Amateur scientists vs. cranks

I stopped this video after 10 sec . So I don’t have too much to say about it .
I was upset about their reactions and laughter . They should explain and reply to those people and not rediculize their ideas even of it takes up their time as beiing a genius . It seems they are elitists who have the arrogance to leave these things in a box . Without conversation this world will still be the same in 100 years . And they who know , might miss just what is important . We have the posibillity to discuss and educate on the web , but no one takes the chance . Mokeys in a cage fighting for a banana ,for forever it seems .

Congratulations, you’ve baited:

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1419

"Analysis of the data disagrees with Watts’ conclusion

While Watts’ publication by the Heartland Institute is a valuable source of information on siting problems of the U.S. network of weather stations, the publication did not undergo peer-review–the process whereby three anonymous scientists who are experts in the field review a manuscript submitted for publication, and offer criticisms on the scientific validity of the results, resulting in revisions to the original paper or outright rejection. The Heartland Institute is an advocacy organization that accepts money from corporate benefactors such as the tobacco industry and fossil fuel industry, and publishes non-peer reviewed science that inevitably supports the interests of the groups paying for the studies. Watts did not actually analyze the data to see if taking out the poorly sited surface stations would have a significant impact on the observed 1.1°F increase in U.S. temperatures over the past century. His study would never have been publishable in a peer-reviewed scientific journal."

“Fortunately, a proper analysis of the impact of these poorly-sited surface stations on the U.S. historical temperature record has now been done by Dr. Matthew Menne and co-authors at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC)… The results were surprising. While the poor sites had a slightly warmer average minimum temperature than the good sites (by 0.03°C), the average maximum temperature measured at the poor sites was significantly cooler (by 0.14°C) than the good sites. As a result, overall average temperatures measured at the poor sites were cooler than the good sites. This is the opposite of the conclusion reached by Anthony Watts in his 2009 Heartland Institute publication.”

Oh, and this no news to us who work with… weather buoys, weather drones, weather subs, scans from weather satellites, etc. etc. etc.

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[quote=“HannesAlfven, post:14, topic:1874”]
The Electric Universe and plasma cosmology debates should be recognized as legitimate scientific controversies. [/quote]

Er, no. They’re fringe theories, what predictions they’ve made have not been supported by observations. What’s more, most of their supporters make flatly incorrect statements about mainstream cosmology. (They seem to think that the fact that 96% of the Unvierse isn’t made up of the same stuff as us as a clear indication that something’s wrong. I thought we learned that lesson back with Copernicuis!)

The fact that it’s an engineering journal that is the place where you see people supprting Plasma Cosmology ties in nicely to what the guy in the video said about the cranks he sees-- a LOT of them seem to be engineers.

I think this is an important point. If it turns out that rote memorization is as destructive as Joseph Novak claims, the good news is that he offers specific ideas on how to fix the problem through concept mapping, vee diagramming and force concept inventories. These ideas – which are based upon David Ausubel’s theory of assimilation – are really quite old ideas by now.

Concept mapping – It works because it visualizes the cognitive process of attaching new concepts to pre-existing ones. It is thought to be particularly effective at correcting misconceptions – which we know from force concept inventory testing is a major problem in education.

Vee diagrams – This is, simply put, the visualization of scientific methodology. In studies of this technique, it has become apparent that students generally exhibit difficulty identifying the elements of scientific theory – including concepts, constructs, propositions, theories, philosophies, worldviews, assumptions, hypotheses, etc. Although the vee diagram itself appears to not be the best that we can do, the idea of visualizing science remains largely untried.

Force concept inventories – The FCI is a multiple-choice, purely conceptual test which is designed to determine a person’s conceptual comprehension of a subject matter. Since it is entirely conceptual, it can be given to students both before and after a semester-long course. This permits researchers to quantitatively determine the change in conceptual comprehension of the course. In an FCI, the questions are initially asked as open-ended questions, and the most common wrong answers are then fed back to students as the bad answers. Large-scale FCI experiments have been deployed in public schools for a while now, but universities have largely resisted their incorporation. People should be demanding answers on why that is actually. It’s fair game to conclude that the universities fear the revelation that traditional schooling techniques like lectures and problem sets fail to create solid conceptual comprehension. It is possible to say, based upon Eric Mazur’s work at Harvard, that boosting conceptual comprehension appears to also boost problem-solving skills.

