Is scientific genius extinct?

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Is scientific genius extinct?

Unread postby CharlesChandler » Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:14 am

Get out of town -- the mainstream has announced that it is now so full of itself, there is no longer any need for revolutionary ideas in science, and past this point, all they need to do is tweak the existing constructs. :roll:

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/02/ ... s-extinct/

Wynne Parry, February 03, 2013, LiveScience wrote:Modern-day science has little room for the likes of Galileo, who first used the telescope to study the sky, or Charles Darwin, who put forward the theory of evolution, argues a psychologist and expert in scientific genius.

Dean Keith Simonton of the University of California, Davis, says that just like the ill-fated dodo, scientific geniuses like these men have gone extinct.

"Future advances are likely to build on what is already known rather than alter the foundations of knowledge," Simonton writes in a commentary published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

An end to momentous leaps forward?
For the past century, no truly original disciplines have been created; instead new arrivals are hybrids of existing ones, such as astrophysics or biochemistry. It has also become much more difficult for an individual to make groundbreaking contributions, since cutting-edge work is often done by large, well-funded teams, he argues.

What's more, almost none of the natural sciences appear ripe for a revolution.

"The core disciplines have accumulated not so much anomalies as mere loose ends that will be tidied up one way or another," he writes.

Wow!!!

To be perfectly honest, 10 years ago I would have agreed with every word of that. I was well-versed in the history of science, like any enthusiast. But a lot of the discoveries in the history books were made by people who we would consider to be amateurs. Isaac Newton didn't have a degree in physics, and John Dalton didn't have a high school diploma. Now you need a PhD and 10 years of experience just to understand the problem. So the days of uneducated advances are over, or so I thought.

Then I made a serious inquiry into a scientific issue (i.e., tornadoes), and found that scientists ain't all they pretend to be. Yes, it takes PhD and 10 years experience just to understand the problem -- the way they have it framed. And they can make their work sound pretty intimidating to the uninitiated. But if you actually make an independent investigation, and have the ability to think clearly, and you hear somebody saying, "The core disciplines have accumulated not so much anomalies as mere loose ends that will be tidied up one way or another," you're liable to hurt yourself laughing.

If we go back to the philosophy of science, we find that whenever an intellectual community announces that it has made things so complicated that only its members can make contributions, not much time passes before the next scientific revolution. And this isn't just a simple irony -- it's cause and effect. Once it gets to the point that it takes a PhD and 10 years experience just to understand the problem, they're vested in that approach. Nobody is going to get that financially committed to a strategy, only to proclaim that there is a fundamental flaw, and it's time for everybody to go back to school. And the problem there is that scientific progress, by definition, is a shifting platform. As soon as it can no longer shift, the progress stops. Then the scientists have no choice but to assimilate new data by bastardizing their existing constructs. That's when the constructs get exponentially more complex, and the scientists close the door behind them. And that's where we are now.

But that doesn't mean that progress has stopped. It just means that mainstream progress has stopped. They're vested in the existing approach. The next round of scientific discoveries will go to those who aren't so heavily vested that they can still think freely, and they can see another way of approaching the problems.
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Re: Is scientific genius extinct?

Unread postby skelpitheid » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:56 pm

You're exactly correct. It's when they come out with statements like that that the time is ripe for revolution. In fact, it may be one of the harbingers of the coming storm.

Can't wait.

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Scientists seek to shutdown negative online comments ...

Unread postby Alcibiades » Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:56 pm

Scientists seek to shutdown negative online comments about science

Preserving Science News In An Online World

FLATOW: So do you believe that they should be moderated, these blogs?

ZIVKOVIC: Yes, I think the ideas about comment amelioration have changed over the past, you know, 10 or 15 years, that these things exist online. In the beginning, I think there was the idea that this should be a free forum. And now there are so many free fora out there that I don't think a site like Scientific American should provide a free form for everything and everybody and all kinds of online fights to happen in our comments because I think the free speech applies to the Web as a whole, not to any particular site.And I think the host of the site has to keep in mind what is the goal of the site, what is the reason why the site exists. If it's educational, then these kinds of comments need to go. And it's perfectly OK. It's perfectly legal to do it. So I think we need to have our readers in mind first and act appropriately.


"So I think we need to have our readers in mind first and act appropriately"
Do you really believe this? I have a nice bridge i'd like to sell you..
Notice he does not say our readers interests in mind.
So I translate that to mean, we need to be aware that some of our readers are on to us and that we should act appropriately and ban censor ignore alternative views that make more common sense than our pseudo doctrines.

Science and knowledge has always been controlled and censored, it is almost like a religion.
Esoteric truth and knowledge for insiders, exoteric belief systems for the outsiders.
So much easier to rule and control dumb people than to rule and control informed intelligent conscious aware beings.

