Will relativity ever be discredited?

Blog 20160518 Will relativity ever be discredited?

Steven Bryant

Some established scientists don’t appreciate it when people question the prevailing theories and leading scientific ideas. In fact, when asked if relativity theory will ever be discredited, a leading scientist laughs and says that “it will never be discredited.” (See: https://youtu.be/msZ790rgN7g ). Fortunately, that is NOT how all scientists think, nor is it how science works. I've met a lot of scientists at universities who are open to conversations that challenge the prevailing ideas.

This same scientist (mentioned earlier) sent a “tweet” today that read: “A skeptic will question claims, then embrace the evidence. A denier will question claims, then reject the evidence.” This position is incomplete.

There are actually four states that have to do with the acceptance or rejection of old and new information. A Denier will reject old and new information. Deniers do not follow sound mathematical or scientific processes. Many people who call themselves "Dissidents" are actually Deniers. A Dissident will reject old and accept new information. Sometimes the new information is valid, sometimes it is not. But Dissidents tend to reject part or all of the old information. A Skeptic accepts old information, but tends to reject new information, especially new information that challenges a belief that he or she holds. The last group are Scientists. A Scientist will accept old information (and set it in the proper context) and is open to accepting new, well–supported mathematical and scientific information. Many people who call themselves scientists today are actually skeptics.

No scientific theory or idea should ever be elevated to the point where it can no longer be questioned. Doing so moves that theory or idea from science, into the realm of religion.

So, what is our charge? What is the role of the next generation of scientists? The main goal is to listen and to think. Not to memorize and parrot back. If something doesn’t make sense, perhaps there’s something wrong. Don't just accept it. Find out what's wrong. Perhaps we can't see it, but eventually we'll find it. It may take years (or in the case of relativity theory, a century), but eventually we'll find it. And when we do, science must adapt and eventually accept it. Yes, it won't be easy because denial is a human's favorite defense mechanism. But eventually the disciplined science, math, and rational ideas will prevail.

Therein is our challenge: to be champions of change; to support those ideas that make mathematical, scientific and rational sense; and to challenge those that do not. Glenn’s work will be one of the foundational pillars of rational scientific thought as we return to an era of disciplined science, an era where it is ok to question everything, an era where it’s ok to ask “Why?”

Steven Bryant is the author of DISRUPTIVE: Rewriting the rules of physics

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