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"Does Science Admit When it’s Wrong?" (1 Viewer)

JParker

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Informative blog post... http://www.thunderbolts.info/wp/2012/11/26/does-science-admit-when-its-wrong/ Excerpt:
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.
See also this video, with a rocky comet emitting plasma, and not water vapor. [VIDEO]http-~~-//www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DEvb6yEQ_0[/VIDEO] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DEvb6yEQ_0
 

JParker

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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.
http://www.sjcrothers.plasmaresources.com/Bridgman.html
W. T. "Tom" Bridgman claims to be an astronomer, who owns and maintains a website where he, as a Defender of the Realm, with its black holes, big bangs, Einstein gravitational waves, dark matter, dark energy, and dark forces, disparages and ridicules people he sees as enemies of proponents of the current dogmas in astronomy and astrophysics. He has clearly revealed that he is not at all interested in true scientific discourse. For this reason it is doubtful that Bridgman will ever contribute anything original to science. Perhaps that is why he instead regurgitates the usual dogmas and attacks people who think for themselves. Here is Bridgman's brief description of himself: W.T."Tom" Bridgman Maryland, United States I obtained my doctorate in physics and astronomy in 1994. I currently work in scientific data visualization for the media and public outreach. Now Bridgman has demonstrated a proclivity to censor from his webpages arguments and comments which he does not like. Even though he owns and maintains the said website, he invites scientific discussion, and so gives all and sundry the real expectation that scientific arguments will not be suppressed in any way by him. But it seems he frequently withholds that which he finds embarassing for himself and the Standard Modellers. Bridgman has taken it upon himself to attack me and my work, and with that aim he has posted to his website a rather pathetic set of comments, which can be found here: http://dealingwithcreationisminastronomy.blogspot.com/ I prepared a reply to Bridgman and posted a link to it on his webpage. Here is my response to Bridgman: www.sjcrothers.plasmaresources.com/bridgman.pdf Bridgman subsequently decided to open a blog dedicated solely to vilification of me and my work. He then posted a number of my replies, the contents of which he and one J. Sharples ignored. Bridgman did not like what I had to say and soon stated that he would not post anything further from me unless it complied with his restrictive dictatorial terms. I quote him: "Since this is my blog and not your forum, your next comment here better include a demonstration (preferably a link) of the experimental implications of your claims, including why it works so well in precision timing applications, or I will reject it.". He did not however impose any restrictions upon the posts by Sharples. Before receiving his ignoble censorial note I had prepared this reply to Sharples and Bridgman, a reply that would be withheld, by Bridgman's own admission. In it I provided Bridgman and Sharples with a simple recipe to prove me a mug and themselves smarter than the average bear. Here is the simple recipe: 1) Provide a proof that Einstein's 'Principle of Equivalence' and his 'laws' of Special Relativity can manifest in a spacetime that by construction contains no matter; namely, the empty spacetime described by Ric = Rμν = 0. 2) Provide a proof that Einstein's pseudo-tensor is NOT a meaningless concoction of mathematical symbols. Sharples posted to Bridgman's site an attempt to fulfil the recipe above. Even a cursory reading of Sharples' attempt reveals that he does not actually address the recipe. Despite his plaintive cries the fact remains that it is impossible for matter to be present in a spacetime that by construction contains no matter; and Ric = 0 is a spacetime that by construction contains no matter. Sharples also evades the issue of the invalidity of Einstein's pseudo-tensor. This is not surprising either, because it is easily proven that the pseudo-tensor is indeed a meaningless concoction of mathematical symbols. By contracting the pseudo-tensor one obtains a first-order intrinsic differential invariant, i.e. an invariant that depends solely upon the components of the metric tensor and their first derivatives. But the pure mathematicians, G. Ricci-Curbastro and T. Levi-Civita, inventors of the tensor calculus, proved, in 1900, that such invariants do not exist! Thus, by reductio ad absurdum, Einstein's pseudo-tensor is a meaningless concoction of mathematical symbols. It is noteworthy that Einstein's pseudo-tensor is involved in the theory of Einstein gravitational waves, and other things besides. Since the pseudo-tensor is invalid so is all that depends upon it. It does not matter what Sharples and Bridgman plead because these facts cannot be circumvented. There is another upshot to this, which is developed in a number of my papers; namely, that Einstein's field equations violate the usual conservation of energy and so are in conflict with experiment at a deep level. So much so for Bridgman's demand that I adduce physical evidence. Bridgman, who claims a PhD in physics and astronomy, has admitted that until he read my papers he was entirely ignorant of the fact that the so-called "Schwarzschild solution" is not even Schwarzschild's solution. I remark that Schwarzschild's actual solution forbids black holes!
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.
[VIDEO]http-~~-//www.youtube.com/watch?v=wn_HqbMmn-4[/VIDEO] If anything, religion goes with the 'big bang'! http://www.holoscience.com/wp/a-nobel-prize-for-the-dark-side/
The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ aspect of big bang cosmology is highlighted by the fact there is a competing ‘plasma cosmology,’ which is recognized by practical electrical engineers but unknown or dismissed by the mythmakers. Plasma cosmology deals with the dominant (>99%) form of matter in the visible universe. Plasma cosmology can demonstrate the formation and detailed rotation pattern of spiral galaxies, both by experiment and particle-in-cell computer simulation, using Maxwell’s laws of electromagnetism alone. The puny force of gravity can be ignored! Plasma cosmology can also explain the activity in the centres of galaxies without resort to the mythical dark gravitational beast — the ‘black hole.’ The Electric Universe goes further and also explains the gravitational effects observed at the center of the Milky Way in electrical terms. So much for the gravitational cosmology of the big bang! No invisible ‘dark matter’ need be conjured up and placed where needed to save the plasma model.
The big bang universe where 96% of the universe is imaginary. The plasma universe has >99% of the universe in the form of plasma and
 

