>> The textbooks that I used, for instance, were *physics* textbooks, >> not *history* textbooks. There was no claim made that what was being >> presented was verbatim what Newton or Einstein wrote. > >Exactly. How many of them warn the students that some of the presented >theory is significantly different from the original theories?
If people were coming to class to find out what Newton believed, then such a warning would be appropriate. But they were going to class to find out about classical mechanics. Newton was only one source of that subject.
>> >Students are being fooled into thinking that there >> >are presented with what essentially are the theories of Newton, >> >Maxwell and Einstein; >> >> No, they're not. It's not even an issue. > >Sure it's an issue - there wouldn't be as many cranks around if they >had not received misleading information to start with.
I think that's completely wrong. Cranks did not become that way from taking physics classes. Their problem typically is that they don't actually learn the mathematical structure of the theory, and instead try to conduct arguments based solely on verbal reasoning, and that's just much too fuzzy to base an understanding of physics on.
In my experience, cranks are always *extremely* bad at mathematical (and logical) reasoning. It's not that they were misled.
>Did you see the university link that Pentcho came up with? I'll >translate it for you: > >According to Newton's mechanics, "the traveler on the train who emits >light waves measures the speed of light, while on the platform we >measure the sum of the speed of light and that of the train. But >according to Maxwell's electromagnetic theory, the speed of light is >constant no matter where the observer." > >Regretfully, this is rather typical and (although he noticed this one) >Pentcho doesn't manage to "repair" the information in his head. How >many people find their way through the mixture of correct information, >misleading information, sneaky omissions and outright lies?
The competent ones figure it out, the incompetent ones either give up physics and pursue less mathematically taxing subjects, or become cranks.
In my experience, nobody has *ever* become a crank because of the way material was presented to them. You have to have the crank personality to become a crank.
>> >but in fact they are dished up a mix of their >> >ideas with the ideas of anonymous others. >> >> That's what science is about. It's a cumulative, ongoing effort to >> understand the world. Many people make contributions towards that >> understanding. The scientist who invents something completely new >> out of whole cloth is the exception. > >Yes - the crime is mostly the careful omission of key information: not >telling "the whole truth", as emphasized in court.
Education is *always* a matter of selecting some information to include, and some information to leave out. There is only so much time to go over material, and if you tried to include everything that every physicist ever believed, that would be an overwhelming, incoherent mass of information. Selection of material based on relevance is critically important.
Maybe you think that there are beliefs of Newton's that are important that are being left out, but that's a matter of opinion. Yes, you could certainly include many other topics, but the subjects of classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, special relativity, general relativity are coherent well-understood topics as they are currently taught.
>> I think you have a mistaken view of science. The important thing >> about science is *not* the words of great scientists. > >We agree on that; reporting the ideas of the inventors of theories in >order to allow the students to fairly compare those with the ideas of >others, DOES matter.
It depends on what your goal is. When a student is taught a subject such as calculus or classical physics, there are certain concepts, tools, techniques, etc. that need to be understood and mastered in order to solve problems in the field. This sort of information is not adequate to allow the student to competently explore the foundations of these subjects and to develop alternative foundations. The assumption is that there are very, very few people who will ever be in a position to do that kind of shaking up of the establishment.
Kuhn described how, in his opinion, science progresses. Most of the time, the progress in science is incremental, rather than revolutionary. Certain foundations are assumed to be correct, and scientists work on the edges, trying to bring incrementally more phenomena into the category of "well understood". But very occasionally, mainstream science gets itself into a dead end. The incremental approach seems to be making no progress at all, or else the progress is at the cost of making the theory ever more convoluted. At that point, somebody comes along with a brand new idea that calls for tossing out huge chunks of existing science and replacing it by something new.
But revolutions are rare, and it's good that they are, because otherwise there would be no notion of scientific knowledge at all. The revolutions since Newton have all been of the form that the new theory reduces to the previous theory in some limit, so the old knowledge does not become useless, but instead is understood to have just a limited, approximate applicability.
Anyway, I suppose that you could say that we are negligent in training our revolutionaries, but I really don't think that the detailed arguments of past scientists are likely to be all that useful in preparing one for the next great revolution. It's certainly possible, but it seems to me more likely that the new ideas will be ones that would not likely to have occurred to earlier scientists.
>And later they can't say that they have been f*cked with.
I doubt whether most cranks could ever have been coaxed into being productive scientists by the right pedagogy.
