Jul 14 2015

Why Pluto is Important

As I write this post we are just minutes away from the closest approach of the New Horizons probe to Pluto, the farthest world we have thus far explored (24 minutes and counting). It’s an exciting moment, not just for astronomy buffs or science enthusiasts, but for humanity. I’m glad to see an appropriate level of excitement among the media and the general public.

Still, a couple of people have commented to me or in my presence that they don’t understand what the big deal is or why this is important, so allow me a moment to explore why I think this is such a big deal.

First, let us not forget what it took to get there. New Horizons is the fastest thing humans ever built. It shot past the moon in 8 hours and 35 minutes, and made a journey of 5 billion kilometers (or 5 terameters, as my friend the Metric Maven would say). On its way it swung around Jupiter to get a gravity assist.

And after 10 years and all that distance, it is finally arriving exactly where the scientists wanted it to – smack in the middle of the target, the Pluto system. We know this is true because we are being rewarded with close up, high definition, pictures of Pluto, Charon and its other moons.

Think about the implications of that fact. That is a stunning validation of not only astronomy and physics, but of science itself. No other intellectual tool developed by humans has achieved such a success. No dowser, psychic, or spiritualist could have divined the information necessary to target the probe. No astrologer could have given us this information. Alchemy could not have powered the rockets so powerfully and precisely.

As Carl Sagan said – “Science delivers the goods.”

The New Horizons mission is also a transcendental moment for humanity. The probe is not just increasing Americans’ knowledge about Pluto, but the world’s knowledge. Everyone gets to benefit, gets to look as the beautiful images of this frozen world. Everyone has a slightly better appreciation for the scale of the universe and our place in it.

This will be remembered as an achievement of our species, of our civilization, and of the power of science. This is one of the things I respect most about science – it is universal and transparent.

7 minutes 24 seconds and counting.

New Horizons also represents the pure joy of discovery. Why do I want to know what Pluto actually looks like? Because it is there, and I want to know. My curiosity calls out to it and wants satisfaction. Because we love mysteries, and now we have some more – the dark bands on Pluto, what are they? What process made them? Why are they so evenly spaced out?

5:00 minutes

And let’s not forget the benefits of pure basic science. We cannot always foresee how basic scientific knowledge will translate into a concrete benefit, but that is part of the point. We don’t know. We find stuff out because it is empowering, it is better to know. Knowledge has a way of cascading, leading to more knowledge, greater insight, seeing patterns in the fabric of reality we had not considered. Knowledge is beneficial for its own sake, even if one bit of knowledge is not itself directly useful. The indirect benefits are incalculable.

And there might be some downstream direct benefits. Knowing about how planets form and evolve may prove quite useful to our species.

1:54

The New Horizons probe is a promise fulfilled, and it did not disappoint. Its mission is also not over. Now it ventures into the darkness of the Kuiper belt. This is the outer regions of the solar system, a place where we have never explored. Who knows what it will encounter there.

00:00

40 responses so far

40 Responses to “Why Pluto is Important”

  1. RNAworldon 14 Jul 2015 at 7:57 am

    I agree that science delivers the goods. Can’t wait to see the pics from Pluto.
    Below is an article on why it is so important that we are going to Pluto.http://darwinskidneys.blogspot.com/2015/07/why-new-horizons-journey-to-pluto-is-so.html

  2. Damloweton 14 Jul 2015 at 8:01 am

    To infinity and beyond!

    Damien

  3. Bruceon 14 Jul 2015 at 8:03 am

    I love this post.

    Something that hit me too while reading about it this morning was that as of today, we humans have now visited every single planet* in our system with at least a space probe. How fantastic an achievement is that?

    *Classical planet.

  4. Michael Finfer, MDon 14 Jul 2015 at 8:55 am

    Even more mind boggling to me is that New Horizons and its upper stage booster (which missed the aim point at Jupiter and missed Pluto by 200 million miles) is now part of our only long term legacy, two of the devices that have been ejected from the solar system. They will be traveling in interstellar space in perpetuity. I wonder if anyone will find any of them one day…

  5. carbonUniton 14 Jul 2015 at 9:45 am

    One of the most amazing things to me about NH is that we can even hear it. Depending on whether or not it is using one or both of its transmitters, it puts out a signal of either 100 or 200 watts respectively. Imagine the sensitivity it takes to receive a signal from 5 terameters away sent with no more power than an old hundred watt light bulb! We can sense really faint stuff and make sense of it!

