Friday Funny: Scientific blunders on parade

It isn’t just climate change where we see blunders being made daily,  the mistakes made by some of history’s greatest scientists are often useful, and they learned from them (unlike some dogmatic climate scientists we can name).

Renowned astrophysicist Mario Livio explores and analyzes major errors committed by such luminaries as Charles Darwin, Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle and Albert Einstein. During a live public lecture webcast on June 1, 2016, astrophysicist and author Dr. Mario Livio looked at major missteps made by some of history’s greatest scientists, and explained why blunders are actually an integral part of the scientific process.

 

0 0 votes
Article Rating
105 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bob Burban
September 30, 2016 4:06 pm

As some wag once noted: “Show me a man who has never made a mistake and I’ll show you a man who has learnt nothing.”

PaulH
Reply to  Bob Burban
September 30, 2016 4:24 pm

The trick is to not keep making the same mistakes over and over.

AndyG55
Reply to  PaulH
September 30, 2016 4:47 pm

Bit difficult for the climate so-called scientists.
The whole edifice is built on mistakes.
They have a whole heap of “negative” knowledge, that needs to be unlearnt before that can make any real progress.

Henry Bowman
Reply to  PaulH
September 30, 2016 4:52 pm

One should tell that to folks such as Paul Erlich.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  PaulH
September 30, 2016 10:12 pm

Only mistake is one you don’t learn from.

A disinterested observer
Reply to  PaulH
October 4, 2016 2:16 pm

And the key to avoiding such repetition is to keep government, especially professional politicians, from sponsoring research.

Reply to  Bob Burban
September 30, 2016 6:15 pm

Perhaps our children’s most crippling fear is of error, of being wrong. Better a good error than a bad question. Experience is a good teacher; a bad experience is a better teacher.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
October 1, 2016 11:38 am

I always was glad to be shown where I erred. That is how to learn to do better. And once I was shown a contract provision that I had previously approved in another contract. I said “let me review it. I may have learned something since then.” No need to defend old errors.

John Shepherd
Reply to  Bob Burban
September 30, 2016 9:21 pm

I used to run an analysis organization. I told my staff that if at the end of a project you thought that if you had to do it over again you had learned nothing. The end result of every analytical project should be dissatisfaction with your results because you know more at the end then you did at the beginning.

firetoice2014
Reply to  Bob Burban
October 1, 2016 5:35 am

…or done nothing.

george e. smith
Reply to  Bob Burban
October 2, 2016 3:53 pm

“Show me a man who has never made a mistake and I’ll show you a man who has never made anything.” is the way it goes.
G

ClimateOtter
September 30, 2016 4:13 pm

I believe Charles Darwin was the first to notice that corals keep up with sea-level rise. Funny how today’s climate scientists can’t seem to grasp that.

Andyj
Reply to  ClimateOtter
September 30, 2016 5:01 pm

but my island is sinking.

Donald Kasper
Reply to  Andyj
September 30, 2016 9:36 pm

All islands sink. It is called erosion. It is also tectonic stasis. As magma stops coming to the surface in an eruption, the region realigns and equilibrates, lowering to a common level. But, if you strip naked and paint yourself red, this will stop. This is anthropogenic control of the world. Very powerful magic.

Olaf Koenders
Reply to  Andyj
October 1, 2016 5:26 am

“but my island is sinking.”

Build an airport on it Andyj. I believe that’ll fix the problem 100%.

emsnews
Reply to  Andyj
October 1, 2016 1:42 pm

All volcanic rocks in the ocean grow smaller and smaller over time. This is why the Hawaiian island chain, the smallest islands are the oldest and the biggest are the newest. This concept seems impossible for climatologists to understand.

george e. smith
Reply to  Andyj
October 2, 2016 3:54 pm

rebound.
g

Greg
Reply to  ClimateOtter
September 30, 2016 6:03 pm

Since great blunders are apparently a feature of the work of great geniuses, maybe climatologists really are just trying to show how clever they are.

Reply to  Greg
October 1, 2016 12:29 pm

Greg,
Thanks. I agree.
I note your use of the same climatologists’ favourite scientific term – ‘maybe’.
Plus lots!
Auto – maybe the cleverest man in all history.
Ummm.
Maybe not, also.
PS Mods – not /sarc. At all.
Just ‘maybe not’ is the way to bet the ranch.

Scott
September 30, 2016 4:41 pm

I think there is a huge difference between making a genuine scientific mistakes like the ones Charles Darwin, Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle and Albert Einstein made as opposed to knowing your theory is wrong but keeping up the pretext to keep the grant and other sources of money coming in to their pockets.

yam
Reply to  Scott
September 30, 2016 5:26 pm

I tawt I taw a hockey thtick a cweepin’ up on me.

