Discoveroids React to the Cosmic Inflation News

The big news, and the creationists’ initial reaction, were already described in AIG Reacts to the Cosmic Inflation News. Now it’s the turn of the Discoveroids — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page.

The newest article at their creationist blog is Bang for the Buck: What the BICEP2 Consortium’s Discovery Means. It’s written by Rob Sheldon, a name that is unfamiliar to us. In his own way, he describes the news and then says that it’s:

being hailed as next year’s Nobel Prize in Physics, the confirmation of two different fundamental cosmological theories at one blow: Einstein’s General Theory (gravity) and Alan Guth’s Inflationary Cosmology. Or is this all hype?

Well, is it all hype? Sheldon babbles a bit, and then he says, with some bold font added by us for emphasis:

Nearly all cosmologists accepted this [Guth’s] model in one form or another, preferring it to the increasingly disturbing “fine tuning” argument employed by advocates of intelligent design among others.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s all about denying the otherwise obvious evidence of the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — who fine tuned the universe for our convenience. Yes, that’s the principal effort of scientists these days — desperately attempting to discredit the Discoveroids’ brilliant theory. Then we’re told:

But Guth’s speculation has proved hard to demonstrate. Numerous theoretical problems have sent it back to the drawing board, and it is now in its third or fourth iteration. … So it seems as if the model will die a death of a thousand cuts if we don’t give it a data transfusion soon. That is why so many people are seeing this BICEP2 result as Nobel Prize material, because it not only rescues the favored model of cosmologists, but also saves the jobs of a thousand people at two national labs who are having to justify their expensive failure.

Lordy, lordy. What would we do without the Discoveroids to expose the shameless scam of science? But hang in there, dear reader. It gets better:

What exactly did the BICEP2 telescope observe? Well just to clear the air, it neither measured gravitons nor inflatons. What it actually measured was the polarization of light from the Big Bang, the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation.

That’s true. Gravitons have not been detected, nor actual gravity waves — just their predicted effect. Then, after denigrating the findings and their interpretation, Sheldon says:

Why then do I give this paper a 1 in 10^60 chance of being correct?

We’re really interested in knowing why a Discoveroid dismisses the BICEP2 results, so let’s read on:

There are just too many ways in which the assumptions of the modelers are unconsciously affecting the results for this to be believed. As Richard Feynman said about physics, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

The cosmologists are just seeing what they want to see. That’s in contrast to the Discoveroids, whose science isn’t in any way biased by subjectivity. Intelligent design is rock-solid science! Sheldon continues:

But hasn’t the BICEP2 consortium looked at all the alternatives and found them wanting? Ahh, this is the great conceit of modelers, that they have included all the physics. As a famous Secretary of State once said, “There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns — there are things we do not know we don’t know.” It is those unknown unknowns that are the real gremlins in the model.

Actually, that was said by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Anyway, Sheldon has pinpointed what he thinks is the cosmologists’ glaring defect — they haven’t factored in the “unknown unknowns.” That totally discredits their results! Then, to support his claim, Sheldon quotes the cosmologists’ paper:

The main uncertainty in foreground modeling is currently the lack of a polarized dust map.

Sheldon eagerly seizes on that admission:

In plain talk, they just said they guessed as to what the dust effect would be and then found a 2.2-sigma signal above that assumed noise. That means if the dust were to be, oh, three times as bright as they expected, their signal would disappear. From my own contacts in the astrophysics field, I know that magnetized dust is even more polarizing than regular dust, which for them is an unknown unknown. Shouldn’t they have waited for a five-sigma effect? Or at least, waited for the Planck data release to give them a dust model? Why the hurry?

Perhaps that’s a fair question. Here’s Sheldon’s answer:

Because the measurement of CMB polarization is a crowded field, and they wanted to be the first to publish. … They wanted a ground-breaking theory; they wanted to be the first to publish; they didn’t want to wait for necessary background data; they wanted splash and that is what they got.

Greedy, glory-seeking cosmologists — how disgusting! And here’s Sheldon’s conclusion:

Nothing in this paper inspires confidence in the results, but rather seems to highlight the hubris that is at the heart of 21st-century big science.

In other words, pay no attention to the latest discovery. It’s worthless. It’s riddled with unknown unknowns. Stick with what is known — by the Discoveroids — with absolute certainty: Everything is the handiwork of the intelligent designer.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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34 responses to “Discoveroids React to the Cosmic Inflation News

  1. Curmy, I would categorize Rob Sheldon, but you have a profanity filter.

    What are the odds that stardust would just *happen* to produce the Irish cable sweater pattern of the polarization? A trillion trillion to 1. Sheldon is grasping.