At every step in our historical records the scientific priesthoods have done this with stunning success.
Royalty and religion. Royalty for might, religion for divine right.
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Re: Is scientific genius extinct?

Unread postby tayga » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:16 pm

I wouldn't disagree with a word of what you said, Charles.

I would only add that this really is deja vu in the history of science. It's been said before and I'm afraid it will probably be said again that all we need to do is dots the i's and cross the t's and our knowledge of the universe will be complete.

The hubris is breathtaking but we can be assured that it is a sign that there will be a huge paradigm shift in short order.
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Re: Is scientific genius extinct?

Unread postby justcurious » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:51 pm

Well, I read the same article elswhere, but it had a comment about "the only area ripe for a paradigm shift is astronomy" because the theory is being constantly contradicted by observations and fact.
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Re: Is scientific genius extinct?

Unread postby CharlesChandler » Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:32 am

That's interesting. The article I cited said,

Only theoretical physics shows signs of a "crisis," or accumulation of findings that cannot be explained, that leaves it open for a major paradigm shift, he writes.

I "think" that he was talking about quantum mechanics and relativity, though I don't subscribe to Nature, so I didn't see the original article. I'd certainly like to think that more people are acknowledging that astronomy is in crisis.

As concerns Scientific American censoring comments on their website, we should acknowledge that most sites on the Internet are thematic -- they have a particular point of view, and they tolerate things within a certain range. Outside of that range, you get censored or even banned. This is true of mainstream, fringe, and what-planet-are-you-from sites. I guess that whoever goes through the effort of setting up a site has the right to define the theme. But I got frustrated by not being able to find a site with exactly my theme :D so when I set up my site (http://qdl.scs-inc.us/), I decided that it wasn't going to be thematic. Anything goes, as long as you put it in the right category, and barring obscenities, slander, fraud, and sedition. Frankly, I think that such a site should be a public service provided by The Establishment. But since nobody else is doing this, I'll do it. ;) And while I might not agree with what people are posting, I'll defend to the end their right to do so. :D
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Re: Is scientific genius extinct?

Unread postby VelisEtRemis » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:37 pm

I find it revealing that Einsteins instinct to focus on the academic goals set out before him by the established educational system was so lacing that he was considered a very, very, poor, and unpromising prospect. His academic achievements were not encouraging or were his accomplishments in them. This was reflected in his GPA.

The forces driving students to conform and parrot are almost overwhelming, especially today. The incentives are acceptance, respect, financial status, and authority.

You can't engineer an Einstein. He is self assembled!

:|
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Re: Is scientific genius extinct?

Unread postby justcurious » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:48 pm

@Charls regarding... That's interesting. The article I cited said, "...."
Sorry, must have been late and wasn't seeing straight.
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Re: Is scientific genius extinct?

Unread postby CharlesChandler » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:15 am

@VelisEtRemis:

Indeed, the academic pressure in the late 1800s and early 1900s was intense. Scientists were working out the implications of Newtonian mechanics, and it was working famously. Natural philosophy had been transformed from black magic into a successful, respectable endeavor, and the scientists were loving their new status in society. So anybody who wanted to get on the Newtonian bandwagon was welcome. But as newly-appointed authorities, scientists felt obligated to keep mystics and frauds out of the way, of which there were many. People claiming to have identified non-Newtonian forces (Farraday, Maxwell, Lorentz, etc.) were treated as wannabe's, much the way modern science snickers at people attempting to present parapsychology as bonafide science, to get a share of the status enjoyed by scientists, but without playing by scientific rules.

IMO, Einstein was corrupted by the pressure. Arguing with Newton was futile. So Einstein figured out a way of making it sound like he was just extending Newton. In relativity, gravity remains the dominant force, but sometimes it gets so powerful that it actually warps space and time. And then all kinds of strange things start happening. The Establishment was willing to go along, because Newton was still The Man. And those doing fringe research went along, because Einstein's framework was extensible. In this way, a consensus was achieved. And this is the framework that is still in use. Don't displace Newton's work -- just bastardize it, and don't be scared of taking things to the illogical extreme. It worked for Einstein, and now we can all just follow his lead. So now we have black holes, wormholes, dark matter, dark energy, and quantum mechanics (which is neither fully quantized, nor mechanistic). "Science" has been this way so long that people no longer expect anything to make sense. Even fringe theorists have unknowingly bought into the fundamental precept, when they entertain ideas even more detached from the data, and even less logical, than what "scientists" are currently considering, and assert that their works might still be scientific. After all, imagination is more important than knowledge, right? ;)