Sam Posten

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Hoo boy, I'm done here. I gave it a shot hoping you were genuinely curious and not out to push an agenda, but can see now that was a mistake. I withdraw from the thread and await its being locked.
 

JParker

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Sam Posten said:
Hoo boy, I'm done here. I gave it a shot hoping you were genuinely curious and not out to push an agenda, but can see now that was a mistake. I withdraw from the thread and await its being locked.
When do facts or challenges to authority become an agenda? And when is "locking" or silencing dissent something to look forward to? Who says your turn won't come. And Einstein himself challenged "black holes"; no one can refute what Crothers wrote using mathematics. http://metaresearch.org/cosmology/PhysicsHasItsPrinciples.asp
Einstein himself, as a good physicist, never accepted the concept of black holes, and held that some new constraint would modify his equations in the future. His own words [3] written late in his career while he was at Princeton) are illuminating, showing as they do a respect for physical principles over purely mathematical reasoning: “If one considers Schwarzschild’s solution of the static gravitational field of spherical symmetry …, [g44] vanishes for r = m/2. This means that a clock kept at this place would go at rate zero. Further it is easy to show that both light rays and material particles take an infinitely long time (measured in ‘coordinate time’) in order to reach the point r = m/2 when originating from a point r > m/2. In this sense the sphere r = m/2 constitutes a place where the field is singular. “There arises the question whether it is possible to build up a field containing such singularities with the help of actual gravitating masses, or whether such regions with vanishing g44 do not exist in cases which have physical reality. …” [brief discussion of uncompressible liquids omitted] “One is thus led to ask whether matter cannot be introduced in such a way that questionable assumptions are excluded from the very beginning. In fact this can be done by choosing, as the field-producing mass, a great number of small gravitating particles which move freely under the influence of the field produced by all of them together. This is a system resembling a spherical star cluster. … The result of the following consideration will be that it is impossible to make g44 zero anywhere, and that the total gravitating mass which may be produced by distributing particles within a given radius, always remains below a certain bound.” [core of analysis omitted; skipping to conclusions] “The essential result of this investigation is a clear understanding as to why the ‘Schwarzschild singularities’ do not exist in physical reality. … The ‘Schwarzschild singularity’ does not appear for the reason that matter cannot be concentrated arbitrarily. And this is due to the fact that otherwise the constituting particles would reach the velocity of light. “This investigation arose out of discussions [with Robertson and Bargmann] on the mathematical and physical significance of the Schwarzschild singularity. The problem quite naturally leads to the question, answered by this paper in the negative, as to whether physical models are capable of exhibiting such a singularity.” [End of Einstein quote] Einstein wasn’t arguing that the Schwarzschild singularity doesn’t exist in the equations, but that it doesn’t exist in physical reality. Much as for the case of “the ultraviolet catastrophe”, he reasoned that the equations will be shown to be incomplete as observations or experiments approach that limit.
[3] Einstein, A. (1939), Annals of Mathematics, 40, #4 (Oct.), 922-936.