Leo Smith
Reply to  yam
September 30, 2016 5:37 pm

too wight you thaw a hockey thtick,
made out of just one twee…

noaaprogrammer
Reply to  yam
September 30, 2016 10:15 pm

…and wit dat awful hockey thtick,
a tiny mann did tee,
a mitey thwing at common thense,
to thcare us by degrees.

Reply to  yam
October 1, 2016 12:36 pm

Yam, Leo, Noaa
Another life for my screen!
Just put the Villageoise – an excellent, if inexpensive, French red wine – down . . . .
Much appreciated.
Auto

BoyfromTottenham
Reply to  Scott
September 30, 2016 9:48 pm

Hi from Oz. Spot on Scott. I would add that as well as about ‘keeping up the pretext…’, its about a global political agenda that goes waaay beyond mere grant money. Otherwise the pollies, multi-national corporations and NGOs wouldn’t need to be on board. But they are, big time. Remember the phrase ‘the long march through the institutions’? See here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2013/04/the-long-march-through-the-institutions/.

emsnews
Reply to  Scott
October 1, 2016 1:43 pm

LYING about things is not ‘making mistakes’ but a crime!

September 30, 2016 4:44 pm

If the answer doesn’t seem right, try changing the sign first.

Reply to  Roy Spencer
September 30, 2016 5:51 pm

Obsolete. These days they change the judge and the jury.

noaaprogrammer
Reply to  Curious George
September 30, 2016 10:17 pm

Don’t forget the executioner too!

Hugs
Reply to  Roy Spencer
October 1, 2016 11:12 am

These days try -1 first, then check your array was initialized.

Mark - Helsinki
September 30, 2016 4:50 pm

Ooh can’t question Einstein, nope tut tut 😀

Reply to  Mark - Helsinki
September 30, 2016 5:04 pm

Einstein’s brain was exploding with genius. How else do you explain that hair?

Leo Smith
Reply to  Roy Spencer
September 30, 2016 5:38 pm

Grecian 1900?

Go Whitecaps!!
Reply to  Roy Spencer
September 30, 2016 6:32 pm

His wife stopped taking care of him.

JohnKnight
Reply to  Roy Spencer
September 30, 2016 9:09 pm

Roy,
Well, in the spirit of hypothetical Neils ; ) it seems to me he might have been preserving a bit of anonymity potential . . If he walked into a dime-store with his hair neatly combed, I doubt he’s get a second glance from anyone.

jono1066
Reply to  Roy Spencer
September 30, 2016 11:40 pm

far higher ratio of glial cells than normal

george e. smith
Reply to  Roy Spencer
October 2, 2016 3:59 pm

Grass doesn’t grow on busy streets.
G

A C, of Adelaide
September 30, 2016 4:58 pm

For those with a broader interest in the history (and future ) of science can I point you in the direction of Carroll Quigley’s 1961 book – The Evolution of Civilizations. He argues that a Civilization comes to an end when its “instrument of expansion” becomes “institutionalalised”. That is, when the people who control that instrument of expansion lever their power to perpetuate their position for own political purposes rather than for the society as a whole. His example is the way the cavalry officers in Britain levered their control of the military to maintain the influence of the cavalry – even when it was obvious the horse had lost its military usefulness. Quigley asserts that Britain devoted more space on ships to France to fodder for cavalry horses, than they did to shells. Get to the point. I believe there is a good argumant that science – formerly an instrument of expansion of the West has now become “institutionalised” and controlled by vested interests and no longer follows strict scientific method – just as Quigley prediced in a declining Civilization.

Tim Hammond
Reply to  A C, of Adelaide
October 1, 2016 4:54 am

Unfortunately the cavalry claims are nothing more than a perpetuation of the myths about WWi that predominated thinking about the War between 1920 and 1970. The fodder for horses was mainly for pulling the artillery around, not the cavalry. Even in 1918, the vast majority of the artillery for all sides was still horse-drawn.
And cavalry was still extremely useful if the infantry made a breakthrough – there are arguments that had Ludendorf used his cavalry in the German offensives in spring 1918, the British army might have collapsed.Luckily he had left them in Russia to grab land when he transferred his infantry divisions to the Western Front.

commieBob
Reply to  Tim Hammond
October 1, 2016 2:02 pm

Wikipedia has a good article on Horses in World War 1. In Europe, cavalry was pretty useless. Horse, on the other hand, were necessary for logistics. Here’s an interesting quote:

Ultimately, the blockade of Germany prevented the Central Powers from importing horses to replace those lost, which contributed to Germany’s defeat.

Elsewhere, cavalry was quite useful. It is hard to imagine Lawrence of Arabia without horses and camels. He was operating in a vast emptiness and cavalry moves a lot faster than infantry.
Cavalry might still have been useful under certain circumstances.

… there are arguments that had Ludendorf used his cavalry in the German offensives in spring 1918, the British army might have collapsed. …

Actually, at one point, Canadian cavalry did cause a German offense to collapse.

