Josh Schroeder radio interview

Many Internet forums have carried discussion of the Electric Universe hypothesis. Much of that discussion has added more confusion than clarity, due to common misunderstandings of the electrical principles. Here we invite participants to discuss their experiences and to summarize questions that have yet to be answered.

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Josh Schroeder radio interview

Unread postby Botoxin » Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:55 am

I am honored to learn that Joshua Schroeder (AKA ScienceApologist) criticized the Electric Universe in a radio interview that originally aired last Oct 31, 2007 (or you can listen directly to the broadcast here). At abut 20 minutes and 35 seconds into the recording, Schroeder says:

  • "Since about the 1970s or so, Velikovsky has sort of fallen out of favor, but there have been a small group of people that have continued, I guess the cause, in a way, and they become more and more vocal on the Internet, in a couple of strange areas...
  • ".. they call themselves the Electric Universe, and so their main idea is that there is a big conspiracy among astronomers to suppress information about electricity in the Universe, which is a very bizarre idea, because anybody that has to go and learn about astronomy knows that you have to take quite a bit of electricity and magnetism in order to understand astronomy, in order to really... {Light is electricity and magnetism, I've taken more years of electricity and magnetism than I care to remember).
  • ".. So it's this sort of, I guess, confrontational type of idea, and it's really quite out there in a way, but in a more sort of sad way, it's also very..., and you go onto one of these web sites and they just do a lot of pictures, and will show pictures of this, that, and that, kind of like astronomy picture of the day, or some of the other popular websites which show images, but...
  • ".. if you read the caption it will say something outlandish, like "this is a picture of a lightning bolt that is stretching across the galaxy", which is something that, you know, an astronomer would immediately realize can't happen, simply because charge separation can not happen at that scale, it's just not physically possible, it's easy mathematical calculations that you can do to show that you can't have such dramatic charge separation on those types of scale.
  • ".. Nevertheless, these are the types of argument that get made, and this is actually a huge problem in Wikipedia; for years, there were a number of these people that had sort of entrenched themselves into various articles, and had starting putting in these sort of pseudoscientific ideas. I guess to a lay person or someone that wasn't aware of astronomy [they] wouldn't really recognise as being pseudoscience, it was sort of disturbing in a way, and that to me was the most outlandish, because I couldn't believe that someone would be that committed to creating a sort of alternative reality, and this is not based on reality, it's sort of an alternative reality, and really fight tooth and nail to see their idea be established on the Internet and elsewhere.


  • I've not heard anyone call themselves the Electric Universe, but perhaps he meant the idea.
  • I haven't found any Thunderbolt pictures suggesting "lightning bolt stretching across the galaxy", but am happy to be corrected.
  • As for being able to show mathematically that "charge separation can not happen at that scale", I'd like to see it. What's more important is the model. Although I don't necessarily endorse the following, Schroeder might also want to check out:
    And perhaps Schroeder is unaware of double layers which may form in space plasmas, and consist of two charge separated layers (and are well-described mathematically). Nobel Prize-winning plasma scientist Hannes Alfvén, has published peer reviewed papers on the application of double layers to galactic scales, as have his colleagues.
So Josh Schroeder, can do the math to show that charge separation can not occur; and he's quite correct, it can't in certain circumstance. But peer-reviewed scientists can also show that charge separation may occur on larger scales, and do the math.

So whose ideas is he trying to keep out of Wikipedia, and why?
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Re: Josh Schroeder radio interview

Unread postby starbiter » Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:49 am

http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2005/ ... eeelec.htm
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archiv ... y/2000/20/
The center right image is a Galactic Jet, not a Thunderbolt. This could be what Mr. Science is referring to. One of my personal favorites.
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Re: Josh Schroeder radio interview

Unread postby Botoxin » Thu Apr 03, 2008 12:38 pm

Image
The Thunderbolts caption reads: "galactic jet -- electrical discharges from an active galactic nucleus." And here's some peer-reviewed articles on the subject:

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Re: Josh Schroeder radio interview

Unread postby Solar » Thu Apr 03, 2008 2:53 pm

If left to SA I suppose we would all be implanted with chips that only allowed the learning of accepted pseudoscience.
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Re: Josh Schroeder radio interview

Unread postby MGmirkin » Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:24 pm

Botoxin wrote:So whose ideas is he trying to keep out of Wikipedia, and why?


He's got his own agenda, apparently.

I assume that in his statement he meant to say "Birkeland currents" or "field-aligned currents" rather than "lightning bolts" stretching across the universe. A quibble perhaps, but probably an important one. IE, the difference between "dark mode" discharges, "glow mode" discharges (neon lights, fluorescent lights, the auroras, "sprites," etc.; yes Mr. Schroeder, they are in fact plasma phenomena!) and "arc mode" (lightning bolts, static electric sparks, etc.).