As a layperson, I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading about David Ausubel’s theory of assimilation and Joseph Novak’s attempts to incorporate it into a pedagogical technique. It’s an incredibly actionable theory for education, and yet it’s also really quite old by now. It’s a bit of a mystery why we’ve not seen more attention paid to it, as it would seem to offer a way to increase comprehension in science – which Joseph Novak calls “meaningful learning”, and which one has to suspect would have great impact upon critical thinking.

Peer review is not a magic pill, unfortunately. In fact, many famous ideas that are now accepted theories were initially rejected by peer review. There appears to be an irony inherent to the way in which people think about peer review.

From “Classical Peer Review: An Empty Gun” by Richard Smith …

‘If peer review was a drug it would never be allowed onto the market,’
says Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of the Journal Of the American
Medical Association and intellectual father of the international
congresses of peer review that have been held every four years since
1989. Peer review would not get onto the market because we have no convincing evidence of its benefits but a lot of evidence of its
flaws.

Yet, to my continuing surprise, almost no scientists know anything
about the evidence on peer review. It is a process that is central to
science - deciding which grant proposals will be funded, which papers
will be published, who will be promoted, and who will receive a Nobel
prize. We might thus expect that scientists, people who are trained to
believe nothing until presented with evidence, would want to know all
the evidence available on this important process. Yet not only do
scientists know little about the evidence on peer review but most
continue to believe in peer review, thinking it essential for the
progress of science. Ironically, a faith based rather than an evidence
based process lies at the heart of science.

[…]

‘We’ve….found that peer review doesn’t work, in the sense that there
seems to be very little correlation between the judgement of peer
reviewers and the fate of a paper after publication. Many papers get
very high marks from their peer reviewers but have little effect on
the field. And on the other hand, many papers get average ratings but
have a big impact’

[…]

‘At present, little empirical evidence is available to support the use
of editorial peer review as a mechanism to ensure quality of
biomedical research’

[…]

‘There is little empirical evidence on the effects of grant giving
peer review. No studies assessing the impact of peer review on the
quality of funded research are presently available’

[…]

Perhaps one of the most important problems with peer review is bias
against the truly original. Peer review might be described as a
process where the ‘establishment’ decides what is important.
Unsurprisingly, the establishment is poor at recognizing new ideas
that overturn the old ideas.

I am a little saddened that the advent of email will mean the box will go away. Cranks will send the manifesto and it will be filtered out for size before it even gets to the researcher or department. And who will bother to print them out. Alas.

When I was in grad school one of the faculty kept a board with his correspondence from the peanut gallery. It was fascinating. I remember one of them that had a great diagram of culturing microbes. Something about them being in adjacent petri dishes would prove something. But they had worked so hard on the diagram.

It really is fascinating to look at how this plays out in a theoretical way. Sometimes it is funny and harmless. Other times, though, there are real consequences. The errors in the unified theory of everything can’t really hurt anyone. Errors in cancer treatment claims, though…not the same thing. See also vaccines. Stem cells. GMOs. Perhaps it’s because I run into so many biology cranks that it’s less funny than the physics ones.

It’s absolutely vital that when people make statements like …

“Er, no. They’re fringe theories, what predictions they’ve made have not been supported by observations.”

… that the statements be made with respect to examples. If I made such a statement about a conventional theory, clearly it would be too vague to be considered a claim if I left it to the reader’s imagination to fill in the blanks.

For instance, consider these more specific claims …

(1) The gravitational constant is the least constant of all of the “constants”. Rupert Sheldrake speaks eloquently on this subject in his “Science Set Free” lectures. For a graph of the different measurements of G, see the article titled “G-whizzes disagree over gravity”. Notice that the error bars seem to not really be confining the discrepancies.

