeder’s discovery that masers emit atoms, or that temperature drops because “heat dissolves in a larger volume,” and other similar great discoveries of ID guys and their lesser cohorts. Attacking Einstein is IDists’ sweet dream. Johnson started it in 2000, stating (page 92 of his book Wedge of Truth that a certain statement of Einstein showed Einstein’s lack of both logic and modesty. Since, however, physics is not taught in law schools, Johnson (who is the acknowledged leader of the ID movement) had to limit his anti-Einstein’s diatribe to a non-scientific point. Now Richards (who has co-authored Privileged Planet and hence is apparently a resident physicist at DI) has demonstrated his qualification in physics. It matches the overall scientific contents of ID.

Perakh

I certainly would not identify Phillip Johnson as the leader of the ID movement. I doubt Johnson even thinks so. The apparent leaders are Dembski, Behe and Wells. I am sure not involved because I regard ID as self evident. It never should have been debated in the first place. It is sort of like debating pregnancy or the rotation of the earth. What is there to debate?

As for Einstein and a prescribed and accodingly predetermined evolution:

“Everything is determined… by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables or cosmic dust - we all dance to a mysterious tune intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” The Saturday Evening Post, October 26, 1929.

John A. Davison

John A. Davison Wrote:

As for Einstein and a prescribed and accodingly predetermined evolution:

“Everything is determined … by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables or cosmic dust - we all dance to a mysterious tune intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”

Would you be so kind as to provide references to Einstein’s data on this subject? Or do you think that the personal opinions of individuals, quoted deep in the last century, are a reasonable substitute?

Hopefully, Heddle’s reaction is indicative. Relativity is fairly obscure for most people, hard to reduce to slogans, and not in any obvious conflict with religious doctrine. The claim that your ancestor was a hairy ape, in contrast, is visceral. Not to mention demeaning and insulting. The Bible doesn’t place people at the pinnacle of everything by accident; it was written by people to appeal to people. This preference hasn’t changed a bit ever since, and why would it? People are nothing if not a wonderful mix of vanity and insecurity.

However, I fear the lesson here (that the DI is a scientific joke) will be quickly lost. As Paul Simon sang, “A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.”

Maybe you could call the “ID of THE FUTURE future future” (imagine and echo effect) the “Always Jam Tomorrow” Blog

Those are Einstein’s words. Are you suggesting Einstein lied? Shame on you. My source is the “Quotable Einstein” by Alice Calaprice, Princeton University Press.1996

John A. Davison

I believe Mr. Wynn asked, clearly if facetiously, to see the data that Einstein was relying on, not an attribution for the sound bite. Perhaps you could examine a textbook, rather than Bartlett’s Quotations? Merely a suggestion.

FYI re Comment #23472, Paul Nelson has replied to me that he will indeed complain if those Trackbacks are removed.

I especially like this one, it’s a gem really:

Jay Richards Wrote:

Right now, my wife is doing something at home. She’s doing it right now even though I don’t know what it is she’s doing.

The Earth is flat! I don’t know how to show it, but it surely is flat!

If Big Bang cosmology is broadly true, then right now, everywhere in the universe, it’s the same time since the big bang.

If Heliocentrism is broadly true, then because the Earth is flat, the Sun has to collide with Earth every sunrise and sunset! :o)

I rarely wonder how can people be so ignorant. I always wonder how they can be so confident or even arrogant when they are ignorant. Or is it because of that?

I always wonder how they can be so confident or even arrogant when they are ignorant. Or is it because of that?

There was an interesting study a few years back which showed, if I remember correctly, that people perceived by others to be smarter and more competent had lower opinions and more criticisms of their own work than people deemed stupider and less competent.

John A. Davison Wrote:

Those are Einstein’s words. Are you suggesting Einstein lied? Shame on you.

These are indeed Einstein’s words, but please care to notice that nobody seems to have doubts about that. And nobody suggested that Einstein lied. The point I have to agree with is that this is his personal philosophical opinion which is not part of any scientific theory and was not tested against any data by Einstein himself. We can discuss whether evolution is “predetermined” in some sense, but what Einstein said in 1929 in a philosophical mood for a newspaper is simply not relevant. In precisely the same way as your funny personal philosophical opinion that ID is self evident.

Scott Simmons Wrote:

I’ll cope with the paradoxes, thanks. Fortunately, all of the intuitively obvious ones have been dealt with, mostly by Einstein decades ago. There are a few left, mostly having to do with the apparent non-locality of QM

I have to correct you, there are no such paradoxes. There are relativistic quantum theories, most prominently Quantum Field Theory which is the bases for all modern theories of fundamental interactions (Quantum Electrodynamics, for example).

Re: Comment 23509 by John Davison. Mr. Davison: I will not follow your example - your persistent attempts at insulting me. First, addressing you as Mr rather than Dr I had no intention whatsoever to insult you or to denigrate you in any way. I view Mr as a normal generic polite salutation. I possess two doctoral degrees but do not give a rap for being addressed as Mr or just as Perakh (as you do, apparently aiming a causing some discomfort on my part; it only testifies to your character, so continue in the same vein if it makes you feel good).

Regarding your comment about Johnson being not a leader of ID movement, it testifies to your lack of familiarity with the matter you endeavor to discuss. Here are just two quotes. On page 14 of his book The Wedge of Truth Johnson writes about the ID movement as follows: “…movement of like-minded thinkers of which I have taken the leading role.” That is about what Johnson himself thinks about the matter in point. And here is an example of what other members of the ID movement think of him. In a paper by Nancy Pearcey titled “You guys lost” in the anthology Mere Creation edited by Dembski, she writes: “The movement has capable leadership - such as that provided by Phillip Johnson.” Similar utterances can be found in many papers and books by ID advocates. At a recent meeting of ID advocates at Biola university, there was a special celebration of Johnson’s leading role in the ID movement.