    If you found a dead body in a room, hypothesize that the guy was murdered by someone who escaped through the snow, and then you go look and find footprints, Sheldon would say raindrops made the pattern.

    Lab coat envy.

  2. Our Curmudgeon calls on the heavens for an answer:

    Lordy, lordy. What would we do without the Discoveroids to expose the shameless scam of science?

    Life would be dull without them, if I’m honest.

    But it is remarkable to me that, as much as they prattle on about “the war of Science on Religion” (as in this classic blathering from the Gerb: Casey Luskin: Why the New Atheists Won’t Be Appeased [God & Evolution] , the actual battle is the War of Nature on Superstition.

    All science does is document the marvels (there is no other word for them) of the material world. If some ‘religious’ beliefs turn out to be in conflict with what science reveals about nature, that just ain’t science’s fault.

    Creationists are arguing with reality, which is stupid. And arguing with reality-denying Creationists is insanely futile

  3. That is why so many people are seeing this BICEP2 result as Nobel Prize material, because it not only rescues the favored model of cosmologists, but also saves the jobs of a thousand people at two national labs who are having to justify their expensive failure.

    It’s the same argument as the old Koch/Exxon/Templeton-funded AGW-denialists’ one, isn’t: those nasty scientists are only saying those things because they’re worried about their jobs.

  4. Sheldon (and Discoveroids in general) remind me of the dark knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail — the one who gets his arms and legs chopped off one at a time but remains in complete denial that he is losing, and calls his opponents cowards as they ride away.

  5. Derek Freyberg

    Here’s my guess for Rob Sheldon, he’s a scientist at the National Space Science & Technology Center in Huntsville, Alabama:
    http://www.rbsp.info/rbs/RbS/cv.html. Note publication #56

  6. Charles Deetz ;)

    Interesting that DI comes up with the same oogity boogity answer to the big bang that they apply to evolution. Completely different sciences & data. Yet they can see a gap everywhere. They probably see God’s hand in March Madness wins, too.

  7. @Ed
    I have argued the Monty Python Black Knight creationist analogy for many years now, but it shocked me a few years ago when I found a creationist using it in his blog as if the obvious evidence were all on his side. These people are insane.

  8. Cardinal Ed writes> “Sheldon (and Discoveroids in general) remind me of the dark knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail”

    Your Eminence, I’m afraid you have read the scriptures incorrectly! That’s the Black Knight. The Dark Knight is Batman. 🙂

  9. Granted, Batman and The Holy Grail is definitely a movie I would pay to see!

  10. Charles Deetz ;)

    @Derek Started reading that article. Lots of posturing, no research as far as I got. You can smell the ID.

  11. docbill1351

    I’ll characterize Sheldon: He’s an [edited out] [edited out] mo[edited out]ing liar. Simple.

    Do look at Sheldon’s big, steaming pile of tripe and find the not so elusive Ellipsis. Oh, there it is, right in the middle of a QUOTE that Sheldon then interprets in “plain language,” that is, the plain language of a pathological lying sociopath.

    Sheldon writes:

    The main uncertainty in foreground modeling is currently the lack of a polarized dust map. (This will be alleviated soon by the next Planck data release.) In the meantime we have therefore investigated a number of existing models and have formulated two new ones….we find significant correlation and set a constraint on the spectral index of the signal consistent with CMB, and disfavoring synchrotron and dust by 2.3σ and 2.2σ respectively.

    In plain talk, they just said they guessed as to what the dust effect would be and then found a 2.2-sigma signal above that assumed noise.

    See the ellipsis in bold?  What went there?

    Here’s the original quote from PAGE 12 of the paper, my bolding, of what Slimy Sheldon left off:  

    The main uncertainty in foreground modeling is currently the lack of a polarized dust map. (This will be alleviated soon by the next Planck data release.) In the meantime we have therefore investigated a number of existing models and have formulated two new ones. A brief description of each model is as follows:

    What actually follows is FIVE PAGES of discussion about each model complete with data, charts, graphs.  Then on PAGE 17 right in the middle of a paragraph is this:

    Taking cross spectra against 100 GHz maps from BICEP1 we find significant correlation and set a constraint on the spectral index of the signal consistent with CMB, and disfavoring synchrotron and dust by 2.3σ and 2.2σ respectively. The fact that the BICEP1 and Keck Array maps cross correlate is powerful further evidence against systematics.