(2) We now know that 99%+ of what we see with our telescopes is matter within the plasma state – basically, a gas with some percentage of unbound charged particles. For references, see http://www.plasma-universe.com/99.999%_plasma. This is important because in the laboratory and in novelty plasma globes, plasmas routinely conduct electrical currents. It’s very difficult to model them, and so even with today’s supercomputers, astrophysicists will make many approximations when modeling the cosmic plasma. Many of these simplifications are not ideologically neutral. For instance, cosmic plasmas are routinely modeled as though they lack any electrical resistance whatsoever – as if they are superconducting. We know from the laboratory that a minute electrical resistance does indeed exist, and this is incredibly important because it is this tiny resistance which permits the plasma – in the lab, at least – to form electric fields. But, the cosmic plasma is modeled as though it cannot sustain E-fields. And where there might be magnetic fields, they are treated as though they are frozen in place, rather than the complex electrodynamic phenomena we see in the lab. For a more technical treatment of the cosmic plasmas, see George Parks’ papers “Why Space Needs to Go Beyond the MHD Box” and “Importance of Electric Fields in Modeling Space Plasmas”. It’s important to realize that there exists a debate over how cosmic plasmas are being modeled.

(3) The human side to the story of the cosmic plasma models is incredibly fascinating. The magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) models which are today used to model most cosmic plasmas were invented by Hannes Alfven at the start of his career. By the end of his career, he came to realize that they were being applied by conventional astrophysicists incorrectly, and so he actually used the occasion of his Nobel acceptance speech for those models – as he had done many times before, actually – to distance himself from that approach. For an excellent historical summary of that story, see David Talbott’s article in Edge Magazine at http://www.scientificexploration.org/edgescience/edgescience_09.pdf. This is one of the greatest untold controversies in science today. Needless to say, Alfven’s warnings were repeatedly ignored, and 43 years have passed with little serious contemplation given to them. In fact, he predicted that these models would set the astrophysical community onto a path of crisis – and some critics see the 4% universe we now have as evidence for that.

(4) Many years ago, science was consumed by the catastrophist debates – which proposed that (a) catastrophes had wracked Earth, and (b) these catastrophes happened in the recent past and were witnessed and recorded by humanity. What is quite interesting to observe is that Carl Sagan and the “uniformitarians” were said to have won that debate against Immanuel Velikovsky. And to be sure, V was an interdisciplinary explorer of ideas who made mistakes. But, the interesting part that is rarely discussed by proponents of conventional theories is that uniformitarianism is increasingly on the defense. Global catastrophic events are part of our scientific lexicon today. But, point (b) remains a heretical statement. It’s an interesting situation because Velikovsky was far more of an expert on the mythology side of that debate than on the global catastrophe aspect. And yet, it is on the global catastrophe debate which the catastrophists seem to have been on the right side of history thus far.

What I’ve personally witnessed is that the most vocal critics of the mythology arguments tend to not even realize the distinction between religion and mythology. They are basically noise machines.

(5) What few people seem to realize is that before religion, there was a storytelling epoch dominated by the mythological archetypes. And most of the stories told by the cultures of the world exhibit enigmatic similarities at a time when it is not thought that people were traversing the oceans on ships. It seems a fair statement to say that religion was really born from mythology. So, this constant dichotomy we frequently hear of science vs religion might miss the more interesting question: From where do these odd similarities in the mythological archetypes come from?

Anthony Peratt – a former adviser to the Department of Energy (think nuclear bombs) – and a peer-reviewer for IEEE’s Transactions on Plasma Science has written an important paper on this subject which links high-intensity electrical discharges observed in the most powerful plasma laboratories to forms drawn on rocks known as petroglyphs. His paper, “Characteristics for the Occurrence of a High-Current,Z-Pinch Aurora as Recorded in Antiquity”, concludes that, “Eighty-four distinct high-energy-density Z-pinch categories have been identified in petroglyphs … Only a small percentage of these petroglyphs, or parts of petroglyph patterns, do not fall into any of these categories.”

This is a particularly alarming conclusion, as it suggests the possibility that perhaps both the petroglyphs and the mythological archetypes refer to actual events which were witnessed in the sky. We may be talking about highly transient events here, akin to solar flare bursts directed directly at us, or like the Carrington Event.

(6) There are many planetary features which seem to suggest the possibility of catastrophe. The Grand Canyon’s Colorado River is an excellent example, insofar as it appears to simply punch straight through the Kaibab Upwarp plateau. Typically, rivers go around impediments, and conferences are held to this day to try to fit the observations to exiting “uniformitarian” theories.

