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Scientism
The new religion of modern mythology

"The Truth Will Set You Free"

 

Part 1: Exposing the soft underbelly of the "True Believers", the Bridgman fiasco. Part 1 represents about a third of the "debunking" and rebuttal.

W. Tom Bridgman, Ph.D. (WTB), ostensibly some kind of physicist, has written what can only be described as a pathetic "debunking" of the book The Electric Sky. This 48 page document--strewn with what should be for a Ph.D embarrassing misspellings and grammatical errors--is being touted as a basis for representing the author, retired professor of electrical engineering, Donald E. Scott, Ph.D., as being delusional.

Evidently Bridgman's 'calling in life' is to debunk creationism, which seems to be the main thrust of all his public activities, and since he found creationists referring to The Electric Sky he decided to have a look at that too.  And as the creationists are using The Electric Sky to boost their own agenda, Bridgman feels he has to tear it down.

The funny part is, Bridgman is actually assessing the wrong model--he is relying on his knowledge of electrostatics to "rebut" an issue of electrodynamics in plasma.  This has been pointed out to him, both publicly and in private.  But instead of accepting that he may have the model wrong, he waves his hands around about he being a 'proper' astrophysicist so we must listen to him.

Wal Thornhill wrote:

"This paper has all the knuckle-duster imprints of the pseudo skeptic. Obviously, Bridgman has made no effort to research the plasma universe or plasma phenomena. He has done what we may expect of the below average scientist: played the man and not the ball; seized upon statements and interpreted them to suit his own ideas; set various hares running for us to waste time chasing; and constructed ridiculous 'straw men'. All of this is made to appear 'scientific' by the uncritical acceptance and use of inappropriate mainstream science. Such is the hubris of this guy that he airily dismisses Arp's work and takes a swipe at Alfvén.

"If the Bridgman's of this world were real scientists they would contact Don and me directly to address issues. But they are not real scientists. They are apologists for the pseudo-science that astrophysics has become. I have many educated and questioning correspondents through my website. Some have been inspired to offer assistance or begin or change a course of study. But I cannot remember the last time I had an email from a pseudo skeptic.

"Having checked this paper to see that there's no issue that requires a rethink, I do not respond. Life's too short to waste on such people, firmly rooted to this sad epoch in science.

"For those with more time, my advice is to look at the models chosen to see whether they really apply to the situation. Cognitive dissonance is at its peak in pseudo skeptics. They actively resist seeing things from a new perspective. Also, if you think it has relevance, go to the references and see if they match what is being argued (often you will find caveats or that the author/s do not support the argument). If nothing else, it is a good exercise to improve understanding of plasma behavior and the Electric Universe."

Below is our point-by-point rebuttal of Bridgman's debunking

1.  P. 2, "I was unpleasantly surprised as I found I could hardly go 2-3 pages in Scott's book without finding major ridiculous claims."

Response: We will see that this is just empty rhetoric, because WTB never revisits this claim with specific references to anything on these pages.

2.  P. 2, "But The Electric Sky is worse, for it does a poor job of representing the standard plasma cosmology claims of Alfven and Peratt. Much of Scott's material, particularly the Electric Stars claim, do (sic) not appear to be part of Alfven's cosmology, but part of something far more bizarre"

Response: The book material was reviewed by Anthony Peratt and has his enthusiastic endorsement on the back cover.

3. P. 4, " Dr. Scott states that astronomers assume that the physical laws in the distant cosmos are different from those known on the Earth (page 7). Wrong. The default assumption is that the laws of (sic) are identical on the Earth and in distant space."

Response: Of course this is a misrepresentation because Dr. Scott does NOT say this; he only says what the plasma scientists do not do  We all know that this is the default position of astrophysicists, but they then feel free to invent preposterous constructs such as black holes, dark matter, dark energy, false vacuums, neutron stars, etc., that either have no relationship to, or violate, the laws of nature as we can determine them here on earth in the laboratory.

