The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘TM’

Is It Time To Call Creationists’ Bluff And Push For “Teaching All Views”?

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 6, 2012

[**Note: The following post is a guest post hosted over at the James Randi Educational Foundation’s blog.  Enjoy! 🙂 ]

Is It Time To Call Creationists’ Bluff And Push For “Teaching All Views”?

Many readers of this blog are no doubt, like me, a bit disappointed (though not entirely surprised) that a creationist-friendly law protecting so-called “academic freedom” of teachers is now on the books in Tennessee. The “Monkey Law”, as has been labeled in honor of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial from 1925 , would seek to encourage teachers in the state’s public schools to present the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of topics that arouse “debate and disputation” such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

Indeed, as the National Center for Science Education notes:

“Maybe it has a no-religion clause,” the Tennessean characterized the law’s critics as arguing, “but it gives a wink to teachers looking to promote their beliefs in the classroom — a move that would launch costly lawsuits that history shows school districts tend to lose.” Hedy Weinberg, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, told the newspaper that her group is in touch with concerned parents across the state, “waiting for one to report First Amendment violations teachers could make under the mistaken notion that they now have full protection.”

A very similar law promoting this somewhat Orwellian notion of academic freedom was enacted in Louisiana in 2008. Of course, anyone who has followed the creationist movement for any amount of time sees quite clearly what is going on here: after their high-profile defeat in the Dover v. Kitzmiller trial in 2005, where they tried to push for explicitly including creationism (under the re-labeling of “intelligent design”), creationists are now falling back on an old, but tried and true, tactic – attacking and attempting to weaken the teaching of evolution. [Aside: Note that when I mention “creationists” I am referring to the usual, fundamentalist Christian variety so common in the United States, the young-earth variety. This is quite important, for reasons you’ll see later.]

My guess is that the thinking from the creationists is probably along these lines: we have these children in our churches where we can teach them the “truth”, so all we need to do is discourage the schools from teaching evolution. By keeping these children ignorant of evolution (and science in general), the creationists win by default; hence the language in the “Monkey Law” emphasizing the teaching of the non-existent “scientific weaknesses” of evolution. This is basically code telling the creationists to make up whatever fiction they wish about evolution and teach these straw man notions in public school science classes. And by doing so, the creationists then automatically steer the students in the direction of non-scientific alternative explanations.

Speaking of non-scientific alternatives, let us note that the new Tennessee law also makes specific references to the science of global warming and human cloning, both increasingly hot-button issues for social and religious conservatives in the United States. But, interestingly, the language is more open-ended and doesn’t stop explicitly at those topics; in fact, the language states that “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of topics that arouse “debate and disputation”. Note that the law doesn’t specify among whom these topics can arouse debate and disputation. And I think it is on this point that the Tennessee lawmakers may end up getting hoisted by their own petard. I’m not referring to the inevitable lawsuits which will come along once some teacher starts to teach creationism explicitly (lawsuits which the state will, in all likelihood, lose). Rather, I am referring to the potential lawsuits that other wacky and non-scientific ideas are not being taught in Tennessee public school science classes. …

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Indiana’s New Creationism Bill Leads the Way into an Abyss of Stupidity

Posted by mattusmaximus on February 2, 2012

**Update (2/4/12): It seems the inclusion of the “teach all views” amendment to SB89 was actually an attempt to sabotage the creationist bill, for the very reasons I have outlined below.  Read more at this link.