There is – quite amazingly – a “rille” (a canyon) called the "Baltis Vallis on Venus, which rises and falls dozens of times, with some two kilometers separating its high and low points along its 6,800 kilometer length." It’s of course claimed that the land was lifted after the canyon was made, but there is also the possibility that bursts of cosmic electricity can be so great and focused as to excavate land. To get an approximate visual for how this might look, watch the video at http://melanie-hoff.com/15000volts/.

There is one particular image taken of the Martian surface which raises very thorny philosophical issues. Look at the monochrome image on the page, http://science.portalhispanos.com/wordpress/2012/04/14/los-crateres-de-subsidencia-de-marte-podrian-albergar-vida/. Are those “rilles” (canyons) or craters? This photograph should raise lots of very deep questions in the planetary sciences.

(7) Gerrit Verschuur has been publishing books and papers on the interstellar medium for decades now. He frequently notes that the interstellar “clouds” are oftentimes not very cloud-like at all. In fact, they frequently appear to be highly filamentary and even knotted, when viewed at the 21-cm wavelength (called HI hydrogen). It’s important to note that this is the behavior of laboratory plasmas conducting electrical current. The interesting part is that he’s also observed what are called “critical ionization velocity” redshifts centered quite close to the universe’s most common elemental CIV’s. A CIV is what one gets when charged particles are slammed at enormous velocities into a neutral gas. The neutral gas becomes ionized, but there are also redshifted emissions at the 21-cm wavelength which correspond to very specific, discrete values for oxygen, hydrogen, etc. The CIV’s appear to be correlated with the filamentary knots and many dozens of them have even been linked to WMAP hotspots (!). Of course, the WMAP group simply dismissed his statistics without any awareness of a theoretical basis for his observations.

This is just a quick survey. There are many, many more expanding lines of evidence which appear to be pointing in the same direction. It seems that, if we choose to create a new electrical paradigm, the option is there.

What “HannesAlfven” is doing here is EXACTLY what I was talking about in my first comment, and why the cranks represented by the Plasma Cosmologists are so bothersome on the Internet.

All of this plasma cosmology stuff, and especially the wackiness that is Velikovsky, has been soundy and roundly debunked elsewhere, but they don’t stop, they don’t go away. It’s the “Stubborn” type from the talk linked in the original article.

While I agree the laughter is mean, going down the path of “explain and reply” is fruitless. As they explained, if you don’t agree 100%, the “crank” will find a reason to discredit you either as part of the conspiracy/establishment/anti-establishment/big money/going for the same money/hundreds of other reasons.

Assuming they are reasonable and do listen to you, then you find them sucking up all your time with their passion and you have no time to do your own job. Just when you get rid of them, the next one comes along. Then when you think you are free of them all, the internet comes along and they start calling you at home on a Saturday morning at 5:00 am because 1.) you are the only person in the world with your unique name and 2.) they don’t understand or care about time zones. After you tell them off, they randomly travel a thousand miles or more to show up at your office on a Monday morning…

Yeah…true story. Luckily it wasn’t the convict. It was a guy who wanted to turn old refrigerators into solar water heaters with the inside of the refrigerator holding the warm water. These would be left on the street so the homeless would be able to hop in for a warm bath at any time.

Seriously, even today the biggest “cranks” aren’t found on the internet. They still send letters.

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The reason for this correlation would likely have to do with the fact that engineers are generally not taught philosophy or even history of science. They accordingly imagine that they can judge constructs without the context, with unfortunate results.

Unfortunately, it would seem that the engineers are simply a subset of a much larger problem on this point – as we also have respected theoreticians like Stephen Hawking suggesting that “philosophy is dead”. He seems to not even care that philosophy was used by those before him to produce the very theories which he advocates for.

Outsiders theorists who become fluent in philosophy and history of science – and who then use that knowledge to decide which arguments to follow in more depth – can become incredibly powerful contributors to scientific discourse, if they are somehow able to procure funding for their ideas.

Those who would suggest that outsiders have no claims to make about science would seem to be vastly over-simplifying the complexity of science. The astrophysicists responded to claims that the Milky Way was emitting radio waves with suggestions that it was either a hoax or a mistake. Scientific authorities of the day ridiculed the inventor of the laser for even daring to suggest that such a device was possible. Outsider Michael Faraday laid much of the groundwork for James Maxwell’s equations. The outsider, Kristian Birkeland, turned out to be right in his debates with scientific authorities over the causes for the aurora.

