Does Science Admit When it’s Wrong?

The two most recent Thunderblog articles, by Wal Thornhill and Dr. Jeremy Dunning-Davies, are epic meditations on the current state of cosmology and the future of science. Many who have followed the efforts of the Thunderbolts Project share a sense that we are truly approaching a “tipping point,” where the evidentiary case for the electric universe is simply too strong for institutionalized science to ignore any longer. However, the real question seems not to be whether the evidence for the electrical view is sufficiently strong to warrant consideration, but rather whether science as a whole will embrace such a challenge.

Any assessment of the direction and integrity of science must address how institutionalized science reacts in the face of unexpected discoveries. It is a fact that proponents of standard astronomical theory routinely admit surprise. Even words like “shocked” and “baffled” sometimes appear in science press releases when transparent anomalies arise. For instance, many radio astronomers freely admit that intense x-ray emissions in cosmic jets are very difficult for them to explain. (Some would say this is an inevitable problem when scientists have only gravity to do the “work” at the cosmological level.) The real problem is that the surprises rarely if ever force the necessary reassessment of scientists’ fundamental assumptions. Historically speaking, one of the most memorable examples of this was given by the issue of Earth’s auroras. Long after the space age began to provide support for Kristian Birkeland’s claim that charged particles from the Sun entered Earth’s upper atmosphere to create the Northern Lights, theorists continued to hold to Sydney Chapman’s mathematical modeling of electrical currents generated by compression within an imagined, insulating bubble of Earth’s ionosphere. Of course, history proved Birkeland right and Chapman wrong.

When science’s self-correctiveness fails, the cost is enormous because error compounds itself. “Surprising” discoveries are noted, but scientists continue seeking explanations within the frameworks of old models long after those models should have been discarded. This not only leads theoretical science into a deeper and deeper state of crisis, it comes at a significant cost to the taxpayer and is ultimately a betrayal of the public’s trust. Models that fail need to be dispelled of, all of the assumptions from which they’ve arisen must be questioned, and alternatives must be examined, considered and tested.

Many laypersons place their faith in scientists to arrive at the truth on their behalf, since science – particularly the “math-first” physics of astronomy and cosmology – often seems too technical for us to wrestle with. If a majority of scientists quoted in the media seem to believe that man-made “climate change” is real, or the Higgs Boson is real, we laypersons may ask ourselves “Who I am to question?” For many of us, faith in the scientific consensus seems a preferable alternative to faith in the gods of religion. But faith in institutionalized science is blind-faith if one has been misled on science’s complex matters.

Our faith seems especially questionable since much of the public may have little idea how science actually works. While the ideal of science is an objective, empirical search for truth, science when practiced as a career can be a very different matter. A scientist who can attest to this is the biologist Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, whose published research includes papers on a wide range of topics including telepathy and unexplained powers of animals, to experimenter effects in scientific research, to the morphic field and morphic resonance. In his book Science Set Free, Dr. Sheldrake responds to a published comment made by comic Ricky Gervais, in which Gervais extolls the infallible virtues of science as a human endeavor. Gervais stated: “Science seeks the truth. And it does not discriminate. For better or worse it finds things out. Science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence – evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded. It doesn’t get offended when new facts come along. It embraces the body of knowledge. It doesn’t hold onto medieval practices because they are tradition.”

Sheldrake responds, “Gervais’s idealized view of science is hopelessly naive in the context of the history and sociology of science. It portrays scientists as open-minded seekers of truth, not ordinary people competing for funds and prestige, constrained by peer-group pressures and hemmed in by prejudices and taboos.”

Sheldrake’s comment seems reinforced by this study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which states that two-thirds of all retracted medical papers were pulled due to misconduct, including “fraud or suspected fraud (43.4%), duplicate publication (14.2%), and plagiarism (9.8%).”