    The simplest and most economical remaining interpretation of the B-mode signal which we have detected is that it is due to tensor modes — the IGW template is an excellent fit to the observed excess. 

    So, no, in “plain talk” they didn’t “just guess.”  They rigorously compared their results to known models and known ranges of data and found the best fit.  And it fit data from an earlier experiment (BICEP 1).  And that fit was good enough to FIVE SIGMA which means they nailed it.

    In plain talk, Sheldon doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s way out of his depth reading this paper and couldn’t even do a decent job of mining a quote without having to skip FIVE PAGES of technical discussion.

    In plain talk, the researchers didn’t consider the “fine tuning” argument because it has no mathematical basis, no theoretical basis, is not even a publishable hypothesis and they might have gotten laughed out of Antarctica by the penguins if they had.

    In plain talk, BICEP 2 totally destroys the “fine tuning” argument and blows the cosmological leg off the ID strawman, just as the discovery of hundreds of habitable zone planets blew off the other leg.

    The image of wild-eyed Sheldon, his ragged clothes soiled and reeking of stale sweat, in the throes of dementia, shouting spittle-flecked invectives to kids to get off his lawn while using a hose disconnected from the spigot to spray dead flowers with water only he can see is the Dorian Gray picture of the Disco Tute today.

    Each advance in science, each cosmological discovery, each new planet in a habitable zone, each new mapped genome and each new fossil found closes more and more gaps leaving the Disco Tute no place to hide until, like the Boojum, they disappear up their own collective [edited out].

  12. Oh yeah, I almost forgot … The “unknown unknowns” can still be measured. That’s what the “sigma” is all about.

  13. @ docbill1351: applause 🙂 — and thanks for such an elegant take-down of that odious little [edited out] Discoveroid!

  14. Sheldon is a physicist with a legitimate degree, but he’s way out his league here. All you really need to know about him is that his postings turn up in intellectual scum ponds like Uncommon Descent and the Discoveroids own fever swamp of ENV.

  15. Stephen Kennedy

    Sheldon writes the following paragraph in trying to cast doubt on the plausibility of the results of the observations:

    ” But the inflationary claim is more spectacular because it was even more unexpected. Inflation was Alan Guth’s attempt to explain why the early universe after the Big Bang was so very “flat,” which is to say, why the force of the explosion matched the force of gravity to one part in 10^60. To put this in perspective, there are about 10^80 protons in the visible universe, so 10^20 protons, about one grain of sand, would have unbalanced the Big Bang, causing it either to recollapse into a black hole, or to expand so fast as to never form stars and galaxies. One grain of sand more, one grain less and we would not be here. – See more at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/03/bang_for_the_bu083451.html#sthash.1sSEiB1c.dpuf

    Something struck me as being wrong about the Math in this paragraph but I had to read it again to figure out what it is. Sheldon is essentially saying that if you were to subtract 10^20 protons, a grain of sand, from 10^80 protons you would get 10^60. This is not the way the law of exponents works. Subtracting 10^20 from 10^80 on both my HP and Casio calculators gives a value of 10^80 since these calculators do not have enough internal digits to distinguish between 10^80 and 10^80-10^20. What Sheldon has done is divide 10^80 by 10^20 in which case you do subtract the 20 from the 80. Dividing a number by a certain amount is very different than subtracting the same amount from the number. It appears to me Sheldon does not understand the law of exponents.

    Sheldon is a PhD physicist and I am only a brain damaged (stroke) retired medical doctor who only has a BS in Astronomy so he could be right and I could be wrong, so could someone with better Math skills than mine also look at this?

  16. docbill1351, I agree with Megalonyx. That was well done. However, Sheldon’s purpose wasn’t to convince us. He know that’s not possible. What the Discoveroids do is publish talking points for the faithful, knowing that they will never check the original scientific literature. As long as their slyly-crafted talking points provide comfort for little creationist minds, they’ve accomplished their goal.

  17. docbill1351

    Oh, well, thank you Curmudgeon!

    I was just starting my parade and now it’s raining! Boo [edited out] hoo!

    Dr. Kennedy is correct. Slimy Sheldon knows the difference, unless his creationist delusion has turned his brain to mush, but more likely he’s just lying to the rubes. Behe did the same thing in his book, “Edge of Insanity,” was called out on it several times, never responded to the criticisms and, ironically, that was the only math in his “book” as I recall.