In fact, there appears to be a book written on this subject titled “It Doesn’t Take a Rocket Scientist: Great Amateurs of Science”

Anthony Watts is a first rate corporate crank, probably funded by the fossil fuel industry. As ArrowofSine points out above, the weather station siting issue was settled by multiple publications in the scientific literature to the opposite of what Watts and his minions claimed; urban stations are actually a bit cooler than rural ones. Another major embarrassment for him was the Berkeley Earth Temperature Project, which he touted as bound to show no global warming; it showed the opposite, global warming in parallel to the other indices (http://berkeleyearth.org/). I noticed just this week that one of his posts was eviscerated for being mathematically and statistically stupid. Check it out (http://davidappell.blogspot.com/2013/06/wuwt-ocean-misunderstanding-and.html).
The problem with Watts is the same as with all of the cranks, he and his minions work backwards from the desired answer, cherry picking into superficial analysis, always confirming their desired answer. Watts censors comments, so you have to go to other sites to learn the bias and errors of postings there.

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It makes me uncomfortable how they’re laughing at and mocking people who are obviously just mentally ill.

Except they were. The genetic proof is everywhere, now that we’re able to read it.

Despite what I’ve said above, I don’t mean to discount the idea that certain natural catastrophes were large enough that groups in different areas all came up with similar stories to try to explain what happened because in fact they had all experienced the same thing.

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This notion that we can “debunk” everything that a person ever said based upon their weakest claims is very problematic. There has never been a perfect theorist, and neither should we demand it. Making mistakes is part of the learning process.

The idea that cranks are the only problem we face ignores the problem of dogmatism in science, which is far harder to observe and recognize. There is no sense to focusing exclusively upon cranks without also talking about the dogmatism, for the public is caught in the middle of both threats. When cranks become the focus of the conversation, it tends to direct skepticism away from conventional theory. Some would call this pseudo-skepticism, for we have sufficient reason to be skeptical of all claims in science. Pseudo-skepticism is skepticism without philosophy; it’s ideologically-driven skepticism.

There are very likely mistakes within our theories. Those of us who read press releases with a critical eye and an awareness of at least another competing paradigm, and who understand what an ad hoc model is, can see that cosmology and astrophysics – in particular – are struggling to explain what we are observing. This is actually part of what keeps so many cranks coming to those disciplines.

If you and others want to think that a 4% universe is a success story, then be prepared to live with that until your time is up. Some of us think that we can do better by starting from scratch, with a paradigm which is designed to fit modern observations which Einstein and the others were never even aware of. A lot has happened in the last 100 years. You’ve never bought 4% of a product; so, why is it enough to base a worldview upon? The resources that have already been thrown at the dark matter/energy problems are really quite astounding.

Part of the value of the Internet is in the long tail. Science has a long tail just like commerce. There are some good ideas embedded into it. It’s not all nonsense. However, the mere thought of wading through it causes some people to simply reject the entire tail. And yet, many realize that the importance of the tail is on the rise. It’s what makes the Internet special, and it’s why the Internet disrupts business models. Rather than reject it’s introduction to the world of science, we should devise systems which facilitate its mining.

Cosmology is the most empirically-challenged discipline of science, and it frequently resorts to metaphysical (metaphysics = “beyond science”) claims to make its case. There is no sense to treating it with the same level of confidence as a laboratory science.

A creation event is no less a creation event just because it happened 14 billion years ago. Creation events placed into models eventually become fudge factors. Once they become accepted as beyond questioning, they will then predictably be adjusted as necessary to simply make the model work. How many times, for instance, has the date of the Big Bang creation had to be adjusted?

The bulk of the crank phenomenon is very possibly an artifact of a dysfunctional educational process which invites students to memorize science as a collection of unrelated factoids. When people immerse themselves within the concepts, history and philosophy of science, and learn how those concepts are related to one another, meaningful opinions are possible about highly complex subjects like cosmology and astrophysics.