… in the spring of 1918, Canadian cavalry was essential in halting the last major German offensive of the war.[21] On March 30, 1918, Canadian cavalry charged German positions in the Battle of Moreuil Wood, defeating a superior German force supported by machine gun fire.[22] The charge was made by Lord Strathcona’s Horse, led by Gordon Flowerdew, later posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the charge. Although the German forces surrendered,[21] three-quarters of the 100 cavalry participating in the attack were killed or wounded in the attack against 300 German soldiers.

I haven’t read Quigley’s book but it sounds like the cavalry example is over-simplified. The basic contention seems to be right on though.

Having studied the rise and fall of civilizations, “Quigley found the explanation of disintegration in the gradual transformation of social ‘instruments’ into ‘institutions,’ that is, transformation of social arrangements functioning to meet real social needs into social institutions serving their own purposes regardless of real social needs”. link

Eventually, the wrong people get their hands on the levers of power.

Andyj
September 30, 2016 5:00 pm

I personally disagree about Fred Hoyle.
The present notion of the big bang is failing now at every new fact to the point they keep inventing new particles and unmeasurable energies to make it almost fit together. The speed of light throughout the cosmos as a reference figure fails on the most basic of practical engineering practices. Yet the steady state theory is the big bang, only more subtle.

Go Whitecaps!!
Reply to  Andyj
September 30, 2016 6:31 pm

Are they inventing new particles or are they discovering old ones.

Gary Hladik
Reply to  Andyj
September 30, 2016 9:57 pm
RoHa
Reply to  Andyj
October 1, 2016 3:14 am

Many years ago I listened to a fascinating paper by a mathematical physicist. I could almost follow the physics, but the maths were way beyond me. A friend could manage the maths, but not the physics. Putting it together afterwards, we realised that what he was trying to say was that the physics of the Big Bang could only work with a specific geometry of space time, but that geometry was inconsistent. Thus, the BB could not have happened.
Don’t ask me to debate or discuss this. Just remembering it makes my brain hurt.

Hugs
Reply to  RoHa
October 1, 2016 11:17 am

Physics is inconsistent. So far.

September 30, 2016 5:00 pm

The lecture is a short summary of his terrific book, Brilliant Blunders. Also available as an inexpensive ebook on iBooks and Kindle. Recommended reading for all.

The Original Mike M
September 30, 2016 5:03 pm

[imgcomment image[/img]

clipe
Reply to  The Original Mike M
September 30, 2016 5:35 pm

Drop the img tags?comment image

Bruce Cobb
September 30, 2016 5:21 pm

Climate “science” is mistakes all the way down.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
October 1, 2016 2:30 pm

Let’s be fair Bruce; science is mistakes all the way down.

September 30, 2016 5:46 pm

An old joke “Pavlov and a flea”.
Pavlov trained a flea to jump after a command “Flea jump!” He starts an experiment: Flea jump! The flea jumps. He amputates one of flea’s legs: Flea jump! The flea jumps, not as high as before. He continues to amputate legs. After the amputation of the last leg, he commands: Flea jump! Nothing. Flea jump!!! Nothing. FLEA JUMP!!! Nothing. And Pavlov writes in his lab notebook: After the amputation of all legs, a flea loses hearing.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Curious George
October 1, 2016 7:49 pm

LOL. I had never heard that one before. Thanks.

george e. smith
Reply to  Curious George
October 2, 2016 4:04 pm

Except it was a joke about frogs, not fleas. And not about Pavlov, but research projects.
G

H.R.
September 30, 2016 7:03 pm

Tiljander.

jono1066
Reply to  H.R.
September 30, 2016 11:42 pm

ʇᴉlɐupǝɹ

K. Kilty
September 30, 2016 7:17 pm

Newton and the fudge factor.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  K. Kilty
October 1, 2016 3:50 pm

Wouldn’t that be fig factor?

September 30, 2016 7:56 pm

Climate science suffers not so much from blunders than from bias and narrowness of focus on CO2.
in unbiased scientific inquiry one asks research questions, makes observations, and draws conclusions from those observations. in biased research, one begins with ex ante conclusions and that leads to a narrow focus on the kind of observations one makes and the way the results are interpreted.
thus, if one’s world begins and ends with CO2 and all explanations are made in terms of CO2 the roles of other variables and of randomness are easy to overlook. what i find in the data is that natural variability and the effects of variables not considered in AGW theory confound the effects of CO2.
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308761991_GENERATIONAL_FOSSIL_FUEL_EMISSIONS_AND_GENERATIONAL_WARMING_A_NOTE

Reply to  chaamjamal
October 1, 2016 2:39 pm

Thanks Jamal. Looks very interesting.

