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The Key to Science (and Life) Is Being Wrong


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In 1964, the occasionally enigmatic but always energetic physicist, Dr. Richard Feynman gave a lecture at Cornell University to a packed hall of eager, young scholars. Feynman’s demeanor was crisp and purposeful that day, a style reinforced by his sharp appearance. The professor’s hair was neat and tidy, and he was keenly attired in a trim, tailored suit.

His right hand grasping a piece of chalk, his left had nestled in his coat pocket, Feynman started to speak. “I’m going to discuss how we would look for a new law,” he said in his unvarnished Queens accent, referring to his work as a theoretical physicist.

Feynman walked over to the chalkboard and began to write. His oration continued, almost in a manner synced with his scribbling. “First we guess it… Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what it would imply. And then we compare those computation results… directly to observation to see if it works.”

Feynman paused, removed his left hand from his coat pocket, and strode back over to the lectern to briefly peruse some notes. He then launched right back into his sermon.

“If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong,” he asserted, craning his neck forward and adroitly pointing his left hand at the chalkboard to accentuate the point. “In that simple statement, is the key to science.”

“It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is,” Feynman proclaimed, gesticulating in wide, circular, somewhat flamboyant motions. “It doesn’t make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is. If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”

Feynman was absolutely right.

A good scientist must be willing to be wrong. Such an inclination is liberating, for it allows him or her to investigate potential answers — however unlikely they may be — to the difficult questions inspired by this vast, wondrous universe. Not only that, a willingness to be wrong frees a scientist to pursue any avenue opened by evidence, even if that evidence doesn’t support his or her original hunch.

“The hard but just rule is that if the ideas don’t work, you must throw them away,” The great science communicator Carl Sagan wrote. “Don’t waste neurons on what doesn’t work. Devote those neurons to new ideas that better explain the data.”

Sagan’s candid advice was perfectly followed in 1998, when two highly competitive groups of scientists from Harvard and Berkeley were racing to find the rate at which the universe’s expansion was decelerating. It was a high stakes contest, for a Nobel Prize was thought to be on the line.

But to both groups’ astonishment, the data ended up pointing in precisely the opposite direction. The scientists found that the universe’s expansion was not slowing down; it was speeding up! “I was, quite frankly, denying [it] was happening,” Harvard’s Brian Schmidt reportedly said. But because Schmidt and his colleagues overcame their disappointment and were willing to be wrong, the world learned something entirely new about the cosmos.

For the Berkeley and Harvard astrophysicists, recognizing their wrongness was easy, as the data irrefutably pointed in a completely different direction. But it’s not always that simple. Sometimes data can be inconclusive, leaving wiggle room for the researcher to draw a range of conclusions. Unfortunately, this occasionally leads to misconduct, especially for the scientists who are more interested in dogmatically pursuing pet theories instead of proof. They might tweak little bits of data in order to achieve statistical significance in the ubiquitous P-value test or they might ignore certain details that conflict with their hypothesis.

This is, of course, ethically wrong, but human nature often compels us to err in order to guard our ingrained beliefs. While scientists are oft considered to be marble men and women, the truth is, they never stop being human.

In order to recognize wrongness, scientists must maintain some level of detachment from their cherished theories and be open to the ideas of others in their respective fields. Richard Dawkins described a terrific example of this in his book, The God Delusion:

“I have previously told the story of a respected elder statesman of the Zoology Department at Oxford when I was an undergraduate. For years he had passionately believed, and taught, that the Golgi Apparatus (a microscopic feature of the interior of cells) was not real… Every Monday afternoon it was the custom for the whole department to listen to a research talk by a visiting lecturer. One Monday, the visitor was an American cell biologist who presented completely convincing evidence that the Golgi Apparatus was real. At the end of the lecture, the old man strode to the front of the hall, shook the American by the hand and said – with passion – ‘My dear fellow, I wish to thank you. I have been wrong these fifteen years.’”

In the past year, we’ve been treated to two uplifting examples of that sort of modesty. Last year, University of California physics professor Richard Muller changed his skeptical stance on climate change when his own “BEST” study produced data that conflicted with his preconceived notions. He now admits that climate change is caused by human activity. In another noteworthy example, Dr. Robert Spitzer, the psychiatrist who, in a 2001 paper, touted that gays could be “cured,” reversed his position and apologized for his “fatally flawed, study.”