[Einstein's got you beat in your photograph of yourself, too Sam!] And observational evidence contradicts dogmatic theory. If you watched the YouTube you'll see the work of Hannes Olof Gösta Alfvén is cited. He did win a Nobel prize. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannes_Alfv%C3%A9n#Awards_and_Memberships http://www.holoscience.com/wp/alfven-triumphs-again-again/
Alfvén emphasized the influence upon him of Kristian Birkeland’s earlier research into the electrical nature of the aurora and other phenomena in the solar system. Birkeland seemed to intuitively sense the real electrical nature of space but was too far ahead of his time. The theory of electric discharges was still in a very primitive state. He wrote: “It seems to be a natural consequence of our point of view to assume that the whole of space is filled with electrons and flying ions of all kinds. We assume each stellar system in evolution throws off electric corpuscles into space. It is not unreasonable therefore, to think that the greater part of the material masses in the universe is found not in the solar systems or nebulae, but in ‘empty’ space.” Birkeland met overwhelming resistance, particularly from Sydney Chapman who was perhaps the most influential scientist in the field of geophysics in the period 1920-1960. But in 1973 satellites confirmed the existence of electric currents aligned with the magnetic field. These field-aligned currents are now called “Birkeland currents.” In 1987, reflecting his own struggle with orthodoxy, Alfvén wrote tartly: “Since Chapman considered his theory of magnetic storms and aurora to be one of his most important achievements, he was anxious to suppress any knowledge of Birkeland’s theory. Being a respected member of the proud English tradition in science, and attending – if not organizing – all important conferences in this field, it was easy for Chapman to do so. The conferences soon became ritualized. They were opened by Chapman presenting his theory of magnetic storms, followed by long lectures by his close associates who confirmed what he had said. If finally there happened to be some time left for discussion, objections were either not answered or dismissed by a reference to an article by Chapman. To mention Birkeland was like swearing in the church.”
I'm not at all 'evangelical' you're free to 'believe' what you wish. But the fact that evidence contradicts traditional explanations or that even your authorities contradict themselves should allow others to form their own opinions. Galaxy Grande: Milky Way May Be More Massive Than Thought http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=galaxy-grande-milky-way-milky-way-may-be-more-massive-than-thought Milky Way Galaxy May Be Less Massive Than Thought http://www.space.com/19206-milky-way-galaxy-mass.html
The hard science is reported toward the end: “But the new study is not necessarily the final word on the Milky Way's mass, which is not well understood. "The problem is, we are really in unknown territory," Deason said.” HGC: Haven’t Got a Clue
 

DaveF

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Science has never apologized to me, or admitted to being in the wrong. But I've seen it turn red when embarrassed.
 

Stan

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I trust science. They may be wrong at times and some scientists use falsified results or leave out things that may debunk their theories. But overall, they provide their own checks and balances with results being reviewed by their peers. Bad or faked results are going to be exposed eventually. There may be a period of time where the results are looked at as correct, but the good scientists far outweigh the bad, and will expose things that are wrong. Some results may be considered correct for years, but if it's wrong, I think somebody will eventually find the errors and prove things were wrong. Add to that the fact that we're always learning about the earth, life, the universe, etc. new information is always going to alter the old info. Sometimes proving it correct, at other times proving things were very wrong.
 