JohnKnight
September 30, 2016 8:46 pm

Very enjoyable, thanks, Anthony.

davidmhoffer
September 30, 2016 9:35 pm

A very interesting video. But I would not conflate the errors of eminent scientists of days gone by with the alarmascientists of today. Nor would I call them liars.
More like an effort in contrived misdirection.

Reply to  davidmhoffer
October 1, 2016 12:21 am

There’s information lack and confirmation bias
and there’s data manipulation and lyin’.
(A miss-step versus a naychur-trick.)

September 30, 2016 11:50 pm

Anthony. Thank you very much for the video!!! I enjoyed it immensely! Bookmarked and will show and share it as many times as possible!

October 1, 2016 1:10 am

Very illuminating. I’d like to suggest that CAGW theory is not a brilliant blunder. It’s a tragic one.

October 1, 2016 2:17 am

Just listened to his lecture in Hebrew in Israel.
Love this guy (helped me figure my physics many years ago with his series of videos).

October 1, 2016 4:22 am

Some time ago I accidentally met someone from the Pauling’s immediate family, his biggest blunder might have been his overbearing obsession with vitamin C.

Goutboy
Reply to  vukcevic
October 1, 2016 6:14 am

Really, it has a lot support and is as credible as that nasty cholesterol.

Carbon BIgfoot
Reply to  Goutboy
October 1, 2016 5:38 pm

Art Robinson “worked” with Linus. Want the truth about Vitamin C look in the Access to Energy Archives published by Art. Fascinating story. Sorry I don’t provide the leg work. Interested look it up yourself.

george e. smith
Reply to  vukcevic
October 2, 2016 4:08 pm

I attended his lecture on sickle cell anemia.at the University of Auckland physics Dept.
He was the most dynamic lecturer, I have ever heard. Only Bill Shockley comes close.
G

sherlock1
October 1, 2016 4:37 am

My favorite was the assertion, in 1946, by the then head of IBM (whose name escapes me), that there was ‘a worldwide market for probably four or five computers…’

Patrick MJD
Reply to  sherlock1
October 1, 2016 6:08 am

In 1946, and before, IBM was in to bacon slicers and coffee grinders. Computers then, not so much.

Steve Fraser
Reply to  Patrick MJD
October 1, 2016 3:07 pm

Mechanical tabulators and other analog business machines…

Reply to  Patrick MJD
October 3, 2016 1:29 am

In 1946 and before, IBM powered the IT revolution that made the Final Solution practical. Look up DeHoMag (their German subsidiary) and read the book that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_and_the_Holocaust is about. You don’t need computers to do IT. Punched card equipment will do an amazing job. It wasn’t that Watson didn’t see a need for computING; that was IBM’s bread and butter. By the way, I used to work for Cuthbert Hurd. It was he to whom Watson said “If you can get orders for five, we’ll build them”. And he did, so they did.

Grockle
Reply to  sherlock1
October 1, 2016 9:18 am

Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943

Paul Penrose
Reply to  sherlock1
October 1, 2016 7:54 pm

In 1946 that was probably a pretty accurate assessment given the state of the art and general ignorance of computers by people at the time.

October 1, 2016 5:37 am

Nice talk. But it would be interesting to see a detailed account of the generation after Darwin & how long it took to accept the genetic theories of Mandel. I would quibble with the presenter using the phrase ‘explains everything’ in the context of the origins of life. It smacks a little too much of the ‘settled science’ of the CAGW crowd. CO2 explains everything … except when it doesn’t.\sarc

October 1, 2016 9:31 am

Re Scientific blunders on parade, 9/30/2016
While I haven’t read the book, I did catch the whole of a 10 minute(!) YouTube clip of Mario Livio interviewed by a surgeon on PBS After Words. Livio was explaining Darwin’s big blunder. Livio said that this blunder was related to the problem that genetics of the day was blended, not Mendelian or particulate. Livio gave Darwin a pass on accepting the conventional wisdom of blended inheritance, but faulted Darwin for thinking that blended inheritance could produce distinct varieties and species instead of an ever more dilute morphology.
During the interview, Livio explained blended inheritance as mixing paint. He said it was like mixing red paint and yellow paint to produce green paint! Whoops! Maybe Livio should write an addendum raising the number of blunderers from five to six.
However, I give Livio a Get-Out-of-Jail Free card on that one, too. Call it a slip of the tongue in a live interview. But I fault Livio for his understanding of Darwin’s Natural Selection. It is a gold standard in science today, but nevertheless stands as a scientific blunder. Darwin modeled NS after man’s breeding of varieties of life, a process by which desirable characteristics are selected generation after generation to create a viable, reproducing variety. That process requires a sentient being, one able to impart direction and an intent, all attributes explicitly Darwin gave to his Natural Selection. Such models are prohibited in science.
Now with supernatural powers, anything can be produced from anything else, out of whole cloth. Blended inheritance is not a problem for God, gods, Natural Selection, or whatever deity one has in mind. Perhaps Darwin could be given a pass on that blunder, too. Just as blended inheritance had no discrete beginning, the notion that science may not rely on any supernatural element has “evolved” slowly, too.
No, the next blunder is Livio’s for not recognizing Darwin’s Natural Selection for what it was, Supernatural Selection, all powerful, explaining everything.
Here’s hoping the rest of Brilliant Blunders is better.