    Yet the pseudo-sciences would have us believe in magical forces that somehow science can’t detect. Water has memory and somehow that memory causes real health effects. Mystical forces lurk in pseudo-sciences like astrology, Feng shui and acupuncture, yet science doesn’t detect them. We can tear into the heart of atoms and the sub-atomic particles that make them up. We can detect the array of forces and interactions of the Standard Model, yet somehow never see these ‘energy’ fields. If all this pseudo-science stuff is true, why don’t we see these forces associated with it?

  6. Kestrelon 14 Jul 2015 at 10:29 am

    New Horizons has also accidentally provided us with data from which we can extrapolate how long it takes for Steven Novella to write a paragraph.

    Steve, thanks for all you and the SGU do. You folks are tireless science communicators, and your dedication to teaching critical thinking has markedly changed my own life. You are greatly appreciated.

  7. llewellyon 14 Jul 2015 at 10:52 am

    Pluto is important because one day a mad scientist will crash it into Mars, in order to give Mars an atmosphere, so the dreams of Leigh Brackett can finally be realized.

  8. Gabor Hraskoon 14 Jul 2015 at 11:12 am

    Please double check, but as I remember technologies developped for radio astronomy later found their way to medical diagnostics. This might be an example for your statement “We cannot always foresee how basic scientific knowledge will translate into a concrete benefit”. This is of course only one example, but possibly quite adequate.

    Radio Astronomy – Contributing to American Competitiveness
    https://www.nrao.edu/news/Technology_doc_final.pdf

    “Technical innovations developed or enhanced for radio astronomy are found in communication
    antennas, transistor design, cryogenic coolers, medical and scientific imaging, time and frequency
    standards, atomic clocks and GPS navigation, precision spacecraft navigation, location of cell phone
    911 calls, laser rangefinders, and quasi-optical applications.”

  9. Ivan Groznyon 14 Jul 2015 at 11:17 am

    The science you needed for this is the same by now basic, conventional physics – relativity plus quantum mechanics – without which we would not be using the internet now, and satellites would not fly and would not transmit the signal. This is just an ingenious technological application of basic science, nothing special.

  10. Karl Withakayon 14 Jul 2015 at 11:40 am

    “New Horizons is the fastest thing humans ever built. ”

    Well….sort of, not exactly, it depends on how you look at it.

    New Horizons did have the highest launch speed of a human-made object from Earth (NH was also the first spacecraft launched directly into a solar escape trajectory), but Voyager 1 attained greater hyperbolic excess velocity from Jupiter and Saturn gravitational slingshots than New Horizons did, and New Horizons will never overtake Voyager 1.

    Additionally, the Helios probes can also be measured as the thing humans ever built because of their orbital speed relative to the Sun at perihelion, but they’re in solar orbit and not leaving the solar system.

    Much copy-pasta from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Horizons#Launch

  11. Karl Withakayon 14 Jul 2015 at 11:41 am

    Typo correction: “Additionally, the Helios probes can also be measured as the fastest thing humans ever built…”

  12. Bronze Dogon 14 Jul 2015 at 11:58 am

    llewelly:

    Pluto is important because one day a mad scientist will crash it into Mars, in order to give Mars an atmosphere, so the dreams of Leigh Brackett can finally be realized.

    Wait, I thought mad scientists made Mars and Mercury into giant spaceships so that an Irken and a human kid could crash into each other.

  13. Karl Withakayon 14 Jul 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Get your ahs to mahz!

  14. Kestrelon 14 Jul 2015 at 3:08 pm

    http://www.nasa.gov/feature/new-horizons-spacecraft-displays-pluto-s-big-heart-0
    Just gorgeous.

  15. shifty803on 14 Jul 2015 at 3:37 pm

    I sort of hate the idea of having to justify science expenditures towards what is, in all likelihood, just exploration for the sake of exploration.

    People love to point out that nobody knew what electromagnetic fields were good for when they were discovered, and that is a fair point. Still, I would argue that we will almost certainly not see that type of breakthrough from things like New Horizons or the LHC.

    But that is entirely okay!

    Our curiosity is what drove humanity to understand the physical world in the first place. If we for some reason give that up and just content ourselves with our current knowledge, what have we lost? I would hate to live in that world.

  16. Steven Novellaon 14 Jul 2015 at 4:13 pm

    kestrel – that picture was from 768,000 km away. Close approach will be 11,200 km. We will get the first wake up call from NH in 4 hours 40 minutes. Then it will take time to get the first picture from close approach.