I might also point out that he has occasionally intimated on Wikipedia that he only considers plasma to be plasma when it is "fully ionized" and "charge separated" and thus the electrical stuff becomes more influential. He seems to ignore weakly- or partially-ionized plasma in favor of "fully-ionized plasma." But it seems like he wants to leave out the lower ionization states because they're inconvenient. He's also asserted that the photosphere / chromosphere are "gaseous" and that plasma shouldn't be mentioned in those regions 'cause they're "too cold" and "too weakly ionized." Why then, do so many solar physicists routinely speak of "photospheric plasma," "chromospheric plasma," etc. in the peer-reviewed journal literature?

His assertion that the main idea of the Electric Universe model is a "conspiracy theory" is just so much pandering nonsense. The main i9dea is simply that electrical interactions play a large role in astronomical / cosmological interactions than is currently recognized by the mainstream, due to prior incorrect assumptions (The universe is not a "vacuum" it's composed primarily of matter in the plasma state! Plasmas can in fact develop features such as "double layers" that separate regions of differing composition, temperature, charge, etc.). In light of newer understandings of the composition of the universe, it is necessary to revisit and update/eliminate outdated ideas that are simply no longer supported.

As to the "math showing it's impossible," I wonder what assumptions he's basing his calculations off of. As I recall, many such maths A) Assume the matter all started out "neutral" and thus thus some force must act upon it in order to separate it, electrically. B) Do not take into account plasma effects / structures such as "double layers" which others have pointed out CAN in fact maintain charge separation (among other things).

If one did not ASSUME the Big Bang as a given, is it not possible that an alternate theory might state that charges STARTED separated and have simply been re-combining into a more "neutral" form over time. As opposed to starting "neutral" and having to be somehow pulled apart? Schroeder seems to have perhaps not considered all of his assumptions and how they might NOT be appropriate under a differing model with different foundational assumptions. But, I understand that thinking outside of one's own box is difficult, so I don't entirely fault him for it.

It's mildly amusing that Schroeder talks of pseudoscience, and fails to recognize the untested hypothetical kludges currently encumbering his own Standard Model / Big Bang. IE, inflation, Dark Energy, Dark Matter, Black Holes, Neutron Stars, etc. All of which are simply "imagined" / "theoretical" constructs based upon ambiguous data (rhythmic patterns in received radiation, fluctuations in timing or intensity) and maths that haven't all been physically tested / reproduced in the lab. Granted, some of the things CANNOT be tested in the lab, simply due to the energies, or scope involved. However, that does not absolve the model of being based upon things which haven't been proven or tested in the lab (note: computer simulations are nice, but generally can't count as "proof" per se, since computer algorithms adhere to the law of GIGO or "Garbage In, Garbage Out"; if the algorithm is wrong then the results most likely will be too, even if they do "look pretty / elegant").

Schroeder also seem to pull a few no-nos on Wikipedia as well, with respect to inserting his own POV or pushing to throw out references that he personally disagrees with or finds uncomfortable. He probably won't admit to it, or will make some roundabout excuse to say, "well sure, it's published in an academic journal, and it's peer-reviewed, but I think nobody pays attention to that journal, so it should be excluded." Sure he'll make it sound scientific by Wikilawyering to say that WP shouldn't give "undue weight" to "low-impact journals" or some other nonsense. Knowing full-well that "impact metrics" are a dime a dozen, imperfect, and will vary based on any of a hundred factors, whether you're talking regional (in the USA) or world-wide, over what time frame you're talking about (one or two years, or long terms over 10 years). Or he'll argue that "such and such an article was published in an EE journal rather than a cosmology journal, so it's low-impact from the standpoint of cosmology." It's a great tactic, and to some degree I even understand the logic behind it. If one publishes in an EE journal, the cosmology community might not notice. But, on the other hand, if you're an EE publishing for your peers an article on space plasma, should the article be published in a journal on plasma geared toward EE's or in a journal on space geared toward cosmologists? This seems to be a gray area that SA like to exploit to kick papers out of articles.

In my opinion, as the sciences advance and get closer to agreement on certain basic physics, processes, structures, behaviors, inevitably there will be disciplinary overlap. IE, notable papers on plasma physics may in fact render opinions on or implications toward space physics or cosmology. How should we categorize these things? Should or can the articles be cross-published to multiple journals? Or is keywording a paper sufficient for notability in the respective fields, regardless of the journal something was published in?

IE, if an article has implications both for the field of plasma physics and for the field of astrophysics but is only published in a journal that addresses one of the two fields should that de facto exclude it from consideration by scientists of the other field? In my view, no. That can't and shouldn't be the case.

Likewise, if an article is rejected from a "top tier" journal due to space limitations or some other factor, and it is published in a slightly more obscure journal (second-tier, perhaps) does that automatically exclude it from being a paper of note? In an ideal world, no it shouldn't.

Science should not be elitist. There should not be any ego involved in the process. A paper is not more or less valid because it was published in a more "elite" journal. Popularity should not and really CANNOT define reality (if the current consensus was that the sky is regularly the color currently commonly called purple at noon, that does not make the sky any less blue at noon on a regular basis; "consensus" is not necessarily correct).