***********************************

There’s been a lot of news lately about a new creationism bill coming out of Indiana.  Yesterday (Jan. 31), according to the National Center for Science Education, it seems the Indiana Senate has passed the bill, and the Indiana House is also expected to pass the bill (my guess is that Gov. Mitch Daniels will also sign it into law).  If this idiotic bill becomes law then there is going to be a whole mess of trouble coming to Indiana; for the reasons why I say this, take a look at some details from the NCSE…

Indiana creationism bill passes the Senate

On January 31, 2012, the Indiana Senate voted 28-22 in favor of Senate Bill 89. As originally submitted, SB 89 provided, “The governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.” On January 30, 2012, however, it was amended in the Senate to provide instead, “The governing body of a school corporation may offer instruction on various theories of the origin of life. The curriculum for the course must include theories from multiple religions, which may include, but is not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology.” … [emphasis added]

Note the bolded text above.  That one line in the legislation is going to be the source of much mischief, and it is going to eventually cause really big headaches for the Indiana legislature. Unfortunately, in the meantime there are going to be a lot of kids in that state who are going to receive a more than substandard science education.  Allow me to elaborate:

1. The first thing to note within the bold text is that a requirement is to include religious explanations for the origins of life. Pardon me, but I thought we were supposed to be teaching science, not religion, in science classes.  If only there were a place to give religious views on these matters within the public schools… like in a comparative religion or philosophy class, perhaps?

So the way this bill is worded it actually requires the muddling of science and religion in the public school science classroom, which will only lead to much confusion on the part of students about what is and isn’t science.  The inevitable result will br a more scientifically illiterate populace in Indiana, one which isn’t prepared to compete in the 21st century.

But it gets worse…

2. Make note of the following text in bold above: “… include theories from multiple religions, which may include, but is not limited to, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Scientology.

Wow, talk about opening a BIG can of worms!  This phrasing, in my view, seeks to allow the creationists (most likely those of the young-earth fundamentalist Christian variety) to have their cake and eat it too.  They are going to use this phrasing as a kind of political cover for Christian YEC school board members, classroom teachers, and parent groups to put maximum pressure on local schools to favor their particular religious view of creationism to the exclusion on all others.  Here’s why I say this…

The purpose of that particular wording is to give the impression of being completely open-ended (the so-called “teach all views” argument), but note the key word: may.  That’s not a “shall” and that makes a huge difference.  By saying “may” instead of “shall”, the legislation gives free reign to the Christian YECs to include their views on creationism in public science classes (“It says we may do this…”) while coming up with a thinly veiled legal rationalization for excluding every other creationist view (“Sorry, we just don’t have the time to go into all of that now…” wink-wink).  By this dishonest sleight-of-hand, I suspect the Christian fundamentalists hope have the law pass constitutional muster since it doesn’t, on it’s face, appear to favor one religious group over another (and thus violate the separation of church and state).  Of course, how the law would actually be implemented is another story… wink-wink…

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Keep Your Feet on the Ground: Physics Denial Woo

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 29, 2009

Awhile back I made a post called “Gravity: Only A Theory” – it was about a spoof which used fake criticism of the physics of gravity to make fun of creationists and their pseudoscientific arguments. Believe it or not, there actually are some people who attempt to apply the same nonsensical thinking to the laws of physics (like gravity). A perfect example of such folk are those who cater to Transcendental Meditation (TM) – a New-Age cult which, among other things, teaches its followers that if one meditates hard enough you can actually fly in defiance of gravity!

yogic flying

To give you an idea of just how silly this “yogic flying” (as the TMers call it) really is, take a look at this video footage…

One of these physics/gravity deniers, a Mr. Anirudh Kumar Satsangi, contacted me through the comments section of my earlier blog entry. Though I don’t have direct evidence of it, from his methods of argumentation and his claims, I think he might be a dedicated practitioner of TM. What ensued was his attempt to convince me that Einstein’s theory of relativity, including the mass-energy equivalence relationship E=mc^2, was completely wrong and that he had a “theory of everything” to replace it. His “theory” was supposed to be based upon meditation (sound familiar?) and is also completely impervious to testing – wow.