  17. Pete Aon 14 Jul 2015 at 5:02 pm

    There are times, such as this, when correlation does indeed equate to causation — even though the sample size (N) = 1.

    I have no idea how many branches of science were involved in producing this fantastic achievement; and the other mind-boggling recent achievement of landing a robotic probe on a comet!

  18. Damloweton 15 Jul 2015 at 8:27 am

    I found out tonight on my local news that Tidbinbilla tracking station (35ish Km away) was the relay for the first closest approach data and images. Woo Hoo! Go Canberra! 🙂

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-14/australian-centre-helps-new-horizons-getting-up-close-with-pluto/6616834

    Also, the company I work for has been doing electrical upgrades out there for the past 18mnts, so I feel slightly involved. 🙂

    A new dish which is due to be complete in late 2016 will have a dish capable of receiving a signal from a spacecraft which are equivalent to 1/20 billionth of a watt.

    http://www.cdscc.nasa.gov/Pages/Archive/DSS36_Dec14/dss36_dec14.html

    Damien

  19. Ian Wardellon 18 Jul 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Steven Novella said:
    “That is a stunning validation of not only astronomy and physics, but of science itself”.

    I wonder who in the history of the Universe denies that science works? It is scientists’ beliefs pertaining to matters outside of science which deserve our derision eg there are no colours, sounds or smells in the world, animals do not experience emotions and perhaps are not even conscious, our consciousness is not causally efficacious, the self is an illusion, telepathy definitely doesn’t exist etc. The complete and totally ludicrous things that scientists believe is absolutely staggering.

    And as for Pluto it’s a barren airless rock like virtually all planets in the whole Universe.

  20. mumadaddon 18 Jul 2015 at 5:59 pm

    Ian, you are supremely ignorant.

  21. BillyJoe7on 18 Jul 2015 at 6:55 pm

    Ian,

    A sceptical scientist simply believes in proportion to the evidence.
    Period.

    “The complete and totally ludicrous things that [SOME] scientists believe is absolutely staggering”

    With my added qualifier, I agree with you entirely.
    May I offer an excellent example:

    “Water comes in infinite structural forms because it is very flexible. It is also extremely responsive to its environment, to electromagnetic fields or light. It has all the hallmarks of sentience, and I have no doubt that water is the real seat of consciousness in living organisms and possibly the universe at large, as water is the most abundant compound in the universe, being created continuously since the universe was born”

    Mae-Wan Ho

  22. Damloweton 18 Jul 2015 at 7:56 pm

    @ Ian W,

    I don’t for one moment claim to know who you are, what you do, your level of education, or your religious ideology, but, you seem to have a complete misunderstanding of what science is and how it works.

    There is a very simple ‘challenge’ you can do to determine how you actually think. Try your hand at this quick puzzle, If you can understand the premiss to this puzzle, it may explain why you hold some of the views that you have.

    “Who denies that science works?”

    The vast majority of people have seem to have no understanding of any science (and no desire to know), a small portion feel the need to try and find why ‘science’ is so wrong and will take any opportunity to mis-quote what scientists’ say or completely misunderstand the science they are trying to disprove.

    “Scientist beliefs in things outside of science need to be ridiculed?”

    Why is that? If someone has the expertise in a particular field which gives them an insight which others have no possible way of understanding completely without years of study, why do you think their opinion on their relative field is only as valid as the average Joe off the street?

    Also, when did “colours, sounds or smells in the world, animals do not experience emotions and perhaps are not even conscious, our consciousness is not causally efficacious, the self is an illusion, telepathy definitely doesn’t exist etc”, fall out of the bounds of science?

    Do you think your last statement may be a VERY VERY large unwarranted unqualified generalization?

    Damien

  23. Damloweton 18 Jul 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Hmmm, the ‘quick logic lesson’ didn’t link like I wanted it to.

    Try this:
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/a-quick-logic-lesson/

    Damien

  24. Ian Wardellon 19 Jul 2015 at 8:20 am

    Damien,

    Well in my University degree I got firsts in all the relevant areas dealing with the philosophy and history of science. Also read my blog entry here:
    http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/do-scientific-explanations-actually.html

    I did that puzzle on facebook, and commented in that link you provided.

    Denying science works and not having knowledge of science are not the same thing.

    Scientists generally have no insight into philosophical issues. Indeed their background tends to have shaped and influenced their views so as to presuppose a certain conception of reality. The result is we hear utterly preposterous assertions from them which they are unable to argue for and which most children understand as being clearly false eg animals are not conscious.

