Re: Bipedalism and theorizing... was Re: Morgan and creationists

david l burkhead (
1 Jul 1996 02:25:32 GMT

In article <> writes:

[ 8< ]

>Unusually (and maybe ironically) I'm putting forward the orthodox
>position, and you (the ultimate" ortho") are denying it. Kuhn's
>"Structure of Scientific Revolutions" is a standard text on almost
>all science courses. You clearly haven't read it. I'm virtually
>quoting it at you. It's basic message is that Max Planck was right

Others have cited your own misapplication of that book. Doesn't
matter whether I've read it or not, though. It's still wrong if it
says what you keep saying it says. I may not have read that book, but
I know something of the history of science--something about which you
continue to demonstrate incredible ignorance.

>when he wrote: "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing
>its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its
>opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is
>familiar with it."

I've seen that "quote" many times. I've never seen an original
source for it those. To me, that makes it at least potentially
apocryphal. OTOH, it really doesn't matter. If he actually said it,
he was wrong. In fact, the theory he helped found became generally
accepted among physicists in remarkably short order.

>Since the book was published in 1962 the soundness of his thesis has
>been shown in numerous cases, "continental drift" and the extra-
>terrestial impact theory of extinctions being the most conspicuous.

As has been repeatedly demonstrated to you (however much you may
refuse to accept simple facts presented to you), "continental drift"
as a hypothesis was simply wrong. It was, and is to this day,
rejected on that basis. As for extra-terrestrial impact as a source
of particular extinctions, the jury is still out on that. The data is
not conclusive and there are other hypotheses that fit the known data
about as well. It's fadish among the "popular press" but that's a far
cry from being a settled issue.

If these are your "most conspicuous" examples they show that your
argument is utterly without value.

[ 8< ]

>> Sure, there are geologists who don't accept the impact
>> hypothesis. That's because the issue hasn't been settled yet.
>There was an article in Nature about 6 weeks ago that was regarded as
>its final proof -- of course, almost all non-specialists accepted it
>years ago.

<Giggle>. "Final proof"? Suggestions: learn some geology.

As for "non-specialists" accepting something--that just shows
that the non-specialists love to make wild guesses without having
sufficient evidence at their disposal, nor the tools to evaluate it.

>> A couple of die-hard holdouts is hardly evidence of any great
>> resistance to new ideas in the professional community.
>Kuhn's book revolutionised the standard conception as to how ideas
>change in scientific communities -- in 1962. You're 34 years out-

I'll leave to others to reiterate how you've butchered your
"interpretation" of Kuhn's book.

>> And, BTW, that
>> someone should object to ice ages at a time before compelling evidence
>> had been accumulated, regardless of how much respect someone else
>> might have had for him, is no great surprise.
>The point is that the evidence for ice ages is all around us. Darwin

Sure it is--when you start from the perspective of the existance
of ice ages. It kind of reminds me of folk who belittle scientific
and technical accomplishements because they seem so obvious _after the
fact_. Well they're not obvious wehn you're developing them.

[ 8< more tedious name dropping >8 ]

>> >Encyclopedia Brittanica (1964). Vol 8, p 96: "In 1896 he entered
>> >the Swiss Federal Polytechnic school in Zurich to be trained as a
>> >teacher in physics and mathematics. He did not find the instruction
>> >Can we please have a withdrawal of "his degree was in physics from
>> >one of the most prestigious universities in Europe at the time".
>> Why should I when your own quote establishes it? A degree in
>> physics and mathematics (this was before "education" degrees--training
>> to teach a science consisted of training in the science), from one of
>> the most prestigious Universities in Europe.
>He got a teaching diploma (just), and the Swiss Federal Polytechnic
>School was not a prestigious institution.

You might want to look at what a "teaching diploma" was at the
time, and you may assert that it was not a prestigious institution,
and while it wasn't Oxford or Heidelberg, everything I've seen is that
it was a very well regarded institution.

[ 8< ]

>His academic credentials were poor. He barely scraped the exams. He

You keep saying that. Do you expect it to gain credence through
weight of repetition?

