I would like to write something positive to close out the year. Apparently, it is not in my nature, as I am finding it difficult to do so. I try not to say anything if I can’t say anything nice, and as a consequence I have said little here for weeks at a time.

Still, there are good things that happened this year. JWST launched a year ago. The predictions I made for it at that time have since been realized. There have been some bumps along the way, with some of the photometric redshifts for very high z galaxies turning out to be wrong. They have not all turned out to be wrong, and the current consensus seems to be converging towards acceptance of there existing a good number of relatively bright galaxies at z > 10. Some of these have been ‘confirmed’ by spectroscopy.

I remain skeptical of some of the spectra as well as the photometric redshifts. There isn’t much spectrum to see at these rest frame ultraviolet wavelengths. There aren’t a lot of obvious, distinctive features in the spectra that make for definitive line identifications, and the universe is rather opaque to the UV photons blueward of the Lyman break. Here is an example from the JADES survey:

Images and spectra of z > 10 galaxy candidates from JADES. [Image Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, M. Zamani (ESA/Webb), Leah Hustak (STScI); Science Credits: Brant Robertson (UC Santa Cruz), S. Tacchella (Cambridge), E. Curtis-Lake (UOH), S. Carniani (Scuola Normale Superiore), JADES Collaboration]

Despite the lack of distinctive spectral lines, there is a clear shape that is ramping up towards the blue until hitting a sharp edge. This is consistent with the spectrum of a star forming galaxy with young stars that make a lot of UV light: the upward bend is expected for such a population, and hard to explain otherwise. The edge is cause by opacity: intervening gas and dust gobbles up those photons, few of which are likely to even escape their host galaxy, much less survive the billions of light-years to be traversed between there-then and here-now. So I concur that the most obvious interpretation of these spectra is that of high-z galaxies even if we don’t have the satisfaction of seeing blatantly obvious emission lines like C IV or Mg II (ionized species of carbon and magnesium that are frequently seen in the spectra of quasars). [The obscure nomenclature dates back to nineteenth century laboratory spectroscopy. Mg I is neutral, Mg II singly ionized, C IV triply ionized.]

Even if we seem headed towards consensus on the reality of big galaxies at high redshift, the same cannot yet be said about their interpretation. This certainly came as a huge surprise to astronomers not me. The obvious interpretation is the theory that predicted this observation in advance, no?

Apparently not. Another predictable phenomenon is that people will self-gaslight themselves into believing that this was expected all along. I have been watching in real time as the community makes the transition from “there is nothing above redshift 7” (the prediction of LCDM contemporary with Bob Sanders’s MOND prediction that galaxy mass objects form by z=10) to “this was unexpected!” and is genuinely problematic to “Nah, we’re good.” This is the same trajectory I’ve seen the community take with the cusp-core problem, the missing satellite problem, the RAR, the existence of massive clusters of galaxies at surprisingly high redshift, etc., etc. A theory is only good to the extent that its predictions are not malleable enough to be made to fit any observation.

As I was trying to explain on twitter that individually high mass galaxies had not been expected in LCDM, someone popped into my feed to assert that they had multiple simulations with galaxies that massive. That certainly had not been the case all along, so this just tells me that LCDM doesn’t really make a prediction here that can’t be fudged (crank up the star formation efficiency!). This is worse than no prediction at all: you can never know that you’re wrong, as you can fix any failing. Worse, it has been my experience that there is always someone willing to play the role of fixer, usually some ambitious young person eager to gain credit for saving the most favored theory. It works – I can point to many Ivy league careers that followed this approach. They don’t even have to work hard at it, as the community is predisposed to believe what they want to hear.

These are all reasons why predictions made in advance of the relevant observation are the most valuable.

That MOND has consistently predicted, in advance, results that were surprising to LCDM is a fact that the community apparently remains unaware of. Communication is inefficient, so for a long time I thought this sufficed as an explanation. That is no longer the case; the only explanation that fits the sociological observations is that the ignorance is willful.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

Upton Sinclair

We have been spoiled. The last 400 years has given us the impression that science progresses steadily and irresistibly forward. This is in no way guaranteed. Science progresses in fits and starts; it only looks continuous when the highlights are viewed in retrospective soft focus. Progress can halt and even regress, as happened abruptly with the many engineering feats of the Romans with the fall of their empire. Science is a human endeavor subject to human folly, and we might just as easily have a thousand years of belief in invisible mass as we did in epicycles.