    Science deals exclusively with the quantitative i.e that which can be measured. So colours, sounds, smells, and indeed consciousness do not come under the purview of science — at least as science is currently conceived. This is why colours are *equated* with certain wavelengths of light, and conscious experiences are *equated* with certain characteristic physical process in the brain etc.

    Consciousness not being causally efficacious comes from the assumption the world is physically closed and only the quantitative can initiate causal effects.

    Something like telepathy is deemed to be *extremely* unlikely as it contradicts the premises of the mechanistic philosophy which was the philosophy which precipitated the birth of modern science in the 17th Century. See my blog entry:
    http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/science-afterlife-and-intelligentsia.html

  25. mumadaddon 19 Jul 2015 at 8:58 am

    Ian Wardell,

    Apologies for my last post – I will try to be more constructive.

    “Scientists generally have no insight into philosophical issues.”

    Can you demonstrate why philosophical issues are important though? There may be certain questions that science is unequipped to answer, but this seems to be a shrinking pool – science is fast encroaching on what was historically philosophic ground as we improve our methods and technology. I think this is a one way street and I don’t see philosophy even gaining back lost ground.

    ” Indeed their background tends to have shaped and influenced their views so as to presuppose a certain conception of reality.”

    Who does this not apply to? The scientific conception of reality is by far the most successful system we’ve come up with for modelling reality – the results are everywhere we look. The onus is on you, if you think that there is a better system for answering certain questions, to demonstrate this.

    ” The result is we hear utterly preposterous assertions from them which they are unable to argue for and which most children understand as being clearly false eg animals are not conscious.”

    Where did you get this from? Who said that and when? If when we talk about consciousness we’re referring to it as we experience it subjectively, then I think it’s pretty fair to say that our kind of consciousness is present to varying degrees in other species–more so in social primates than in hamsters for example–and absent in some others. If you’re referring to subjective experience in isolation then I would think the same applies.

    This is a question well within the purview of science to answer. Although it isn’t impossible that some insect could be experiencing human level/type consciousness without exhibiting any of the neural anatomy/activity or behaviour we would expect, what positive evidence is there for this being the case? Do you have a better system (perhaps philosophically derived?) for gaining reliable knowledge about the conscious experiences of other animals?

    “Something like telepathy is deemed to be *extremely* unlikely as it contradicts the premises of the mechanistic philosophy which was the philosophy which precipitated the birth of modern science in the 17th Century.”

    Let’s assume for the sake of argument that telepathy is real, and its mechanism is supernatural so beyond the reach of science’s understanding – we could still apply rigourous empirical methods and controls to measuring its effect. And we have. And it’s been found to be none existent. Or are you talking about a supernatural mechanism whose effects do not manifest in physical, measurable reality? If this is the case then how is to possible to know anything about this, even that it exists?

  26. mumadaddon 19 Jul 2015 at 9:02 am

    Ian,

    My ultimate question from you is, why would you ever want to divorce your conclusions from the process of being tested against reality? How can you possibly assess the validity of any conclusion that cannot be tested?

  27. Damloweton 19 Jul 2015 at 10:05 am

    @ Ian W,

    Sorry, I didn’t remember reading your replies, my bad.

    I completely disagree on the notion of sounds smells and colours not being able to be tested and measured (out of the realm of science). Clearly these are stimuli which our senses have evolved to be able to interpret, and individuals have a unique sensitivity to most basic senses. There are many more than the 5 which are commonly referred too aswell.

    ‘Science’ is able to detect many other stimuli which we (as humans) don’t have senses to interpret. Many of those are so subtle that are no known examples of any species which are able to sense, and some that are. A couple that spring to mind are birds (specifically pigeons) which seem to have a magnetic field detection which allows exact location to be determined without prior ‘knowledge’ of the area. Echo location in bats is another which is obviously an advance hearing sense coupled with vocal signal. The ability of schools of fish to move as one to evade predators which has a (to me) striking similarity to ‘group thinking’. These examples can be quantified and understood even though we don’t perceive the stimuli directly. But something like telepathy is almost ridiculous. What is the possible mechanism to send a signal, why can’t we detect it? and what is the mechanism to receive the signal?

    And, if animals have consciousness, and a conscious thought is all that is needed to effect the physical world, why are we not experiencing bizzare phenomenon happening all over the world?