In recent years, the Thunderbolts Project has directly witnessed how entrenched belief slows scientific progress, with a clear example being found in comet science. As we have exhaustively outlined on this site and in many video presentations—and as Wal Thornhill and Dave Talbott explain in their book The Electric Universe—essentially everything discovered about comets has been a surprise for standard theory. Comets “erupting” or even exploding at vast distances from the sun; comet x-ray emissions; comet material formed at much closer distance than the conjectured cometary source in an “Oort cloud”; heavily cratered comet nuclei; apparent electrical arcing at the surface and selective excavation of surface material; the unexplained ability of comets to hold in place a highly spherical coma, sometimes millions of miles in diameter; and countless other comet findings.

In 2004, NASA’s Stardust Mission provided one of the greatest shocks to comet science with the discovery of minerals in the dust of Comet Wild 2 that only form at extremely high temperatures. At the time, principal investigator Donald Brownlee candidly stated, “It’s a mystery to me how comets work at all.” This display of candor is not necessarily uncommon in the sciences, including astronomy. However, the real issue is whether, in the face of such major surprises, institutionalized science will dig deeply enough to uncover the theoretical mistakes that caused new discoveries to seem “surprising” in the first place. Are they willing to consider fundamentally new possibilities?

While astronomers did indeed admit that the findings “put a ding” in the theory of comets as accretions from a remote and homogeneous cloud, almost all of the old assumptions have continued. Consider this sample from a 2011 Science Magazine piece discussing the Wild 2 material:

After a closer look at Stardust samples, planetary scientists Eve Berger of the University of Arizona in Tucson and her colleagues have found a new kind of altered primordial matter. In an upcoming issue of Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, the group describes a variety of sulfur-containing minerals, including a form of cubanite, in Wild 2 particles. That form of the mineral is only created in liquid water below a temperature of 210˚C, they note. The group concludes that the watery alteration most likely occurred in the comet when heat from either an impact or radioactive decay melted pockets of ice, which then quickly refroze.

The newly recognized alteration “certainly puts a ding in comets’ reputation as repositories of primordial solar system material,” says meteoriticist Michael Zolensky of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

As mentioned above, the Wild 2 mineral cubanite only forms in the presence of liquid water. And the mineral olivine was discovered, which could not have survived in the presence of liquid water over geological time frames. Also discovered was pyrrhorite/sphalerite, which requires extremely high temperatures. But then again, liquid water requires atmospheric or other pressure – it cannot exist in a vacuum. So the investigators needed the water to “quickly refreeze” after the presumed events that caused an original melting of “pockets of ice.”

The heavily encumbered reasoning is transparent, and then stretched to the breaking point by the exceedingly low probability of cometary collisions or melting by “radioactive decay.” Are these really the only two possibilities that scientists feel they can entertain?

More than sufficient evidence exists for astronomers to ask if comets may have been born from planets. In fact, the expected “cosmic dust” from which comets were thought to have been made — and the reason the NASA mission was called Stardust – was only present in trivial amounts in the Wild 2 samples. Importantly, the minerals cubanite and forsterite, discovered in Wild 2’s material, are present on both Earth and Mars, which from the electric universe point of view is not a coincidence — comets, from this perspective, are materials that were electrically torn from planet surfaces in a phase of violent planetary history. The truth is that all of the Stardust Mission’s findings match this description of comet origins perfectly. In fact, as principal investigator Donald Brownlee stated, “Most of the components from the comet have isotopic compositions similar to Earth and are of solar system origin.”  (For a much more comprehensive discussion of these issues, see the Thunderbolts video presentation, When Planets Gave Birth to Comets.)

The problem is much larger than the personal willingness of an individual to admit he was wrong. Yes, countless working scientists conscientiously seek answers and admit when they’re surprised or when they don’t fully understand something. But the academic textbooks that millions of university students are reading and memorizing – “learning by rote,” as one young scientist puts it – are painfully slow to be rewritten. Many of the presumed “facts” being taught today have been and continue to be seriously challenged by scientific data and competing theories. Change in science is slow, painful, and often against the invisible, perhaps even unconscious force, of institutionalized resistance.

Recently, the Thunderbolts Project has added a feature on YouTube called Space News from the Electric Universe. This project focuses on news stories that we feel are especially relevant to the electric universe inquiry. Take, for instance, one of the recent discoveries relating to the Sun (a subject not separate from comet science). A few months ago, scientists who created an “MRI” of the Sun’s internal plasma motions noted in a peer-reviewed paper that they detected only one percent of the expected solar convection, which means a virtual absence. To say that this discovery is “stunning” is an extreme understatement. The notion that a thermonuclear reaction is occurring at the sun’s core requires a massive transport of thermal energy to the Sun’s surface through convection.