Despite all this, I remain guardedly optimistic that we can and will progress. I don’t know what the right answer is. The first step is to let go of being sure that we do.

I’ll end with a quote pointed out to me by David Merritt that seems to apply today as it did centuries ago:

“The scepticism of that generation was the most uncompromising that the world has known; for it did not even trouble to deny: it simply ignored. It presented a blank wall of perfect indifference alike to the mysteries of the universe and to the solutions of them.”

Books and Characters by Lytton Strachey (chapter on Mme du Deffand)

Live long, and prosper in the new year. Above all, remain skeptical.

44 thoughts on “Remain Skeptical

  1. I’m optimistic. First, we have a torrent of new data coming in, not just from the JWST but from all sorts of cutting edge observatories on Earth and in space. Second, astronomy is not nearly so centralized as high energy physics, which reduces (certainly not entirely but appreciably) the tendency towards group think. Those two factors, I think, we eventually lead us to the right result, even if there is kicking and screaming of the old guard involved.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well said…I’m optimistic, too, and encourage Stacy to ignore the nay sayers, sticks & stones, and press on. He has scientific & personal integrity, and a growing mass of data that appears to be consistant with MOND.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. For anyone who missed it, Dr.Brian Keating, UCSD Cosmology interviewed Stacy recently,
    and posted the video yesterday on YouTube. Best overview of background history of MOND,
    imho, including many supportive slides of relevant data.

    “Just the tip of the iceberg” per Stacy.
    Hope to see several followup interviews to show all of the iceberg. 👍

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I agree with all the comments above. There is much to be optimistic about. As an interested outsider I see more and more support for MoND. But the answer is in the sky and we are going to see much more of the sky soon.
    As somebody once said, there’s nothing in the LCDM paradigm to suggest that it will not suffer the same fate as all the previous ones. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. belief in epicycles

    If one observes Mars from the earth, one sees within two years for some weeks
    the following movement:

    (Mars from 02.10.2010 to 05.06.2010)

    Ptolemy put the earth in the center and a big circle on which Mars moved around the earth
    and needed a small circle (epicycle) to describe this retrograde motion.

    Copernicus put the sun in the center and let all planets circle the sun.
    If the earth has a distance of 1 astronomical unit and Mars of 1.5 astronomical units from the sun,
    and both have correct velocity, the retrograde results as apparent motion in relation to the fixed star sky.

    Thus Ptolemy needs 1 epicycle and Copernicus 0.
    And this thought is great because it simplifies the motion of the planets so much!

    It was so difficult to implement for at least these two reasons:
    1. where is the driving wind?
    If the earth moves around the sun, why do we feel no airstream from this journey?
    2. why do we see no parallax of the fixed stars?
    If the earth moves around the sun, one must see the fixed stars in the year under another angle!
    But this was not done in 1500!

    Besides the church dogmas, these were two unanswered hard questions.
    I like this story when it is told this way. I like this story for two reasons:

    1. Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler
    Tycho Brahe, one of the greatest astronomers, observed Mars for a long time.
    He didn’t have a telescope but an aiming device and noted the position of Mars night after night for 16 years.
    Tycho lived about 50 years after Copernicus, but was not able to follow him.
    Kepler was, Kepler was able to sweep aside the above concerns and follow Copernicus.
    Kepler was able to put himself in the situation of the planets and to look at everything from their point of view.
    If you just follow Wikipedia and take the number of epicycles, there is little reason to follow Copernicus.

    2. sometimes history repeats itself
    Today, quantum field theorists are running around the country after country proclaiming the following message:
    We have a theory that gives precise results.
    So we have understood the objects there (electron and photon) exceptionally well.
    No, you haven’t. But you are excellent engineers.


    1. Nice picture. Just one remark : Copernicus, because he held the orbits of the planets as being circular, was forced to accept epicycles. An epicycle “is a movement composed of several circular movements”. See De Revolutionibus, Book I, chapter 4.

      “We must however confess that these movements are circular or composed of several circular movements, in that they maintain the irregularities by a constant law and a fixed periodic return: what could not be if they were not circular.”



  5. Dear Stacy,

    about 20 years ago I heard for the first time about MOND
    and was not very convinced. It was so ingenious.
    This simple thought process:
    Here’s a difficulty in the data.
    And whoosh, we have a parameter that sets everything right again (a0).

