Friday, 25 September 2015
Dr Ben Carson, ignorance or lying?
Now I'm a layperson when it comes to science. Sure I'm a science geek and love to learn about various topics especially biology, psychology and physics, which includes cosmology and astronomy. I'm not a scientist. I don't have a degree in the field. But I am fairly well educated in the field. So there is a problem if I can punch holes in his arguments. There are things that I don't know for sure and I'll admit it when asked a question. If I'm unsure of the answer I'll emphasise that fact and I'll probably go learn more to educate myself and I'd hope others would research what I said and if I was right or wrong about a topic.
So here I'm going to go through his speech and point by point I'll point out where he gets the science wrong. I'll explain how much he gets the science wrong. Note that his speech is only 3 min and 45 seconds long. It is very easy to spout shit about stuff like this and raise doubts. To convince people that often don't want to know the truth because it goes against their religious views. It takes a lot longer to refute the claims. This is because these things are often complex topics. Learning isn't easy. If it was everyone would be doctor or scientist.
First here is the interview
What Dr Ben Carson thinks about the big bang
11 seconds in and he uses the term "highfalutin" in regards to literally a whole field of professionals? What would his response be if someone label all doctors as pompous or pretentious? So he starts off with an ad hominem attack. He leads with denigrating a whole field of scientists. Why? Because he knows his audience is mostly made up of people that don't understand the field in question and don't like the implications it has. Mind you this audience, as most audiences, wouldn't understand the technical details about neurosurgery either. He knows it sets up the audience so they can more easily dismiss what scientist say if they ever do hear more. Because they are just pompous and pretentious after all.
16 seconds in he say that "they" the highfalutin scientist "saying there is this gigantic explosion"
OK 16 seconds in. 2 words "gigantic explosion"
Lets talk about what they actually say. The Big Bang Theory (BBT) says that everything we can see in the universe was condensed into a very small region of space. If you watch the show The Big Bang Theory then you would have heard the theme song "Our whole universe was in a hot dense state,". Already a TV sitcom gets the science much more right then Dr Ben Carson.It wasn't an explosion it was a very rapid inflation. You might think I'm quibbling about terms but there are very specific differences. An explosion is a sudden outburst of something. There is a location where the explosion happens. Material is pushed away from that spot leaving a cavity behind. This is NOT what scientist say happen in the early universe. What they say is that there was a rapid inflation of space/time. We know, thanks to Einstein, that space and time are part of a single whole. It is space that expanded. Now what was in this space is very different from what you and I see around us. Atoms didn't even exist. The energy density was so high that even protons and neutrons couldn't form. The stuff that they are made up of are called quarks and at those energies you can fit all the matter and energy in the universe into a very small region. How small? 7.7×10−30m. Now this isn't a size the human brain is used to dealing with. A proton is about 1×10−15m. So we are talking about a distance 1,000,000,000,000,000 (1 quadrillion) times shorter. Now are physics at this point are not well understood for good reasons. These are energy densities we can't even think about working with. If we could we could be making universes left right and centre. So gigantic? Nope. Explosion? Nope. It was a rapid inflation of space-time Now see 1 paragraph to try to explain how 2 words are totally misrepresenting the science. In actuality I could probably right pages on just this bit and I'm not a scientist.
3 more seconds and he say "Everything came into perfect order". No! It most definitely did not. In fact the early universe was very smooth. I'm talking like the differences were 1 part in 100,000. This in terms of the science is saying that temperatures where VERY even. To give you an idea of how uniform that is think of the Earth and the temperature difference on it. Now imagine that instead of having temperatures going from -95C to 56C (-128F to 134F) the temperature was just 21C (70F) The differences in extremes would be about 1/1000th of 1 degree C or 1.8/1000th of a degree F
The universe was even smoother and more uniform before. This is what it was like 380,000 years AFTER the big bang. For almost that entire time the universe was so hot, over 2,726C ~5,000F that light couldn't any where because it kept getting absorbed into the protons that made up the plasma that filled the universe. So the universe started out VERY smooth and over 380,000 became much less smooth but still smoother then 1 part in 100,000. At this point the inflation had ended but the universe was still expanding. Stuff wasn't moving through space. The space between stuff was just getting larger. With this expansion comes the fact that the density was dropping As that happens the temperature drops. After about 380,000 the temperature dropped enough that the electrons whipping around the place could get captured by the atomic nuclei. Not really "perfectly ordered". Then the universe continued to expand. At this point there would be a glow everywhere in the sky like the sun but as the universe continued to expand this glow faded. It then took another about 200 million years before the first stars formed as that very uniform gas started to condense into pockets of higher densities that formed from gravity. Perfect order my ass.