Since the first publication of the electric sun hypothesis (Ralph Juergens, 1972), the electrical theorists have consistently maintained that there is effectively no convection occurring on the Sun

And that is only one of the stories pointing to the end of the standard model of the Sun.

See also:

Voyager 1 Mystery: Solar Wind Ceases;

Flashback: The CME That Shattered Solar Theory

The Sun – It’s Too Round!

Unfortunately, we’ve not yet seen evidence, at least not in public discussions, that these discoveries have forced any meaningful reassessment of mainstream solar theory. However, NASA’s 2015 mission to the Sun could provide an acid test of scientists’ willingness to discard models when the evidence demands it. NASA will plunge “a heat-resistant spacecraft…deep into the sun’s atmosphere where it can sample solar wind and magnetism first hand.” The purpose of the mission, called Solar Probe+ (Solar Probe Plus), is to resolve two longstanding “puzzles”: the high temperature of the sun’s corona, and the acceleration of the solar wind away from the Sun.

The question is, if the data does not match scientists’ expectations, how will they react? Will they simply fiddle with the existing solar model, explaining anomalies with increasingly convoluted ad hoc theories, or will they truly be willing to consider new possibilities?

I don’t intend to be overly pessimistic, but recent history does not inspire in me much confidence. Consider the events surrounding NASA’s Deep Impact mission to comet Tempel 1 in 2005, when Wal Thornhill and the Thunderbolts Project registered advance predictions based on the electric comet model, many of which were extraordinary and the majority of which were confirmed, much to NASA’s astonishment. While some critics attempted to downplay the significance of these predictions, in 2011, the Stardust NEXT probe re-imaged the comet, providing further confirmation of the electrical interpretation. But the lengths to which scientists resorted to dismiss the anomalies is disturbing. A critical expectation of the standard theory was that the projectile that crashed into Tempel 1 should have left a much more clearly defined impact crater if comets are the loose aggregates of ice and dust that astronomers have long assumed. The NASA team concluded that the crater must have refilled or “partly healed itself”, with material exploding up and out from the comet surface, then somehow falling back. It’s not unreasonable to say this is impossible – the gravity of a comet that size is about one-billionth that of the earth; mere walking speed is more than sufficient to achieve escape velocity. For an in-depth analysis of these issues and much more, see the recent video production, “Deep Impact – Confirming the Electric Comet.”

It seems that media are an essential ally of the status quo in science. The vast majority of the public have never heard of any real problems with solar and comet theory, not to mention Big Bang theory, star formation theory, and countless other “puzzles,” because the media haven’t properly informed them. The aforementioned Dr. Sheldrake was even forced to resort to legal action due to misrepresentations of his research on the National Geographic program in the UK (action that proved successful). Mainstream media seem content to parrot the consensus viewpoint, with no real consideration being offered to so-called alternative ideas.

Consider the potential scope of outrage if the public were to learn that billions of tax dollars have been wasted chasing chimeras such as dark matter, dark energy, black holes, and even the supposedly “discovered” Higgs Boson. A recent news item describes millions of dollars spent building an underground “dark matter detector”, though meanwhile, it’s also been reported that the Large Hadron Collider has failed to find evidence supporting “super symmetry,” which is critical to dark matter explanations.

How unfortunate that the public has never heard of the mathematician Stephen J. Crothers, who has purportedly debunked astronomical models derived (or supposedly derived) from General Relativity Theory, including the very existence of black holes, and whose thesis to date has not been refuted by any expert in the field (though some have tried). Collectively we remain spellbound in our faith, our decision-making deferred to unchallenged authorities.

Ultimately, in the broadest historical context, the aforementioned Ricky Gervais may be right that science does correct error and finally arrive at the truth (or the closest approximation that the human mind is capable of grasping). But how long must correction take, and how great the cost when correction is delayed?

The Thunderbolts Project

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