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Progress in the Media?

Sometimes one is tempted to despair that journalists will ever understand even the most basic principles of the philosophy of science.  Then one reads a sentence like this one in a story on the Fox News web site: 

“Global warming can no more be “proven” than the theory of continental drift, the theory of evolution or the concept that germs carry diseases.”

That little (very little) light you see in the distance is a glimmer of hope. 

Full story here:  http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,289647,00.html

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26 Responses to Progress in the Media?

  1. Emphasis on “very little” light. The article repeats the myth that “After all, there was once a scientific consensus that the Earth was flat.” That consensus may have existed several hundred years B.C., but I doubt that’s what they had in mind for “scientific” consensus. That medieval Europeans believed in a flat earth is just historically wrong.

    And the particular sentence you quoted seems (by setting them all in a parallelism) to imply that global warming, the germ theory of disease, and continental drift are all equally supported by scientific evidence. Global warming isn’t really there yet (human-caused global warming really isn’t there yet). We still don’t know what’s causing the warming, what its true magnitude is or will be, how long it will last, what effects it will have, or what to do about it. So it’s not quite up there with the germ theory of disease.

    But the rest of the article isn’t bad. I agree: it’s a faint glimmer of hope.

  2. tomg

    re flat earth

    yeah that gets abused – better example is belief in the earth at the center of the universe which persisted until copernicus in 16th century iirc

  3. My point is very modest and it is this: At least the writer admits that Darwinism does not have the same epistemic status as, for example, an observed state such at the helio-centric solar system, an example this is often (ludicrously) bandied about by worshipers at the alter of materialism.

  4. yeah that gets abused – better example is belief in the earth at the center of the universe which persisted until copernicus in 16th century iirc

    The earth is pretty darn close to the center. We see the same amount of universe in every direction we look, which is consistent with being in the center.

  5. i see the same amount of land in each direction i look… does that mean i’m at the center of the earth?

  6. Imagine the Universe mapped on to the surface of a balloon. Galaxies are dots drawn on the surface of the balloon No matter which way you look, the view is the same — dots/galaxies as far as you can see in all directions, but to say our dot/galaxy is at the center, that has no meaning.

  7. good grief – i spoke too soon – evidently geocentrism still has a wide following – must be quite a few new epicycles been added since copernicus’ day

    how about phlogiston – is that still alive too?

  8. No no no, Darwin is the center of the universe! Nothing makes sense without Darwin!

  9. DaveScott

    i see the same amount of land in each direction i look… does that mean i’m at the center of the earth

    Even if if you look up? Or do you see sky? So are at the center of the earth or are you on the surface of a sphere?

  10. tyke

    Imagine the Universe mapped on to the surface of a balloon. Galaxies are dots drawn on the surface of the balloon No matter which way you look, the view is the same — dots/galaxies as far as you can see in all directions, but to say our dot/galaxy is at the center, that has no meaning.

    Now stop imagining things and just go with what is actually observed. We appear to be at the center of the universe. The idea that three dimensional space is shaped like the surface of a balloon and so every spot appears to be the center (even if you look up or down unlike DaveScott analogy) is supported by what observation?

  11. tyke, here is science news report saying that the observational evidence proves a flat universe.

  12. The above link isn’t working, so here is the url,

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/sci.....727073.stm

    Here is another observation

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/sci.....004224.stm

  13. We may very well be in the centre of the universe (if it’s not infinite). But how could we ever tell without mapping every corner? It seems rather dogmatic to say we are, or are not.

    I suppose better questions would be ‘do we occupy a unique position in our observable universe?’ or ‘do other galaxies form concentric rings around ours?’

  14. 14

    Jehu,

    If you have a chance to watch “The Privileged Planet”, there’s a nice explanation of where we reside with respect to our own galaxy.