For those who have studied the philosophy of science, a bastardized framework is evidence of pressure to conform, and does not yield value. In all due fairness to Einstein, Eddington, Jeans, etc., the wiggle-room that they created with their outlandish constructs enabled advances in rigorous science. Now nobody has to apologize for believing in EM, or in nuclear forces, because such things are no longer considered mysticism. But the Einsteinian framework has been around so long that now, it is starting to act like an authority, and ironically, now if you're not doing mind-bending extensions of relativity, you're dismissed as a science wannabe. What a strange twist it is, when people insisting that EM is the dominant force are dismissed as heretics, not because it's non-Newtonian, but because it isn't enough of a bastardization of Newton! :D But contorted, nonsensical frameworks (e.g., quantum mechanics and relativity) do not yield value, and the longer these frameworks persist, the more low-lying fruit accumulates, which can only be harvested with rational methods.
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Re: Is scientific genius extinct?

Unread postby VelisEtRemis » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:37 am

I think that if you are looking for conspiracies, corruption, and bastardizations everywhere to explain things, then your mind will project them everywhere to provide consistency, even when this consistency is truly false.

The established consensus has become self perpetuating and somewhat inflexible, but it has also has a history of triumphs and many successes. I'm not saying it is complete, or flawless, it clearly isn't. I don't see EU as ever totally replacing established notions, I do see its job as arguing for a closer approximation of causality by offering fresh perspectives and clearing up confusions.
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Re: Is scientific genius extinct?

Unread postby MrAmsterdam » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:40 am

What's more, almost none of the natural sciences appear ripe for a revolution.


And one might add the observation that there are no electric phenomena in space (and none in water too)
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Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality. -Nikola Tesla -1934
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Re: Is scientific genius extinct?

Unread postby CharlesChandler » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:06 am

VelisEtRemis wrote:I think that if you are looking for conspiracies, corruption, and bastardizations everywhere to explain things, then your mind will project them everywhere to provide consistency, even when this consistency is truly false.

The established consensus has become self perpetuating and somewhat inflexible, but it has also has a history of triumphs and many successes. I'm not saying it is complete, or flawless, it clearly isn't. I don't see EU as ever totally replacing established notions, I do see its job as arguing for a closer approximation of causality by offering fresh perspectives and clearing up confusions.

You've mistaken me for someone else. ;) I'm not calling it a conspiracy. That would be a small number of people acting in secret. What we actually have is a large number of people acting out in the open. I "think" that this is the opposite of a conspiracy. ;) The correct word for this is: consensus. And there are fundamental differences between a conspiracy and a consensus. You'd be right if you said that if I look for a consensus, I'll see it everywhere! :D But you're implying that I have a distorted view of what's actually going on, yet without supplying sufficient detail in support.

Just to be clear, I don't think that anybody did anything for malicious reasons. Scientists in the 1800s wouldn't consider non-Newtonian proposals, because they were still systematically eradicating mystics from the intelligentsia. This narrow-mindedness caused the idealist backlash, which is still the current trend. Freed from the limitations of Victorian materialism, we have made a lot of progress. As I said in my previous post...

CharlesChandler wrote:In all due fairness to Einstein, Eddington, Jeans, etc., the wiggle-room that they created with their outlandish constructs enabled advances in rigorous science. Now nobody has to apologize for believing in EM, or in nuclear forces, because such things are no longer considered mysticism.

So I'm acknowledging the "history of triumphs and many successes". But such advances did not come from quantum mechanics, or from relativity. They came from rigorous laboratory & field work, and there is a difference in kind between that work and the kind of work being done by the theorists these days. For example, NASA put a man on the Moon. But they didn't calculate the trajectories using relativity -- they used Newtonian mechanics. If they had told the astronauts that they were going to be warping reality by achieving extreme velocities, but that it would be OK, since information loss is simply not possible, the astronauts would have quit the program. :D So in a sense, there are two "establishments": one is doing rigorous work, and the other is doing mind-bending theoretical contortions. The value is being generated by the former. The latter produces nothing except science fiction.

My point is that the continued progress of science is now necessitating that we challenge 100 year old constructs, including QM and GR, and everything based on them. Black holes, wormholes, dark matter, dark energy, neutron stars, the Jeans instability, the OPAL tables... the list goes on and on. These constructs were not forged on the same anvil as the ones that put a man on the Moon. So again, there are two mainstreams that actually have little to do with each other, and the ones doing the wild-n-crazy extensions of GR have no right to share in the credit for the tangible benefits coming from rigorous science. Nor do they deserve any benefit of the doubt. If the theory does not match the data, it is wrong. You can say that other people working in your agency have done good things in the past, but if your theory does not match the data, you are wrong. Sorry. And if astronomers wishing to challenge accepted constructs that do not match the data are denied telescope time, that is wrong too.

