Debating Gravity

I thought some of you might enjoy this post from Scott Mandia:

Republican Meteorologist & Entrepreneur: Debating Cause of Climate Change is Moral and Scientific Equivalent of Debating Gravity

29 responses to “Debating Gravity

  1. Thomas Bucknell

    But people do debate gravity. It’s called theoretical physics. Lots of questions: Higgs-boson for example. What’s the propagation speed of gravity? Etc….

    • And the Higgs boson has what to do with gravity, again? If you are debating the Higgs and gravity together, you are debating a crank.

      • He didn’t say they’re debated together, he said they’re both subjects that are debated and fit under an umbrella field of science known as “theoretical physics”.

      • Sure, you can debate ‘theoretical physics’ all you want, but unless you are pushing a pencil, I just can’t take that seriously as an empirical method. That kind of new physics doesn’t come out of ‘debates’.

  2. “Mainstream media likes a good on-air food-fight”

    and when they can’t find one they just make stuff up:

  3. Well, I happen to debate gravity or others VERY basic scientific facts on a regular basis. Here, in Quebec, the post-modernist cancer is still very alive in the academic world, thanks to our cultural proximity with France. Instead of admitting they been wrong people simply attack you on a personal basis or consider that the smallest apparent inconsistency as a fundamental flaw in you reasoning. Basic rhetoric tool indeed. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is largely present in the department of communication and political science. Both control the medias.

    • Scott Adams in Dilbert Future ended on a weird note: he proposed that gravity could be just an expansion of the size of every object and, and here is the weird part, asserted that nobody, even physicists he’d talked to, could find out a way to prove it wrong.

      I can, with one word: orbits.

      You can argue about the existence of gravity, but you can also argue the case you’re Joan of Arc born in a new body and graced by alien overlords to fight the good fight against the slurm eaters of quatloo.

  4. And, of course, there’s the ongoing debate over Intelligent Falling.,1778/

  5. One question is how one can remain a Republican when it becomes so clear that the party has almost completely abandoned science for ideology and short term profit? In one debate I had with a GOP MD, he seemed a little surprised when I said that his position was either dishonest or naive and I thought that someone with an MD’s education should be at least willing to look at the science first hand. Maybe it’s unfortunate that so few scientists are Republican. I grew up in a Republican household but always seemed to prefer the democrats, even before I thought of becoming a scientist. And that was in the days when President Nixon founded the EPA and supported key environmental legislation. So, I guess that there are deep personality characteristics of scientists that repel them from the GOP, even in earlier decades.
    Yvan—thankfully, “post modernism” was already in steep decline at my university many years ago.

    [Response: I would very much like to see rational people reclaim the Republican party. Lord knows people like Barry Bickmore are trying. Then we could have an *actual* debate over what policy to adopt. But, that requires the Republican party to rebuke the “tea party,” or as I like to call it, “the American Taliban.”]

    • People might want to study who created the Tea Party, and how, as per the meticulous peer-reviewed research paper (free access) linked from TEA Party: Tobacco Everywhere Always.

      Hint: brilliant joint venture by Kochs+tobacco, with the detailed history found in the Legacy Tobacco Document Archives, after a postdoc bumped into some things that led to the research.

  6. Debating gravity is an apt comparison to disputing climate science. There is debate over the quantum nature of gravity, over whether quantum loop gravity or string theory provides the more natural answer to these issues. There is even debate about why inertial mass and gravitational mass are the same. However, these are very deep issues. There is no debate over the fundamentals. We trust them enough to send astronauts hurtling through space and to incorporate GPS in self-driving cars.

    Likewise, there is debate in climate science over cloud feedbacks, over the nature of “noise” and over ocean-atmospheric coupling. None of that in any way affects the validity of the anthropogenic nature of the current warming. Someone should inform Aunt Judy of this.