    Damien

  28. Ian Wardellon 19 Jul 2015 at 11:39 am

    @mumadadd

    Philosophical issues are the most important questions we can ask ourselves eg what are we, what is this world, what is the purpose of my being here, if any.

    The importance of philosophy I address at teh following link:

    http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/why-philosophy-is-important.html

    mumadadd said
    “The scientific conception of reality is by far the most successful system we’ve come up with for modelling reality – the results are everywhere we look”.

    Yes, and metal detectors are more successful than anything else in discovering metal.

    In other words science describes the world, it doesn’t address philosophical issues. It doesn’t address consciousness nor any other qualitative aspects of reality.

  29. Ian Wardellon 19 Jul 2015 at 11:41 am

    Damien said:
    “I completely disagree on the notion of sounds smells and colours not being able to be tested and measured (out of the realm of science)”.

    I’m only interested in the way things are, not whether people understand the way things are.

    By *definition* science cannot address colours, sounds and smells. Nor consciousness as a whole.

  30. Ian Wardellon 19 Jul 2015 at 11:48 am

    Damien
    “something like telepathy is almost ridiculous. What is the possible mechanism to send a signal, why can’t we detect it? and what is the mechanism to receive the signal?”

    I don’t subscribe to the mechanistic philosophy. Or in other words I don’t believe it requires that a signal traverses from person X to person Y.

    I think that the distinctions between our minds can be sometimes weakened so that different minds can directly read each other. I think the brain functions to suppress ESP. Hence if there is an afterlife realm telepathic communication will be the modus operandi of communication.

  31. RickKon 19 Jul 2015 at 12:45 pm

    mumadadd asked: “My ultimate question from you is, why would you ever want to divorce your conclusions from the process of being tested against reality? How can you possibly assess the validity of any conclusion that cannot be tested?”

    Because Ian wants the freedom to spout opinion as fact without any of the bother or responsibility of supporting his position with logic or evidence. In so doing he confines his relevance to just the echo chamber of his own mind, the one venue where he can be assured of uncritical acceptance.

    People who have a strong desire to understand how the universe functions know that any idea or theory must be vigorously challenged and tested. Ian is the exact opposite of such people. It is clear from his many posts that the assumption of his own “rightness” is much more important to Ian than whether his ideas are actually, measurably valid.

  32. mumadaddon 19 Jul 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Ian,

    Can I ask you (nicely) to confine the discussion to this forum; i.e. don’t rely on someone having to read your blog to understand your point, though linking for more detailed explanations is reasonable. I can understand not wanting to spend ages repeating something you already put effort into, but you could easily just copy/paste the relevant text here without forcing other people to trawl through a load of other stuff.

    “Philosophical issues are the most important questions we can ask ourselves eg what are we, what is this world, what is the purpose of my being here, if any.”

    Science can and has answered these questions already:

    -what are we? Evolved life forms.
    -what is this world? It’s a planet in gravitational orbit around a star. There are countless others.
    -what is the purpose of my being here, if any? There is no objective “purpose” to your existence [though you are welcome to invent your own].

    I’m not being deliberately superficial here, it’s just that to represent our current best scientific understanding of the answers to these questions would take longer than I have to spend. We have a pretty complete picture though, in terms of the origin the universe, the origin of our solar system, planet and our species; any current gaps in this picture don’t imply a problem with the method of science or lend any credence to some alternative system of knowing. Just think about how wrong our picture of reality was before science came along – and this isn’t a philosophical exercise, there is technology that would not work, people alive who would be dead, and other people who would not exist at all if science was was wrong in its assessment of how reality functions. You know, actual, real world results?

    I agree that the majority of people would consider your questions about ourselves and the reality we find ourselves important. However, their subjective importance to us is a product of our nature, as are the answers we intuit our way towards; answers that revolve around some external “purpose” and reflect our inherent dualism. In the face of all the carefully observed and collected evidence demonstrating that reality follows measurable, quantifiable, consistent rules completely independent of our existence, is it really sensible to expect proper testing to cough up answers to questions about our purpose?

    “In other words science describes the world, it doesn’t address philosophical issues. It doesn’t address consciousness nor any other qualitative aspects of reality.”

    Are “philosophical issues” independent of the world to sufficient extent that they cannot be informed a better description of it? It seems like you’re just using “philosophical issues” as a category in which to place certain beliefs to exclude them, by sleight of hand, from proper investigation.

    I’ll give you this though – consciousness is tricky. We have some major conceptual problems with subjective experience arising from dumb matter. I’ll also acknowledge that direct validation of another entity’s conscious experience is (for now) impossible; so, as a practical necessity, we’re forced to make inferences based on secondary means.