    But in the meantime this has changed.
    In the meantime I see a0 as something completely new,
    that needs an explanation.
    The data is compelling.
    “Tully-Fisher is God”

    A few weeks ago I thought I would be the first to see MOND as a harmonic mean of Newton and a0.
    But Scott Dodelson had this thought more than 10 years ago and surely not only he….
    (In the Peter Woit discussion Clayton mentioned an article by Scott Dodelson

    Today’s mathematics is very pliable. And that is why it can be used to get very precise results anywhere.
    I see such a way of working as very ingenious.
    It has the disadvantage that it does not explain anything.
    At least this mathematics was always suitable in astronomy, because it comes from there.
    In quantum mechanics it was unsuitable from the beginning,
    but this cannot be explained to a mainstream physicist within minutes or hours.
    It takes me weeks or months.

    I knew the Sinclair quote in a similar form from Robert Betts Laughlin “A Different Universe”.
    In my eyes he is the greatest living physicist (because of his Questions and concerns).
    1,5 years ago I asked him to propose Anton Zeilinger for the Nobel Prize.
    But I have no idea if he did it. Anyway, the result is known. 🙂
    I think Anton Zeilinger is the Tycho Brahe of our time.


    1. I note that people like clayton frequently cite Dodelson’s paper, but are apparently unaware that I addressed the same issue already in https://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/9812328 (see also https://arxiv.org/abs/1404.7525). The problem with the problem we both point out (the prediction of sharp baryonic features in the galaxy power spectrum) is that MOND is nonlinear, so the assumption that modes don’t mix is dubious, at best. I noted this in 1998. Dodelson did not. Citing this as evidence against MOND (Dodelson’s study was specific to TeVeS, which I think is now excluded for other reasons) just illustrates how much these physicists don’t understand. Excluding MOND because TeVeS is wrong is like excluding Newton because Yilmaz gravity is wrong. (Yilmaz had a different formulation of GR. Both contain Newton in the appropriate limit. So one can imagine a relativistic theory that contains MOND in the appropriate limit that is not TeVeS. Quite a lot of them, in fact.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You say: “even if we don’t have the satisfaction of seeing blatantly obvious emission lines like C IV or Mg II”.
    How likely are we to see these “signature” emission lines, eventually, with this telescope? Same question if we assume very young age (as we probably should) and therefore mostly first-generation stars.


  7. Oh wow, this is great having an end-of-year ‘gift’ from Stacy on the status of MOND versus DM. Am looking forward to watching the complete video. But first have to take advantage of a ‘gift’ of mild weather to top up this year’s cycling mileage to 1900 with one final ride, before rain spreads across the region.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I still think the entire expanding universe proposition will eventually have to come to terms with the fact it still assumes the speed of light as the denominator, the unit of measure in which this presumed expansion is calibrated.
    Space is not expanding, when the metric it is denominated in is stable. It is only increasing distance that causes redshift.
    The train moving away doesn’t stretch the tracks. It only increases the distance.
    If relativistic space were to expand, the speed of light would have to increase, in order to remain Constant.
    Instead, two metrics are being derived from the same light. One based on the speed and one based on the spectrum. If the speed were the variable, it would be a “tied light” theory, but as an “expanding space” theory, the speed is till the denominator.
    So every point cannot be viewed as the center. Either we are at the exact center of the universe, or redshift is an optical effect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “If relativistic space were to expand, the speed of light would have to increase, in order to remain Constant.”

      Here is a thinking error.
      The speed of light is constant and space is expanding.
      And there are places in the universe, which move away from us so fast,
      that they are moving faster than light.
      Therefore, light from these parts of the universe will never reach us.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Einstein said, “Space is what you measure with a ruler.”
        The speed of light, aka, lightyears, approximately a trillion miles, is the most common cosmic ruler, so what is it measuring, if not space? It is a metric, yet you are saying there is some other dimension, or metric of space, that is expanding in relation to this otherwise stable metric, defined in terms of the speed of light?
        To use the ant crawling on an expanding balloon analogy, both the pace of the ant and the expansion of the balloon constitute metrics.
        Given our only real evidence of this expanding metric is the redshift of the light, obviously it must be related to the stable metric, defined by speed, so which is the denominator and which is the numerator?
        The theory still assumes classic Doppler effect as the cause of this redshift, that it is due to the light taking longer to cross, as it expands, so it would seem, according to both the premise of the theory and basic logic, that in terms of the relationship, the expansion is the numerator. An increasing amount of the denominator. Increasing distance, in stable space.
        The train moving away doesn’t stretch the tracks, it only increases the distance.
        So the theory, as it is formulated, still assumes light speed as the actual, foundational metric of space.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. @Stefan G Freundt

        ” there are places in the universe, which move away from us so fast, that they are moving faster than light. Therefore, light from these parts of the universe will never reach us.”