JohnKnight
Reply to  Jeff Glassman
October 1, 2016 1:04 pm

Jeff,
“Now with supernatural powers, anything can be produced from anything else, out of whole cloth.”
In imagination, anything can be produced from anything else . . but imagination is not rightly spoken of as a supernatural power, it seems to me. I’m not aware of any historical “gods” that ostensibly had that kind of pull, so to speak . .
I advise you not believe everything that pops into your head ; )

Reply to  JohnKnight
October 1, 2016 2:06 pm

Verily, good Knight. The universe is expanding. It always has been expanding. Linearly, all the way back to the Big Bang. Out of nothing, everything. In my imagination, as it just popped into my head.

JohnKnight
Reply to  JohnKnight
October 1, 2016 5:28 pm

Jeff,
“Blended inheritance is not a problem for God, gods, Natural Selection, or whatever deity one has in mind.”
What the hell are were talking about there? It sure looks like some stuff that just popped into your head to me . .

Reply to  JohnKnight
October 1, 2016 8:11 pm

Whiff, Sir Knight.

JohnKnight
Reply to  JohnKnight
October 1, 2016 9:42 pm

“The universe is expanding.”
~ It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in ~
Words to that effect occur several times in the Book. What a coincidence, eh?

Reply to  JohnKnight
October 3, 2016 6:40 am

johnKnight 10/1/16 @ 9:42 pm quotes Isaiah 40:22. This is the Bible exhorting a belief in God for His wonders, as in creating heaven and earth. This verse describes Him laying out the heavens above Earth. How does this fit scientific blunders, evolution, an expanding universe, or any topic reached on this thread? Apparently it just coincidentally popped into johnKnight’s head as he was trying to catch up with the posts.

JohnKnight
Reply to  JohnKnight
October 3, 2016 12:59 pm

“This verse describes Him laying out the heavens above Earth.”
With inhabitants thereof? Me no think so, Sherlock ; )
~ It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:
That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity ~

Reply to  JohnKnight
October 3, 2016 3:39 pm

johnKnight 10/3/16 @ 12:59 pm seems confused, asking
With inhabitants thereof? Me no think so, Sherlock 😉
The inhabitants are in the story. Check it out! They are the grasshoppers, locusts in some translations, holy metaphors. The Bible is the null hypothesis, a faith hypothesis, for many things, including evolution and cosmology, and therefore for expansion of the universe. On the other hand what is surprising is that Isaiah included perspective, earthly inhabitants appearing as tiny beings from far above!

JohnKnight
Reply to  JohnKnight
October 4, 2016 4:06 pm

“The inhabitants are in the story.”
Yep, before and after the present tense talk of God spreading out the heavens. In other places the past tense is used, (i.e.; In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth).
“The Bible is the null hypothesis, a faith hypothesis, for many things, including evolution and cosmology, and therefore for expansion of the universe.”
It still says what it says there, not whatever you or I want it to say. It’s clearly ongoing present tense lingo being used consistently in those verses, and interpreting in a (radical) temporal departure without any change in tense is just . . wishful thinking, it seems to me, Jeff.
I could understand some sort of rationalization about a writer happening to be under the impression for whatever reasons that the heavens (universe) are spreading out, it’s not really all that radical of a potential after all, but I don’t understand the ignoring of what it actually says. It looks to me like bias at work . .

Reply to  JohnKnight
October 5, 2016 2:58 am

johnKnight 10/4/16 @ 4:06 pm thinks Isaiah 4:22 proves that the Bible teaches the expanding universe conjecture. He does this by morphing [He] … that stretches out the heavens as a curtain into the Bible teaching that the heavens are, i.e., the universe is, expanding. John just quit reading when he got to a point he could hammer into his wishes. He should have read on, at least to the period in the sentence. After curtain comes a comma followed by and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in. Apparently Rev. John has experience not simply with boundless curtains, but with inhabitable inflating tents. Can’t compete with that.

JohnKnight
Reply to  JohnKnight
October 5, 2016 1:47 pm

“After curtain comes a comma followed by and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in. Apparently Rev. John has experience not simply with boundless curtains, but with inhabitable inflating tents. Can’t compete with that.”
The universe is expanding, according to physicists, because space-time is expanding . . which is what they believe came into existence with the supposed “big bang”. Sometimes it is called “the fabric of the universe” . . it’s what we dwell in, one might say.