“I believe I owe the gay community an apology,” Spitzer wrote in a letter.

Wrongness is something we all secretly or openly dread. According to self-described “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz, in the abstract, we all understand that we’re fallible, but on the personal level, we leave little to no room for being wrong.

But Schulz believes that we should view this situation in a slightly different light. Realizing you’re wrong is what’s devastating, but being wrong often feels pretty good. As a matter of fact, it often feels identical to being right.

Like Wile E. Coyote chasing Road Runner off a cliff in those old Warner Brothers cartoons, we only start to fall when we come to the realization that we, along with our incorrect notions, have no solid ground to stand on. But the simple fact of the matter is that we had already run off the end of the precipice a long time ago! Thus, it’s best to admit that we’re wrong and get the fall over with so we can land (hopefully not too harshly), dust ourselves off, and get back on our feet.

——

Images: Richard Feynman: Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain, Universe Ladder: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Steven Ross Pomeroy About the Author: Steven Ross Pomeroy is the assistant editor for Real Clear Science, a science news aggregator. He regularly contributes to RCS’ Newton Blog. As a writer, Steven believes that his greatest assets are his insatiable curiosity and his ceaseless love for learning. Follow on Twitter @SteRoPo.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.






Comments 33 Comments

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  1. 1. AdoubtR2 9:18 am 11/13/2012

    One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that people are more often wrong than right. When one considers the age of Earth and compares it to the age of Mankind and adds the vacillating nature of sun spots, electromagnetic fields and weather patterns, then one easily sees that “Global Warming” could never be “caused” by mankind. What a cruel joke or a genesis of a political agenda and, more evidently, how audacious and arrogant of Man so “believe” that he is the cause. If we don’t destroy ourselves before hand, Man will look back at this age and marvel at our foolishness, just as we do now look back at “scientific” mistakes. Good article

    Link to this
  2. 2. Bora Zivkovic 9:43 am 11/13/2012

    Funny how GW denialists are never wrong, isn’t it?

    Link to this
  3. 3. Shmick 10:03 am 11/13/2012

    Wow! That wasn’t even a “climate change” article, and yet the denialists are first in to comment… sad… Perhaps they should re-read the paragraphs about evidence and admitting being wrong? But i digress…

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  4. 4. jctyler 10:21 am 11/13/2012

    Does this mean that if I can prove something by examples illustrating replicable experiments, that the theory I am trying to prove is right even if it is rejected as wrong at first sight by scientists who refuse the experiments because they perceive the theory as too obviously not being “possible”?

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  5. 5. geojellyroll 10:26 am 11/13/2012

    No, the key to science isn’t being ‘wrong’. It’s observing evidence and recording results accordingly. Science is a methodology not a conclusion.

    Science isn’t about right or wrong…it’s a process. Ones proposes and tests a hypothesis. The result is the result.

    Link to this
  6. 6. G. Karst 10:29 am 11/13/2012

    Funny how alarmists don’t seem to understand the difference between GW and AGW. Thermometers measure GW, nobody has yet separated any signal that can be shown to be significant Anthropogenic GW. THAT signal can only be found in model simulations,… not reality.

    Feynman was absolutely correct: “If it (model) disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.” GK

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  7. 7. jctyler 10:30 am 11/13/2012

    at comment nr 2:

    aren’t you the SciAm person in charge of blogs who decided that certain commenters’ posts based on validated research and whose posts conflicted with the OPINIONS of certain bloggers were removed without even asking the commenters for an explanation?

    And that as a result nearly all pro-AGW commenters have stopped commenting? Resulting in:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=global-warming-means-culture-change-12-11-11

    (read the comments)

    And instead of you removing this comment to protect yourself I’d far prefer an honest answer from you unless you want to go against the very core of this article.

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  8. 8. dubay.denis 10:34 am 11/13/2012

    AdoubtR2, amazing conjecture. Doesn’t make much sense, but still amazing. You do realize that although we don’t have the power to destroy the planet, we certainly have the power to make it much more unpleasant a place to live than it currently is, or has been throughout human history. That’s what the climate change concern is all about. We’re not about to destroy the planet and all life on it. We’re just about to make it very unpleasant for many of us down the road, but with some effort, we could still enjoy our comfortable way of life now while minimizing the risk of some rather uncomfortable disruptions for our children and grandchildren.

