Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Dru Sefton; Bad Journalism

In This World View, the Sun Revolves Around the Earth

This is an article recently written by Dru Sefton of Newhouse News Services. In it she potrays geocentrists as kooks, while appearing to be "fair" in her reporting. I do not know if she did it purposely or, if she just does not "get it", but the results are pretty unfortunate. Robert Sungenis is an intelligent geocentrist who will be using a lot of science to explain his case in the upcoming book, Galileo Was Wrong.

Ms. Sefton puts Robert Sungenis in the same category as Marshall Hall, who tends more to conspiritorial investigations into the reasons why we now reject geocentrism.

I do not think that Ms. Sefton really understands the issues at hand.

For instance, she deals with the Foucault pendulum, like this:

But what about Foucault's famous pendulum? Its plane of oscillation revolves every 24 hours, showing the rotation of the planet. If the Earth didn't rotate, it wouldn't oscillate. Nope, Sungenis said: There just may be some other force propelling it, such as the pull of stars.What Foucault's pendulum does prove to Sungenis is that science is full of things that cannot be proven. And in the absence of proof, the Bible has answers.

Nope, Sungenis did not reply "Nope".

First she asks:

In a message dated 3/24/2006 11:49:50 AM Eastern Standard Time, writes: Gotcha. And to double-check -- i want to make sure i represent what you say as precisely and succinctly as possible -- re: Foucault's pendulum, geocentrists contend that is not proof of rotation, that the movement of the pendulum could be propelled by another force, such as the stars.

Robert replies, wanting to explain:

The Foucault pendulum is another in a long line of purported proofs for the Copernican system. All over the world museums and universities house a working replica of Foucaul's pendulum, modeled after the original device that was invented by the French physicist, Jean Foucault in 1851. Like any pendulum, such as those in the typical grandfather clock, the main action is the back-and-forth motion of a bob that hangs from a wire or rope of some proportionate length. But, unlike a grandfather clock that anchors the pendulum in one plane, the Foucault pendulum allows the anchor to rotate. That being the case, the plane of the pendulum will rotate over a given period of time. For example, if the pendulum begins its swing back-and-forth between the 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock position of the platform, within an hour or so, the pendulum will have moved to swinging between the 1 o'clock and the 7 o'clock position. Within an extended length of time (12 hours and 24 hours or longer), the pendulum will once again be swinging between the 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock position.

At different latitudes, however, there are different effects on the pendulum. At the North Pole the plane of the pendulum will rotate a full 360 degrees each 24-hours, or about 15 degrees per hour. As one moves farther from the North Pole in a southerly direction, the pendulum will slow down its rotation. In Washington DC, for example, instead of rotating 15 degrees in one hour, it moves about 9 degrees. At the equator there is no rotation of the pendulum. Below the equator the rotation begins again, but in the opposite direction (which is similar to the fact that weather systems rotate counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere, at least most of the time).

From the above description, one can imagine why many who were looking for proof of a rotating Earth would appeal to the Foucault pendulum. It seems logical to posit that the reason the plane of the pendulum appears to be moving in a circle is that the Earth beneath it is rotating. In other words, the heliocentrist insists that the pendulum's circular motion is an illusion. The pendulum is actually moving back-and-forth in the same plane and the Earth is turning beneath it. Since the Earth is too big for us to sense its rotation, we instead observe the plane of the pendulum rotate. All one need do to prove the Earth is rotating, he insists, is to reverse the roles, that is, imagine the plane of the pendulum is stationary and the Earth beneath it is moving. This particular logic, however, doesn't prove that the Earth is rotating. One can begin the critique by asking this simple question: if the pendulum is constantly swinging in the same plane (while the Earth is rotating beneath it), what force is holding the pendulum in that stationary position? In other words, if the plane of the pendulum is stationary, with respect to what is it stationary? This is understood as an "unresolved" force in physics. The only possible answer is: it is stationary with respect to the rest of the universe, since it is certainly not stationary with respect to the Earth. With a little insight one can see that this brings us right back to the problem that Einstein and the rest of modern physics faced with the advent of Relativity theory: is it the Earth that is rotating under fixed stars, or do the stars revolve around a fixed Earth? As Einstein said: "The two sentences: the sun is at rest and the Earth moves, or the sun moves and the Earth is at rest, would simply mean two different conventions concerning two different coordinate systems."[1]