    Furthermore, Slimy Sheldon demonstrates in 10^60 spades that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about even regarding the particles. Sure, the estimate for brown cows TODAY is 10^80 but at the time of Inflation that cosmologists are theorizing there were no brown cows. No cows at all. So, even if Slimy Sheldon did his math correctly, he still makes no sense and is quite, quite stupid.

  18. Isn’t it lovely how IDiot Sheldon applies Feynman’s famous quote to others and not to himself, hence totally missing the point of the quote?

    “Nothing in this paper inspires confidence in the results”
    Let’s assume this is correct. I’m not able to judge it anyway. How long will it take scholars – those folks who are able to judge – to point out the glaring holes?
    Oh – and how does this lack of confidence confirm ID? What about some positive evidence for your IDiotic theory, Sheldon? A little more than “there are about 30 constants of physics which completely have been fixed by an Intelligent Designer, blessed be Him/Her/It, though we have no clue how”?

  19. They’re running out of space to move their goalposts.

  20. @Docbill: “They rigorously compared their results to known models and known ranges of data and found the best fit.”
    You mean …. they did actual research? They did some hard work? How disgusting! Especially if we know at beforehand what the best fit is: goddidid!

    @SK quotes Sheldon: “so 10^20 protons, about one grain of sand, would ” and wonders: “so he could be right and I could be wrong”
    Well, don’t have a PhD either, but I am a teacher math. I’m not sure if Sheldon has calculated 80 – 60 = 20, because I don’t get how subtracting force (ie gravity) from mass (that’s what the amount of protons actually is) means anything anyway. If anything qualifies as a non-sequitur this

    “so 10^20 protons, about one grain of sand, would have unbalanced the Big Bang”
    is it. So my take is that Sheldon throws some nice looking numbers, suggesting deepity where there isn’t any. Which shows SC is right – Sheldon’s piece is about producing talking points for IDiots, stuff they can repeat ad nauseam not matter how often you tell them they are not even wrong.

    “unless his creationist delusion has turned his brain to mush”
    You shouldn’t rule that option out.

  21. @Derek F: I have read parts of that article by Sheldon (nr. 56 at your link) and it 100% qualifies as IDiotics.

    “And while [quantum mechanics] has been enormously useful, providing the understanding of steel and concrete, of electricity and power, in the end it could not explain the exquisite design of bio-materials: the strength of tooth enamel, the water-repelling nature of lily pads, the low drag of shark skin. The study of these remarkable things revealed that the secret lies in their coherence, in their nanoscale structure, in their design.”

    Note the title: it contains the word evolution. What is Sheldon writing about? You don’t need to read far into the essay: OOL – Origin of Life, ie abiogenesis.

  22. mnbo, not only don’t they have a clue how their cosmic wizard designs, they don’t even have a clue about how to find out. Ask a fundie like the occupants of the AiG clown car, and you get verses from their Wholly Babble. Ask a fundie Tooter, and you hear crickets chirping. They have nothing. No data, no theory, nothing but rhetorical baloney.

  23. Sheldon’s confusion of subtraction and multiplication is irrelevant, because the number he started with, 1 in 10^60, is wrong by a factor of… 10^60. Yeah, the correct number is 1. That’s how dumb he is.

    The tiny number 1 in 10^60 was based on a simple calculation that ignored general relativity. A more careful calculation based on GR gives 1. This was brought up by cosmologist Sean Carroll in his recent debate with William “Kill the Canaanites” Craig. You should watch it on Youtube.

    This is the reason why “fine tuning for life” can be dismissed as a hoax: because small changes in physics calculations can produce changes on the scale of a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion, as here.

    Dr. Kennedy, you are right that subtracting a grain of sand from the universe is not comparable to the fine tuning (hoax). Subtracting 10^20 from 10^80 yields 9.999999….99 * 10^79. Of course neither sand nor protons existed during inflation. But a better analogy would be: getting the correct inflationary rate would be as unlikely as choosing one proton among all protons in the universe at random, and finding it contained in the grain of sand in your eye. Impressive, but irrelevant now: a small math correction changed the number by a trillion trillion trillion… you get the idea.

    Moreover, as all of you know, “fine tining for life” is not an argument for ID unless Sheldon invokes God of the Gaps.

    Presently I am diogenizing Kirk Durston at his blog– he is attacking Sean Carroll on the subject of cosmology. Much fun.