>> It is the structure of the scientific theories and the experimental >> support for those theories. > >Yes indeed. Now, if we ask for a presentation of those theories, who >makes a selection of the experimental support, and for whose theories? >For example, did you know from a textbook discussion why Newton's >bucket experiment is decisive for his theory of motion? Apparently >not.
>> My confidence in Newtonian physics or relativity had nothing to >> do with belief in any scientist's "capacities". It was from understanding >> the material, and seeing how it "fit together", how it answered questions >> about how the world works, how it is supported by evidence. > >That's a false confidence: in fact you *reject* Newtonian physics at >its basis, although it partly answers how the world works and it is >supported by his bucket experiment. How many textbooks discuss it?
How does the bucket experiment contradict what's currently taught as "classical mechanics"? It doesn't.
I think you are mixing up science and philosophy. The science as it is currently taught is perfectly adequate to figure out what happens when you rotate a bucket of water. If you want to know, at some deep, satisfying level, *why* the bucket behaves that way, science doesn't actually answer "why" questions, except to explain phenomena in terms of more basic phenomena.
>> I don't know, but you seem to have a similar wrong view that science >> is about indoctrination. > >Indoctrination is the enemy of science - and a dangerous one.
>> >You greatly underestimate the role that indoctrination plays in human >> >teaching. >> >> It's a substitute for understanding. > >Exactly. Do you find indoctrination acceptable in scientific >education?
I don't think indoctrination is a good description of what is going on.
>> This is getting tedious. If you have an argument in favor of >> an absolute standard of rest, then *you* present it. > >I have few other arguments than the ones that you can read from >Newton,
Newton doesn't give such an argument. His argument is perfectly consistent with the nonexistence of an absolute frame of rest. His arguments show that one can perform an experiment to determine whether one is moving inertially, but not to determine whether one is moving at all.
>Langevin (SRT), Hardy (QM), etc. What's the use to add my own >ones, if you can't understand their examples which are not very >different from mine?
Newton's argument doesn't actually work. I've read many discussions about QM and locality, and there is no compelling reason to think that QM demands an absolute standard of rest. I haven't read the argument given by Langevin, but I already know that the twin paradox doesn't imply a standard of rest, because there is a model in which there is no standard of rest, which nevertheless correctly predicts the results of the twin experiment. There could certainly be some other evidence for the existence of a preferred rest frame, but the twin paradox *PROVABLY* does not imply such a thing.
>> Don't send >> me on wild goose chases through history. You misled me with your >> references on Newton. You claimed that Newton argued in favor of >> an absolute standard of rest, and then when I actually looked at >> what Newton wrote, I saw that he made no such argument. > >He called it "absolute space" and argued for it from the bucket >experiment, in the "Scholium" that I referred you to;
He gives no basis for saying that there is an absolute standard of rest.
>there is no real substitute for pondering over his arguments yourself.
I have looked at what he said, and I see nothing there that suggests that there is an absolute standard of rest. If you think that his arguments *do* imply the existence of an absolute standard of rest, then tell me why.
>> There's a mismatch of argument styles here. You make claims, >> and you decline to argue in favor of them. I find that frustrating. > >I prefer to give factual statements and if asked, provide quality >references for information; arguing about such things is mostly just a >waste of time and effort.
Well, it seems to me that you spend an enormous amount of time and effort arguing about things, anyway, but in a way that never makes it clear what point you are making, what you believe, and why. The kind of roundabout discussions that you seem to prefer can take literally years without ever seeming to progress past the fuzzy stage.
What I would prefer is to lay things out in a logical form: Assuming A, B, and C, we can conclude D. Then that gives focus to any followup discussion: Someone can ask for more details about why D follows from A, B, and C. Or someone can ask what reason there is for assuming A, B, or C.
>> You justify your style by saying that others have already made the >> arguments much better than you. But I can't have a discussion with >> people who are dead. I can't ask them what they meant. I can't >> propose counter-arguments to see how they respond. So I'm not going >> to argue with people long dead. > >Reading their arguments and comparing them with those of others is >good enough for me; and how much do you argue with your textbooks?
I don't. I don't care about textbooks. I have a current understanding of certain subjects: classical physics, electromagnetism, etc., and I try to be open to criticisms pointing out that my understanding is weak. Whatever textbooks I may have read in the past are just as "dead" to me as Newton or Maxwell.