As such, it would be just as logical, not to mention scientifically consistent, to posit that the combined forces of the universe which rotate around the Earth are causing the plane of the pendulum to rotate around an immobile Earth. In other words, in the geocentric model the movement of the pendulum is not an illusion" it really moves. According to Einstein, there is no difference between the two models. Ernst Mach, from whom Einstein developed many of his insights, stated much the same. He writes: "Obviously, it doesn't matter if we think of the Earth as turning round on its axis, or at rest while the fixed stars revolve round it. Geometrically these are exactly the same case of a relative rotation of the Earth and the fixed stars with respect to one another. But if we think of the Earth at rest and the fixed stars revolving round it, there is no flattening of the Earth, no Foucault's experiment, and so on..".[2]

[1] The Evolution of Physics: From Early Concepts to Relativity and Quanta, Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1938, 1966, p. 212.
[2] As cited in William G. V. Rosser's, An Introduction to the Theory of Relativity, London, Butterworths, 1964, p. 454, citing Dennis Sciama's, The Unity of the Universe, New York, Anchor Books, 1959.

Hence, the Foucault pendulum offers no proof for heliocentrism; rather, it only proves how presumptuous modern science has been for the last few hundred years. The same goes for the appeal to the Coriolis force or the oblateness of the Earth as proofs of the Earth's rotation. The only fact these particular phenomena prove is that there is a force causing their effect, not that a rotation of the Earth is the force.

It is clear that she did not get it, or did not feel it worth mentioning, because she replied:

thanks! i wish i had the space to go into more detail about the pendulum... arg! this is a challenge to fit all this interesting stuff into one story!

Ms. Dru Sefton
National Correspondent
Newhouse News Service
Washington, D.C.

Golly, not enough space to tell the truth. Oh, well, let's just put some bad example by Marshall Hall on instead (the helicopter). Let me spell it out: If the stars are "propelling " the pendulum, then it is proof of rotation, because in the geocentric system (at least a geostationary one as described by Robert), the stars "rotate" around the earth once per day. This is one of the points Robert was trying to make- the Foucault Pendulum cannot distinguish between rotation of the earth and rotation of the stars (ala Mach's Principle).

Then how does she imply geocentrism is false? Does she quote scientific evidence from great physicists? No, that would take too much thinking. She quotes an authoritative source:

Mention geocentrism and physicist Lawrence Krauss sighs. He is director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Case Western Reserve University and author of several books including "Fear of Physics: A Guide for the Perplexed.""What works? Science works. Geocentrism doesn't. End of story," Krauss said from Cleveland. "I've learned over time that it's hard to convince people who believe otherwise, independent of evidence."

Wow, if Lawrence Krauss were on CNN, they probably would write "EXPERT" under his name. That proves it for Ms. Sefton. End of story, I guess, can't argue with that.

Ms. Sefton even asked Robert about the "fear of science" issue:

Still reporting the geocentrism story, I’ll start writing it today after a few more interviews.

There seems to be a common thread amongst the geocentrists I’ve spoken with, and that’s a non-belief in science. I know we’re talking about cosmology and physics mainly, but it makes me wonder: In comparing that science with medical science – in other words, medicine has advanced through the years to allow incredible recoveries – shouldn’t that make one also “trust” the science related to cosmology and physics? If medical science has proven itself viable, why not other types of science?
Just wondering.

Robert explained:

Dru, your suspicsions are correct for a number of what we would call "amateur" geocentrists, or perhaps what would best be described as those who have a strong theological bent but don't know the science. They have their hunches but don't have the science to back it up.

That's what makes our book, Galileo Was Wrong, so different from much else out there, and this will make it a landmark book, I believe. The first volume of the series deals with nothing but the science, all 1000 pages of it, and it gets pretty technical. If you want to see a sample, I can send it to you. As you know, my co-author, Robert Bennett, has a Ph.D. in General Relativity (by the way, he said you haven't called him for an interview yet). We consider ourselves on the cutting edge of science. The only thing we do that current physicists and astrophysicists either don't do or refuse to do is apply the current science to the issue of geocentrism, and the results are astounding.

In any case, this is a difficult story to write in 1000 words. I feel it was bent towards Ms. Sefton's initial bias (i.e., that geocentrism is crazy), and perhaps we should not expect much more.

Anyway, my recommendation is to read the book (Galileo Was Wrong), and forget about the article.


Anonymous MarkW said...

Here is an archived version of the story by Dru Sefton. The original is down.

Sunday, July 06, 2014  

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