4.  P. 4. "Scott claims that astronomy has made no contributions to fundamental science or is not really testable (pages 4, 5, 7, 9). Consider his statement on page 4:

'The answer is because there are no tangible, usable products from which we can judge the validity of theories emanating from sciences that deal with events that happened long, long ago and far, far away.'

Scott ignores many examples in the history of science where processes were discovered from astrophysical evidence years before they could be reproduced in the laboratory. For example, Scott mentions 'forbidden lines' (page 166) in atomic spectra, but never mentions that these lines were first reported in planetary nebulae in 1868 and defied explanation for years until the quantum mechanical explanation was found in 1927. It would be a few years later, 1931, before they were reproduced in Earth laboratories. He praises useful technologies such as the GPS, but ignores how general relativity, initially only used in cosmology, must be used in computing the time of flight of the GPS radio signals in the gravitational field of the Earth to nanosecond precision necessary for the computation to yield useful results' 7. I have also recently completed an article on the astrophysical origins of some of the science behind our technologys. (sic)

Response: As to the spectral lines, claiming the discovery of an anomaly is not the same as claiming the explanation or especially tangible products derived from the explanation. As to the latter point about GPS, I will let the educated reader determine how tenuous the connection to cosmology really is. What about page 5 & 7? Are these page numbers just padding? Where is/are the statement(s) objected to noted?

5.  P. 5.  "Another mistake Scott makes is an almost dogmatic adherence to the notion that if it hasn't been demonstrated in the laboratory or tested in situ, then it can't be real (page 9, 19). He ignores the fact that many things we know today, not just in astrophysics, were predicted theoretically, years, and sometimes decades, before they could be demonstrated in the laboratory."

Response: Another mischaracterization because Dr. Scott is identifying a very real limitation and challenge for astronomers. Outside of a few tangible samples of material gotten from the moon and a comet, and detected neutrinos, ALL astrophysicists have had to work with are patterns in the electromagnetic spectrum. WTB goes on to talk about Pauli postulating the neutrino, and Fermi affirming it IN THE LABORATORY, but what does that have to do with Dr. Scott's remarks or astronomy?

6.  P. 5.  " We have yet to detect virtual photons in the laboratory, yet their effects can be measured: the Casimir force. We have not actually seen atoms, electrons, protons, photons or other subatomic particles, but we infer their existence from their effects and agreement with detailed mathematical models of their behavior"

Response: Actually, we have laboratory photographs of interference patterns that visibly show the structure of certain molecules, and the "effects" referred to above are FOUND IN THE LABORATORY. And again, there is no development of what is objected to on page 19. Is this more empty padding by WTB?

7.  P. 5.  "Dr. Scott conveniently forgets that Newton's theory of Gravity was not tested in situ until the launch of artificial satellites in 1957."

Response: Just maybe, Dr. Scott did NOT FORGET THIS, but isn't this entirely off the point? Besides, gravity wasn't first discovered by astronomers! Even Newton's inspiration was instigated by an apple.

8.  P. 5.  "We can't do in situ measurements on the constituent particles of atoms either, but a successful theory makes testable predictions in other ways. Dr. Scott clearly does not recognize this."

Response: Maybe Dr. Scott doesn't recognize this because the statement is so false that it doesn't pass the LOL test. Measurements of  the properties of electrons and protons are legion.

9.  P. 6.  "...he confuses the formal mathematical concept of logic, used in deriving theorems and similar mathematical results, with the set of human constructions we sometimes call 'logic', most commonly applied in legal issues (Creationists invoke this trick as well). Yet the history of science demonstrates that this forcing of the human construction when applied to the physical world can easily lead one astray."

Response: The formal mathematical concept of logic is a subset of logic, and it is always the missing of something or the VIOLATION of logic that "can easily lead one astray". Is B's reasoning above substantive?

10.  P. 6.  "Dr. Scott complains about trusting mathematical models (page 25). Yet it is these mathematical models which provide numerical predictions for testing hypotheses."

