Goshies! I’ve been reading the forums looking for a nice gooey topic into which I might dip my metaphorical left big toe…
First, I gotta express some sympathy for theatheistheretic and his skepticism of some parts of modern cosmology. In days of yore when I was an undergrad physics student, I was fascinated by notions similar to those akin to Sakharov’s investigations of the origins of Inertia. Long afterwards (I reckon it was five or so years ago) I came across a nice web-sitewith links to articles about zero-point energy (a nifty scientific phenomena that has spawned legions of zany psuedoscience ideas), and other inquiries into fundamental explanations for the behaviors and inter-relations of space/time and matter. As most of you folks probably know, good ol’ Albert’s ideas about gravity (specifically the reliance on infinitesimals, or continuously integrable functions) don’t smoosh together with discreetly calculated quantum mechanical dohickies. Eventually, I was led to trying to bend my poor old noggin around MOND, then string theory, then the hullabaloo about a non-zero cosmological constant and dark energy…
Anyway, I’ve always been curious about potential tie-in between quantum mechanics, (general) relativity and cosmology. Along the way, I devloped a couple of (OK, maybe more than two, but I’ll only list two here) “gut feelings”:
1) The Universe is closed - In order to gaurantee matter falling toward an event horizon (i.e. a “black hole”) will not cross that boundary (according to a co-moving reference frame) before the Universe itself re-collapses, thus ensuring everything in the universe (or rather, the universe itself) crosses a singularity at exactly the same moment.
2) Dark Matter doesn’t exist - it’s our theories of gravity that are inaccurate (hence MOND)
Well, I thought my gut feelings were based on sound logic, even though they were contrary to the majority main-stream opinions of professional cosmologists. As it turns out, I’ve been proven wrong on both counts. It was pretty astonishing to me when very clear proof of dark matter was put forward.
At least I’m in good company being wrong: Einstien was wrong (actually he was meta-wrong) about the cosmological constant, and about Mach’s principle. Newton was wrong about absolute time. Euclid was wrong about parallel lines. Hilbert was wrong about mathematics being a closed formal system. Hawking was wrong about black holes destroying information, etc. All these brainy fellers had gut-feelings or intuitions which were found to be wrong - sometimes in their own lifetimes, sometimes not.
My point is twofold: First, it’s ok to disagree with mainstream ideas and even the most popular unproven theories. If your disagreement is based on rational, deductive, rigorous and (if relevant) mathematical principles, that’s even better - for it puts you in a position of being able to argue your case toe-to-toe with other erudite investigators. Rigor notwithstanding though, being skeptical of unsubstantiated ideas, even popular ones, is generally not a terrible thing. However, when evidence obtains which contradicts one’s gut feelings, biases, or pet theories, it takes a certain amount of both self-confidence and humility to resolve the cognitive dissonance in favor of the notion contrary to one’s preconceptions.
My second point is that nobody is immune from forming biases unsupported by evidence. I suspect that we humans always want to understand more than our science tells us; which is likely the reason we keep asking new questions and looking for new evidence to learn more truths. Between what we know and what we don’t know, we have only guesswork to smoosh into the gaps. Occam’s razor would encourage us to keep our guesses and imaginings exactly as limited as possible.
OK, I hope I ain’t stubbed my metaphorical toe.