## onsdag 12 augusti 2009

### Logic of Penguin Science = ??

The statement A implies B means that if A is true, then B is also true. An elementary mistake in logical scientific reasoning is to conclude that if A implies B and B is observed to be true, then A is true. But this is to confuse A implies B with B implies A

We illustrate: Let
• B = You have a headache.
We could probably agree that there is theoretical evidence that A implies B: Head bang leads to head ache, in theory at least. Suppose now that B is true, that is suppose that you have a headache. Can we then conclude that A is true, that is that you bang your head into a wall? Not necessarily: You may get a headache from other causes, like drinking to much alcohol. It can even be that the implication that you get a headache from head bang is incorrect, so that there is no connection at all; you may have an unusually solid skull.

Yet this type of logic is a trademark of modern physics/science:
• If we assume that a gas is in a state of molecular chaos with the velocities of two molecules before collision being statistically independent, then we can theoretically derive Boltzmann's equation, which has certain solutions which agree with certain observations. Hence the gas in a state of molecular chaos.
• If we assume that there is a smallest quantum of energy, then we can theoretically derive a formula for the spectrum of black-body radiation, which agrees with observation. Hence there is a smallest quantum of energy.
• If we assume that light consists of particles named photons, then we can theoretically derive a formula for photoelectricity, which agrees with certain observations. Hence light consists of photon particles.
• If we assume Pauli's exclusion principle, then we can explain certain observed atomic electron configurations.  Hence electrons obey Pauli's exclusion principle.
• If we assume that the wave function collapses at observation, then we can theoretically explain an certain observed blips on a screen. Hence the wave function collapses at observation.
• If we assume Heisenberg's uncertainty principle for elementary particles, then we can theoretically explain an observed interaction between observer and observed particle. Hence elementary particles obey Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.
• If we assume that a proton consists of three quarks, then we can theoretically derive a formula for the observed mass of a proton. Hence a proton consists of three quarks.
• If we assume that spacetime observations of different observers are connected by the Lorentz transformation of special relativity, then we can theoretically explain the observation that the speed of light is the same for all observers. Hence spacetime observations of different observers are connected by the Lorentz transformation.
• If we assume that spacetime is curved, then we can theoretically explain observed gravitation. Hence spacetime is curved.
• If we assume there was a Big Bang, then we can theoretically explain the observed expansion of the Universe. Hence there was a Big Bang.
• If we assume there is a black hole at the center of a galaxy, then we can theoretically explain the observed shape of a galaxy. Hence there is a black hole in the center of a galaxy.
• If string theory would predict an observable phenomenon, it would follow that matter consists of tiny vibrating strings.
• If we assume that the Earth rests on four invisible tortoises, then we can theoretically explain why the Earth does not fall down. Hence the Earth rests on four invisible tortoises.
• If we assume that CO2 is a critical greenhouse gas, then we can theoretically explain observed global warming. Hence CO2 is a critical greenhouse gas.
Do you see the possibly incorrect logic in these statements? If so, do you see the potential danger of such possibly incorrect logic? Do you think such possibly incorrect logic represents science or pseudo-science?

Notice that in all the above cases, the fact that a certain phenomenon is observed, which can be theoretically explained from a certain assumption, is used to motivate that the assumption is not just an assumption but a true fact: There is molecular chaos and a smallest quantum of energy, electrons do respect the exclusion principle, the Lorentz transformation must connect different observations, spacetime is curved, light is photons, there was a Big Bang, there is a black hole in the center of a galaxy, a proton is three quarks, the Earth is resting on four tortoises, CO2 is a critical greenhouse gas.

Notice also that in all cases, it is impossible to directly check if the assumption is valid, which is part of the beauty. The assumption is hidden to inspection and can only be tested indirectly: It is impossible to directly observe molecular chaos, a smallest quantum of energy, photon, electron, particle exclusion, wavefunction collapse, uncertainty, quark, spacetime curvature, black hole, tortoise, string...or that CO2 is a critical greenhouse gas. It is therefore impossible to directly disprove their existence...Clever, but there is an obvious drawback, since the existence is also impossible to verify...science or pseudo-science?

The argument is that the assumption must be true, because this is the only way a theoretical explanation seems to be possible. Our inability to come up with an alternative explanation thus is used as evidence: The more we restrict our creativity and perspective, the more sure we get that we are right. Convincing or penguin science?

Compare the same logic in a trial: If we assume X had a reason to kill Y, then we can theoretically explain the observed murder of Y. Hence X had a reason to kill Y. And thus probably did it! What if you were X?

Notice in particular that present climate politics is based on the idea that CO2 is the cause of the observed global warming, with the motivation that certain theoretical climate models show global warming from CO2. But the observed modest global warming during the 20th century of 0.7 degrees Celsius may have natural causes rather than anthropogenic burning of fossil fuels. What do you think? What does a penguin in the Antarctic think? Compare e.g. EIKE.