Response: What kind of reasoning is this? What if the predictions and hypotheses aren't confirmed? What if they are even violated? Do we then trust the model because it is mathematical? But of course astronomers do this often, continue to trust their mathematical models when observations violate them. Black holes have rather consistently violated the predictions for decades, and yet they have been proclaimed as confirmed!
   WTB goes on to lecture us about the usefulness of mathematical models. Dr. Scott is not denying that, but is merely objecting to TRUSTING these models when they are not even affirmed much less confirmed. Is this more empty padding to WTB's debunk?

11.  P. 6.  "Dr. Scott invokes electric currents as the underlying descriptions of many phenomena due strictly to their appearance. He does this for the Helix nebula (page 61), the Grand Canyon (page 135), terracing in craters (page 140), and many others. This is another common fallacy."

Response: This statement is a gross mischaracterization because of the word "strictly". The Helix nebula is not even mentioned on page 61, and no mention is made on page 135 of the "appearance" of the Grand Canyon being compared to the appearance other electrical phenomena. On page 140 Dr. Scott states, "Terraced crater walls and small secondary craters sitting on the edge of larger craters are also characteristic  of electric arc machining." This is a true and valid statement. Would WTB deny Dr. Scott from noticing such an elementary observation in making his case?
     "and many others."? More empty psychological padding? Why does WTB need to keep padding his objections?

12.  P. 7.  "Scott claims that the Grand Canyon has a shape like a Lichtenberg pattern created by electron dislocations in crystals (page 135)."

Response: If you can find this on page 135, you can read invisible ink better than I can! But even if Dr. Scott does this elsewhere in his book, so what? Pattern recognition is at the basis for almost all apprehension of reality.

13,  P. 7.  "Like many creationists and other crank scientists, Dr. Scott tries to tap almost every astronomical anomaly as evidence of his claims. The problem with these types of approaches is that almost all the crank explanations are different."

Response: "Dr. Scott tries to tap almost every astronomical anomaly" because it is in the anomalies that new discoveries or improvements of understanding are made and BECAUSE--the point is--Dr. Scott provides plausible and consistent-within-the-paradigm explanations. Notice by now how the word "creationist" is being used as pejorative, and how Dr. Scott is being surreptitiously lumped in and dismissed with them.

14. P. 7. "Scott manages to start with his misunderstanding of some issue in astronomy and proceeds to rant about it. If there were an Emily Litella13 award in astronomy, he is a 'Never mind' away from being a prime candidate.

Dr. Scott repeatedly tells stories of asking an astronomer some question and obtaining an odd, or in some cases outright wrong answer (page 95, 119, 165, 210). Since he doesn’t report who makes these statements, we can’t really assess the quality of the answer."

Response: This is amazing! No questions were being asked of astronomers on pages 95 (is this more psychological padding?). On p. 119 the quote is continued from the previous page and is by Dwivedi & Phillips Scientific American article. The quote on p. 165 is from an NRL press release see paragraph 5 of: http://www.nrl.navy.mil/pao/pressRelease.php?Y=1996&R=2-96r
     The astronomers Dr. Scott talks about on p. 210 were attendees of the First Crisis in Cosmology Conference where he gave a paper in 2005. These ideas were via informal discussions with two these folks - both of whom were in sufficiently good standing to be invited to give papers at that conference. Dr. Scott had a copy of the famous color image of the QSO in front of NGC 7319 (TES figure 70a, p. 209) and elicited their response. One of them was a great supporter of the MOND concept. Dr. Scott did not ask them for permission to quote them, so he did not mention either of their names in the book.
    Here is the quote from p. 210 In The Electric Sky: "I asked one of Arp's detractors about this picture and he continued to put forth probabalistic doubts about seeing what we are obviously seeing. He said that even this picture was not proof the quasar was in front of the galaxy. Another astronomer opined that there 'must be' a hole in the galaxy in just the right position".
     This is not an obscure, highly esoteric question; it is the obvious question that most any gradeschooler would ask after they understood the simple premise that redshift equals distance. I think we CAN assess the quality of the answers!

