Yeah, so that happened on my attempt to get some rest on my Sabbath day.
I’m not going to cite the book – I’m going to do the author the courtesy of re-reading the relevant passages to make sure I’m not misconstruing them, but I’m not going to wait to blog my reaction – but what caused me to throw this book, an analysis of the flaws of the scientific method, was this bit:
Imagine an experiment with two possible outcomes: the new theory (cough EINSTEIN) and the old one (cough NEWTON). Three instruments are set up. Two report numbers consistent with the new theory; the third one, missing parts, possibly configured improperly and producing noisy data, matches the old.
Wow! News flash: any responsible working scientist would say these results favored the new theory. In fact, if they were really experienced, they might have even thrown out the third instrument entirely – I’ve learned, based on red herrings from bad readings, that it’s better not to look too closely at bad data.
What did the author say, however? Words to the effect: “The scientists ignored the results from the third instrument which disproved their theory and supported the original, and instead, pushing their agenda, wrote a paper claiming that the results of the experiment supported their idea.”
Pushing an agenda? Wait, let me get this straight, Chester Chucklewhaite: we should throw out two results from well-functioning instruments that support theory A in favor of one result from an obviously messed-up instrument that support theory B – oh, hell, you’re a relativity doubter, aren’t you?
I’ll go back to this later, after I’ve read a few more sections of E. T. Jaynes’s Probability Theory: The Logic of Science as an antidote.
P. S. I am not saying relativity is right or wrong, friend. I’m saying the responsible interpretation of those experimental results as described would be precisely the interpretation those scientists put forward – though, in all fairness to the author of this book, the scientist involved appears to have been a super jerk.