Reply to  Jeff Glassman
October 6, 2016 8:40 am

johnKnight 10/5/16 @ 1:47 pm says, The universe is expanding, according to physicists, because space-time is expanding . . which is what they believe came into existence with the supposed “big bang”. Sometimes it is called “the fabric of the universe” . . it’s what we dwell in, one might say. Bold added.
johnKnight all but gives up on his theocratic notion that the Bible tells of the expansion of the universe. He retreats by reposting a bit of what I had posted on 10/1/16, a post he admitted he could not comprehend, and so claimed it just popped into [my] head. What he leaves out are two points about the Big Bang conjecture: (1) that the universe has always been expanding, and (2) that it can be extrapolated back to a time zero. For several good reasons, the Big Bang conjecture is a candidate for yet another scientific blunder to add to Livio’s list.
johnKnight should have said that the universe is CURRENTLY expanding. He is correct, though, when he notes that the Big Bang is what scientists believe. But whatever beliefs they hold, beliefs are outside science. Models of the real world are scientific if and only if they make valid predictions, ones that are better than chance. Beliefs are not science regardless of who holds them as their personal models, or how many hold them.
The cosmology, including the Standard Cosmology with the Big Bang is coming apart at the seams. The equations need fudge factors, namely Dark Matter and Dark Energy, to match observations. The cosmology couldn’t determine whether the expansion was constant or diminishing, a predictive failure since recent estimates show that it is accelerating! For a goodly list of problems, Google for Shortcomings of the Standard Cosmology. Perhaps a list exists somewhere of successful predictions, but until it makes some and until its major shortcomings are resolved, it remains at best a hypothesis. As Seinfeld famously said, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Cosmology and climatology share more than just a casual orthographic similarity to confuse the johnKnights. The Big Bang appears destined to land alongside Anthropogenic Global Warming on the trash heap of scientific blunders. Fortunately for humans, the Big Bang is different because it poses no imaginary problem in need of an emergency solution. It does not require a wholesale, faith-based surrender to a new technocracy. And the proclaimed and exalted scientists practicing these (and many parallel arts), along with the media and the politicians, have not a glimmer of what it means to color outside the lines, or if they do, personal gains trump science.

JohnKnight
Reply to  Jeff Glassman
October 6, 2016 6:53 pm

“johnKnight all but gives up on his theocratic notion that the Bible tells of the expansion of the universe.”
No I didn’t . . Seriously, I think you need to stop believing whatever happens to come into your mind at any given moment, ’cause your not reading mine in there . .
“What he leaves out are two points about the Big Bang conjecture: (1) that the universe has always been expanding, and (2) that it can be extrapolated back to a time zero. For several good reasons, the Big Bang conjecture is a candidate for yet another scientific blunder to add to Livio’s list.”
Look, sir, it’s you who wrote this;
“Verily, good Knight. The universe is expanding. It always has been expanding. Linearly, all the way back to the Big Bang.”
… I never said I believed it, and I don’t. I think it’s a blunder, as you (apparently) now are expressing. I said; “which is what they believe came into existence with the supposed “big bang”.”, under the impression that you believe it, and I was “gently” implying my skepticism about what I thought you believed, with the ‘they’ and ‘supposed’ in that sentence. Honest.
“johnKnight should have said that the universe is CURRENTLY expanding.”
That’s redundant to me . . is indicates currently . . to me, anyway . .
In any event, you take care.

October 1, 2016 2:54 pm

Intelligent design is not an idea I do or would subscribe for of number of reasons.
Darwin’s Natural Selection works well in perfecting existing specie, we can see that in the fact that most of species around are almost at or near a pinnacle of perfection necessary for their survival, but not so perfect to overwhelm in numbers and so endanger their own existence, although humans are in danger of passing such tipping point in not too distant future.
Let’s for an example take birds, there are many similar types existing in the same space competing for the same type of food, exposed to the same predators and yet all are equally successful.
This type of development could be explained by a sudden genetic mutation from fewer species which took place in some distant past. Genetic mutations are readily caused by excessive radiation. Every 100 K years or so, our planet looses its protective shroud shielding it from the hazards of cosmic radiation. The exposure lasting one or two millennia during the geomagnetic reversals is long enough for a large number of generations exposed to radiation to absorb some of mutations as permanent feature.
Over two to three billion of years, process was repeated many millions of times, to get us from a single cell organisms to the present state of ‘evolution’.
So it could be said that the evolution was not a smooth moving up-escalator, it was a painful climb up the millions of steps long staircase.
Gradual evolution wasn’t Darwin’s blunder, he didn’t know of genetic mutation, cosmic radiation or geomagnetic reversals.
p.s. thinking out of the box isn’t much of science but certainly it is a lot of fun.