    For perspective, the atmosphere is very thin, and relatively easily altered by human activity. And if you doubt the ability of our technologies to alter the planet, consider the thousands of nuclear weapons quietly sitting idle (thank God), and what they would do to the pleasantness of human life on the planet were they to be used. Our peacetime technologies can also be very disruptive.

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  9. 9. Cramer 11:59 am 11/13/2012

    Does geojellyroll only read the titles before commenting? He also only refutes what the author has to say. I guess it makes him feel intelligent. Does he even recognize his contradictory statements? In one sentence he says, “Science is a methodology not a conclusion.” But he begins with a statement about “recording results” and then he ends with “the result is the result.”

    The “result” of an experiment is the “conclusion” of the experiment. Results (right or wrong) are required or the process is pointless. Geojellyroll ends up saying the exact thing as the author.

    Steven Ross Pomeroy wrote, “willingness to be wrong frees a scientist to pursue any avenue opened by evidence, even if that evidence doesn’t support his or her original hunch.”

    Geojellyroll believes all the scientists writing for SciAm are idiots because they believe in AGW and other “liberal propaganda.” And he’s not going to give up until he proves this. Geojellyroll starts with the results and is desperately trying to find a methododology that will produce those results.

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  10. 10. Quantumburrito 1:19 pm 11/13/2012

    Here’s ADoubt’s argument: Since statistically speaking most explanations are wrong, global warming’s GOT to be wrong.

    Link to this
  11. 11. LarryW 3:12 pm 11/13/2012

    I keep Feynman’s 1964 presentation at Cornell on both my iPad and iPhone. It’s always available to me, and if a need a pick-me-up, it’s an amazing piece of video to watch.

    The emphasis which scientific (false?) modesty promotes is being wrong but in fact science is almost always getting it right. The evidence is everything man-made around us which we take for granted and works. Quantum theory is likely wrong or at least incomplete in many ways, but typing this message on a computer says quantum theory has got it right to a significant degree — it understands the nature of matter well enough for engineers to build the man-made world we live in and this computer I’m using.

    Science will always get things right. Stupidity will only be right by accident.

    As Einstein said: “A difference between stupidity and genius is genius has its limits.”

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  12. 12. jtdwyer 5:00 pm 11/13/2012

    Actually, the High-z Supernova Search Team that first reported the acceleration of universal expansion were not testing their own hypothesis, but the consensus expectations of then currently established cosmological models. It’s always easier to admit that the consensus was wrong rather than yourself or any specific individual.

    There findings were irrefutable only to the extent that their other assumptions were correct, especially that the peak emission luminosity of type Ia supernovae are invariant, regardless of the conditions at any observational distance, such as the prevailing metalicity of supernova progenitors, because they were thought to be the product of a white dwarf slowly accreting matter from a companion star until the white dwarf accumulates sufficient mass to produce a minimum mass supernova.

    However, current analyses indicates that many type Ia supernovae are NOT minimum mass supernovae: they are the product of the merger of two white dwarfs. It remains to be seen what, if any, impact that might have on the “irrefutable” conclusion that universal expansion is accelerating, but any admission of wrongness would be far more difficult and personal, since Nobel prizes have been awarded…

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  13. 13. sunspot 5:57 pm 11/13/2012

    The author is so certain that he is right, that he appears to be blind to the fact that this entire article is based on a false premise. And, while preaching “right and wrong” in such a self-righteous manner, he fails to consider that HE may be wrong. He does not cite any scientific studies to support his case; he merely assumes that he is right. This is pure philosophy, the very kind that Richard Feynman detested.

    Readers should be alerted to the biased views implanted in this highly misleading and subjective argument. Opinionated science bloggers find it easier to reduce arguments to right and wrong, like a preacher who reduces complex life situations to overly simplistic, and highly biased personal interpretations of their own views. Real science journalists, like real scientists, only report the facts. SciAm editors should stop legitimizing these political views, or at least acknowledge the bias with a disclaimer that this is not real science; it’s merely some blogger’s (and perhaps the online editor’s) personal philosophy.

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  14. 14. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 6:29 pm 11/13/2012

    I can see Adoubt2, G. Denialist, and geojellysandwich. Three standard denailsts. Given the sheer lack of intellectual rigor shown by their comments, I would be greatly surprised if any of them has actually read the article.