  24. Doc Bill, kudos for your masterful takedown of Smeldon. I will tweet on it from @DiogenesLamp0.

  25. docbill1351

    I have no idea what drives creationists to be so honestly dishonest! If Slimy Sheldon had left out the ellipsis I wouldn’t have bothered. It’s like they want to be caught because they know they’ve been naughty, under the covers. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Or the more parsimonious explanation, that they’re just plain stupid.

  26. First, I, too, will add a long, slow clap for Doc Bill’s take down of Sheldon’s stupidity.
    Second, I’m going to pick a nit with his statement, “10^80 protons“. Despite the passing years, there was one thing I remember very clearly from my first chemistry class in college. It was “There are roughly 10^80 particles in the universe”. A “particle” refers to a proton, neutron, or electron. If you’re going to take on the big boy physicists, Sheldon, at least get your terms right. Oh, and a grain of sand will probably have 10^20 particles (again, protons, neutrons, and electrons), or it might have as little as 10^18 or as many as 10^24. Show your work next time, Sheldon. You just flunked this test.
    Finally, am I the only one who thinks of this when he hears the name “Sheldon”?

  27. SC States, with deserved sarcasm, “Yes, that’s the principal effort of scientists these days — desperately attempting to discredit the Discoveroids’ brilliant theory.”

    My quibble — Intelligent Design is not a theory. A theory is based on evidence. It’s not even a hypothesis. A (or is it “an”) hypothesis can be tested; it can be falsified. That’s not the case with Intelligent Design.

    Call it a conjecture; call it dogma; call it a delusion — but don’t call it a “theory”. don’t dignify it with that term.

  28. I, too, noticed the “proton” vs “particles” distinction but had other fish to fry at the time. So, basically, Slimy Lying Posing Sheldon got everything wrong. He got all the science wrong, he got the quotes wrong, he even got the Rumsfield quote wrong. He got everything wrong, yet the Disco Tute published his abject pants-on-fire lying nonsense without editing.

    Have the Tooters just given up? They’re becoming worse than AIG and that’s saying something!

  29. @Gary: It doesn’t matter whether it’s protons or particles, it’s still 10^80 (if that indeed is the correct total; I haven’t finished counting yet).

    Here’s why — almost all the protons in the universe are hydrogen nuclei; thus, no matching number of neutrons. So all we really have are protons and a matching number of electrons, with a few neutrons thrown in to hold the bigger nuclei together. Even if there were an equal number of protons, neutrons, and electrons, it would still be stated as 3 x 10^80, or rounding off to the closest order of magnitude, 10^80. It wouldn’t be 10^81, because that would be 10 times as many.

    But the point wasn’t how many particles there were, but the mass that was present. Since there are very few neutrons, and electrons have very little mass, the mass would be equal to about 10^80 protons.

    But docbill is correct — it’s all moot, since there were no brown cows (or anything else with mass besides energy) it that point of the universe’s existence.

  30. @waldteufel… how their wizard designs.

    “For with what eyes of the mind was your Plato able to see that workhouse of such stupendous toil, in which he makes the world to be modelled and built by God? What materials, what bars, what machines, what servants, were employed in so vast a work? How could the air, fire, water, and earth, pay obedience and submit to the will of the architect? From whence arose those five forms, of which the rest were composed, so aptly contributing to frame the mind and produce the senses? It is tedious to go through all, as they are of such a sort that they look more like things to be desired than to be discovered.”
    Cicero, De Natura Deorum (On the Nature of the Gods) I, 18.9.

  31. One small point; unless they’ve since changed it, this post says that Rumsfeld was Secretary of State. And it’s all downhill from there

  32. Docbill, what a wonderful quote-mine! Thanks for finding it, I collect them.

    Although, the gem of my collection is still the preacher who attributed to Darwin a quote consisting of the first half of a sentence from the Origin added to the last half of a sentence that appears seven chapters later in the book.

    I yield to no one in my awe of these feats.

  33. @realthog:

    It’s the same argument as the old Koch/Exxon/Templeton-funded AGW-denialists’ one, isn’t: those nasty scientists are only saying those things because they’re worried about their jobs.

    See Jen Sorenson’s cartoon.

  34. @Mark Joseph

    Thanks for the link! The Sorensen cartoon is indeed a classic — and very true in its depiction of the tactics used by our economic masters to sell us down the tubes on climate change, smoking, etc. Someone sent it to me yesterday or the day before and I promptly circulated it to my email list and earmarked it as a possible illustration (assuming my publisher will run to the fee) for a book I’m working on.