Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An Age-Old Argument

1 comment:

J Melcher said...

Yes, this cartoon illustrates the problem exactly: One side completely distorts the arguments of the other, choosing to respond to a "strawman".

It's not that the rational man observing a flying bird objects to the theory of gravity, it's that he points out a "one knob" theory of, say, the prediction of trajectory and accuracy of a ballistic projectile that uses ONLY gravity in the models will be widely off target. We have thousands of years of experience with slung stones and arrows showing the effect of "windage" in such situtations, and we point to birds such as gulls and raptors that harness winds to completely ignore gravity. It's not that gravity and the theory thereof is a bad hypothesis, but it IS correct to point out that gravity lacks robust predictive value in many important applications affecting war and other public policy.

For that matter, if "gravity were real" the snowflake in the lower panel would be falling at about 300 meters per second, (more than 650 miles per hour) Simple science! V = sqrt (2 * 10 m/s^2 * about 5000 meters, where the latter is the altitude of common snow clouds.) That the snowflake does NOT fall at that speed doesn't refute "gravity" but it does, again, refute the "one knob" conceit.

Better still, how does the theory of gravity, and buoyancy, and windage, etc, account for HAILSTONES? What holds up a massive particle that is heavier than any constituent component of the atmosphere? Is your theory of either gravity, or climate, so comprehensive that you can derive a model from the settled 19th physics on offer?

All in all, a very fair cartoon, if not the way you intended it to be interpreted.