I wanted to share with you all the back-and-forth he and I had on the comments, because it is very instructive to see that most pseudoscientists use the same flawed arguments & logical fallacies to justify their nonsense. Here you go…

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said
March 13, 2009 at 9:38 am e

kindly let me know that in E=mc2 (famous eqs given by Einstein) whether c2 (c square) stands only for denoting some numerical value in the equation or there is some evidence of a speed equal to the square of speed of light?

mattusmaximus said
March 13, 2009 at 2:14 pm e

This link to Wikipedia should help you out on this…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_%3D_mc2#Background

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said
March 14, 2009 at 6:45 am e

Thank you very much Mattusmaximus for your kind response. It means c2 is a conversion factor only. It has no other function. How this conversion factor has been derived? How does c2 differ from v2 of ½mv2 ?

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said
March 15, 2009 at 5:50 am e

I have written following two papers which may lead to the realization for a higher theory of everything:

(i) Gravitation Force is the Ultimate Creator,
(1st Int. Conf. on Revival of Traditional Yoga, Lonavla Yoga Institute, Lonavla, January, 2006)
(ii) In Scientific Terminology, Source of Gravitational Wave is God
(2nd World Congress on Vedic Science, BHU, Varanasi, Feb 2007)
I have presented these two papers at the two different International Conferences. I am now submitting some views for being considered for Unified Field Theory

From Scriptures: (Prem Patra by His Holiness Huzur Maharaj)
The Current which manifested in the beginning of the creation is the Current of Sabda (Sound) and of Chaitanya (Consciousness). From whom that Current issued forth is known as Soami (Supreme Being). This Current, by turning back can merge again in the Holy Feet of Supreme Being. The entire creation manifested from this current and is sustained with its energy and when the Current of the Holy Feet is withdrawn, the creation ceases to exist.This Current of the Holy Feet is the Reservoir of all energy, tastes and pleasures, knowledge, skill, shapes, forces and light etc. etc. and of the entire creation, is also the Creator of all of them.

From Science:
Gravitation Force is the cause of manifestation of the creation (birth of planets, stars), its sustenance and when it is withdrawn towards centre or source the entire creation ceases to exist. Photons have originated from gravitons. In black holes photons merge into gravitons. In Black Holes, Gravitational Force is so high that it does not allow even light to escape. What does it mean then? It simply means that the gravitational force at black-holes attracts light towards it with much greater velocity than the speed of light. In fact, all forces including electromagnetic force, material force (strong and weak nuclear force) all merge into gravitational force in black-holes and becomes one force there and when the creational process starts again from a Black-Hole all the forces appear (manifest) again and descends downwards to create billions of stars, planets, satellite, asteroids and various life forms.

Hence it can be assumed that the Current of Chaitanya (Consciousness) and Gravitational Wave are the two names of the same Supreme Essence (Seed) which has brought forth the entire creation.

