Last modified on February 19, 2016, at 16:31

Talk:Arthur Eddington

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I know that there is a commonly held view that Eddington fudged his results, but I can't find a good internet source to back this up. If anyone knows one, please insert.--AvengingAngel 17:32, 26 April 2007 (EDT)


In which sense was Arthur Eddington a "liberal"? --AugustO (talk) 11:23, 17 February 2016 (EST)

The claims derived from the cited paper indicate he carried out a severe twisting of science simply to enthrone the idea of "relativity", an enthronement catalytical of the growth of liberal dogma. VargasMilan (talk) 05:03, 18 February 2016 (EST)
He certainly wasn't aware that Andrew Schlafly would declare the theory of relativity to be liberal 90 years later: at his time, it was a just pleasing physical theory! As for the "severe twisting": he didn't hide any data, he explained, why he used the data of one experiment only, and his colleagues at the time mainly concurred. So, according to your reasoning, the only "conservative" physicists are the proponents of the nazi-German Deutsche Physik. --AugustO (talk) 06:30, 18 February 2016 (EST)

Conscientious Objector

He needed an important-sounding project to justify his avoidance of military service.

I think that such a phrase is called character assassination.

  • His justification for the "avoidance of military service" was that he was a conscientious objector
  • He didn't "need" a project, he was willing to serve with the Red Cross - or as a harvest labourer
  • The project was not only "important sounding", it was important.

--AugustO (talk) 11:28, 17 February 2016 (EST)

The claims derived from the paper cited indicated he twisted science in an effort to enact a revolutionary change in the paradigm of one of its major fields. That is an ambitious act, ex hypothesis demonstrating careerism on Eddington's part. A conscientious objector status could have handicapped Eddington's career as it is not universally respected as a legitimate exception for avoiding military service. Therefore Eddington would have needed a project like this to expedite his career ambitions.
Evidently, if the project didn't actually prove the single object of what it set out to prove, it wasn't a scientifically important project. VargasMilan (talk) 05:27, 18 February 2016 (EST)
You introduced "careerism" as a straw-man. If he only thought of his career, he wouldn't have been a conscientious objector - those weren't exactly popular during WWI. Even conscripted, it is improbable that he would have been sent to the tranches: if you look up his contemporaries FRS, very few got to see the continent (mainly the physicians). His belief seemed to be more important to him than his career!
It was a scientifically important project at its time, it got repeated with every eclipse after this (until the 1950s), and today, the results we have are very convincing...
--AugustO (talk) 06:33, 18 February 2016 (EST)

Eddington liked publicity

Did he like publicity more than other physicists? Was he especially well known for this? He was good at making science popular, which put him in the spot-light, but this phrase sounds as vanity was his foremost motive for doing so... --AugustO (talk) 11:31, 17 February 2016 (EST)

According to the explanation given in the above sections the citation and Eddington's further intensive labors at detecting broad explanations of the visible universe through simplifying its properties to integer values show Eddington was out to make a big splash, based on substantiated science or not. VargasMilan (talk) 05:39, 18 February 2016 (EST)
Or he just liked a pleasing mathematical concept - which unfortunately for him was wrong. That happens quite often. --AugustO (talk) 06:35, 18 February 2016 (EST)

He probably dreamed of winning a Nobel Prize

He probably dreamed of winning the lottery, too. No information is given: it doesn't seem that he yearned for the Nobel Prize more than other physicists. --AugustO (talk) 11:33, 17 February 2016 (EST)

Nobel Committee

"The Nobel committee was not impressed and declined to give him an award" Andy, how do you know this? Was he proposed to get the prize? Perhaps the committee was impressed, but just not impressed enough. Mere speculation presented as fact - that shouldn't happen in a "trustworthy encyclopedia"! --AugustO (talk) 11:37, 17 February 2016 (EST)

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
says my conscience; "don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"
VargasMilan (talk) 05:45, 18 February 2016 (EST)

Recent analysis of Eddington’s work revealed that he was biased in selecting his data, and that overall his data was inconclusive about the theory of relativity.

ANDY, WHY ARE YOU SCREAMING? --AugustO (talk) 11:38, 17 February 2016 (EST)

Reply to the above

Is Eddington a sacred cow who simply cannot be criticized despite his breach of scientific integrity??--Andy Schlafly (talk) 12:43, 17 February 2016 (EST)

He can be criticized for his breach of scientific integrity. I just think it is a breach of integrity to make things up - as you have done in the examples above. --AugustO (talk) 12:52, 17 February 2016 (EST)

See Andy's talk page

This issue is also going on at User talk:Aschlafly, where I have just posted a long reply, that I wrote before the current discussion. Sorry about splitting this into two places. SamHB (talk) 13:39, 18 February 2016 (EST)

Catalytical Enthronement

Nice one! Right up there with "captious", "withering Patrician disdain" and "pseudoscience that leavens science".

Over the years that I've been at Conservapedia, I've noticed that people who sycophantically repeat and agree with whatever they believe Andy's position on some topic to be, often turn out in the end to be exposed as parodists or vandals. This is especially true when people inject themselves into discussion of topics that they know little about, other than wanting to parrot whatever Andy is saying. They seem to lose sight of the fact that Andy is quite capable of taking care of himself. From my discussions of relativity with VargasMilan, it is clear that he actually knows very little about the topic, especially the specialized knowledge that is required to participate effectively in the various debates on the subject here at Conservapedia. With his flowery and erudite language, VargaMilan has an especially picturesque way of doing this. But it's really the same.

SamHB (talk) 13:39, 18 February 2016 (EST)

This is a better place for your accusations of "obscene viciousness" —The preceding unsigned comment was added by VargasMilan (talk)

Best Known for Watering his Pea-Patch

I had hoped to take another day or so to get my thoughts in order on this subject, but it seems that events, both on the Eddington page and on its talk page, have overtaken me. So here goes.