        Are you sure about that ? See Tamara M. Davis and Charles H. Lineweaver “Expanding confusion: common misconceptions of cosmological horizons and the superluminal expansion of the universe.” Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia 21.1 (2004): 97–109. https://doi.org/10.1071/AS03040


        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hello Maurice,

          Thanks for the link to the wonderful article.
          Another one is:

          My comment was sloppy.
          Provided the universe is expanding at a decelerated rate,
          we can also see light from objects
          that are moving away from us faster than light.
          Your concerns were correct.

          This was also an interesting link.
          Apparently Copernicus was also forced to make accurate predictions.
          But with every (Copernicus) epicycle
          the fundamental idea disappears a little bit.
          In the end, his calculation rule is as complicated as Ptolemy’s.
          And it becomes more and more complicated for the objects.
          That’s why I don’t like the Copernicus epicycles.

          I just believe that I am exsiting.
          And I believe that you exist.
          And I believe that the moon exists even when nobody is looking.
          And I wonder how can we do what we do.
          And I wonder how can an electron realize what we observe.

          Many greetings


        2. Thank you for this paper.

          It actually validated what I had been reading recently to learn more about these issues.


    2. brodix sounds logical, but stefan sounds true. I can’t say if either is correct.
      Mind bending concepts either way.
      What if our measurments are wrong due to our almost infinitely tiny perspective? Would we reach the same conclusions if we were the size of a proton vs the size of the Milky Way which is still miniscule compared to the observable universe? Is the speed of light relative or really a constant at any scale???
      I need more sleep.
      Happy New Year. 😉


      1. With regard to the reasoning offered by brodix, the SEP page with its section on spacetime,


        may prove interesting. That particular section refers to the significance of a “hole argument.”


        (SEP also has an entry on the hole argument)

        When discussing Einstein’s resolution to the hole argument, the Wikipedia entry writes:

        “A point in spacetime is meaningless in itself, because the label which one gives to such a point is undetermined. Spacetime points only acquire their physical significance because matter is moving through them. ”

        Our typical reasoning with respect to metrics is based upon our language that speaks of (unobservable) points. But, the sense of such reasoning becomes lost in the language of differentiable manifolds. The very notion of a geodesic involves the calculus of variations where “functionals” act on “functions.” I have quoted these expressions because they constitute “higher order” objects relative to what is claimed to reflect our best effort to understand naive classical reasoning — namely, first-order logic. The advocates for first-order logic regularly point to the deficiency in semantic theories for higher-order logic.

        Another factor is that physics requires both “identity” and “difference” simultaneously. Cantor famously rejected infinitesimals. As he had been a product of the analysts seeking to make mathematics “more logical,” his rejection may be seen as an early symptom of mathematical logic falling away from ordinary mathematical practice.

        If naive “truth” requires an “objectual ontology,” then the calculus, being built upon difference equations and differential equations, may be said to rely upon a “differential ontology.” Historically, this is associated with Heraclitus as opposed to Aristotle. One principle from differential ontology is “the unity of opposites.”

        In 1996, Lawvere published a paper on this principle with regard to calculus and physics,

        Click to access 1996-unity-and-identity-of-opposites-in-calculus-and-physics.pdf

        Naive logic and the uncritical belief in mathematics are problems for science today. The remarks at the end of Mr. Freundt’s post seem to reflect just about how much we can know without too much controversy.

        Anyway, I hope you find the links to be helpful.


    3. Here is a little thought experiment that may clarify some things. Imagine a bundle of balloons, each with its own regulated air supply such that each receives the same volume of air when a common valve is opened. Now imagine an ant “living” on the surface of each balloon, able to communicate with every other ant, and all the ants have synchronized watches. Now open the air valve…each ant will observe that it’s nearest neighbor moves a certain distance away within a set time period. However, every ant will see its next closest neighbor moving further away within the same time period because that neighboring balloon has also pushed its neighboring balloon away. As each ant views the ants on balloons farther away it appears as if the farthest ants are moving further in any set time period than the closest are.
      The Large-Scale Structure of the Universe is exactly like that. Matter structures (for the most part) exist on the surfaces of Voids. As one looks out across the Universe one looks through thousands of Voids, each expanding, and each “pushing” on its neighbor Voids, all carrying their attendant matter structures farther apart. And our clock is based on the speed of light. There is, however, one minor caveat…the expansion just described? It’s been accelerating! That caveat, and it’s ramifications, is very interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s a balloon animation at Physics Forums….just one balloon,
        but it was done in Java, and not available now, though still many threads
        about the balloon. This one seems to be the official analogy:

        But your analogy seems slightly amiss…..it’s valid for ants on surfaces that are
        furthest away, but an ant on surface facing an ant on the nearest opposing
        surface would be rushing towards each other, and smash against the opposing
        surface, no?