15.  P. 9.  "Dr. Scott states that Einstein only did thought experiments, not actual experiments and that this deductive approach makes theories impossible to falsify (page 23). Technically true, but many others would perform the experiments that validated relativity"

Response: The validation of "relativity" is NOT a settled question, and it does NOT help that the results of experiments are misrepresented as confirming the theory rather than just not disproving the theory.

16.  P. 9.  "Gravitational Lensing was the FIRST big test of General Relativity!
Dr. Scott describes gravitational lensing as untested (page 33). Yet gravitational lensing was one of the first observational tests of general relativity, under its earlier name, the gravitational deflection of starlight by Sun."

Response: Another disingenuous misconstruction. Dr. Scott does NOT describe gravitational lensing as being untested on page 33, but merely questions its misuse when applied to the Einstein Cross by saying,

"Now that experts accept the GR Theory, any new data (such as photographs of the astronomical object known as the ‘Einstein Cross XE "Einstein Cross") are discussed only within the context of this complicated theory. The images of the four small objects in the Einstein Cross, when looked at only from this viewpoint, are considered to be supporting evidence for the GR Theory. The Theory is used to interpret the data and then the data are used as proof of the Theory – a perfect example of circular reasoning. However, the data could just as well be interpreted as being supportive of a much simpler cosmological theory."

16.  P. 9.  "Scott claims there are no electromagnetism effects in general relativity (page 218)."

Response: This is simply a gross misrepresentation of Dr. Scott questioning the assumptions that went into the development of GR.

17. P. 9.  "On page 15 of The Electric Sky, Dr. Scott quotes physicist John Wheeler of UT Austin:

To me, the formation of a naked singularity [a black hole] is equivalent to jumping across the Gulf of Mexico. I would be willing to be (sic) a million dollars that it cant be done. But I cant prove that it cant be done.”

This immediately caught my attention as a possible altered quote. Anyone familiar with the subject knows that a naked singularity is not the same as a black hole.....Dr. Scott not only doesnt show the source of the quote, but he does not indicate his alteration of it."

Response: Duh! Dr. Scott put brackets around his insertion to indicate is was an insertion.

18.  P. 9.  "Anyone familiar with the subject knows that a naked singularity is not the same as a black hole. John Wheeler would definitely know this. A black hole is a singularityclothed in an event horizon."

Response: Now we can get an idea of why black holes have rather consistently defied their expectations for decades. They are NOT naked, they are "'clothed' in an event horizon."

19.  P. 9.  "Dr. Scott mistakes polar outflows from accreting black holes as a manifestation of Hawking radiation (pp 212-213) when it is actually a characteristic of accretion disks. Similar outflows are observed in accretion in star formation regions. Hawking radiation is a quantum phenomenon which is only significant for very small black holes"

Response: Another misrepresentation. Dr. Scott does NOT mistake "polar outflows from accreting black holes as a manifestation of Hawking radiation", but in a footnote merely points out that some astronomers use the entirely hypothetical "Hawking radiation" to explain radiation from black holes.

20.  P. 9.  "Gravity vs. Electricity
Dr. Scott makes a very strange point about how Newton's law of gravity works for objects on the Earth and launching satellites (page 27). By only mentioning these two processes, is he denying that it operates in the rest of the Solar System? Is he claiming that there could be significant electrostatic forces operating between the other objects in the solar system?"

Response: No, to the above two stupid questions; stupid because he is really reaching with this kind of lame innuendo. Now comes the straw man. Time and time again, the Electric Universe theorists have pointed out that because of double-layers, plasma phenomena and interactions are not to be thought of in terms of static electricity forces.

