Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Here You Are... Wondering... About The Earth Expanding? Really?

Neal Adams - thinks the earth is expanding!

The idea and the animation is compelling enough to have collected over a million views and followers on YouTube! Scientists are appalled, though - and one of them at least went through the extensive and entertaining trouble to debunk this outdated theory to keep it real for our kids.

It is great that "the common man" - people who may not have had the circumstances or desire in their youth to spend decades studying geology or astrophysics (most of us) - are fascinated enough by the earth, space, nature, religions, and philosophies to spend hours researching the Internet for information and putting together videos and blogs to share their discoveries and opinions. It's a good start, and a great alternative to reality TV shows! All we need is a bit of civility in the conversation now to move this along to the point where all of us get a bit more educated about everything.

It is equally as wonderful that someone more knowledgeable will take the time to respond to faulty thinking, albeit with quite a bit of mocking - but, I love the British accent - it can't be beat! "The common man, woman and child" - generally have no idea as to the true rigors of science. The endless measuring, observing, building theory after theory only to have it destroyed by someone smarter. The ridicule, disdain and teasing one has to endure from other scientists - even if proven right a hundred years later and never getting to reap the glory - can be quite excruciating. It's a tough business to be in - and endlessly fascinating and humbling. Great scientists can be some of the humblest people, and I am lucky to know a few of them. "Religious believers", on the other hand - be it believers in actual religions, or scientific theories - are always going to be a problem for the advancement of human understanding.

A scientist starts wondering about things, comes up with an idea or theory - and then does painstaking research to prove or disprove it to himself and others. It reminds me of the time I was scolded by my geography teacher in 6th grade (1969) for "blabbering nonsense" when I proclaimed that "Africa fits into America perfectly and must have been stuck together at some point in the past". There are things plain to see, that nonetheless completely elude some of the experts. Or take poor Dr. Ignaz Semmelweiss, who tried to get doctors to wash their hands before delivering babies and was ignored for another 100 years at great cost to women and children. The ignorance and arrogance of the experts often enough equals the ignorance and arrogance of the lay people looking into things. This alone keeps things moving forward and will keep "YouTubers" going, even if debunked with ridicule. If they want to be "researchers and scientists" they are going to have to suffer like them.

In sixth grade, I took the easy way out. "I knew I was right" - but didn't move on to study geology to prove this to myself and others. Now I just watch people fight it out on line or in books - also very efficient for me, if still far less disciplined than a true scientist or researcher.

Don't despair Neal Adams - you, Aristotle, and 19th century thinkers - at least can be said to be thinking alike, so you're in good company. Keep wondering - and try to catch up. My gratitude goes to both Neal Adams for sticking his neck out, AND "Potholer", the debunker, as I found out more about the earth sciences, as well as the history of earth science this way. It's all about the conversation! One thing one needs to develop when "getting into research" and science is a great sense of humor in order to handle the frequent humiliations.

But, hey, "Potholer" - "this flies into the face of everything we know" - is not a logical argument! Anything new would do exactly that. Where are we now with the speed of light - has that been settled yet? I have "known" for years that there couldn't possibly be a limit to the speed of light other than "from our perspective" and in our bubble of experience, just as "the flat earth" once was.   A flat earth that you could fall off of, made no sense - neither does a vast universe were you can't go everywhere and meet everybody. Just waiting for the scientific evidence. Hippie science... lazy science - and on the cutting edge :-)

Humility and wisdom come from being painfully wrong thousands of times - so there is no problem with being painfully wrong, either! All of you lay people and hippies out there - keep going! And all of you scientists out there - thank you for your time when obvious mistakes in thinking have been made, need correcting, and you respond with great data that has passed rigorous scientific thought - it's important and very much appreciated.

It's a win/win for everybody :-) Certainly for me today -