        1. No. I assumed everyone would be aware that adjacent balloons would be touching. Therefore observers facing each other on adjacent balloons would, in fact, be sharing the same surface…ie…their observations would be the same. They’d both note that the rest of the Universe was receding in all directions, and their own positions relative to each other remain unchanged. (note: When adjacent balloons don’t share a common surface they aren’t even in the same Universe.) I’ll grant you that matter filaments in the real world are many light years thick, and that real Voids are segregated. However, the recession analogy is still valid.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks for the explanation. BTW, didn’t mean to be critical of your analogy…it wasn’t amiss, I was just not understanding. 😉


    4. brodix,

      I appreciate your query because it forces me to ask questions which I would not pursue otherwise.

      Your analogy with the railroad tracks makes me believe you are assuming simultaneity. In special relativity, simultaneity may be purely convetional,


      But, even this, apparently, breaks down in general relativity. The link,


      speaks to this difference among the responses to the original poster’s questions.

      Your observation concerning the EM spectrum is also insightful. For some time now I have been thinking about Fourier analysis versus sets of uniqueness because the unrestricted use of trigonometric functions is related to the undecidability of theories extending the theory of closed real fields. Consequently, I found the discussion of Fourier transforms in Dr. Hossenfelder’s video,


      interesting. By her account, Fourier transforms associated with wave dynamics is an appropriate means to understand the uncertainty principle. As a matter of form, uncertainty with respect to frequency in wave dynamics may be replaced by uncertainty with respect to energy. Of course, Einstein’s astute observation had been that of seeing the modification of wave dynamics constant to include Planck’s constant.

      Consequently, the role of the EM spectrum is to participate in the energy economy of general relativity.

      In this context, the speed of light has a different role from that you envision. And, that role relates to the conventionality of simultaneity from special relativity.

      When speaking of “virtual photons” with respect to Feynman diagrams, one is speaking of unobservable energy transfers that are required by calculations. In this context, physicists distinguish between “on shell” and “off shell” processes. The “shell” is a hyperbolic mathematical surface corresponding with observable phenomena. Derived from the quadratic formulas of gravitation, it is called a “mass shell.”

      An observable photon is “on the mass shell” and has only two degrees of freedom reflecting the restriction to subliminal transfer of information in general relativity.

      The unobservable “virtual photon” — when described as existing — cannot be on the mass shell. Consequently, it must have three degrees of freedom.

      My point, then, is that the speed of light in general relativity is providing a constraint, rather than a metric, in general relativity.


      1. mls,

        The issue of simultaneity opens a much bigger can of worms for me and that is the question of time.
        As mobile organisms, this sentient interface our body has with its context functions as a sequence of perceptions, in order to navigate, so our experience of time is as the point of the present, moving past to future. Which physics codifies as measures of duration and correlates with measures of distance, as coordinates of space.
        The evident reality is that action and the resulting change is turning future to past. Tomorrow becomes yesterday, because the earth turns. Duration is the present, as the events coalesces and dissolve.
        There is no dimension of time, because the past is consumed by the present, to inform and drive it. Causality and conservation of energy. Cause becomes effect.
        Time is asymmetric, because it is a measure of action and action is inertial. The earth only turns one direction. Entropy is a second order effect and not the stable rhythms usually measured as time.
        Different clocks can run at different rates for the basic reason that they are separate actions. Think metabolism. The fact that culture is about synchronizing society into a larger social organism, based on the same languages, rules, measures, it might seem there should be some Newtonian universal flow of time and a shock to have it proposed otherwise, but nature is so diverse and integrated because everything doesn’t march to the beat of the same drummer. Multiculture, not monoculture. Rabbits and turtles.
        Energy is “conserved,” because it manifests this presence, creating time, as well as temperature, pressure, color and sound. Time is frequency, events are amplitude.
        Ideal gas laws correlate volume with temperature and pressure, which are as foundational to our emotions and bodily functions, as sequence is to thought, but we don’t assume them to be mathematical metrics of space.
        That different events are observed in different order from different locations is no more consequential than seeing the moon as it was a moment ago, simultaneous with seeing stars as they were years ago. It is the energy that’s conserved, not the information being manifest. That the information changes is time.
        Energy, as this presence, goes past to future, because the patterns it generates coalesce and dissolve, thus future to past. Energy drives the wave, the fluctuations rise and fall. No tiny strings necessary.
        Consciousness also goes past to future, while the perceptions, emotions and thoughts giving it form and structure go future to past. Though it is the digestive, respiratory and circulatory systems processing the energy and feeding the flame, while the central nervous system sorts the information precipitating out. Consequently the intellectual tendency to frame everything in terms of the information, rather than the dynamics manifesting it.
        I could tie this back to galaxies as energy radiating out and structure coalescing in, but I’ll leave it at that.


