ORTHODOXY IN SCIENCE
When, in my youth, I became conscious of the history and role of Science (Physics in particular), I developed the supposition that Science was the supreme secular arena of the spirit of free enquiry, designed to discover as much as possible about the objective truth about the reality we inhabit. Its principal moral quality was absolute objectivity, combined with a critical openmindedness about everything.
It was in the context of what I thought was this atmosphere that I began to investigate the extraordinary and intriguing theory of Special Relativity. It seemed to me that its mysterious peculiarity must mean that it is revealing something extraordinary about reality that was hitherto unknown and unsuspected. It was not enough for me that the spactime model, with its spacetime diagram, was able to represent the mathematics of the transformation equations. I insisted that it must reveal what it is actually saying about the reality itself. I must have a mechanistic explanation, and not just a mathematical-based model. But after a number of years trying every alternative I could think of, I was not able to convert the spacetime model into one that could represent a fully workable mechanistic explanation of the actual reality. In the end, the only conclusion I could come to, in the form of a gradual realisation, was that there was something fundamentally flawed about the spacetime theory, even if there was nothing wrong with the mathematics of the transformation equations. So I eventually developed the mechanistic model described by the 'unorthodox' pages on my website.
I began to argue all this on a Physics forum, on the supposition that it would be accepted as worth considering in accordance with the spirit of free enquiry but, to my surprise, I discovered that no qualified physicist on the forum would give what I had to say the slightest consideration. I gradually began to realise that my supposition of the existence of a spirit of free enquiry, combined with an absolute objectivity and critical openmindedness did not represent the spirit of science as it actually existed in practice. My view was really, or had become, historically, the equivalent of a mere fantasy of my own.
So what was the nature of the scientific environment in the actual reality? Not a spirit of free enquiry, nor a critical openmindedness, but actually an orthodoxy in which the currently accepted theory played the role of a dogma not to be questioned, or only in very limited circumstances. Anyone, for example, who said anything that contradicted anything that Einstein had said was immediately relegated to the ranks of the crackpots and cranks, and no longer had any reputation or credibility. For this it was not even necessary to seriously consider what the person had to say - it was enough that the person had the temerity to contradict Einstein.
In this context, I ask: is it possible to disagree with or criticise Einstein, or is he some kind of infalligle demi-god? And I answer: of course he can be disagreed with, just like any other human, unless his work itself is objectively irrefutable.
Why did I have the 'temerity' to disagree with Einstein? The answer is because I spent years trying, without success, to agree with him in respect, particularly, of Special Relativity. Einstein did not offer a fully mechanistic explanation of the theory and, after years trying, I could not find one that worked. So I came to the gradual realisation that there wasn't one, which meant, of course, that, whatever was correct about the theory, at the same time something was wrong with it. I eventually developed the conclusion that, despite his undoubted brilliance, Einstein had the capacity to adopt a cavalier and careless attitude to philosophical-theoretical considerations, as distinct from the purely mathematical models. In this way Einstein set a precedent by which he led the whole of science astray. Now orthodox scientists will almost universally dismiss and discourage the attempt to achieve mechanistic descriptions of reality at all, as if imperfect mathematical models are all we are able to achieve.
A clearer picture of Einstein's attitude to pure theory can be seen in connection with the theoretical aspect associated with the gravitational equations, the correctness of which was supported especially by their ability to account for the value of the precession of the orbit of the planet Mercury. Einstein developed an insight into gravity in which he discovered that a trajectory in a gravitational field could be described and predicted in geometrical terms alone, without reference to the traditional concept of a 'force field'. The geometrical concept was that of a curved manifold in spacetime (which is simply a kind of four dimensional space). So the essential geometrical quality was that of curvature, and Einstein concluded that spacetime itself was curved, and that this was the essential explanation of gravity.
But Einstein cavalierly made no effort to discuss the philosophical-theoretical implications of this concept. One has to ask: has it really any meaning? How can space itself be curved? If one takes out a blank sheet of paper, to represent a background space, and draws geometrical figures on it in order to develop geometrical theorems, or demonstrate the geometrical properties of such figures, does this become a description of the geometry of the space itself? The geometrical figures are drawn with pencil, or ink, or chalk, etc., any of which automatically constitutes a content of the space, distinct from the space itself. All relevant values associated with their geometry are properties of the figures themselves, which are the contents of the space. They are not properties of the space itself as such, which has no geometrical properties. If one were to create such figures on the two dimensional surface of a three dimensional sphere, would the surface play the role of a 'curved space'? Not really, because such a curved space has to be set up by some content of space, distinct from space as such. The sphere has to be made of some material content of space. Geometry thus always had to do with the contents of space and not with space as such. So 'curved spacetime' is really a carelessly meaningless concept. There has to be some content of spacetime that is curved. Einstein cavalierly failed to examine such a consideration. Since the concept of curvature was sufficient to set up the gravitational equations, Einstein paid no real attention to what it might be that was curved, and simply declared spacetime itself to be curved, as if it didn't really matter as to whether or not this could be a correct physical description. But all this nevertheless became incorporated as the orthodox theory of gravitation, which therefore cannot really be questioned.
So how did the modern atmosphere of dogma and orthodoxy in science, which in practice denies the spirit of free enquiry and critical openmindedness, actually come about?
I think the fatal flaw in the arena of science was, and is, the process of qualification. I believe that, in its early years, science did represent the secular spirit of free enquiry. The success and usefulness of science, however, and the development of technology to which it gave rise, eventually made it useful for employers to employ scientists in their businesses, and also in the service of government agencies. An employer, however, needs a prospective scientist employee to have credentials which prove that the person really does have the knowledge he might claim to have. So a scientific establishment was set up, in universities, which taught current scientific knowledge and provided qualification certificates to those who were able to pass examinations on what they had been taught.
The problem with this, however necessary it might be, is that students, in order to become 'qualified', must provide examination answers in accordance with the current scientific theory. These answers are deemed to be the 'correct' answers, for the purposes of the examination. The very concept of a 'correct' answer, however, inevitably acquires a taint of 'dogma', simply by having the quality of 'correct' conferred on it. Great care, therefore, has to be taken to ensure that the answers are deemed 'correct' only in the sense of being the currently acceptable answers for the purpose of the examination alone. Otherwise the status of current theory may encroach on the right of a scientist to preserve the spirit of free enquiry in his general thought and work. Unfortunately, the required care in this regard was not taken in the way it should have been, and the consequence has been that current scientific theory came to be deemed 'correct' for purposes that had nothing to do with answers to examination questions. This converted the current scientific theory into the dogma of an orthodoxy, in that a scientist would threaten his reputation, and possibly his employment, by saying anything that did not agree with the current theory. In this way the original spirit of free enquiry was obliterated and destroyed.
Since peer review journals are standard-bearers of the orthodoxy, it is for this reason that, having decided I would have nothing to do with any scientific orthodoxy, I would therefore never submit anything of mine to a peer review journal. Everything I have said is presented only in accordance with the original spirit of free enquiry. If, therefore, any theoretical considerations I have proposed have any merit, individual scientists will have to appreciate this directly and individually, and not as anything sanctioned by the status and reputation of an orthodox, prestigious journal.
© Alen, September 2014.
Material on this page may be reproduced
for personal use only.