25 seconds in and he presents to the audience terms they are probably not used to. He mentions the second law of thermodynamics and entropy. He wants you to think there is a problem that the scientists can't explain properly. First off what is the 2nd law of thermodynamics or 2LoT for short.
It is that in any cyclic process the entropy will either increase or remain the same. Well what is entropy? Entropy is the amount of energy in a system that is available to do work. Well there are 2 problems the 2LoT refers to "closed" systems and even if the observable universe was a closed system there was a LOT of energy to do stuff with. How much energy are we talking about? Well think of our sun. It is about half way through its life on the main sequence. The observable universe has about 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times the amount of energy of our sun. Note that even after our sun "dies" there will still be a far bit of energy coming out of it. So yes as time goes on it will be harder and harder to do "work" in our universe but thankfully our universe has a HUGE amount of energy to begin with.
So 37 seconds in he say "you are going to have this big explosion and everything is going to become perfectly organised" well good thing that isn't what the scientist ACTUALLY say happened.
44 seconds in he says "when you ask them about it they say they can base this on probability theory if there are enough explosions over a long enough period of time" blah blah blah. He already got the first bit extremely wrong. But you may have heard something vaguely similar and I'll try to explain this. Often you'll hear people say how finely tuned our universe is. You might read some popular science magazine say how many different types of universe there could be out there. There are various hypothesis about where the universe came from. Scientists don't say the BB (Big Bang) is when the universe was created. We don't know that. We have some ideas but the BBT (Big Bang Theory) just says we can trace back to a point where the universe was very hot and dense, again just like the song says. Scientist also ask questions like "Why does the electromagnetic force have the strength it does?" "Why is gravity so weak in comparison?" "Why is the speed of light what it is?" "Why does the electron have the mass it does?" and the list goes on. These are what we call fundamental constants. They are numbers that we can measure but don't seem to have a reason why they have the value they do. It is possible they could have other values but if they did the universe would act different then it does. We may never know why some or even all the fundamental constants have the values they do. On hypothesis is that these values some how get frozen in at the very first instance of inflation. There is another hypothesis that inflation happened not just in what we can see. We estimate the entire universe is at least orders of magnitude large then what we can see there might be other universes that bubble off that have different values for the constants. This would result in a whole range of possible universes. Most of them not at all compatible with life as we know it. But this could be happening countless times which means there would also be a countless number of universes that would be very similar to ours. This will blow your mind too. It is entirely possible that this multi verse is itself infinitely large. That means there would be an infinite number of universe. Not only that there would be a smaller, but still, infinite number of universes that would be EXACTLY like ours. But this is just hypothesis at this point in time and truth be told we probably would never be able to detect another universe. But it isn't incompatible with the models we use to describe and make predictions about our universe.
Well that doesn't even scratch the surface of that but he's distorted what the scientists actually say. So lets just go with "We don't know why our constants are the way they are" but even so given they are constants our universe would have ended up pretty much like this no matter how many times you re ran the process. Sure there might not be a Earth but there would be Earth like planets. There would be the same chemical processes going on and there is every indication that there would be life in it that evolved to a point where it could ponder such questions. So no we don't need the "perfect explosion" we just needed that inflation to happen and our constants to be about what they are. They could even fluctuate. Some of them could fluctuate quite a bit and life could still evolve let alone have stars, galaxies and planets form.
1 min 11 secs in and he's used the, what is normally tornado in a junk yard, creationist claim. He just modifies it to a hurricane in a junk yard. Normally this is used to try to discredit evolution. Saying that there hasn't been enough time to form life blah blah blah. But hopefully being a doctor he isn't that stupid about biology. But you never know. For the record the Vatican supports evolution and not just "micro evolution" because there is no such thing in science terms. That is a creationist term and that is the audience he is talking to. Again science says that given the constants of our universe the structure we see would be inevitable. Might be slightly different like comparing a blue mustang with a red one. Essentially the same.
1 min 31 secs and he is amazed that we can predict a comet is coming in 70 years. Dude, it is just gravity and high school maths. Even if the constants where different we'd still be expect predictions of that type to be possible. That is because the universe does have constants. Perhaps if gravity wasn't a constant well then we couldn't make that prediction but then if it wasn't a constant then stars might never have formed let alone planets. Bill O'Reilly has a saying "Tides go in, tides go out. You can't explain that!" and he's just as fucking ignorant of the science as Dr Ben Carson seems to be. We can predict tides because gravity is constant. We know that the moon won't sudden'y take 10 days to orbit around the Earth.
