Barry SCHWARTZ (Barijo ŜVARC) (chemoelectric) wrote,

The von Daniken fallacy in today's science

Erich von Daniken is known for books 'showing' that ancient structures
such as the pyramids required help from otherworlders. The arguments
are logical and proceed from the false assumption that ancient people
were stupid.
Something like that premise corrupts even 'official'

Specifically, the assumption is that scientists of past eras were
stupid enough to believe in things like epicycles, vitalism, etc.,
but scientists of this era are straight-'thinking' and finally have
it right.

However, two examples:

* The usual derivations of special relativity make an arbitrary
assumption that leads to the Twin Paradox. I verified for myself, a
few years ago, that changing that assumption yields a special
relativity without any Twin Paradox.
Experimentation is required
to know which sr, if either, is correct. Experiments have been run,
of course, but not all think those experiments were done correctly;
I have no opinion on that matter.

* Bell's 'theorem' is wrong. In John Bell's well known 'popular' paper
about his 'theorem', Bertlmann's socks and the nature of
he explains his reasoning (for quantum mechanics) by
analogy to a problem in statistics of heart attacks. However, in
the heart attacks case his reasoning is wrong in an intuitive
I found this a few years ago, and it shows that Bell wasn't
thinking straight. In my experience, pointing this out to a
prominent Bell's 'theorem' believer, I get back 'Okay, yes, Bell was
wrong about that, but his "theorem" is right.'

In fact the main error in Bell's reasoning was found in the 1980s by
the late physicist E. T. Jaynes. In the last several years other
physicists have devised classical models of EPR
experiments. EPR experiments are supposed to demonstrate certain
difficult to comprehend 'facts' about quantum mechanics, but the
connection between the experiments and those 'facts' is Bell's
'theorem'. But Bell's 'theorem' is wrong.

What wrongly believed 'facts' am I talking about? It is believed
widely that quantum mechanics requires 'instantaneous' action at a
distance, or 'non-locality'; this 'fact' is founded on Bell's
incorrect 'theorem'. It is believed widely that there can be no
reduction of quantum mechanics to a deterministic theory; this
'fact' is founded on Bell's incorrect 'theorem'.

The field of quantum cryptography is popular and well funded these
days, and is supposed to give absolutely unbreakable ciphers; the
absolute unbreakability of those ciphers, however, is founded on the
assumption that there is no deterministic theory underlying quantum
mechanics; and that assumption depends on Bell's 'theorem'. (The
theory of quantum computing may also be affected; I don't remember
well enough what that relationship would be.)

Scientists suffer from prejudices today similar to those of earlier
times. Indeed, most likely the paper publishing culture of today
makes it harder to overcome these prejudices than it was a
hundred or more years ago.
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