Friday, January 01, 2010

Mainstream physics and Cargo Cult science.

From Richard Feynman’s “Cargo Cult Science” (also included in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!):
"There have been many experiments running rats through all kinds of mazes, and so on–with little clear result. But in 1937 a man named Young did a very interesting one. He had a long corridor with doors all along one side where the rats came in, and doors along the other side where the food was. He wanted to see if he could train the rats to go in at the third door down from wherever he started them off. No. The rats went immediately to the door where the food had been the time before.
The question was, how did the rats know, because the corridor was so beautifully built and so uniform, that this was the same door as before?
Obviously there was something about the door that was different from the other doors. So he painted the doors very carefully, arranging the textures on the faces of the doors exactly the same. Still the rats could tell. Then he thought maybe the rats were smelling the food, so he used chemicals to change the smell after each run. Still the rats could tell. Then he realized the rats might be able to tell by seeing the lights and the arrangement in the laboratory like any commonsense person. So he covered the corridor, and still the rats could tell.

He finally found that they could tell by the way the floor sounded when they ran over it. And he could only fix that by putting his corridor in sand. So he covered one after another of all possible clues and finally was able to fool the rats so that they had to learn to go in the third door. If he relaxed any of his conditions, the rats could tell.
Now, from a scientific standpoint, that is an A-number-one experiment. That is the experiment that makes rat-running experiments sensible, because it uncovers that clues that the rat is really using– not what you think it’s using. And that is the experiment that tells exactly what conditions you have to use in order to be careful and control everything in an experiment with rat-running."

The similar mistake was done before 130+ years when comparing Michelson-Morley experiments concerning light spreading in vacuum to spreading of waves in material fields. By using of these experiments was deduced, vacuum doesn't behave like material field, because it doesn't exhibit a reference frame for motion (in fact it does it via weak Lense-Thirring effect in Aether density gradients and/or various supersymmetry phenomena due space-time expansion - but this is another story). But the conditions of both experiments weren't equivalent. The observation of light wave spreading by using of light waves in Michelson-Morley experiment is NOT an equivalent of observation of material wave by using of light waves, because two kinds of waves are involved in later experiment with compare to former one.

In such way, mainstream science did the similar mistake when interpreting M-M experiment, like Mr. Young did, because these two experiments weren't done in analogous way, i.e. under consistent arrangement. The physicists just believed, they're doing analogous experiments in similar way, like native people engaging in imitative behavior of "cargo cult". Only one person in Einsteinian era was supposedly capable to spot the difference, i.e. Oliver Lodge - but his opinions were widely ignored both by aetherists, both by mainstream science due his tendency to occultism and paranormal phenomena in his later age.

Anyway, it's crazy situation - at least from present perspective of the future of science history..