All cosmological researches should be conducted keeping in view of the following philosophical facts:
It has been stated in Bible (John I-1) “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,”
Mohammedans hold that God uttered ‘Kun’ (i.e. ‘Came into being’) and the creation came into being (Holy Quran, Sur. Bakr (II.117).
In Chhandogya Upanishad it is written “Tadaikshat bahu syam prajayeyeti” (VI-2-iii) i.e. “It thought (desired) Would that I were many! Let me procreate myself!” The Aitareya Upanishad says,”Sa ikshat ‘lokannusrija’ iti (I-1-i) i.e. “He bethought himself (desired) – ‘Let me create worlds’, etc. etc.
It is written in Chapter VII of Srimad Bhagavadgita : Sri Bhagwan said, “Arjun, now listen how with the mind attached to Me and practicing Yoga with absolute dependence on Me, you will know Me in entirety and without any shadow of doubt” (1). I shall unfold to you in its entirety this wisdom alongwith the Knowledge of the qualified aspect of God, having known which nothing else remains yet to be known in this world (2). Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, reason and also ego; these constitute My nature eightfold divided. This indeed is My lower (material) nature : the other than this, by which the whole universe is sustained, know it to be My higher nature in the form of Jiva, O Arjuna. (4-5). Arjuna, know that all beings have evolved from this twofold Prakriti, and that I am the source of the entire creation, and into Me again it disappears.(6)
The Radhasoami Religion also tells that, the ‘Word’ mentioned above is in fact Current of Sound or Current of Consciousness or Prime Current of Spirituality which was issued forth from its Source, or Creator or God. This Current has later on produced light and other forces. The scientists are discussing these days about dark energy which constitute about 96% of the entire universe which is not known to us. Only 4% part of the universe is known to us by all scientific means. In fact this 96% invisible portion of the universe is the vast expanse of spirituality which can be designated as field of gravitational waves in scientific terms. Visible portion of the universe (4%) consists of consciousness (gravitational force), mental force (electromagnetic waves) and material force (strong and weak nuclear force).
Body = Nuclear Force (weak as well as strong)
Mind = Electromagnetic Force.
Consciousness = Gravitation Force.
According to Radhasoami Religion the whole Universe can be sub-divided into three grand divisions viz.
1. Region of Pure Spirituality
2. Region of Subtle Maya
3. Region of Gross Maya
Nuclear forces dominate Region of Gross Maya (Gross Material Region), Electro-magnetic forces dominate Region of Subtle Maya (Subtle Material Region) and Gravitational Force dominates Pure Spiritual Region.
This is the only Truth which can be verified scientifically and can be termed as ‘higher theory for everything’. This also supports the statement of Sir Sahabji Maharaj that ‘the goal of science – Truth; the goal of philosophy – Ultimate Reality; and the goal of religion – God’ are the three names of same supreme essence.
Many things are common between Current of Consciousness and Gravitational Wave.
1. Current of consciousness can not be seen by any means and gravitational wave can also not be seen.
2. Current of consciousness is the weakest force on earth. Its strength goes on increasing on higher regions. Gravitational force is also very weak on earth and strong on Sun and even more stronger on black holes.
3 Tendency of both current of consciousness and gravitational waves are towards their source or centre.
4. Current of consciousness and gravitational force are both regarded as the creater of all the celestial and terrestrial bodies of the whole universe. They are also sustainer of these and when they turn back towards their source or centre the whole universe will collapse.
Hence it can be assumed that the source of current of consciousness and gravitational wave is the same i.e. God or ultimate creator.
This theory is based on scientific deduction. In scientific terms it can be said that the ‘gravitons’ are the elementaryparticle which was issued forth in the beginning of the creation accompanying with sound ‘Radha’.

mattusmaximus said
March 21, 2009 at 8:21 pm e

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

I have written following two papers which may lead to the realization for a higher theory of everything:

Mr. Satsangi, if you really believe that your “theory” has any kind of merit, then by all means submit it to a qualified, peer-reviewed physics journal for possible publication. That is how modern science is done, not by posting walls of text to blogs on the Internet.

By the way, one question for you – how does one go about testing your “theory”?

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said
March 24, 2009 at 9:23 am e

Dear Mattusmaximus

Thanks for your response. As I have mentioned above that the above two papers I had already presented at two different International Conferences where thousands of academicians participated. I have also received very encouraging remarks to these papers from eminent Professors of Physics.

How E=mc^2 can be tested ? There is lot of confusion.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said
March 24, 2009 at 1:56 pm e

Dear Mattusmaximus

Refer to your question- how does one go about testing your “theory”?

Certainly it needs power of intuition developed by practice of meditation to test my “theory”. Kindly refer to Blog site “Fighting of the cause of Allah by Governing a Smart Mathematics Based on Islamic Teology” by Rohedi Laboratory,The Best Science on the World. Rohedi observed to my comments : “Congratulations you have develop the hihger theory of everything more wonderful than which has been developed by Stephen Hawking. Hopefully your some views for being considered for Unified Field Theory are recognized by International Science Community”

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said
March 24, 2009 at 2:04 pm e