        1. brodix,

          If I toss a piece of steak into the air toward a dog accustomed to such a feeding, the dog will anticipate a trajectory and attempt to catch the meal in flight.

          I have no problem with the idea that our “stories” find their origin in our cognition. But, the example (taken from Meyerson), indicates why we have a conviction of time as an external phenomenon. We even witness behaviors of anticipation in other species.

          The achievement of formulating mathematical expressions to analyze the principles of motion studied by philosophers since ancient times is probably why we use an intuitive line to represent “time.” We use drawn curves to represent trajectories.

          The science community, however, will always emphasize the Galilean position whereby measurement of witnessed phenomena governs decisions on how to formulate scientific stories. If one undermines the conviction we seem to share with other species, one also has the responsibility to provide an alternative story which is as effective as the one it replaces.

          I can certainly direct you to mathematical ideas compatible with cognitively-based reasoning. But, it is not physics, and, it does not yet have the capability to replace the practices of physicists.


          1. You can argue that the scientific method is just a sophistication of biological adaptation, Nature is unforgiving of any species or specimen that doesn’t adopt a behavior consistent with reality.

            The scientific method expands humans biological adaptability obviously.


            1. jeremyjr01,

              I actually agree with that to a large extent.

              A problem arises when “science” is taken as a corpus of “truths.” Such a problem had never occurred to me in youth. It had only been my attempt to understand Cantor’s continuum by identifying “identity” in set theory with topological inseparability that led me to understand how “classical logic” in mathematics had divorced mathematics from its applications.

              The specific problem involves how one arrives at “knowledge of reality” from sense data. A sometime interlocutor recently introduced me to the updated version of the debate by sending me a paper where “Chisholm epistemology” was being used to formulate artificial cognition models.

              So, Chisholm had been a well-respected philosopher trying to give an acceptable account of “knowledge,”


              Gettier, another respected philosopher, took fault with Chisholm and specifically addresses Chisholm’s early ideas in his short paper,

              Click to access Gettier.pdf

              So, on these matters, modern philosophy has concern with “Gettier problems,”


              That these issues do crop up in physics, note that one of Sabine Hossenfelder’s interviewees from “Lost in Math” had been George Ellis. In that interview he had asked if everyone had simply not learned anything from Kant and Hume. Compare Chishom with Kant and Gettier with Hume.

              Because Kant had attempted to tie mathematics to sense data, one can trace disputes over these matters to Kantian and anti-Kantian perspectives.

              As science has become more organized and finds its funding from industry and government, the role of belief asserting truth simpliciter is the rule rather than the exception.

              Although commonly thought, the comparison of the scientific method with how an organism learns naturally is not compatible with science as truth simpliciter. Skeptics can always reason otherwise.

              But, I find the comparison to be appropriate.


  9. The “black matter”/”dark energy” cow is too valuable to let it go easily. Many careers and research grants are committed to it, this is a typical economic/scientific bubble that will take a long time to burst as there are not direct/practical implications for keep milking that cow. If this were scientists own money/resources then this would not be happening, it is always easier to waste somebody’s else money/resources.