As concerns the "EU replacing established notions", it depends on which EU, and which established notions. ;)
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Re: Is scientific genius extinct?

Unread postby tayga » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:48 pm

A lot of the gains that are touted as the fruits of 20th Century science are actually technological products of science that was carried out in the 19th Century.

Although it would be wrong to generalise, many fans of science fail to distinguish science from technology and cite the likes personal computers and mag-lev trains as reasons to swallow whole the sort of Star Trek science fiction promoted by Scientific Amercian and the Discovery Channel.
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Re: Is scientific genius extinct?

Unread postby Alcibiades » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:30 pm

Conspiracy is when a group of people secretly agree towards a purpose. Think Climategate scandal.
At the top you have your controllers, these are the people in the know, they manage those below by installing and promoting and rewarding the 'right' candidates only.
If such a system is well hidden from the public, i can understand why it is hard to believe.
Believing in conspiracies is a painful paradigm shift for an honest hard working individual.
But the history of science is full of hard evidence that science has always been jelousley controlled, always.
But some just see it as happenstance consensus.
To me a consensus against the truth IS a conspiracy all the same.
But those with the 'consensus' are controlled by their benefactors, the establishment.
They want staus quo and widespread ignorance so that they may do what thou will.
These chosen (not elected) 'smart' people who cling to bebunked science know the truth but have an agenda to see it hidden.
Archaeology is a good example, think sphinx and the pyramids of giza.

If a theory, even a conspiracy theory matches the observable facts or results in predictable way, what does that tell you about the theory?
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Re: Is scientific genius extinct?

Unread postby CharlesChandler » Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:40 am

The main difference between a consensus and a conspiracy is that a consensus predictably follows the path of least resistance, while a conspiracy is a force that overrides the natural outcome. (If the conspirators could have gotten what they wanted by just leaving it all to nature, they wouldn't have bothered doing anything, and it wouldn't have counted as a conspiracy.) In both scenarios, new ideas might get suppressed, and in that sense, either would be an adequate explanation. But what I see is not a repressive force per se. Rather, it's the action of opportunity on individuals seeking to advance themselves. So one way, you have a really neat idea, and the other way, you have a crappy idea and lots of funding -- what are you going to do?

Harold Aspden once gave a lecture on the topic of the Repression of Inventions. He basically said that sometimes governments suppress new ideas (for whatever reason), but a lot of what looks like a conspiracy is sometimes just the practical realities of working for a living. He was a patent manager at a large technology firm, so he reviewed new ideas for a living. Some of the times that he rejected proposals, it was not because they were bad ideas, but just because his firm was not well-positioned to explore them. Nevertheless, the inventors were surely left with the sense that they were being suppressed by The Establishment.

Aspden didn't say this, but the place where I see the most "repression" is actually in the schools, and yet it still isn't what you would call a conspiracy. It is the obligation of a good teacher to prepare students for careers. It would be a great disservice to them if the teacher didn't guide them towards funded paradigms, and deliberately away from ideas that didn't seem promising, especially if they had already been considered and had been discredited. So if the students are going to get their money's worth, the teacher has to give them professional skills -- it's that simple. In those "lessons" are sometimes the biggest mistakes in the history of science. But to think that teachers are involved in a secret plot to suppress legitimate ideas couldn't be further from the truth. If questioned, they're most likely to explicitly tell you that you might have a great idea, but that you'll never find professional traction with an idea like that, so you should just forget it. That's not a conspiracy. They're just doing what you pay them to do (i.e., prepare you for a job).

Arguably, now that the governments control enough of the funding to have achieved effective control over the entire scientific community, it all traces back to the political agenda. Sometimes there are military reasons for the suppression of new ideas. But most of it is just politics. "If I vote for this bill and it passes, it will mean 5,000 new jobs for my constituency. If I don't, I'll lose the next election." That's not a conspiracy -- it's politics. The only problem is just that scientific priorities are now being set by liberal arts majors who are only thinking of their own political careers, and there is no one to blame anywhere in this whole deal. Everybody is just following the path of least resistance.

My point is just that sooner or later, a machine like that invariably comes to a grinding halt. In a political environment, you have to go with what's credible, because you have to be able to sell it. The longer a paradigm persists, the more credible it becomes, so the easier it is to sell. Eventually, the platform stops shifting, and the scientific community locks down on their story, for the sake of credibility. For example, now that QM and GR have been written into all of the textbooks, and all of the lay literature, and these paradigms now enjoy the authenticity that comes from longevity, if the scientific community announces that after all of the hype, these are actually dead-ends, they'll lose their credibility, and then their funding. So it's a self-defeating proposition. So they have to stick to their story. And that's when the progress stops. A little time passes, and then there is a scientific revolution. ;)
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