Certainly it needs the power of intuition developed by the practice of meditation to test my theory. Rohedi has appreciated my views on theory of everything stating that it is more wonderful than the theory of Stephen Hawking. Kindly refer to his Blog site “Fighting of the cause of Allah by Governing a Smart Mathematics Based on Islamic Teology”

mattusmaximus said
March 25, 2009 at 3:12 pm e

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

Certainly it needs the power of intuition developed by the practice of meditation to test my theory. Rohedi has appreciated my views on theory of everything stating that it is more wonderful than the theory of Stephen Hawking. Kindly refer to his Blog site “Fighting of the cause of Allah by Governing a Smart Mathematics Based on Islamic Teology”

Making statements such as “Rohedi has appreciated my views on theory of everything” is not an outline for an experimental protocol – it is nothing more than a psuedoscientific argument from authority.

You mentioned meditation as a “test” for your “theory” – please outline exactly how your “theory” can be experimentally falsified. That is, what measurement(s) would show that you are wrong?

mattusmaximus said
March 25, 2009 at 6:54 pm e

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

How E=mc^2 can be tested ? There is lot of confusion.

E=mc^2 is tested all the time in particle accelerators, such as at FermiLab which is just down the road from me. Also, you might want to read about this recent, high-profile experiment at MIT which tested out E=mc^2 and found it to be accurate.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said
March 26, 2009 at 9:54 am e

excuse me, mattusmaximus, neither my arguement is psuedoscientific nor I have any intention of arguing with any authority. If you are authority in some field I also do enjoy authority in my field of work. Some of my questions are still un-answered. When speed has no role in E=mc^2, how this conversion factor (c^2) had been arrived at in the formula by Einstein. Had this formula (E=mc^2) was tested and verified experimentally during the life time of Einstein. If not, whether it was termed as psuedoscientific?

mattusmaximus said
March 26, 2009 at 4:31 pm e

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

excuse me, mattusmaximus, neither my arguement is psuedoscientific nor I have any intention of arguing with any authority. If you are authority in some field I also do enjoy authority in my field of work. Some of my questions are still un-answered. When speed has no role in E=mc^2, how this conversion factor (c^2) had been arrived at in the formula by Einstein. Had this formula (E=mc^2) was tested and verified experimentally during the life time of Einstein. If not, whether it was termed as psuedoscientific?

I have provided you with information on how E=mc^2 was derived – here it is again…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_%3D_mc2

Now whether or not you choose to do some basic homework and read the info I provide is up to you. If you want to be lazy and not do the research, fine by me – but don’t sit there and keep implying that E=mc^2 hasn’t been tested experimentally when it very clearly has been tested. This line of argumentation is the same as employed by creationists all the time: they ask for evidence of evolution, it is provided to them, and then they ask “Why isn’t anyone able to show evidence for evolution?” It is disingenuous and dishonest.

And whether or not E=mc^2 was immediately tested right after Einstein proposed it is beside the point, because in the intervening time mass-energy equivalence has been tested and found to be valid in a huge number of experiments.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said
March 27, 2009 at 2:11 pm e

mattusmaximus said quoting: ‘E=mc^2 passes tough MIT test by Elizabeth A. Thomson New Office, Dec.21, 2005.

1. “The team found that the formula predicting that energy and mass are equivalent is correct to an incredible accuracy of better than one part in a million. That’s 55 times more precise than the best previous test”.

2. Despite the results of the current test of E=mc^ Pritchard said:”This doesn’t mean it has been proven to be completely correct”.

3. “It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing – a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind”.

All the above statements indicate that E=mc^2 was not tested and verified experimentally during the life time of Einstein and even perhaps today it is in the process of experimentation. Till such time we reach at one hundred percent precise accuracy we should term Theory of Relativity as Pseudoscientific.

And Dear mattusmaximus, kindly let me know what is this ’same thing’ from where both mass and energy maninfested? I am quite sure you will find the reply for this question of mine in my comments which you have termed as ‘pseudoscientific’. Thank you

mattusmaximus said
March 27, 2009 at 3:36 pm e

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

1. “The team found that the formula predicting that energy and mass are equivalent is correct to an incredible accuracy of better than one part in a million. That’s 55 times more precise than the best previous test”.

