Settled Science

Does the Earth go around the sun, or does the sun go around the Earth? When asked that question in a poll, 1 in 4 Americans surveyed answered that the sun revolves around the earth. But hey, we have to respect their feelings too.

9 thoughts on “Settled Science

  1. Dude – there are simply so many ignorant and provincial people living among us that it is absolutely unrealistic to think that you can appeal to facts, logic or even have any trust in what they may spout from their mouthholes. And it is not just confined to the USA. Once a society has enough basic needs, like access to water, food and entertainment, they can no longer be trusted to be able to turn their attention to anything else. Of course, this a generality, but it is true – and the people who post and proselytize on your and other blogs are often unaware that while what they say may be true and very important, that most people will not leave their personal bubble of contentment until they are deprived of water, food or entertainment.

    • That is why it is so important to step on religion when it tries to dictate law, science, and morality.

      Breaking news: Galileo gets post humus pardon from the Pope.

  2. NOTHING is settled, Ted…we could be wrong…that’s always a distinct possibility….not a likely one in many cases, but who is to say which celestial body is in motion and which is not? Movement is statement of relative parameters.

    • Not really, Aggie_Dude ; even if observations of the relative positions of the Sun and Earth could be explained with geocentric assumptions, things become vastly more complicated when one adds in observations of the motions of the other planets. To get even those made prior to the invention of the telescope approximately right, one has to, as Ptolemaios did, add epicycle after epicycle, while under Keplerian assumptions, a much simpler system provides a better match. And no one (pace Aristoteles !) – at least to my knowledge – has ever come up with a decent physical explanation of why the Sun should revolve around the Earth, while Newton’s three laws do a rather good job of explaining why the contrary should be true (of course, it one wants calculations of such things as the perihelion of Mercury to agree with observations, then even Newton won’t do and one has to take recourse to General Relativity). Relative motion is indeed dependent upon one’s frame of reference, and as Einstein pointed out in 1905, all frames are equal, but still a heliocentric model of the solar system would seem to correspond more closely with observation than a geocentric one….


  3. A great cartoon, Ted.

    I ran into an obit today in the NYTimes that had this sentence in it: “The issue [how we die] has only grown since the book was published, prompting discussion and debate in the medical world, on campuses, in the news media and among politicians and government officials engaged in health care policy.”

    Notice what it leaves out? The notion of the average person discussing it at work. How telling that the unwashed masses are rarely included in the notional concept of debate. Students (and don’t they just know everything) “debate” things, doctors in their white coats “debate” things, the news media “debates” things, but the idea that ordinary people, in their ordinary lives would “debate” something? Ridiculous.

    That’s why we have people who think the sun goes around the Earth. Because we are conditioned over and over that “other” people do the thinking. That “thinking” is something you stop doing after a certain point in your life.

  4. Alex, why can’t the Sun go ’round a flat rock ? After all the Earth is not infinite in extant – just ask all those chaps who, being too bold, have fallen off the edges !…


  5. Alex, couldn’t you just as easily argue the opposite: that the reason we don’t talk about the debate of complex issues amongst the masses is because so many ordinary slobs are complete morons who believe that the sun revolves around the earth and that life was placed on the earth fully formed by magic? Honestly, this stuff is why I can’t see an actual populist government ever working; so many people are so willfully stupid that their opinions would be poison to almost any effort to govern. You think that if the New York Times started interviewing random dipshits on the sidewalk and putting their opinions in articles alongside those of academics, experts and researchers, people would start getting smarter? I say the opposite would happen. The message would be that you don’t need to strive to be thoughtful or educated in order to have an opinion equal in weight and prestige to the suckers who bothered to learn what they are talking about before opening their mouths. And everyone else would have to sift through even more garbage to find the opinions of people worth listening to than they already do.

    Honestly, your vision for a world where the opinions of idiots are equally valid as the opinions of the intellectual elite already exists. Go read the comments sections following Yahoo! News articles, or check out some political hashtags on Twitter. Then come back and tell us all how awesome and utopian it is.

Leave a Reply