    If this were an engineering problem with engineers in charge, obviously they will be using MOND as a modeling tool and disregarding all other fairytale physics with no predictive power.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I once came across a wonderful Renaissance illustration of the motion of a canon ball in which it was correctly depicted as moving on a curving trajectory. This was before but not long before Galileo had his arguments with the Aristotelian scholars of that day. The artisans saw what was going on, and illustrated it. Only the theorists insisted that everything moved on straight lines.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. “That MOND has consistently predicted, in advance, results that were surprising to LCDM is a fact that the community apparently remains unaware of.” MOND requires a new paradigm. What is the paradigm? Think about the Radial Acceleation Relation (RAR), general relativity (GR), & string theory. What does RAR mean in terms of GR?
    Consider 3 conjectures:
    (1) There are 3 fundamental levels of physics: classical field theory, quantum field theory & string theory.
    ‘(2) String theory with the infinite nature hypothesis implies MOND & RAR are wrong.
    (3) String theory with the finite nature hypothesis implies MOND & RAR are (approximately) correct.
    Google “milgrom fredkin wolfram”.


  11. I still don’t get it that the idea the universe is getting bigger is relative to The Observer getting smaller. As far as I can tell it”s basic relativity. Add later observations regarding the Observer. Let’s just say the Observer started out all and is all, and there comes a moment when the Observer decides what is, is not all that was. At that point time is born and is relevant. I realize these conspiculations are Hocus Pocus junk. We’re talking about religious conspeculation here, Allah Einstein and Newton, who where no slouches when it came to speculation. Allah those who came later, speculating. They seem to fit together. Those who wish to find scientific truths may wish to consult those who came before. I never tire of throwing this formula out for someone’s enlightenment, if someone cares to fit it into the puzzle. Infinity divided by zero equals 1.


  12. Dear Stacy,

    You are not alone. Bill Bryson writes about continental drift and Wegener’s in “A Brief History of Almost Everything.”
    “He was a meteorologist, for goodness sake. A weatherman—a German weatherman. These were not remediable deficiencies.
    And so geologists took every pain they could think of to dismiss his evidence and belittle
    his suggestions. To get around the problems of fossil distributions, they posited ancient “land
    bridges” wherever they were needed…which would have required not so much a land bridge as a flyover. Yet as late as 1964 when the Encyclopaedia Britannica discussed the rival theories, it was Wegener’s that was held to be full of “numerous grave theoretical difficulties.”” (page 223)
    But in the end, we remember Wegener and none of his critics….


    1. Some of my geologist colleagues at the Carnegie Institution once made the same observation to me. They also noted that the transition, when it came, was very sudden. I hope that happens, but I’m not so sanguine – the transition corresponded to the expansion of new employment in academia in the mid-20th century, so one could embrace new ideas without fear of economic retribution. Nowadays the job market is so tight that everyone fears for their job too much to admit unorthodox thoughts in public.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thermodynamics. Maybe it wasn’t coincidence a meteorologist would see it, while the geologists study rocks.
      Galaxies are energy radiating out, as mass/matter/structure coalesces in. The feedback between them is thermodynamics.


  13. Increasing disappointment I’m experiencing with cosmology and elemental physics; don’t follow the rest close enough to be entitled to an opinion, is that they are both more and more about “How?” and less and less about “Why?”. Sure, I understand why. Throw together some math, the more complicated and obscure the better, give yourself ample parameter space, qualitatively and quantitatively and you can explain pretty much any “How?”. Just look at the Standard Model (mainly of particle physics … but partially cosmology too)

    Now, for the “Why?”‘s needed, one needs ideas. Even if wild and far fetched and crazy it still requires creativity. No, sorry, fiddling with functions of this and that order and flavor until equation(s) fit(s) well enough isn’t creativity; it’s accounting. In this world that, using optimistic POV, isn’t encouraging creativity … let’s skip pessimistic one, it’s too depressing … it’s easy to see how even people with above average intelligence are gravitating towards accounting whereas in the past they channeled that creativity into ideas. Yes, I do believe creativity requires increased intelligence even if not in a dull, simplistic sense we’ve defined intelligence and and yes, I am aware socio-economical dimension of whole thing can not be ignored.

    There’s this fantastically applicable quote: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events and small minds discuss people.” (It doesn’t matter who came up with it, Eleanor Roosevelt, Socrates, somebody else … credit is next major problem with science nowadays but maybe subject for next time.)

    And so majority is discussing events. And there’s so much discussion about events ideas get lost in deluge.

    MOND is such a poster child for the situation. Yes, if we just obediently stick to scales of mighty Scientific Method, it blows LCDM out of the water by any mile, not just country one. But, you see, LCDM is sold as a package. It has the How and the Why. Not claiming MOND lacks the latter but by thunder of the moon, is it at least in footnotes?

    Unfortunately, that’s not even the main objection. Which does require just a small preface though, bare with me.