JohnKnight
Reply to  vukcevic
October 1, 2016 6:18 pm

Vuk,
“Darwin’s Natural Selection works well in perfecting existing specie, we can see that in the fact that most of species around are almost at or near a pinnacle of perfection necessary for their survival, but not so perfect to overwhelm in numbers and so endanger their own existence ..”
That looks like circular reasoning to me, since it presumes “Darwin’s Natural Selection” is in operation (only), and bestows upon it the intelligence-like limitations we can grasp as necessary to prevent endangerment of any hypothetical development of excessively “successful” critters, which nothing could foresee under such a paradigm.
Why would any creature-line have any inherent resistance to “evolving” into a state where it could destroy it’s ecosystem/food supply. It makes no sense (to me) to evoke a future problem it might encounter if it became “too good” at surviving . . Indeed, I see the (apparent) lack of such overly successful critters occurring over and over again, as inferential evidence that something else is actually responsible for the vast array of creatures we can observe in reality-land.
It’s not enough, I feel, to speak as though critter-lines could have “learned their lesson” somehow from previous overly successful adaptations the line experienced and almost died out as a result of, or from other creature-lines having been too successful at any point(s) in the past. It’s sort of like attributing intelligence to “genetics” overall, it seems to me . .
“Let’s for an example take birds, there are many similar types existing in the same space competing for the same type of food, exposed to the same predators and yet all are equally successful.”
Sure . . just like one might expect under an ID regime, but not under a wide open “whatever works for short term reproductive advantage” regime . . which is Darwinian evolution’s only option (that I can imagine).

Reply to  JohnKnight
October 2, 2016 1:28 am

hi there
Intelligence (acquired or designed) is an obstacle to further ‘evolution’.
Darwin’s logic of ‘survival of fittest’ is ‘evolutionary’ cul the sac.
Inflicting pain on the very early embryonic development across multiplicity of generations is the only way to get required diversity.

JohnKnight
Reply to  JohnKnight
October 2, 2016 4:09 pm

Vuk,
I assume genetic mutation is involved when I speak of Darwinian Evolution . . I don’t mean just the “mechanisms” he personally mentioned/considered. I readily agree that if an “intelligent designer” is not involved/responsible, then “pain” (I think you meant damage) to the coding (genetic mutation) is the logical mechanism at the heart of the matter. I am just questioning the notion that such a mechanism could somehow limit success, such that ecosystem devastating variants would not arise more or less routinely.
You seem to me to be assuming on the one hand that change would be relatively sudden (extremely hard for me to believe, given the sheer numbers of complimentary molecular scale details required for any biological system I am aware of to work, but I’ll grant for the sake of argument that it might happen occasionally) and yet on the other hand assuming that when such sudden “advantageous” new developments occur, they would be somehow limited to changes that wouldn’t “outpace” competitors and/or codependent species to the point of severely reducing variety (including the “culprit” perhaps dying off eventually) . . rather than just adding a bit.
The gradual more continuous change (evolution) concepts can logically support the notion of co-evolving organisms which sort of foster change in each other to “keep up”, but as I sense you realize, are not suppo0rted by anything we can see in the “fossil record”. Mr. Darwin himself spoke of that problem as perhaps the most significant objection to his idea . . for lack of gradually changing critters in any abundance. Stable species abound, and in fact are all we have thus far uncovered as far as I know.
Punctuated equilibrium theory was the potential “solution” I was taught about back in the day, but back then, it had not yet become clear just how hyper-complex living stuff is, on the molecular scale I spoke of earlier . . it ain’t goo in there, it’s order upon order upon order, on all scales, all the way down so to speak. The odds against simultaneous compatible/orchestral happenstance mutations are prohibitive to my mind . . such as it is ; )

lewispbuckingham
Reply to  vukcevic
October 1, 2016 8:16 pm

The problem with that theory is that when organisms are irradiated the vast number of mutations are deleterious.
This incidentally is why I have a lot of problems in believing there was ever life on Mars, as it lacks Van Allen Belts.
When I was at uni Lamarkianism was a taboo, now it can be discussed.
There may be other mechanisms, particularly in bacteria.
As I understand it genes naturally fail to replicate and copy perfectly anyway, so genetic drift leads to selection at the ends of the curve of survival.
All theories rely upon there being a propensity for order anyway.
Randomness is therefore the mechanism whereby natural selection may lead to order.
Thus there is no need for Intelligent design.
However there remains the need for a propensity and hence a source of ultimate order.