Those who imagine that they can decide controversies without actually engaging them are using non-scientific methodologies to judge scientific controversies. The human mind is most fundamentally a difference engine; it judges ideas on the basis of how much they differ from existing beliefs. Prediction serves an important purpose; it keeps us alive and healthy. But, science is a process of evaluating claims without bias towards our gut instinct expectations. The process that so effectively keeps us alive can also interfere with our ability to judge scientific claims.

It’s absolutely vital that those who go to the effort online of disagreeing with a theory should have also put some reasonable amount of effort into understanding what the theory says. If you don’t have a pretty good idea about what is being claimed, then you have no meaningful way of actually knowing if the theory you’re arguing against is succeeding or not. Learning about only the conventional theories does not qualify you to disagree with a completely different paradigm, and arguing against every idea which disagrees with conventional wisdom is not a philosophical approach, because you are bound to eventually be wrong.

Agreement is really quite overrated. Uncertainty cannot be completely eradicated, and neither should we think that this is the goal within an uncertain domain like cosmology. Learning to live with uncertainty is imperative if we wish to possess accurate beliefs, for critical thinkers are tasked with considering and evaluating many different competing ideas. There exists value to both breadth and depth of knowledge. If you know about something that I don’t know about, I’ll listen to you talk about it.

Do people really consider these to be the signs of somebody who has lost touch with reality? If the BoingBoing community prefers to align itself with whatever is conventional in science, so be it. I’m not here to force myself upon people. I’m here to critically think about science.

Well… they’re trying to upend all of biology, proving that Darwin was an idiot and they alone have the truth, and it’s usually accompanied by a persecution complex. So yes, ID qualifies by that measure. They’re not trying to rewrite physics only because they don’t care what physics says; rewriting biology and biochemistry is sufficient to their cause.

Just in case anybody thinks HannesAlfven may have something behind him when he tries to argue for plasma cosmology (and when he argues against nonbaryonic dark matter, although he cloaks it in the term “the 4% Universe”), he is, in fact, a crank, his claiming that there needs to be some balance between worrying about cranks and worrying about dogmatism is exactly the same thing as the climate denier insisting that there be balance between scientists who accept anthrogenic climante change and those who don’t. (Hint: there’s no balance. Nearly everybody who has thought about it seriously accepts the evidence for climate change, and those who don’t are a fringe minority. It’s the same thing for dark matter and standard cosmology.)

It’s not worth repeating all the evidence here, but if you’re interested in finding out why the “Electric Universe” and all of that is in fact a crank theory, and not a real theory, I point you to the following posts on Tom Bridgman’s blog, which does a nice job of summarizing some of the seirous problems with those notions:

It’s worth reading around his blog; he has other good information there about why EU theorists and such are not keeping up with science, and why they aren’t actually viable alternatives, the way folks like HannesAlfven claims.

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Here’s another link from Tom Bridgman’s blog:

Challengesfor Electric Universe Theorists

This one does the best job of summarizing why EU is not actually a viable theory.

Finally, if you’re interested in learning why it is that modern science believes that Dark Matter is assuredly real, I point you to couple of things:

Yes, you’ve found a handful of critiques. There are also many critiques of conventional theories. The most controversial thing here is your claim that – despite the fact that critiques exist on both sides – that this is nevertheless not a controversy.

We can get a better idea of the depth of thought that you’ve put into this by taking a closer look at one of your sources, while asking the question: How many additional controversies are you failing to mention for your audience?

From your source, “Convincing a Young Scientist that Dark Matter Exists”:

A classic example is Einstein’s theory of gravity, general relativity.
The big idea was that matter and energy curved spacetime, and that
this curved spacetime was the cause of all the effects we attribute to
gravitational force.

But it didn’t just explain all of the things that the old theory,
Newton’s gravity, explained. It also predicted an anomaly in Mercury’s
orbit, which had been observed but was hitherto unexplained. But
additionally, it also made a brand new prediction: that near very
massive objects, starlight would appear to bend!

This is unfortunately the textbook story of what happened. The more nuanced historical story which philosophers debate involves an additional photographic plate which was in conflict with Einstein’s prediction.

I learned how to measure the distances to different objects, both in
and out of our galaxy.

It’s worth pointing out that parallax only works to 1% the diameter of the Milky Way. Everything beyond that is inferred based upon the principles of the paradigm itself – in this case, redshift.

The conclusion drawn from that? The more distant objects were, the
faster they were receding away from us.