  7. Aren’t a few on this thread missing the point? Scientists might debate the physics behind gravity but everyone agrees that if you jump off an apartment block you’ll accelerate to a terminal velocity of ~120mph and then hit the ground with a high likelihood of tragic consequences. It’s a pity contrarian views cannot be tested so easily for climate change.

    • Yeah, but what is the fun of just agreeing?

      And where do those physicists get off? Their precious theory of gravity can’t explain why the expansion of the universe is accelerating, so they invent “dark energy”! And it can’t explain why galaxies are rotating too fast, so they invent “dark matter”.

      Anybody who has read Harry Potter or watched Star Wars knows that “dark” means evil. Surely its obvious that these people have fallen from grace and embraced Satan!

  8. people may debate gravity, but i don’t see too many of them willing to jump off the roof.

    people may debate electromagnetic theory, but I don’t see too many of them turning in their keyboards.


  9. I thought it was pretty good but I’m not sure it deserves an academy award.

  10. “And there’s an awful lot of noise, confusion, obfuscation and (deliberate, well-funded and orchestrated) denial out there today, because of policy implications, and the sheer amount of money in the energy sector that’s in play.”

    Then there are people like Anthony Watts, who’s decided that out of all the ways you could make a living in life, he’s going to make a living trashing science and promoting fossil fuel interests for no other reason than there is a willing audience/supporters and it pays the bills through google clicks and other under the table funding sources…

    Scientists spend a minimum of 8 or so years at uni studying and learn the subject before we even get a probationary licence to do independent research in the form of a PhD, then we spend a lifetime trying to uncover natures truth, and we get paid so very little for it considering how much time we spend outside of work hours trying to piece it all together – then along comes a piece of sh$%t like Anthony Watts that decides that he’s going to confuse/destroying/trash any connection between CO2 and global warming on behalf of vested interests regardless of the truth… some people build and add to society while others destroy… I can’t understand the people that destroy, and yet live in the some society they are destroying !

    [Response: Heaven knows I’m no fan of Anthony Watts, but I doubt he makes much money from “google clicks and other under the table funding sources,” and I’d be extremely surpised if it’s anywhere near enough to make a living.]

  11. David B. Benson

    Horatio? Wherefore art thou, Horatio?

  12. Yvan Dutil

    “Here, in Quebec, the post-modernist cancer is still very alive in the academic world….”

    I don’t want to hijack the discussion here and turn it into a a discussion of modernism vs. post-modernism. I have to much respect for tamino and of his expertise on matters of statistics and science. So, this will be all I will say.

    Yes, some types of post-modernism cancerous.

    But consider this possibility.

    Just like modernism, post-modernism is a continuum of positions, i.e., both come in many forms. I believe that the modernist analysis of the nature of knowledge and the nature of scientific knowledge (the highest form of knowledge) rests on fundamental mistakes.

    The best forms of post-modernist thinking tries to figure out the fundamental differences between our knowledge of the world and and the well-founded theories formulated to explain our experiences of the world on the one hand and our false beliefs and false theories on the other hand.

    The worst forms of post-modern thinking denies the possibility of scientific knowledge.

    Robert Test

    “… the U.S. clown scene is suffering attrition. “The older clowns are passing away,” ….

  14. Horatio Algeranon

    “Masses and Asses”
    — by Horatio Algeranon

    Masses curve the space and time
    While asses curb the case on clime

  15. Horatio Algeranon

    “The Debate is Over”
    — by Horatio Algeranon

    Greenhouse warming’s in stagnation
    On hiatus, for Hiatiuns
    Gravity has followed suit
    And light just sits around, to boot.


  16. Horatio Algeranon

    “Ponder the Launder”
    — by Horatio Algeranon

    The scientist sits and ponders masses
    Denientist sits and launders graphses
    The former talks of “fire walls”
    The latter squawks of “warming stalls”
    The former tests hypotheses
    The latter jests the rising seas
    The former isn’t like the latter
    To whom reality doesn’t matter