    Let’s say Big Bang happened. Something extremely energetic and at extremely low entropy started to … I think we can safely use the term … evolve. Now, the way I see it, there are two possibilities how that evolution was/is governed. Either rules exist outside the system, effectively negating it’s all-inclusivness and implicitly postulating a Creator (god, aliens, whatever, …) or rules are part of the system. I’m not dismissing the first option. But if we stick with the second, as most ‘realists’ would, then those rules needed to be encoded; inscribed if you will, onto the substrate. Whatever that thing in the beginning was. That thing with extremely low entropy. How does one encode something complex onto something extremely uniform? At extreme energy density. Permeated by one field. I mean, just the basic constants would be a challenge let alone that monstrosity that is SM.

    So you see, it has nothing to do with naturalness, beauty or any of that crap. It’s basic information size over substrate resolution. MOND adds necessity for additional bits where I firmly believe we need to work on removing as many as possible.

    Sure, calculate curves using different accelerations at different scales. Not exactly sure why you’d need those curves once you decide you’re going to use MOND if you ever needed to predict something but fine, I’m not a cosmologist, so what do I know. But then if you are going to use something to predict something else, what does it matter if the whole world thinks your tool is wrong? Your prediction was going to be correct. What else matters?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “But then if you are going to use something to predict something else, what does it matter if the whole world thinks your tool is wrong? Your prediction was going to be correct. What else matters?” 👍


    2. You could be correct that if you really must have a ‘realist’ high-probability story on the beginning of the universe, MOND is less ideal in that perspective. And realist high probability stories is what most people do science for, isn’t it?

      I think you mistakenly think Stacy puts these two fields contrary to each other. MOND and LCDM are two complementary fields, that need to be reconciled like GR and quantum physics. I’m pretty sure Stacy would agree. The point is not to discard LCDM, but to involve MOND’s successes in selecting research directions in LCDM research. What if dark matter truly doesn’t exist? Why did it look like it did, then? Should we perhaps take a good look at the current best crossover theories? I truly think that this is all that the MOND camp needs from LCDM-ers. To get new breakthroughs in science, by allowing and pursuing the thought that the other camp has a pretty good point.

      Concerning my opinion, if you hadn’t explicitly allowed for the first option of a Creator, I would have been more harsh. But you showed real guts by admitting as much as you did already.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. A full theory of with MOND results for observations obviously has to explain, with allowed kludges (e.g. feedback), all observations we have that are reasonably attributed to gravity,
    such as the precession of Mercury and gravitation lensing by the Sun and also galaxy clusters. It also better be kludgeable, in the spirit of LCDM, the usual successes of LCDM.
    Any obvious failures had better be fixable by reasonable attribution to them being not caused by gravity.

    Is that not a reasonable hope?

    Apparently TeVeS fails this test. I read recently, perhaps here, of a paper that purports to offer a framework, not a complete theory, that migh do that.

    I believe that all the observations of gravity are in the realm of low to medium acceleration, or alternatively low to medium curvature (in the lingo of GR, which faintly possibly not apply to a correct relavistic MONDian theory).

    What are the statuses of all such suggested theories? IS there a serious flaw in the “conditions” I’m trying to impose?


    1. These are reasonable conditions, and the majority of the things you’re asking about have already been checked, along with many others. What has long been lacking is a generally covariant theory that explains why LCDM is required to make GR “look” right. TeVeS failed in this, though it succeeded in explaining gravitational lensing that its predecessor (RAQUAL) had failed to do. The current successor to TeVeS is AeST (sometimes called RMOND). This reproduces the things LCDM is said to do well. I’m not sure that is the final answer, but like RAQUAL and TeVeS before it, may be a step along the way. That’s how theory building progresses.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Dr. McGaugh,

    About your chosen title…

    When you wish to use the expression ‘skeptical’, consider using the word ‘critical’. It is a subtle difference, but, remember that the anti-science movement also teaches its adherents to be skeptical.

    I truly enjoy your blog. I wish I had a stronger background with respect to the science.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. To the anti-math people:

    Hating math is like hating the English language. Just because you can say something inane in it does not mean it is the problem. If you asked an actual mathematician like Woit about what the string theorists coming up with supersymmetric dark matter particles were doing, they’d say a lot of what they were doing was not real math because it wasn’t vigorous enough (M theory doesn’t even have an equation), and their motivating assumptions – that the universe should be nice and ‘pretty’ in a certain way with all the force constants coming together at one point – are numerology, not mathematics. People who confuse numerology with math are doomed to failure in understanding the real world.


Comments are closed.