This seemed to be the story until it turned into a controversy. The documentary, “Cosmology Quest”, on YouTube runs through a small snippet of the timeline surrounding Halton Arp’s claim to discover all sorts of problems for the theory.

Although many alternatives are plausible based on Hubble expansion
alone, the Big Bang was the theory that made the correct predictions
for phenomena like the Cosmic Microwave Background and the abundances
of the light elements, while the alternatives fell by the wayside.

The idea that the CMB can only be explained with one paradigm is an extraordinary claim which Fred Hoyle went out of his way to disagree with …

“There is no explanation at all of the microwave background in the Big
Bang theory. All you can say for the theory is that it permits you to
put it in if you want to put it in. So, you look and it is there, so
you put it in directly. It isn’t an explanation.”

Jean-Claude Pecker agreed …

“Actually, the 3 degree radiation, to me, has not a cosmological
value. It is observed in any cosmology: in any cosmology you can
predict the 3 degree radiation. So it is a proof of no cosmology at
all, if it can be predicted of all cosmology.”

These would seem to be important arguments that have been completely left out here.

According to dark matter, there’s a diffuse, massive halo around every
gravitationally bound structure, while according to modified versions
of gravity, the laws only become different at very small
accelerations.

Both versions provide an explanation for rotating galaxies, and to be
completely honest, the modified gravity version is slightly better at
that. But how do we decide which one’s right?

If gravity is not the fundamental force, then neither is the case. That is the case being made by the EU: that filaments of plasma can exert an incredible force upon the surrounding matter, as a consequence of conducting charged particles. This is explained in depth within the Electric Universe Essential Guide. These are not exactly cosmological ideas; most of these ideas stem from observations which have been made within the plasma laboratory. Comparisons of large-scale plasma discharges to much smaller activity within Tokamak’s suggests that plasmas simply scale over enormous magnitudes.

Second, we can look at the large-scale galaxy distribution. How do
these galaxies cluster? There seems to be not enough mass to produce
the structures that we see, unless we either include dark matter or
modify gravity.

Actually, many people have noticed the similarity in the large-scale universe structures to that of neuronal networks within the brain – and possibly for good reason.

So I was in favor of dark matter, but I wasn’t entirely convinced. I
wanted a “smoking gun” piece of evidence for dark matter. Something
that was an entirely new prediction that we could look for — much like
that 1919 eclipse was for general relativity — and decide whether dark
matter predicts what we’re going to see.

The author then goes on to describe the bullet cluster inference for dark matter.

Let’s take a look at what the mass — due to observations of
gravitational lensing (a verified prediction of general relativity)
is telling us […]
This only works if there’s some extra type of matter that doesn’t
smash together and collide like normal matter (i.e., protons,
neutrons, and electrons) does.

The author is making an incredible claim that there exist no unconceived alternatives, and to make that claim, there is a very delicate chain of cosmological claims which must each be individually true from start to finish – including galactic collisions, dark matter, gravitational lensing (which oftentimes, in turn, requires dark matter), as well as the notion that redshift is necessarily a reliable measure of velocity and distance. We are being asked to accept an elaborate, delicate structure of hypotheses as though it’s the result of experiment.

Left completely unmentioned is the alternative Arpian view for why lensing is invoked in the first place, from http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2006/arch06/060904bulletcluster.htm

The Big Bang, which fails to take the electrical properties of plasma
into account, assumes that redshift must be an indicator of distance.
As a result, it projects the high-redshift filaments and arcs far into
the background. In order to account for the association of these
features with foreground galaxies, gravitational lensing must be
invoked to “explain away” the number of features as multiple images of
only one “distant” QSO.

There is enormous danger to building an elaborate theoretical structure, failing to inform your audience of the alternatives which are presented by critics, and then pretending that this is no different from doing laboratory experiments by failing to use words like “theory”, “hypothesis” or “interpretation”. The fact is that conventional thinkers desperately need critics to point out the controversies that they themselves have ignored.

This piece you’ve presented is exactly the kind of pseudoscientific journalism that the Thunderbolts group have very successfully warned the public of. We will simply not get to accurate theories in cosmology through this type of journalism. We must acknowledge the controversies where they exist, so that critical thinkers can make up their own minds.