BrianW

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Wiley Miller's NON SEQUITUR cartoon that you posted is more characteristic of electric universe believers than it is of mainstream cosmologists. It's the electric universe proponents who want their pet theory to be true and seek out evidence to support it. Even your characterization of mainstream theories as "dogmatic" belies your bias and unwillingness to evaluate the science at face value. Real scientists (yeah, I said it) go where the data leads. Your own contribution demonstrating Einstein's reluctance to accept his own theory's prediction about the existence of black holes damns your assertion that real scientists have a particular outcome in mind when they do science. Einstein didn't like black holes, but he did nothing to eliminate them from his equations because he knew his equations were consistent and intrinsically correct. He utterly refused to modify his theory to match up with what he expected to be true. That's the mark of a real scientist. You are correct, however, in that Einstein (and all good scientists) preferred "purely mathematical reasoning" over "physical principles", if, by "physical principles" you mean "what humans intuitively think must be correct". Nature doesn't give a damn what our intuition tells us about nature. Nature doesn't give a damn if we happen to think black holes are too outlandish to exist. Yes, physicists trust the math, even if -- especially if -- it goes against our intuition. (Quantum mechanics, for example, is borderline magical in the extent to which it defies intuition, yet it yields to mathematical analysis.) Electric universe proponents, however, think their theory just makes so much sense and is so intuitive that it simply must be true. Yes, it's a compelling, lovely theory. But, as Kepler did when his beautiful nested perfect-polyhedron model of the solar system just didn't work out, we need to heed the results of the Scientific Method and move on. To answer your question: All scientific knowledge is tentative and subject to revision as the Scientific Method is further applied. Admitting when it's wrong and correcting itself is the very definition of science.
 

Johnny Angell

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Brian, 100% what you said. :tu: Especially
To answer your question: All scientific knowledge is tentative and subject to revision as the Scientific Method is further applied. Admitting when it's wrong and correcting itself is the very definition of science.
 

RobertR

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BrianW said:
Wiley Miller's NON SEQUITUR cartoon that you posted is more characteristic of electric universe believers than it is of mainstream cosmologists. It's the electric universe proponents who want their pet theory to be true and seek out evidence to support it. Even your characterization of mainstream theories as "dogmatic" belies your bias and unwillingness to evaluate the science at face value. Real scientists (yeah, I said it) go where the data leads. Your own contribution demonstrating Einstein's reluctance to accept his own theory's prediction about the existence of black holes damns your assertion that real scientists have a particular outcome in mind when they do science. Einstein didn't like black holes, but he did nothing to eliminate them from his equations because he knew his equations were consistent and intrinsically correct. He utterly refused to modify his theory to match up with what he expected to be true. That's the mark of a real scientist. You are correct, however, in that Einstein (and all good scientists) preferred "purely mathematical reasoning" over "physical principles", if, by "physical principles" you mean "what humans intuitively think must be correct". Nature doesn't give a damn what our intuition tells us about nature. Nature doesn't give a damn if we happen to think black holes are too outlandish to exist. Yes, physicists trust the math, even if -- especially if -- it goes against our intuition. (Quantum mechanics, for example, is borderline magical in the extent to which it defies intuition, yet it yields to mathematical analysis.) Electric universe proponents, however, think their theory just makes so much sense and is so intuitive that it simply must be true. Yes, it's a compelling, lovely theory. But, as Kepler did when his beautiful nested perfect-polyhedron model of the solar system just didn't work out, we need to heed the results of the Scientific Method and move on. To answer your question: All scientific knowledge is tentative and subject to revision as the Scientific Method is further applied. Admitting when it's wrong and correcting itself is the very definition of science.
As usual, you state it very well, good sir.
 

Cees Alons

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Brian,
Very well said.
And I like to add (in a reaction to the topic line of this thread): science is not a person.
Cees
 

RobertR

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Cees Alons said:
Brian, Very well said. And I like to add (in a reaction to the topic line of this thread): science is not a person. Cees
To put it another way, scientists don't think precisely alike in dogmatic lockstep with each other as part of some monolithic consciousness.
 