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  15. 15. CherryBombSim 6:30 pm 11/13/2012

    Most people, when they change their minds about something, go back and edit their memories to convince themselves they were right all the time. It is hard to come right out and say “I was wrong”, but it gets easier with practice and leads to better clarity of thinking. So if you want to be a scientist, practice being wrong in a constructive way.

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  16. 16. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 6:32 pm 11/13/2012

    @ jcytler (comment 7): I looked. I was appalled. I have lost what little faith I had in humanity.

    Link to this
  17. 17. sunspot 6:35 pm 11/13/2012

    @jctyler -comment 7. I agree with your assessment of:
    1. the online editors suppression of comments in general; and,
    2. the online editors opinionated and inappropriate remarks like comment 2.

    It has always been understood in professional journalism that editors should remain objective, and stay out of the fray. The SciAM online editors show a propensity to take sides, inject politics into science, and even to ban commenters who disagree with them or the blogger. When will SciAm management wake up to this unprofessional and unscientific behavior? Slanted reporting has no place in professional journalism, let alone in science journalism. IT’S JUST WRONG!

    Link to this
  18. 18. Bora Zivkovic 11:22 pm 11/13/2012

    Funny how all your comments are still here. Wither censorship?

    As for notions that editors need to be “objective”, that is an old, circa 1950s fallacy. I can say what I want.

    And I will repeat my fascination with the way denialists have the gall to instruct others as to what science is and how it’s done.

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  19. 19. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 8:51 am 11/14/2012

    @ Dr. Zikovic: jcytler has been deleted repeatedly in the past. I was also deleted once, while “debating” a monster calling themselves Mutantbuzzard, who claimed to enjoy eating baby whales. The dirtbag’s insane rants were left while I was deleted.

    True. But editors cannot silence rational opinions that disagree with their own. If the issue is GENUINELY contentious (i.e. *Microraptor*’s flight posture), this is especially the case. In the comments thread for such an article, real scientists should not be deleted, while Alan Feduccia and the BANDits should be banned the moment they show up.

    On your third point: I think that a lot of it is bluster (see priddersen’s illogical and sesquepedalian rants).

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  20. 20. melkreitzer 9:48 am 11/14/2012

    The use of Muller as a reformed skeptic is misplaced. If he was previously unaware of rising global temperatures and a causal link to human-induced warming, then he was simply ignorant. And linking to anything involving the Koch brothers is as annoying as 1980s links to the Trilateral Commission. The Koch brothers are not the problem. But here’s a legitimate “skeptical” opinion, from the IPCC itself, in particular, the IPCC Kampala Report of November,2011.

    “Projected changes in climate extremes under different emissions scenarios(5) generally do not strongly diverge in the coming two to three decades, but these signals are relatively small compared to natural climate variability over this time frame. Even the sign of projected
    changes in some climate extremes over this time frame is uncertain. For projected changes by the end of the 21st century, either model uncertainty or uncertainties associated with emissions scenarios used becomes dominant, depending on the extreme.”

    If Scientific American wants to debate legitimate “skeptical” opinions, here’s the place to start! Climate change skeptics are better defined as those who reject apocalyptic doomsday scenarios with no supporting evidence. Bjorn Lomborg and Roger Pielke,Jr come more appropriately to mind. Not Richard Muller.

    Link to this
  21. 21. Cramer 11:48 am 11/14/2012

    melkreitzer wrote, “Climate change skeptics are better defined as those who reject apocalyptic doomsday scenarios with no supporting evidence.”

    Is melkreitzer describing the world as it is or the world as it should be?

    Most climate change skeptics deny that the climate is warming and/or it is being caused by man. melkreitzer seems to believe that skeptics are NOT denying the science supporting anthropogenic global warming, but only the “apocalyptic doomsday” consequences of AGW.

    What reputable scientist has predicted an apocalyptic doomsday?

    Bjorn Lomborg and Roger Pielke Jr are political scientists. Richard Muller is a physicist.

    Link to this
  22. 22. DrEvil 11:53 am 11/14/2012

    How can AGW “research” be considered science when filtered through this view of science? There are no experiments, there are no testable hypetheses. Only models and observations. In this sense, the entire realm of climate investigation is closer to witcraft than actual science.