Reply to  lewispbuckingham
October 2, 2016 9:53 am

“The problem with that theory is that when organisms are irradiated the vast number of mutations are deleterious.”
But few that survive and are capable of reproduction might be one driving evolution one step up.
“All theories rely upon there being a propensity for order anyway.”
Order is then established by survival of the fittest on the flat part of the ‘evolutionary’ staircase.

lewispbuckingham
Reply to  vukcevic
October 2, 2016 2:38 pm

VK, As you say ‘might be’.
If life were so versatile, one would expect Mars to be an Exobiologists dream.
My skeptical side asks’ Why is it that only Europa and Mars could have life then?
Perhaps it just needs more study and funding.’
‘Order is then established by survival of the fittest on the flat part of the ‘evolutionary’ staircase.’
Not sure what you are saying here.
Characteristics of populations of animals can be placed on a bell curve.
As the environment shifts the outliers may have characteristics which allow them to breed and survive better than the rest.
Eventually they become the dominant form if this is so.
Irradiating them tends to wipe them out.
It introduces disorder.I am hypothesizing that constant irradiation does wipe them out.
However a slowly moving error in replication does not.
Perhaps you are thinking that a slow rate of drift plus an occasional irradiation event is beneficial.
If so, I agree.
One of the arguments against life in some galaxies,I shake with fear making such a comment to an astrophysicist,is that gamma radiation sterilizes it .
Just as happens when some foods and medical equipment are irradiated to kill the bugs.
It is highly effective.
For any order to be established, there has to be some underlying order which may be selected for.
I remember my first biochemistry class, where the carbon atom with its four valencies was written upon the board.
So where did that come from?

Greg Cavanagh
October 1, 2016 3:04 pm

To quote Professor Mario Livio:
Sloppy Blunders:
There are blunders that are inexcusable. These are blunders that are made because you “are” sloppy, or maybe even not quite sloppy, but not thoughtful enough. You don’t think of all the possibilities, these are inexcusable. Even blunders that are made because you do not have the proper experience, are at some level inexcusable, because you should at some level be aware that you are inexperienced, and you should ask for the proper guidance.
I think climate science falls well within the “Sloppy Blunders” category.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
October 1, 2016 7:59 pm

Only if you give them the benefit of the doubt. That may be too kind in the case of some “climate scientists”.

SAMURAI
October 1, 2016 9:56 pm

This was a wonderful and insightful lecture by a scientist with a great sense of humor.
CAGW is an example of stupid blunders because there is now sufficient disparity and duration to completely disconfirm ALL the silly CAGW hypothetical projections for: ECS, ocean pH, sea level rise, increasing trends of severe weather intensity/frequency, polar ice loss, etc.
What makes CAGW a stupid “scientific” blunder is that the huge disparities between CAGW projections vs. reality are well known. To avoid hypothetical disconfirmation, CAGW advocates: “adjust” empirical data to better match projections, ignore data they don’t like, attack scientists that dare question the efficacy of CAGW, withhold research grants to scientists unsupportive of CAGW, fail to expose known fallacies (97% consensus lie, ocean acidification lie, Antarctic ice loss lie, increasing severe weather trends lie, “unprecedented” global warming lie, etc.)
CAGW is actually a political phenomenon, not a physical one. Politics must be removed from science, which can only be done by ending all public funding of scientific research (with the exception of research for national defense).
Until all public scientific research funding ends, we’ll always risk multi-trillion dollar scams like CAGW.

Patrick Powers
October 2, 2016 12:39 am

I like Mario’s lectures and particularly for this blog, I like one of his perceptive quotes: “One of the most important things that distinguishes science from religion is that in science we (eventually) are happy to change our minds. This is called learning”.
The warmists might take heed….

freethoughtcheboygan
October 2, 2016 5:15 am

emsnews says rocks >grow< smaller and smaller… interesting terminology!

Art.
October 2, 2016 10:42 pm

At the beginning he talks about the peppered moth as an example of evolution. However that was a fraud and I’m surprised he doesn’t know that. Peppered moths hang from the underside of upper branches of trees, they don’t land on the trunk so the changing colour would have no effect on their evolution. In order to make their case, the originators of the fraud glued moths to the trees to photograph them and even went so far as to add speckles to some of them. Why doesn’t he know about that? He needs to find a better (real) example.

Art.
October 2, 2016 11:20 pm

Einstein knew that his equation predicted an expanding universe. An expanding universe means it had a beginning. A beginning implies a beginner, a creator. He inserted the cosmological constant in order to avoid and expanding universe and a creator. Only when Hubble proved the universe is expanding did he acknowledge that his original theory was right and from then on he maintained that there must be some kind of intelligent creator. He didn’t believe in God but rather in something like a scientist to whom we are like bacteria.

jorgekafkazar
October 3, 2016 12:57 am

“…We are continuously taught that progress in science is a direct march to the truth…Nothing could be further from the truth. Progress in science is achieved through a zigzag path with many, many false starts, many blind alleys, many places where we need to go back to the starting point.”
But of course, this doesn’t apply to AGW theory. It has been handed down to us from above by the infallible high priests of Climatology, whose right hands are in the collection plate, and whose Left hands are busy elsewhere, doing Leftist things. Lysenko is alive and well in the halls of academia and learned societies.

%d bloggers like this: