Friday, February 10, 2006

A short rebuttal to Hogan's malevolently stupid aphorism

Science really doesn't exist. Scientific beliefs are either proved wrong, or else they quickly become engineering. Everything else is untested speculation.

The thinking here is that engineering has to work, science can coast without being answerable to failure. Engineering is constrained by reality, science by nothing. Etc.

In the real world, engineers fail all the time. Hence deaths, lawsuits, holdups. They misjudge materials and conditions, cut corners, and have horrific failures every day.

Einstein's Special and General Theories of Relativity, claimed by Hogan to be false, on the other hand, have been tested exhaustively for almost a century now. They've never failed once.

Einstein's General Theory and Special Theory were tested by Gravity Probe A with respect to gravity and speed and time dilation to a tolerance of 70 parts per million, which is very comparable to the best engineering tolerance tests, and by the Cassini satellite test to 20 parts per million. As our measurements become more precise, these tests will only get better and better for relativity.

Generally, science provides more rigorous tests than engineering conditions or Nature can, but in the form of binary pulsar systems nature has provided a test of general relativity which is qualitative instead of quantitative - four different effects of general relativity were all observed. You can assign whatever arbitrarily high probability you wish to that, versus the speculations of the anti-relativity cranks.

Moreover, particle accelerators test relativity every day, unfailingly, so you can't say it's "science" that doesn't have to "fly."

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