1 min 40 secs in and he drops the "fairy tale" line to a crowd that probably believes that there was an actual first human male named Adam was formed from much by a human shaped magical being that knows everything but yet didn't see that his creation would be tricked into eating from the tree of knowledge by a talking snake....yea that isn't a fairy tale.
1 min 43 secs "that is amazing!" Yea scientist would think that too because that isn't what scientist say happened!.
1 min 52 secs "even if you use their own theories you have this mass spinning and then it explodes" NO! that isn't what the theory says. How about he either learns what the actual theories say or shuts the fuck up about it. I would never dream of walking into an operating theatre and telling some brain surgeon that he's doing it all wrong because I read a comic book that had a drawing of a brain in it.
2 min 13 secs he starts babbling about angular momentum and tries to discredit scientist even more by pointing out how some moons don't orbit in the same direction as most other moons. Guess what that is OK. Because the total angular momentum is still the same. Some moons where captured after the formation of the solar system. Some might have been put into a different orbit because of interactions with other planets. But forget that. According to him the universe is in "perfect order" now he is showing us that no...no it isn't. Hell out solar system isn't even in perfect order. Something hit Venus so hard it almost flipped completely up side down so now it rotates in the opposite direction to most other planets. Uranus is tilted on its side by over 97 degrees so one of its poles points almost directly towards the sun. Again science explains this just fine because science doesn't say the universe is "perfectly ordered"
2 min 28 secs "what about the billions and billions of explosions that where not perfect?" I don't know Dr Carson. You are making up a fantasy universe that doesn't at all match what we observe and what scientist say happened. Fuck where is Santa Claus? Where is Darth Vadar? Dr Carson's understanding of the actual science isn't even close to being right. There is a saying used in science "That's not right. That isn't even wrong" and is used in reference to statement that are so off base it doesn't make any sense. Kind of like someone say that taste of an apple is the letter J.
2 min 34 secs Again where is this debris? Well if you want to talk about the multiverse then by definition those other universes are not connected to us. If he means something else then again it isn't what scientist are saying.
2 min 41 secs He say it, science, requires an enormous amount of faith. No ... no it doesn't. It takes a bit of learning. This argument is often used by creationist and there is a reason why. Either they are just parroting it from someone they heard it from or they what to put science on the same footing as their religious belief. Faith is defined as a strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof. Science is about finding actual evidence and seeing if that evidence supports or falsifies a hypothesis. The 2 are not even remotely the same. A person of ANY faith or no faith at all can go out and look at the data and test models and see if the predictions match observations. We can't do the same with religious claims. If we could there would not be so many religions. Hell there would not be so many versions of Christianity.
2 min 54 secs and the first mention of God. What does science say about gods? Nothing. Science is agnostic on the topic. Why? Because science is about describing the natural world around us in a manner that allows us to make useful predictions. Deities are super natural and would be not subject to "natural laws" especially if you think they created them. Now science can make statements about religious claims like the claim the Earth is only 6 thousand years old or that there was a world wide flood. Both which are demonstrably false but those are topics for another day.
3 min 3 secs he doesn't have enough faith to believe in scientist. No he doesn't have enough knowledge in the appropriate field to believe it and probably doesn't want to because it threatens his very weak theology. This isn't a dig against people that believe in any god(s). This is a fact that his theology is very weak.
3 min 13 secs he claims that so many things have to violate the theories own principals. No. His poor understanding of the science makes him confused. That is OK if I had his false understanding of what the current science said I would probably be confused. But instead of him going to learn he just wants to throw up his hands and says "God did it" Why is he even a doctor? Surely if his god knew someone was going to have a brain condition then that god wanted them to have it. Let them die and go to the kingdom of heaven. Ah bad theology there.
So let us assume there is a god. Are you telling me that you don't think your god could have set those fundamental constants up the way that it wanted? I hate calling the Christian God a he because I can't understand why a god with no other gods would have a penis. Set up the constants and set the universe in motion. Dr Ben Carson's god is so inept that it couldn't produce the universe we see with continually interfering with it. He's taken evolution deniers claims and push it back to the universe. Just like creationist that don't understand evolution he doesn't understand cosmology. Or maybe he does and he is just lying his audience. I think the answer is some where in between.
Now think about this. It takes him 3 and a half minutes to spout out a bunch of shit. It takes a layperson over 4 hours to try to correct the lies he spun. That is because making shit up is easier then learning the actual science.
Many of you will still believe him. Very few of you will bother to even investigate what science actually says. Most people wouldn't even had read the first few paragraphs of this post let alone the whole thing. But if just one person decides to actually look into how bad his ramblings are then my time was well spent. Because then you'll probably think how dishonest he probably is even if he does believe what he says because he has to much wrong and to much like long debunked arguments to have just thought this up himself.