21.  P. 10.  "In this era of precision astrometry, where we can compute the motions of planets and asteroids decades into the future and generate precision predictions of eclipses, such additional forces would significantly alter the reliability of those predictions.
     "While there are 'error bars' on these predictions, they fall well within the bounds prescribed by gravitational forces and measuring techniques. Dr. Scott obviously hasnt examined even the simplest models based on this idea. Even funnier is that Im writing this the day after the passage of asteroid 2007 TU24 near the Earth, and there have been no natural disasters incited by electrical discharges between the Earth and the asteroid as predicted by some EU advocates."

Response: If anybody truly did predict there would be "natural disasters incited by electrical discharges between the Earth and the asteroid" it wasn't members of the www.thunderbolts.info editorial staff. We have answered questions sent to us by "predicting" NO significant effects whatsoever. But hey, why not sling as much mud as possible.

22.  P. 11.  "In the next paragraph, he claims that Newtons laws dont apply in the nucleus of the atom because it is overpowered by the strong and weak nuclear forces. Actually, the problem at the atomic level is that the quantum mechanical effects of the wave nature of matter, not the forces per se, become significant."

Response: What Dr. Scott says is NOT wrong, but is made to seem so by a speculative statement of what is going on in the nucleus of the atom.

23.  P. 11. "Dr. Scott doesnt seem to know that the fundamental forces, such as the Coulomb potential, appear in quantum theory in almost the same mathematical form as they appear in macroscopic physics."

Response: WTB can't seem to stop groundlessly casting doubt upon Dr. Scott's knowledge and understanding. Pure poisonous polemic.

24.  P. 11.  "Even stranger is after claiming that electric forces can produce the huge quantities of energies needed for some astrophysical processes, he later implies that these forces will also explain the Pioneer anomaly (page 148). This is an effect so tiny that there is still some debate as to whether the effect is real and not the result of some overlooked systematic error introduced during the over 30 years since launch!"

Response: I hope that even the weakest understanding of the EU model can see through this one. Pioneer is being weakly deflected in an electric field as it is generally outbound in the same direction of the field gradient! The deflection also depends upon the size of the charge on pioneer, which is constantly being adjusted to approach the regional conditions.

25.  P. 11.  "Dr. Scott denies that nuclear fusion, specifically the proton-proton chain, can be the energy source for the Sun and other stars. The most bizarre part of this claim is his statement that Arthur Eddington intimidated other researchers from questioning nuclear reactions as the source of stellar energy (page 47). Dr. Scott also makes a bogus analogy between solar nuclear power and how nuclear weapons operate and the failure to achieve self-sustaining fusion reactions on the Earth. He clearly does not understand the relation between temperature, pressure, and reaction cross-sections that are important in nuclear reactions."

Response: It is like WTB is in such heat to beat back this challenge to his belief system that he reads and sees things that are not there. Dr. Scott makes no "bogus analogy" of nuclear weapons in his argument, but just points out that these reactions are instantaneous and uncontrolled. The claim that the sun is powered electrically and not by nuclear fusion is one of the main points of the book; and it is well supported. WTB also overstates what Dr. Scott said about Eddington.

26.  P.12.  .............

Response: On page 12 WTB gives us a lecture on nuclear physics that may or may not be true but has nothing to do with what Dr. Scott has said.

27.  P. 13.  "Missing Neutrinos

Dr. Scott devotes an entire chapter (pages 47-52) to his interpretation (or misinterpretation) of the neutrino results and the implications for the Electric Star model. He starts by parsing a sentence from the SNO press report (page 49)

     'If neutrinos from the Sun change into other active flavors, the CC flux will be less than the ES flux.'”

He parses it from the perspective that even if the CC flux will be less than the ES flux is always true, it does not imply that neutrinos from the Sun change into other active flavor is true. Logically correct, if one examines only this experiment. In combination with results of other previous experiments, such as the evidence of solar neutrinos changing flavor as they pass through the Earth, then the interpretation has the highest probability of being true."