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  23. 23. Bora Zivkovic 12:26 pm 11/14/2012

    I moderate comments on Guest Blog, Expeditions, SA Incubator and my own blog. Network Bloggers moderate their own comments (unless they ask me to help, which is very rare). Other editors moderate elsewhere.

    Posting a comment is producing content on our site. If that content is not fit for our publication, it will be deleted. You are free to post stuff online, but you are not free to post stuff wherever you want (i.e., “start your own blog”) – host of each site decides what is proper for their site. Host rules.

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  24. 24. Cramer 12:48 pm 11/14/2012

    DrEvil, you seem to have a narrow definition of science, as if the methodology can only be carried out through benchtop experimentation where the scientist initiates the phenomenon and controls all the variables. And in your own words, it is not science, if it is “only models and observations.”

    It’s as if you are trying to say that if a scientist throws a ball in air and predicts is trajectory, that’s science. However, if a scientist predicts the orbit of a planet around the Sun, that is not science.

    In “AGW research” the hypothesis is that CO2 is causing the average global temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans to warm. Observations of global average temperature are made through time (along with other variables such as solar activity, volcanic particulates, greenhouse gases, etc). How is this any less testable than the hypothesis that the universe is expanding at an excelerating rate? Is cosmology also not a science?

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  25. 25. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 1:49 pm 11/14/2012

    “”"Posting a comment is producing content on our site. If that content is not fit for our publication, it will be deleted.”"”

    Then why do only the rational people get deleted? SciAm threads are regularly spammed by trolls. Creationists, geocentrists, anti-vaxxers, and denialists should not be allowed to roam wild while genuine scientists are deleted.

    I personally prefer the admirable policies of Dr. Darren Naish, who deletes trolls on sight but lets genuine scientists correct inaccuracies in his posts.

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  26. 26. Mattw0699 4:24 pm 11/14/2012

    So if you are wrong, then there is a penalty. If you are right then there is a reward. Over time this allows the scientific community to reach for “the better.”

    What would happen if this mechanism were reversed?

    What would happen if being right incurred a penalty, and being wrong brought reward? If the mechanism were reversed, would the scientific community achieve “the better?” Or would the world of science slowly deteriorate over time?

    Of course, the mechanism I am talking about it how much of the modern world works. Those who are successful are becoming more and more penalized through higher taxes and other mechanisms. Those who are not very successful are automatically rewarded.

    With a reversed reward mechanism, where do you think modern societies should end up?

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  27. 27. Cramer 5:29 pm 11/14/2012

    Mattw0699, please go back to reading Atlas Shrugged and leave the real world to non-Randroids.

    Link to this
  28. 28. melkreitzer 6:42 am 11/15/2012

    Cramer: “What reputable scientist has predicted an apocalyptic doomsday?”

    Here’s James Hansen, the Grand Poobah of climate science, in May, 2012

    “If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

    That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.

    If this sounds apocalyptic, it is.”

    I think that it’s fair to say that we no longer define “skeptics” by the old criterion of their denying everything. If you don’t agree with Hansen, Mann, Joe Romm, Paul Krugman and Al Gore, you’re a skeptic.

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  29. 29. JimClark46 8:33 am 11/15/2012

    Since researchers can make mistakes in designing, analyzing, and interpreting studies, Feynman’s model of science is a simplified one. It assumes correct observations that contradict theory, with the correctness of observations not always easily determined. Moreover, the idea that scientists must go theoretically wherever the data takes them is again over-simplified. Some theories are so well established that there should be some resistance to thinking they may be false, as opposed to the observations being erroneous. Or some implications of perhaps flawed observations are so fantastical, that one should be skeptical of the observations rather than the theory. Particles travelling faster than they “should” or extra-sensory perception are two examples that come to mind. Finally, it is dangerous for science to promote the view that scientists believing strongly in something because of over-whelming evidence is a sign of rigidity and ideology, rather than sound science. That just provides fodder for the anti- or non-science types.

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  30. 30. Bird/tree/dinosaur/etc. geek 11:18 am 11/15/2012

    @ melkreitzer: Hansen was (slightly) wrong. We aren’t just looking at Pliocene conditions, we’re looking at PETM or even Late Cretaceous conditions by 2150, by which point we will have been out of oil for over a century. We’re looking at a 60% minimum biodiversity loss and a human population loss of over 50% (more if our population keeps growing at the current rate). What denialists don’t seem to realize is that we are literally destroying the only planet that we have every time we go out for a drive.