    There are, however, many testable predictions that could be made from the various hypotheses positing something other than (or in addition to) matter constrained by rules as the root of consciousness, it’s just that they fail to bear fruit. To my knowledge there are no repeatable experiments that support these conclusions.

    In the mean time, the successful predictions of “materialist” neuroscience continue to stack up.

    I know what you’re going to say: your brand of subjective idealism would be undetectable to science; it isn’t something in addition to matter, it’s something instead of matter, and if we all just understood philosophy better we’d be forced to admit that there’s no other explanation for consciousness.

    I’ll ask you again, if you divorce this conclusion from the process of testing against reality, how can you even in theory assess its validity? This is just another unfalsifiable claim à la intelligent design. It’s also heavily dependent on current gaps in our scientific picture. You have no basis to assume that these gaps won’t be filled, but even if they aren’t, your own reasoning won’t be any less flawed.

  33. Willyon 19 Jul 2015 at 2:53 pm

    You gosh darned skeptics! Next thing you know you’ll be denying that water has all the hallmarks of sentience.

  34. Willyon 19 Jul 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Mr. Wardell: You are certainly correct that science has not provided every answer–and may never provide some answers, especially those that ask “why”. I would ask you to provide real, objective, universal answers that have been provided by philosophy. It seems to me that, in the end, philosophy cannot provide, and has not provided, definitive answers to “why” questions either.

    I also agree 100% that it is a poorly led life if one doesn’t ponder the “meaning of life” or never gazes at the universe and existence with awe. From my own perspective, having someone else ponder for me isn’t very helpful, nor is it very satisfying. I surely enjoy hearing the thoughts and insights of others, but ultimately, the answers I need must come from within me.

    You note that philosophers were employed in the past. I’d note that astrologers, magicians, and alchemists were also employed at one time.

  35. BillyJoe7on 21 Jul 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Ian:

    “I think that the distinctions between our minds can be sometimes weakened so that different minds can directly read each other”

    Why do you think that?
    By what mechanism are the distinctions between minds weakened?
    Does this occur magically or can we make it happen?
    Where is the evidence that this happens at all?

  36. BillyJoe7on 21 Jul 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Philosophy is important only as a tool in the toolkit of science.
    Philosophy must be completely and entirely based in science.
    Before science every philosopher had a different philosophy with no way to tell who was right.
    Science fixed that problem.

  37. chrisjon 24 Jul 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Please don’t treat Ian Wardell as representative of what most philosophers think. He is simply doing very poor philosophy.

    Just for example, Ian says, “Philosophical issues are the most important questions we can ask ourselves eg what are we, what is this world, what is the purpose of my being here, if any.”

    These are important questions, but good philosophers allow their answers to these question to be informed by science.

    Also, Wardell is just getting things factually wrong. The best scientific theories of color don’t claim that colors are identical with wavelengths.

    Another example, Wardell says, “Something like telepathy is deemed to be *extremely* unlikely as it contradicts the premises of the mechanistic philosophy which was the philosophy which precipitated the birth of modern science in the 17th Century.”

    This is just shear ignorance again. Modern scientists don’t subscribe to the mechanist philosophy of people like Newton and Locke anymore. A cursory reading of a popular text on particle physics will show you this is the case, not to mention quantum mechanics.

    The reason we don’t think telepathy is true is not because we subscribe to a “mechanistic” philosophy, but because there is no good evidence of any kind for telepathy.

    I wish you would go away Ian. You are damaging the public image of an important domain of inquiry by doing it badly. Some of us need jobs in philosophy and your dilettante philosophy is not helping convince people outside of the field that philosophy departments ought to be funded or that universities ought to require philosophy classes as part of a liberal education.

  38. mumadaddon 24 Jul 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Hah! 🙂

  39. Pete Aon 25 Jul 2015 at 1:05 pm

    @chrisj, Thank you very much for clearly pointing out what I’ve become increasingly aware of (but didn’t know how to put into meaningful words).

    I’ve been finding it extremely odd that Ian Wardell refuses to accept 21st Century knowledge that is supported by both modern philosophers and cognitive scientists, who take the “Ph” aspect of their PhD very seriously in their endeavours.

  40. BillyJoe7on 26 Jul 2015 at 2:33 am

    Ian is a well known frequenter of English Pubs.
    That may explain the deterioration in his posts over the last ten years.
    It’s been a bit sad to see.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.