Sam Posten

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I realize I said I was done with this thread but I actually found the admission you are looking for!
We realized that magicians were among the best people at manipulating attention and awareness, far better than scientists," said cognitive neuroscientist Stephen Macknik, director of the laboratory of behavioral neurobiology at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Ariz.
http://www.insidescience.org/content/ancient-magical-illusion-even-more-effective-magicians-may-realize/935
"A lot of times the intuitions we have about the way things work aren't the way things work," said Phillips
 

Joseph DeMartino

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To answer your question: All scientific knowledge is tentative and subject to revision as the Scientific Method is further applied. Admitting when it's wrong and correcting itself is the very definition of science.
Reminds me of a favorite line from a (fictional) scientist, CSI's Gil Grissom. When Grissom admits making a mistake, Nick and Warrick are surprised, because most people don't like to say they were wrong about something. Not Grissom: "I'm wrong all the time. It's how I eventually get to right." Pretty neat summation of the scientific method. Regards, Joe
 

Sam Posten

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Phil Plait answers the OP's question far better than I ever could:


Mind you, things can be wrong and still scientific. It’s the nature of the scientific process that mistakes are made. The difference, though, is that in science we learn from those mistakes. We know that if some explanation we have for a phenomenon is wrong, there must be either more to the story (and our explanation modified), or a different explanation.
And
Science isn’t like that at all. It’s a method, and it’s all about curiosity, exploring, seeing what else you can find to support or falsify your ideas, seeking answers and testing them. It’s about growing intellectually. Richard Feynman said it best: It’s a way of making sure we aren’t fooling ourselves.
Sadly the article that it is from has a very strong religious angle so it's not appropriate for discussion on HTF. Google Bad Astronomer and Science Test and you will find it easy enough tho if you are curious.
 

Sam Posten

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Another interesting piece:
https://medium.com/editors-picks/adfa0d026a7e

We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself.

(Edit removed religious angle, check the article if interested, I wish they had used a different example)

In other words, when we think we’re reasoning, we may instead be rationalizing. Or to use an analogy offered by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt: We may think we’re being scientists, but we’re actually being lawyers (PDF). Our “reasoning” is a means to a predetermined end—winning our “case”—and is shot through with biases. They include “confirmation bias,” in which we give greater heed to evidence and arguments that bolster our beliefs, and “disconfirmation bias,” in which we expend disproportionate energy trying to debunk or refute views and arguments that we find uncongenial.
Note the second half of that, it cuts both ways! Perhaps that's what's afflicting the HTF debunk squad =p

Also, even if science can't, I can. I was wrong in believing that I was done with the topic =p
 

Sam Posten

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Well, that's a bit off track, if funny. I'm laughing along with ya tho ;) I can poke fun of myself as well as anyone else can.

Here's the thing tho Aaron, we are still at just the beginning here on a lot of these digital issues. This is the time in the evolution of our species where we will first confront these issues and make decisions on political, consumer, and other fronts that will have long lasting effects but it's impossible to state that any of these opinions and choices are clearly good or bad on the whole until we've seen the results (aka the Zen master says "We'll see!"). I try very hard not to conclusively say anything is absolutely right or wrong just what works for me and what I think are poor anti-consumer policies by companies. For example I was very anti-steam when it first came out and then it matured and I'm an enthusiast for that tech now. I'm all in on discussing those things because it's one of the most interesting facets of the world we inhabit today. Vigorous and clean debate on those issues will help us avoid being railroaded by those who simply want to sell you whatever they've cooked up most recently or from being railroaded into choices we will regret long term.

But that's very different than science. I didn't start with the intention of being the James Randi of HTF but apparently that's the role I'm framed in... I tried to avoid the conflict over the science stuff but the half dozen articles I've pointed to state better than I can how I see these types of threads.... I think they are interesting and the topic of science versus pseudoscience is interesting on the whole. Not sure how much there really can be interesting debate over it tho!
 

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