Today’s letter-to-the-editor is a follow-up to one we wrote about a month ago — see #808: Geocentric Genius. Like that earlier letter, this one appears in the Marshall Independent of Marshall, Minnesota. It’s titled Please stick to science, and the newspaper has a comments feature.
Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — even though this is his third appearance in our collection. His first name is Phil. Excerpts his newest letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!
Judging from the responses to my Oct. 24, “Does the Earth revolve around the sun?” [that’s the one we wrote about], I must ask: Why is it that when I try to discuss science, almost everybody wants to talk religion? Can we please stick to science? Thanks.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! None of that silly religion stuff for Phil! He says:
Part of my letter stated: “…does the earth go around the sun, or does the sun go around the earth? There still is no solid proof that the Earth goes around the sun; but it is still taught in schools as dogmatic fact. Why?”
We quoted that before. Phil is sticking to his story. He tells us:
I would have thought someone would have brought up things like stellar parallax, the Foucault pendulum, retrograde motion of Mars, phases of Venus, etc.
Those are all interesting, but why would anyone bother to exert himself when dealing with Phil? The absence of any visible Stellar parallax with the naked eye was used as evidence that the Earth was stationary and didn’t orbit the Sun. More precise observations with modern telescopes have not only revealed a predictable shift in the positions of nearby stars as we move around the Sun, but it was the observation of one nearby and therefore visibly shifting star that — with only high school trigonometry — revealed that star’s distance from us. Wikipedia says: “The first successful measurements of stellar parallax were made by Friedrich Bessel in 1838 for the star 61 Cygni using a heliometer.”
Foucault’s pendulum demonstrates the rotation of the Earth, not its orbiting the Sun. But it does contradict the notion that the whole universe revolves around us. We’ve also discussed Creationism, Galileo and the Phases of Venus.
As for the Apparent retrograde motion of planets like Mars (as seen from Earth), that’s because sometimes we’re both on the same side of the Sun, moving in the same direction, and sometimes we’re on opposite sides, and Mars appears to move in the opposite direction.
Anyway, Phil seems to be shocked that no one bothered to mention those things when responding to his earlier letter. But then he shows that it would have been a waste of time if anyone had done so. He says:
Actually, these are not proofs, because the heliocentric and geocentric systems are geometrically equivalent. So, the question remains; if there is no proof, why are teachers stating it as absolute fact?
Did you follow that? Yes, viewing the solar system from Earth, or from any other vantage point, like the Sun, is viewing the same system. One set of observations can be translated into the other. But they’re not both true. Viewing the solar system from the Sun would look very different if the Earth really were the center of everything. Let’s read on:
Wouldn’t the honest thing be to say “We really don’t know?” Ditto for billions of years age of the earth. And how about macro-evolution? I’ve yet to see anyone who can defend it.
The rest of Phil’s letter is about global warming. We’ll leave it to you to read that, if you want to. Geocentrism is enough to qualify Phil’s letter for our collection..
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