    You seem to be dancing around the concept of both isotropy and homogeneity, which have already been confirmed by observational evidence (on the order of hundreds of Mpsecs). A fun math proof, perhaps Dr. Dembski could elucidate, is showing that space is homogeneous if and only if it’s isotropic everywhere. Furthermore, if space is isotropic in three places, it’s isotropic everywhere.

    The flatness of our universe suggests that traveling out in a particular direction will never result in returning to the origin (infinite extent). This is a separate issue from our place in our home galaxy or the universe.
    Peebles has written an excellent collection of all of the observational data along with cosmological theory in the book “Cosmological Physics”, I highly recommend it.

  15. creek belly,

    The flatness of our universe suggests that traveling out in a particular direction will never result in returning to the origin (infinite extent). This is a separate issue from our place in our home galaxy or the universe.

    The idea is that if space is curved then every spot appears to the center. If space is flat then euclidean geometry attains and not every spot would appear to be the center. What am I missing?

  16. creek belly,

    The flatness of our universe suggests that traveling out in a particular direction will never result in returning to the origin (infinite extent). This is a separate issue from our place in our home galaxy or the universe.

    The idea is that if space is curved then every spot appears to be the center. If space is flat then euclidean geometry attains and not every spot would appear to be the center. What am I missing?

  17. Acquiesce:
    “I suppose better questions would be ‘do we occupy a unique position in our observable universe?’ or ‘do other galaxies form concentric rings around ours?’”

  18. http://www.science-frontiers.c.....084a03.htm

    Do you mean something like that?

  19. “…or the concept that germs carry diseases.”

    This is open to question???

  20. DaveScot, I suspect that where Jehu is coming from is something like Russell Humphrey’s YEC concept of galacto-centricity: that our galaxy is at or near the center of the universe.

  21. Stephen [18]

    Yeah. I find this very interesting – but astronomy is not my subject. But the point is, I think, that we can potentially empirically demonstrate (if these concentric rings are the correct interpretation) that we occupy a unique position in our observable universe. But we cannot empirically demonstrate a ‘centre’ – ever.

  22. Dave,

    There are apparently a lot of kooks out there who are still pushing a geocentric universe. ASA had a discussion of this a couple weeks ago and discussed what would be necessary to disprove it. They were apparently receiving a lot of inquires at their offices about it.

    If the earth is considered a fixed point then one could consider it the center of everything but then all the laws of physics would have to break down especially the speed of light since the stars would have to travel at mucho times the speed of light to complete a 24 hour circuit.

    Also if at other points in the solar system or galaxy are considered fixed and the remaining objects are tracked then the earth has this peculiar property of orbiting the sun.

    Separate question. For the last 10 days I have been having problems getting this website to load and then after 45 minutes to an hour it is back. At the same time I have no trouble getting any other site to load. Have there been occasional problems with the UD server?

  23. jb [responding to 19]

    The issue is not whether the germ theory of disease is open to question. The point the writer makes is that science never “proves” anything. See my post here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....the-piles/

  24. [...] Recent Comments BarryA: Great post Sal. Watching the evolutionists run around in… BarryA: jb [responding to 19] The issue is not whether the germ t… tragicmishap: That attitude is exactly what makes ICR and most YECs so unn… bioinformaticist: Does anyone know where in Darwin’s Black Box Behe suggests “… jerry: Dave, There are apparently a lot of kooks out there who a… PaV: JT75: “But his work, the analysis itself, does not deal dir… Acquiesce: Stephen [18] Yeah. I find this very interesting – but a… PaV: EJ Klone: “Are you saying that we cannot learn how to solve… JT75: PaV: “You say that ID properly belongs to mathematical infor… JT75: DaveScot: “certainly some characteristics of the designer(s)… feed » [...]

  25. [off topic]

    Early-Man ‘Missing Link’ Possibly Found

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,289763,00.html

    Lucy the gorilla-jawed creature still touted as human ancestor!

  26. “Darwin is the center of the universe! Nothing makes sense without Darwin!”

    I say, Behe is the center of the universe, NOW. See all the attention given to him!

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