If someone gets it "exactly right" but it is rejected by the most prestigious journal simply because it disagrees on some fundamental assumption that the prestigious journal holds "sacred" it neither invalidates the premise or results of the paper in question. Truth / correctness is not a function of popularity. Unfortunately, science currently appears to be something of a popularity contest. People try to get their work into the most prestigious journals on the assumption that getting in makes them "more correct" or "more prestigious" than the guy who got rejected and had to go somewhere else to publish. It seems to be something of a failing of the system right now. That's just my not-quite-humble opinion on the issue.

Granted, again, those lower-tier journals may not achieve the same mental penetration as the top tier journals. But again, overall penetration into the herd mentality does not necessarily equate to "correctness."

I suppose I'll leave off there for now.
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Re: Josh Schroeder radio interview

Unread postby MGmirkin » Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:28 pm

Solar wrote:If left to SA I suppose we would all be implanted with chips that only allowed the learning of accepted pseudoscience.


Correct-ish. Insofar as Schroeder seems to be of the opinion that "consensus" = "correctness," which is not necessarily the case.

Just because a consensus exists in some fractional majority (or even a major majority), it doesn't mean that there are no other opinions of note on the topic (or rather that should be "of note"; Schroeder would probably argue that if others don't currently take note, they never will, and thus the entire topic / assumption / etc. is thus irrelevant due to an extreme minority of mindshare), nor that the consensus view is correct and should be the ONLY avenue or assumption pursued.

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Re: Josh Schroeder radio interview

Unread postby MGmirkin » Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:53 pm

MGmirkin wrote:I assume that in his statement he meant to say "Birkeland currents" or "field-aligned currents" rather than "lightning bolts" stretching across the universe. A quibble perhaps, but probably an important one. IE, the difference between "dark mode" discharges, "glow mode" discharges (neon lights, fluorescent lights, the auroras, "sprites," etc.; yes Mr. Schroeder, they are in fact plasma phenomena!) and "arc mode" (lightning bolts, static electric sparks, etc.).


I might qualify that slightly by saying that some may have used an analogy to "lightning" on a somewhat more local or scale-appropriate basis. IE, referring to coronal loops as large arcs of a rather obviously electrical / plasma nature not unlike lightning bolts on Earth scaled up and confined by the massive magnetic fields involved in such currents.

However, that's hardly "lightning stretching across the universe." Granted, some have pointed to filaments in Cygnus Loop as a likely candidate for hopped up Birkeland currents, on account of their ubiquitous helical structure... Again, a relatively local structure. Don't know that it was ever referred to as "lightning?" Doubt its current density is anywhere close. ;)

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Re: Josh Schroeder radio interview

Unread postby starbiter » Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:28 pm

http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archiv ... 0/image/a/

If you got close to this M87 jet, it would probably really sting. :o
Wouldn't this dwarf Lightning?
Please, don't dis my favorite Jet. :evil:
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Re: Josh Schroeder radio interview

Unread postby davesmith_au » Mon Apr 07, 2008 6:18 pm

I think in this case people are being a little too 'nice' to Schroeder. Someone in the field of cosmology is hardly likely to "accidently" say something like "lightning stretching across the universe". In my mind it appears to be a deliberate attempt to make the EU theory appear foolish to the uninitiated. Let's face it, he had no qualms in misquoting just about everything the EU hypothesis suggests when attempting his "debunking" on the old forum. And when finally called to account by Dave Talbott to have a serious debate, he ran with his tail between his legs and we haven't heard from him since... He has hardly presented as a professional in any field to date, but instead displays the immaturity of a spoiled brat.

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Re: Josh Schroeder radio interview

Unread postby MGmirkin » Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:36 pm

davesmith_au wrote:I think in this case people are being a little too 'nice' to Schroeder. Someone in the field of cosmology is hardly likely to "accidently" say something like "lightning stretching across the universe". In my mind it appears to be a deliberate attempt to make the EU theory appear foolish to the uninitiated. Let's face it, he had no qualms in misquoting just about everything the EU hypothesis suggests when attempting his "debunking" on the old forum. And when finally called to account by Dave Talbott to have a serious debate, he ran with his tail between his legs and we haven't heard from him since... He has hardly presented as a professional in any field to date, but instead displays the immaturity of a spoiled brat.

Cheers, Dave Smith.


My recollection is slightly different of the ending of the debate on the old forum. In fairness to Schroeder (call it being "too nice" if you must), I seem to recall that D.Talbott has said that the discussion might be better served by being a private discussion between Schroeder and Thornhill, Scott, Talbott, etc. (everyone could bring their best arguments to the table and attempt to answer the other side's inquiries). However, at that time, I also recall that one or two of the primaries (Wal, if I recall correctly) were currently unavailable due to conference schedules, etc. and it was stated that it would have to be postponed. However, I think this has since fallen off EVERYone's radars, as it were. Including Schroeder's, as I don't think he's made further efforts to contact to site admins, etc. But, I could be mistaken, being out of that particular loop (among others).

In any event, I'm sure there will some day be a reckoning between the Thunderbolts.info group and folks like Science Apologist, Nereid, and a few other vocal inquisitors-for-the-Standard-Model. Which way it'll go, who knows? Velikovsky was railroaded in the Sagan debates, as many tell the story. Before my time, of course... ;) Might go a bit better this time around, with a few plasma physicists on this side of the fence.

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