    Link to this
  31. 31. Cramer 12:50 pm 11/15/2012

    melkreitzer,

    You skipped over my main point: Most climate change skeptics deny that the climate is warming and/or it is being caused by man.

    Are you still claiming that there are few AGW-skeptics? Now, the only argument is the consequences of AGW? Answer that question, please.

    And please read James Hansen’s op-ed more closely. He was NOT predicting an apocalyptic doomsday. He uses the word, IF, and does not even give a timeframe; as in IF we go down our worse-case path; as in IF a large meteor hit the Earth in the next 1000 years, civilization would be at risk. I see no scientist predicting a doomsday (meaning the end of humans) given the best predictions of our climate models. In case you haven’t noticed, famous people do like to spin things to get attention. It’s an Op-Ed, please provide me a scientific paper.

    melkreitzer, you are NOT a skeptic. You said, “if you don’t agree with Hansen, Mann, Joe Romm, Paul Krugman and Al Gore, you’re a skeptic.” WRONG. So if you believe everything out of CATO, hook, line, and sinker, but nothing from Krugman; you’re a skeptic??? To be a skeptic you have to do your own work and doubt everything that anyone claims. Your beliefs appear to have an ideological bias.

    All the right-wing economists (which there are many) were predicting high-inflation and high interest rates by now. Paul Krugman was not. I also did not believe the right-wing economists (i.e. a skeptic in your defintion). Fortunately, economic processes progess much faster than global climate processes, and we already now know who was right and wrong. It will take decades before we know the results of AGW.

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  32. 32. sunspot 11:43 am 11/21/2012

    @author and editor(s): It’s fascinating to return after a few days to review comments and your replies. On most scientific sites, the replies set a tone of professional balance. On SciAm blogs, I find a lot of polarizing articles and replies that reduce issues to “right and wrong” sides. The editor tends to label opposing views with acrimonious name-calling like “denialists”, even when this is unjustified by the comment. It’s worse than dealing with politicians, and this article is heavily weighted with political opinions of “wrongness” that have nothing to do with science.

    @Bird comment #19 and jctyler: The online editor has clearly stated that he intends to suppress opposing views by banning any commenter from the SciAm site, unless the views fit his definition of “CONSTRUCTIVE”. I do not exaggerate; see the SciAm link (comment #5) at:

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/network-central/2012/04/03/sciamblogs-monday-craigs-list-avenue-religion-and-medical-care-words-with-rocks-bad-doctors-futuristic-foods-and-more/

    You may ask “Why does SciAm, a highly regarded venue, allow editors to promote this repressive policy?”, let alone the “us vs. them” polarization exhibited by some articles. This policy is unscientific and unprofessional, and we should continue to ask the question until we get a truly constructive response.

    SciAm editors: Get out of politics and religion! Return to Science!

    Link to this
  33. 33. Bryan Sanctuary 12:31 pm 03/10/2013

    I like the book by David Wick, the Infamous Boundary (between classical and quantum), in which he says that the easiest person to fool is yourself. I have a purely quantum local-realistic reconciliation of the EPR paradox. It is soon to be submitted, fingers crossed, but what I did was first assume non-Hermitian states, which seemed crazy, and then used them to simulated the EPR correlation, which worked! Bell’s inequalities are violated and the model agrees with all the data. I would have stopped long ago with this research, heeding Feynman, except everything kept working out so easily which kept spurring me on. It was the data that guided me.

    Now I have simulated the EPR correlation with this local realistic model, (program will soon be posted), and we now come the the Occam’s razor test:

    You can assume usual spin, with one axis of quantization, and accept quantum mechanics as complete. Then, as Einstein said in 1927, you have to accept non-locality and indeterminsm. Or you can take my model, with two axes, and everything works in a local realistic way.

    Since this is below Heisenberg, it is impossible to to be guided by the data to prove that one approach is right and the other is wrong.

    So Feynman said, if you do not agree with experiment, throw out your theory. But what do you do when two completely different theories of spin exist, both consistent with all the data and both based upon sound and proven science? I say choose local realism because quantum weirdness makes no sense.

    Link to this

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