>was only one of his class who couldn't get a teaching job. His


>Physics professor told him "You are a smart boy, Einstein, a very
>smart boy. But you have one great fault: you do not let yourself be
>told anything". My points are: (a) to deny what you asserted and

Another "quote" without a tracable source.

>(b) the general nature of those who do make break scientific molds.

If those are your points then you are simply wrong.

>They are iconoclastic; they don't fit in; they're rarely popular;
>they don't slot into the image you approve.

Oh, yawn. The old myth. I suppose you think all artists are
insane or bordering on so too (a la Van Gogh). Well, your stereotypes
are as wrong as most such.

[ 8< ]

>Yes, you're *trained*. It's the right word. You'll never break

You have no clue what you're talking about. I know a _h*ll_ of a
lot more about the subject than you do.

>any moulds. Your mind is well set into the tracks. OTOH a high
>proportion of guys like Einstein (e.g. many Nobel prize winners) were
>*not* trained. They were self-taught. Feynman was a good example.

Feynman? I guess that PhD from Princeton (following his BS--or
BA, I forget which--from MIT) doesn't count.

You keep claiming this, but any evidence to support your position
is utterly lacking--as usual.

>Alvarez was another. They *have* to be self-taught because who is
>going to teach them? If they are "well-trained" in the standard view,
>they'll never be in a position to adopt a completely different one.

Gee, last time _I_ looked at the list of Nobel Prize winners, I
noticed that most of them held PhD's in the relevant field. Now we
get to see if you want to continue cite Nobel Prizes as evidence for
creative ability in the field (towards developing revolutions), as you
did above, or if you plan to back off that.

>> BTW, if he _hadn't_ had the training in physics and mathematics
>> it's highly unlikely he would have been able to understand those
>> papers.
>Einstein was ahead of his Physics teachers before he started receiving
>instruction from them. He *had* to be.

Because you say so? Drivel. I haven't seen anything remotely
resembling evidence to support this claim--not from you anyway.

>> Copernicus may be "universally recognized" for something in the
>> popular mind, but that doesn't mean he contributed anything of value
>> to the scientific community.
>This is an utterly fatuous statement. You'll find no backing from any

I wonder how many astronomers you know? I know a number of them.
Not one of them, who has any real knowledge of the history of the
field (knowing the field and knowing the history of the field are two
separate things), considers Copernicus' work of any real _scientific_
(in astronomy) value. It was not until Galileo and Kepler came along
that any real progress was made in that field, and their work swiftly
became the standard among the scientific community for one simple
reason--they fit the data better, and more simply, than competing

>I agree with Peter Gooding; you're into Jesuitical semantics. In

Peter Gooding may want to file suit for defamation of character.
That you agree with someone would seem to be, judging from your posts
on this group, serious defamation of character.

>effect, you're saying that no revolutions in knowledge have ever
>occurred because in all cases the theory as originally proposed had
>something wrong with it. It only became a proper "scientific" theory
>much later when the ordinary scientists accepted it in its full-blown
>form, and that acceptance was made at the proper time in the normal
>course of scientific verification by our perfectly rational scientists
>who, of course, never have private or career axes to grind --- all of
>which is baloney. It would appear to come from some semi-religious
>belief in the unimpeachable integrity of all scientists.

What language are you posting in? Certainly not English since
the above so badly misrepresents my position that I can only presume
that you are either reading or writing a language that only
superficially resembles English but has nothing in common with respect
to meaning.

Either that or you're planning to go into the scarecrow business
and are building up a large supply of straw men.

In either case, there's absolutely no point in further discourse
with you. Since I have received evidence that other folk see almost
immediately how divorced from reality you are there's no need to keep
refuting you for the benefit of the lurkers. Thus . . . kerplunk.

David L. Burkhead "If I had eight hours to cut down a tree, I'd spend seven sharpening
FAX: 330-253-4490 my axe." Attributed to Abraham
SpaceCub Lincoln