Before embarking on critique, Dr Davison, it is advisable to do some homework. Of course I expect more attempts at insulting me on your part as this seems to be your pastime, but I have no interest in removing your comments from PT threads - they speak for themselves.

Great White Wonder Wrote:

There was an interesting study a few years back which showed, if I remember correctly, that people perceived by others to be smarter and more competent had lower opinions and more criticisms of their own work than people deemed stupider and less competent.

I am afraid my work is complete garbage… Does that at least make me smart and competent? [wink]

I cannot believe I am about to jump into the JAD troll-feeding, but:

JAD wrote: Those are Einstein’s words. Are you suggesting Einstein lied? Shame on you. My source is the “Quotable Einstein” by Alice Calaprice, Princeton University Press.1996

There was no lie there. First, if you look at the context of that Einstein quote, you will find that it is in reference to quantum mechanics. And the one big argument at the time was the debate on a probabilistic vs deterministic nature of QM. (Remember the more famous AE quote, “God does not roll dice”?). Thus Einstein was not arguing for ID or any designer. (That is where the facts that back up this quote are important). Einstein believed in a deterministic (“far off invisible piper”) model. He felt that what determined the observations and apparent probabilistic nature of QM was, in fact, an as-yet, unknown and underlying set of laws of nature. The, “theory of everything.”

It’s all about context. Quotes out of context are about as worthless as, well, using “jack and the beanstalk” for a technical cookbook of genetic engineering

Thank you Jeff for insisting on what Einstein REALLY meant. I have heard that line many times before. With or without your permission I will take Einstein’s words at face value. Thank you very much.

John A. Davison

The thesis that in General Relativity some form of absolute time is restored, far from being Jay Richard’s invention, has rather a more interesting history. In a well-known paper entitled ‘A remark about the relationship between general relativity theory and idealistic philosophy,’ Kurt Goedel observed that “the existence of matter, however, as well as the particular kind of curvature of space-time produced by it, largely destroys the equivalence of different observers, and distinguishes some of them conspicuously from the rest,namely those which follow in their motion the mean motion of matter” Goedel goes on to add:”Now in all cosmological solutions of the gravitational equations … the local time of these observers fit together in one world time, so that apparently it becomes possible to consider this time as the “true” one, which lapses objectively, whereas the discrepancy of the measuring results of other observers from this time may be conceived as due to the influence which a motion relative to the mean state of motion of matter has on the measuring process and on physical processes in general.” It is AGAINST this view that Goedel argued in providing his own solutions to the equations of General Relavitity.

“I possess two doctoral degrees but do not give a rap for being addressed as Mr or just as Perakh (as you do, apparently aiming a causing some discomfort on my part; it only testifies to your character, so continue in the same vein if it makes you feel good).”

You should instead insist that he call you “Double Doctor Perakh” …

John, “my permission” is completely and utterly irrelevant here. It is a simple matter of honesty. If you wish to continue to use quote out of context, that is entirely your perogative. Just remember this: Taking anything out of context distorts its meaning, and any meaning that is distorted, is useless. So, by all means, continue with your uselessness.

And consider this: You may have heard that same line a thousand times, but what does that mean? Maybe you should consider facts and truth to be real, and misdirection and deception to be fakery. If you prefer fakery, then so be it, more power to you!!!

Just remember, fakery doesn’t last, only fact and truth lasts. (For reference, consider the Catholic Church for this – just who is it all over the news today? The Pope. And the pontiff declared that evolution is real and true. So don’t take you dispute up with us mere scientists, take it up with God and his official representative on earth.) Since your dispute is not with science, as you are a proponent of fakery, then you need to take your rhetoric up with the Catholic Church. Since even the (pseudo-scientific) DI will not listen to your ideas.

Hey, I feel for you, such great scientists as Galileo fought the “science mainstream” but they, as opposed to you, used fact and truth to back up their points and convince the science mainstream they were right. You have decided to employ fakery to back up your position. So that alone should tell you where you stand among the “science greats.”

Regarding David Berlinski’s comment 23742, it shows that Berlinski watches Panda’s Thumb. If so, he must have read the comments wherein his statement (in an article dated April 1, 2005) about Dembski’s name allegedly misspellt as Dumbski on Talk Reason was shown to be false. In view of this, if he decided to post a comment, he should have first of all apologized for making false statements and admit that the misspelling he mentioned has in fact never been used on TR (or perhaps explain it was an awkward 1st April joke on his part). Instead he chose to pretend no such shameful event took place. Hardly a behavior fitting a scientist, even if he, as Dr. Berlinski, is only a writer of popular books and lacks any record of scientific results of his own.

Observing Einstein’s gravitational waves

A hundred years ago, Albert Einstein published his theory of relativity. On this occasion, Euronews’ Space magazine plunges into the subject of gravitational waves and features the joint ESA-NASA “LISA” mission which hopes to detect them in space.

(Gravity - a heavy subject.)

**

Henry

Today marks the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s famous Special Relativity publication. In honor of this extraordinary accomplishment, kick back, get a beer, and have a hearty laugh with Sean Carroll’s takedown of ID dingbat Jay Richards, of Priveledged Planet fame, who wrote that poor Einstein was confused.

http://preposterousuniverse.blogspo[…]441192632973

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on April 5, 2005 4:02 PM.

A Response to Berlinski was the previous entry in this blog.

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