Response: Even though the first sentence is scrambled quite badly, you can see that WTB is saying that what Dr. Scott says is true. He then tries to negate it by referring to results of other experiments, along with the only kind of experiment that would give any credence to the idea of neutrinos changing flavor. In order to establish this, we must sample a neutrino population and determine is "flavor" and then sample the same neutrino population at a later point on its path and determine that the "flavor has changed. You can be certain that no experiment has reliably determined this.

28. P. 12. "Of course, if physicists and astrophysicists are as clueless and corrupt as Dr. Scott tries to present them, the questions would not even have been tested this far. Unfortunately for Dr. Scott, physicists continued to improve the experiments to more definitively answer the questions. While Dr. Scott alludes to upcoming experiments in this chapter (page 50), the experiments were actually completed in 2003, three years prior to the publication of this edition of The Electric Sky. The KamLAND experiment actually measured neutrino oscillations from a reactor on the other side of the Earth and additional measurements were conducted along the path to calibrate the content of the source beam"

Response: I hope the experiments had more credibility than the last sentence of the paragraph. Since neutrinos travel in a straight line, even passing through most everything without interacting, the only way for them to reach a point on the other side of the Earth is to travel straight through the Earth. Imagine us testing the oscillations to determine the flavor along the path from a reactor on the other side of the Earth! (Emphasis added)  Is WTB asking us to believe that we have multi-million dollar neutrino testing labs strung out at various depths below the surface of the Earth?!

29. P. 12.  "Did Dr. Scott assume that no one would question his ‘authority’ on the subject and went ahead with the book’s publication in spite of the fact that this result implied the book would require extensive revision? This is the charge Dr. Scott makes against Arthur Eddington on page 47 in regards to hydrogen fusion. Then again, Dr. Scott could have just been careless in his research."

Response: More banal empty polemic. Dr. Scott did NOT make a charge against Eddington on page 47, but merely suggested that, "...the strength of his conviction kept later astronomers from revisiting the question."

30.  P. 12. "Dr. Scott tries to fall back on the claim that we cant really know the actual source neutrino flux from the center of the Sun(page 48). However, his argument applies to every technology of a similar nature such as radiation therapy. We compute the flux of photons or neutrons or whatever particle of interest based on principles that have been firmly established in the laboratory."

Response: Here we have more substantive disingenuousness. We only get to measure the neutrinos from the sun at one point on their path, and that is at the Earth. This is the simple core of Dr. Scott's argument. We have no information to substantiate any "flavor change" en route from the sun.
     This limitation is NOT true for any other particle beam in that we can measure or "taste its flavor" at the source, AND at any realistic distance away that we may choose in order to verify that it has or has NOT changed.

End of Part 1

Below are some of the general aspersions cast by WTB:

  • The difference between the successful scientists and the unsuccessful or crank

  • Scott poorly documents his own evidence and models

  • In a book so incredibly wrong

  • Considering how much of this type of bad science is being regurgitated in the Creationist community to support their claims

  • Dr. Scott can be selective about the laboratory evidence as well, only believing it when it is convenient to his argument

  • Dr. Scott conveniently forgets that Newton's theory of Gravity was not tested in situ

  • I suspect Dr. Scott probably has some interesting misconceptions about this subspecialty [microelectronics] of his own field.

Are these denigrations and demeaning remarks the sign of a sober minded scientist trying to sort things out, or are these the earmarks of a man whose religion is being threatened in a significant way, and who is reacting in a rather rushed, careless, emotional way?

This debunk article can only be described as empty, vacuous, devoid of substantive content, one in which author WTB, like an attorney defending his guilty client before an intellectually low caliber jury, has used just about every invalid trick, including innuendo, misrepresentation, and mischaracterization. In the final analysis, it is WTB's scientific curiosity and integrity that has been "short circuited", not The Electric Sky.

See also: Scientistic Propaganda
              Disingenuous Argument Techniques
              Giants of Science

 

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