Yes, this shows that E=mc^2 has not only been tested, but as it is tested out more and more it is found to be even more accurate! How is this any kind of argument in your favor?

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

2. Despite the results of the current test of E=mc^ Pritchard said:”This doesn’t mean it has been proven to be completely correct”.

Nice quote mine – another dishonest tactic often used by pseudoscientists, btw. The full quote is: “This doesn’t mean it has been proven to be completely correct. Future physicists will undoubtedly subject it to even more precise tests because more accurate checks imply that our theory of the world is in fact more and more complete.”

So what Pritchard is actually saying is that because he expects more and more accurate tests in the future, if E=mc^2 stands up to that experimental scrutiny, as it has so far, then our confidence in this theory will be even greater. By quote mining in this manner, you are disingenuously attempting to give the opposite impression of what he’s actually saying.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

3. “It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing – a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind”.

Yes, many aspects of modern physics are counter-intuitive and difficult for people to understand. So what?

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

All the above statements indicate that E=mc^2 was not tested and verified experimentally during the life time of Einstein and even perhaps today it is in the process of experimentation. Till such time we reach at one hundred percent precise accuracy we should term Theory of Relativity as Pseudoscientific.

Now you’re just moving the goalposts, another dishonest pseudoscientific tactic and logical fallacy. Before you claimed E=mc^2 wasn’t tested, and I proved you wrong. Then you claim that it wasn’t tested in Einstein’s day, which though it might be correct is irrelevant because it has (and continues to be) tested to higher and higher precision and found to be accurate as time goes on. So now you move the goalposts again and say that unless we have 100% precision & accuracy – which is impossible in any kind of experimental science – then you’ll just call E=mc^2 pseudoscience.

And you then imply that because E=mc^2 hasn’t met your impossible criteria that then your ideas must be correct. This is yet another pseudoscientific tactic and logical fallacy called a false dichotomy. Even if E=mc^2 was shown to be wrong, which it hasn’t yet, then that would do nothing to support your ideas. You must provide positive evidence of your ideas, rather than tearing down accepted science.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

And Dear mattusmaximus, kindly let me know what is this ’same thing’ from where both mass and energy maninfested? I am quite sure you will find the reply for this question of mine in my comments which you have termed as ‘pseudoscientific’. Thank you

I’m not exactly sure what the “same thing” really is, but I will venture to say that it is all energy – it’s just that mass is a specific manifestation of energy. A “solidified” form of energy, so to speak.

Now you answer my previous question & challenge:
You mentioned meditation as a “test” for your “theory” – please outline exactly how your “theory” can be experimentally falsified. That is, what measurement(s) would show that you are wrong?

Answer my question, or the next time I will block your posts.

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said
March 28, 2009 at 9:35 am e

I am working to establish my theory as a perfect blend of science and philosophy (religion). It is ridiculous to ask such question “how your theory can be experimentally falsified”. Please try to defend “theory” of Einstein which is facing the greatest challenge .

mattusmaximus said
March 29, 2009 at 5:01 am e

Anirudh Kumar Satsangi said:

It is ridiculous to ask such question “how your theory can be experimentally falsified”.

So you admit there is no way to test your ideas? Can’t say I’m surprised – this is par for the course when it comes to pseudoscience, it is ultimately unfalsifiable and therefore completely non-scientific. The fact that you don’t see this as a problem just goes to show how you really have no clue how modern science works. If you wish to call your ideas philosophy, knock yourself out. But don’t call them scientific because you aren’t interested in meeting the criteria of science – you just want to leap past all the work and get the credit of science. Sorry, that’s just not good enough.

In accordance with my earlier ultimatum, I will be blocking your further comments to this blog. However, I would like to thank you for providing me with an excellent example of how pseudoscientists attempt to push their bogus claims. Our running conversation should make good fodder for a future blog post.

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