The existing Arthur Eddington page, in the present form that you are insisting on, is obscenely negative. It goes far beyond any standards of good taste. It is obvious that you are taking out your disdain for relativity on this person, a person who made some mistakes.

  • For the lede sentence to say that he was "best known for venturing out on a boat off Africa" is blatantly vicious. It is more negative than anything I've read about Kanye West! It would be equivalent to describing Gregor Mendel as being "best known for watering his pea-patch".

Both men conducted, and publicly reported, scientific research that history has since shown was subject to "confirmation bias". (Though in each case the results, if not the methods, happen to have been vindicated.) The contemporary scientific world has extremely strict standards for analyzing data, with the "5 sigma" rule, and extensive peer review within the scientific community. This can be seen in recent news about:

  • The Higgs Boson—the measurements were made by two teams that conducted completely different experiments and did not communicate with each other, and the announcement was made only after they compared their results and saw that they had each gotten a 5-sigma result of 126 GeV.
  • The "BICEP2" experiment for primordial gravitational waves. This was announced as preliminary data, subject to peer review. It did not pass the peer review. No deception was involved.
  • The recent announcement of observation of gravitational waves. In addition to having the "5 sigma" test applied, the data were analyzed for 5 months, with particular attention to whether a "prank" injection of data could have occurred. Checking for prank data is standard procedure in the scientific community, notably in the SETI project.

If someone were to announce results similar to Mendel's or Eddington's in the current era, they would be dismissed immediately as inadequate. They would simply get nowhere in the scientific review and verification process. If someone were to use subterfuge or deceit to get around that, they would be kicked out of graduate school, or their laboratory employment, as the case may be. People occasionally do engage in subterfuge to get around the review process, most commonly in the medical field, and they do get kicked out of their school or laboratory.

But those standards were not in place in Mendel's time or Eddington's time. They got away with their "cherry picking" of data because there were no controls of the sort that we have in the present era. I recommend Einstein's Luck, by John Waller, which analyzes many cases of this, including Mendel and Eddington. (The book gets its title from the Eddington case.)

Both men presumably exercised "confirmation bias", a well-known phenomenon in the present era, in making their analyses. Did Eddington cherry-pick which photographic plates to use because he had a personal stake in vindicating General Relativity? Undoubtedly. Did you cherry-pick which scientist to single out for your extremely negative article because you have a personal stake in showing that relativity is wrong? I'm sure you did.

  • You say that Eddington was a liberal. You are well known for using that word as a pejorative term for anyone you don't like. But the issues of modern American liberalism are very different from the issues of Edwardian era British society. Conservapedia's article on liberalism lists such things as "big government", national health care ("Obamacare"), deprecating the role of Christianity in society (such as banning public nativity displays), gay marriage, gun control, and so on. None of these were known issues in England at the time. England has no 2nd amendment. The notion of "big government" vs. "small government" was mostly brought to the fore by Ronald Reagan around 1980. Gay marriage was unheard of. There is no evidence that Eddington advocated a national health care system (such as England has today), or gay marriage, or any of these other things. Looking at British society at the time, Eddington would have to be considered a conservative.
  • Eddington "probably dreamed of winning a Nobel Prize", and "the Nobel committee was not impressed and declined to give him an award." How do you know what he was hoping for? How do you know what the Nobel committee's deliberations were? Why do you think they would have given a prize to Eddington, who merely publicized and popularized the theory, rather than Einstein himself?
  • Eddington supposedly arrogantly retorted, "Who's the third?" Your writing in the Eddington article, and in World History Lecture Eleven, shows that you seem to know nothing about the context of this quip. In the Eddington article you refer to it as "arrogant", whereas in the World History lecture you refer to it as "comical". The latter is closer to the truth, but apparently that didn't denigrate Eddington enough. My Essay:Arthur Eddington tells the story. (It's from the Waller book.) If someone were to say something like "The theory of General Relativity is so abstruse and complex that Einstein and I are the only two people in the world who understand it, and if anyone else suggests that there is a third, I wouldn't have any idea wht they are talking about. It is preposterous that a third person could understand it." that would be arrogant. He was simply momentarily confused by Silberstein's remark. These things happen in live question-and-answer sessions all the time. And yet you describe Eddington as being arrogant. Why?
  • Your comments about Chandrasekhar and about the fine structure constant also show a relentless policy of casting Eddington in the worst possible light, with statements like "did not fare well", "was proven wrong", and "lost all credibility". Also, you say that the 1/136 proposal was "to make the math easier". What math? The fine structure constant is used in various complex formulas involving spectroscopy and fundamental physics. Those formulas are full of "floating point" (non-integral) quantities, such as the charge on the electron and Planck's constant. No math is made easier if one of the quantities appearing in the formulas happens to be an integer. I believe that Eddington's proposal arose from some sort of notions of elegance or mysticism. Those notions were shared by many other people. To find that a dimensionless physical constant is an integer would indeed be remarkable.

Your Eddington article (that is, the form of the article that you seem to be insisting on) vilifies and denigrates a well-known (but not without faults and mistakes) scientist to an astounding degree. This clearly arises from your disdain for relativity and all things and people associated with it. The bias is really quite transparent, and casts Conservapedia in a very untrustworthy light.

If you insist on this blatantly unflattering and disdainful tone of the article, I will have to make a page along the lines of "Essay:A Defense of Arthur Eddington". It will not be a "rival" article. While giving a more even-handed treatment of the facts, it will also specifically reply to the objections that I have raised above.

SamHB (talk) 13:20, 18 February 2016 (EST)