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The Presumption of Science

March 14, 2014

“Do you not think that there are things which you cannot understand, and yet which are; that some people see things that others cannot?  …Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if explain it not, then it says there is nothing to explain.”  — Bram Stoker, Dracula (Chapter XIV)

“Giving a phenomenon a label does not explain it.”  — Taylor Caldwell

—–

The quotes above relate to one specific, irritating problem I see pervading science and reflected in the media.  I notice there is often an assumption of fact in news articles of scientific topics, and it is time to address them.

When the Higgs boson particle was said to have been discovered in 2012, the explanation was they conducted an experiment verifying the existence a subatomic particle responsible for mass in the measurable universe.  I can’t say I understand the full context of such a particle (or the math hypothesizing it), but here’s how it breaks down: these highly-educated people using one of the COOLEST TOYS EVER collided atoms and watched what happened.  They confirmed what they describe as a particle without motion, as opposed to all others also composed of mass.  Then they announced they found the Higgs boson particle, the one theorized and vindicating many accepted aspects of modern quantum hypothesis.

Put another way, they found an empty spot in the subatomic structure, and on this premise, everyone applauds discovery of the Higgs boson particle.  They claim to have found an object by pointing at a space without matter in it.  This qualifies as proof of a newly-discovered object, both by assumption of the reader and the scientists involved: the arrogance of it to be considered a “God” particle, and for us to prove its existence in our terms…

The logic is, suffice to say, flawed.  But it validates the supposition humanity knows all.  Anything unaccountable is ignored or poorly assessed until it can be sufficiently described (not necessarily defined, though).  See the above quotes.

This trend is still going.  There is an article about an unusual diamond with what I can only describe as water, modified by extreme heat and pressure.  It was found in Brazil and is being used to justify current theory of planetary mechanics.  The material in the diamond is a form of olivine called ringwoodite, which theoretically results from heat and pressure in the Earth’s magma at a certain depth.  To hear it from scientific sources, “323 to 410 miles (520 to 660 km) deep… olivine is thought to become ringwoodite.  But until now, no one had direct evidence that olivine was actually ringwoodite at this depth.”

In fact, no one has it yet.

There has been very little direct evidence to verify models of the mechanics of Earth in a geological sense, and whatever American textbooks say, the plate tectonic theory does not account for everything.  There are earthquakes in the center of alleged plates, after all, and there shouldn’t be if this is true.  Measuring the speed of kinetic waves earthquakes generate gives many clues, but they are not in themselves proof of anything.  Finding this one sample diamond with the expected material in it is not proof of where it came from, only proof there IS a place underground with requisite temperatures and pressures.

The word for this is tautology.  Something is true because someone says it is.  A specific fossil belongs at whatever point in the evolutionary line because the biologists say it does, without peripheral data to confirm this (until they move it elsewhere, quietly, because new evidence nullified their previous “theory”).  In this case, the ringwoodite proves properties of the Earth at a particular location out of human observability because we say it conforms with the hypothesis, not because it has a passport from that region of the mantle.  It’s all very subjective.  Yet, it is presented and accepted as fact.  At least people from the 22nd century will laugh about it.

If this is how we choose to perceive the world, we handicap ourselves from other possibilities.  Worse, we can only blind ourselves to other probabilities.  Historically, this leads to upheaval (social, political, or scientific).  This ringwoodite may be interpreted correctly, or not.  But the presumption is so unscientific!  At least say it is highly probable it is from however deep into the surface, not it IS from there without having any way to know.

The mantle layer scientists think this diamond is spewed from could be just the way they describe, or the layer could be notorious for inconsistency, or the pressure could compound in an entirely different way than geologists think.  We don’t know.  We should not presume anything, and we usually assume anything so long as it fits our view of the universe.

And wouldn’t you know it, not a full day after I post the original draft of this weblog I find this article describing a needed “reality check” on macroevolutionists.  <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/27/dinosaur-feathers-species-scales-armor_n_4508734.html>  Perfect timing.

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