Daily Archives: Wednesday, 19:02, March 9, 2011
Courtesy of gooozz‘s YouTube channel, and thanks to Maria for pointing this out to me on her tumblr blog.
Hey, guys. A bit back, in an earlier post, I briefly mentioned extraordinary claims, and the implication was that they are subjective in nature, that what’s extraordinary to one person may be normal, even commonplace, for somebody else. And the implication was that that was it. I hate committing such egregious fallacies…
The problem with that implication is that it’s wrong. In the sense used by better skeptics than myself, and by professional scientists, there is an operative definition of an extraordinary claim, even an implausible one, that transcends mere subjectivity and refutes its common misuse in anti-science arguments by epistemic relativists:
An extraordinary claim is not one that just seems strange, weird, odd, incredulous, in my case, eldritch or otherwise merely counterintuitive, for many well-established ideas in science are just that…
More accurately, in science and skepticism, an extraordinary claim is one that, at least initially, contradicts other, previously demonstrated claims that are still well-supported by the data, and the more well-supported they are, the more extraordinary the contrary claim is, thus requiring stronger evidence for its acceptance.
Now, if you want to, you can find evidence to support any claim if you look hard enough and ignore contrary evidence, so in addition to support by data, the claim you are trying to establish must also abide by one or more of science’s criteria of adequacy.
Yes, there are rules to play the game of science, and if you can’t play the game, stay out of the playing-field.
Science can be rough for those with an intolerance for even constructive criticism, for scientists make it part of the business of science to regularly criticize each others’ work. Science is not for the thin-skinned.
Finally, the new claim must be able to explain the data at least as well, or even better than the previous ones, or it is not of much use unless it uses fewer unsupported assumptions, for there is the rule of thumb known as Occam’s razor to consider.
Now truth can come from any source, and it may be that at some point, previously established claims will be contradicted by newer and better data from improved research methods, and that perhaps, rigorous research may come to support what was once extraordinary and establish it as fact, not with certainty, of course, but to such a high degree of likelihood as to be established beyond rational, but not conceivable, doubt.
But if this happens, it will be because of the process of science, not because of the revolutionary nature of the discovery, but because to go anywhere, to make progress at all, science must follow its protocols as it evolves in its philosophical underpinnings, its methods, and finally its findings, not because the proponents of a given set of claims tried to be rebels merely for the sake of rebellion.
Uploaded by melodysheep on Jan 20, 2011
“The Big Beginning” is the eighth installment in the Symphony of Science music video series. It deals with the origins of our universe, covering the Big Bang theory, expansion and cooling of the universe, formation of galaxies, the interplay between matter and anti-matter, and cosmic radiation. The music video features Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Tara Shears, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Videos sampled for this installment include Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking; God, the Universe, and Everything Else; The Universe (History Channel); NOVA ScienceNOW; interviews with Richard Dawkins and Tara Shears, and Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.
The principal design for the motion graphic at the end was designed by Joe Snodgrass. Check out his record label: http://twitter.com/luxusarctica . Thanks to him!
Check out http://symphonyofscience.com for more science music videos. You can find links to all the sources used in this video at the website under “additional info” for each one.
We observe that distant galaxies are moving away from us
They must have been closer together in the past
It was the beginning of the universe
And of time itself
Anything that happened before the big bang
Could not affect what happened after
The poetry of the expanding universe
The poetry of the complexity of life
We’re not normally equipped to understand
And science gives it to us
Science is opening your eyes
To the wonderfulness of what’s there
Science is opening your eyes
To the poetry of the expanding universe
The early cosmos was everywhere white hot
But then as time passed
The radiation expanded and cooled
Then little pockets of gas began to grow
Steadily brightening, we call them the galaxies
In the big bang we had equal amounts of matter and anti-matter
And as soon as they met each other,
They annihilated together
And this battle played out
Whilst the universe expanded
In its first minute of existence
It’s not all that hard to detect the big bang
All you need to do is change the channel
Until you come between two stations
About one percent of the snow and noise
Comes from the big bang itself
We’re all eavesdropping
On the birth pangs of the cosmos