Posts Tagged ‘Heliocentrism’


December 24, 2016

The notion of truth is central to the human condition. “Belief”, “Faith” claim to solve it. But there is a better way: dynamics.


Popper’s Error: Science Is Not Just About Falsification. Science Is Construction First, Falsification Later:

Abstract: ‘Falsification’ ruled 20th-century science. However, falsification was always second to construction. First construct, only then falsify. Why? As simple as it gets: One cannot falsify something that one has not constructed.

So what is truth? For a hint: look at biological evolution: in a way evolution is a truth, any species solves a number of problems it is confronted to. (It could be the Ebola virus: the virus solves the problem of its own survival.) I will show truths are also denizens of an evolutionary process. (Leaving the Bible’s Logos in the dust…)i


Detailed Examples Show That Falsification Is Always Second To Construction: the heliocentric theory jumps to mind.

Heliocentrism (Earth rotates around the Sun) was first proposed by the astronomer Aristarchus (320 BCE). At least so said Archimedes. The arguments were lost. However, Aristotelian physics was in the way. PPP Carefully Looking At The Phases Of Venus Falsified The Ptolemaic Model of the Solar System

Buridan (~ 1345 CE) demolished Aristotelian physics (no, islamophiles, Buridan was indeed first). Armed with his correct inertial theory, Buridan proposed that Earth turned around the sun. But he could not prove it. Copernicus said more of the same two centuries later: yet it could not be proven.

The philosophical argument had been known for 18 centuries: the Sun was the bigger thing, so the smaller thing, Earth, should rotate around the bigger thing. (Maybe some Ancient Greeks thought about another argument, relative to speed: if the Sun turned around, in just a day, its speed had got to be enormous; enormous speeds were unfriendly; if Earth rotated around, it needed to rotate on itself: would the clouds fly away? Aristotle’s erroneous physics said so, but Buridan explained  that Aristotle’s arrow experiment was false, by introducing rotary inertia.

Kepler came out with his laws, a stupendous achievement. Still one could not prove heliocentrism definitively. It had become the simpler description, though, by a long shot. 

Falsification Of The Egocentric Ptolemaic System Was Only Provided By The Goddess Venus

Falsification Of The Egocentric Ptolemaic System Was Only Provided By The Goddess Venus; By The Way, I Protest Against The Adjective “Copernican”. Aristarchus, and Even More, Buridan, Were The Main Architects of Building The Truth About The Heliocentric System. Buridan threw Down Aristotelian Physics, Something Even Archimedes Did Not Do (that we know of!)

[In the Ptolemaic System, Venus Was Always Between Earth And Sol, Thus, Venus Always Appeared As A Crescent. Seeing Venus fully lighted by Sol showed Ptolemaic astronomers were full of it. Now, OK, they had to wait for the progress of European optics in the middle Middle Ages… Reading glasses and all that…]

And then Galileo found that the little things, the four satellites of Jupiter, were rotating around the big thing (Jupiter). Another indice.

At this point, there were several independent lines of arguments each pointing at heliocentrism as the most economical, most likely explanation (size, speed, lesser overall rotational inertia (rotational “impetus”, to speak as Buridan did), Kepler’s Laws, Jupiter’s satellites).

It was a “beast in the forest approach”: it sounded like a lion, it smelled like a lion, it had the color of a lion, it looked as if it had the ears of a lion. So what of Popper’s “falsification” approach in this? Suppose that it did not have the color of a lion. Does that prove it’s not a lion? No. It could be bright red, because it’s covered with blood, and it’s still a lion. Or all black, because it’s in the shade, yet, still a lion.

By 1613, though, Galileo’s telescope had enough power to resolve the phases of Venus (and dare to publish the result). Only then was the heliocentric theory definitively proven, and the Ptolemaic system ruled out. If the way the phases behaved had not come out right, heliocentrism would have been wrong. PPP Venus provided with the Popper Falsification. However, even before that, all astronomers had come to the conclusion that it was certain that the Earth turned around the Sun.


Of The Bad Influence Of Popper & The Primacy Of Falsification:

Falsification is not fun and cuts down the impulse of imagination. Putting falsification from cognition first kills imagination. Imagination is more important than cognition. Imagination is the definition of the human condition.

To realize that only the phases of Venus were an incontrovertible proof, one had to have derived the heliocentric theory far enough to come to that conclusion. By the time it became clear that the Venus phases were the incontrovertible proof could be, 99% of the theory of heliocentrism was established. 

It was a question of mental chicken and egg: neither came first, the theory had to evolve. Actually, the phases of Venus can be resolved by exceptional observers with fantastic eyes, and special atmospheric conditions (the human eye can resolve a minute of arc, Venus apparent size is around two-third of that).

If one had been guided by only finding a definitive proof of heliocentrism, one would have invented no science. For example Buridan and his students invented graphs. They also demonstrated early calculus theorems, but without any of the sophisticated formalism, equation, analytic geometry, which those theorems would push to discover…

By considering that only the last step of an inquiry makes that inquiry scientific, Popper and his falsification obsession make science impossible. (Down with Popper; make no mistake, I like Popper, but then I also “like” Ivanka Trump’s mien in the coach cabin of a Jetblue sardine can, when she kept calm in the middle seat, while being “harassed” by two PC college professor idiots… They were thrown out of the plane, came to regret their actions, and then deleted their Tweeter accounts where they wrote about the deedd they planned. Both the martyrized Ivanka and one of the cruel college professors of barbarity were with small children, including two infants…)

As Buridan pointed out, one could not tell the difference, experimentally , between the heliocentrism he proposed and Scripture (so one may as well believe scripture, he added insolently). But that impossibility to falsify did not prevent him to think about it, and to think about it as a science.


Evolution theory is even more constructivist: 

The Greek philosopher Anaximander of Miletus, before the Persian fascist annihilated Miletus, proposed that people descended from fishes. Later, Aristotle, baffled by fossils, ordered his students to go out, observe and establish a registry of living forms.

By then evolution theory by mixed artificial and natural means was well-known in Greece, as related methods produced superlative cattle sold around the Mediterranean. Nobody can know how much was explicitly in writing about evolution (out of 700 Greco-Roman classics we know of, only 150 survived… through the Frankish controlled monasteries).

Evolutionary ideas were revived in the Eighteenth Century, until Lamarck proposed the theory of evolution in 1800 CE. Lamarck became quickly an object of hatred from the dictator Napoleon and the Christian Church. A bedrock of his conclusions were microscopic studies of fossils of mollusks (decades behind the microscope destroyed his eyesight). Lamarck was a research professor, not a falsification professor: he invented ideas, and even words: he used neologisms such as biology, mollusk, invertebrate, etc.

Lamarck also proposed a non-selective mechanism to explain evolution (as I said above, the Greeks were thoroughly familiar with natural and artificial selection). That obviously could not be disproven, and the mechanism was completely unfathomable. It is only now that epigenetics has been demonstrated to exist, and some mechanisms explaining it have been made explicit.

Methinks there is much more to come (because DNA is a Quantum machine in a Quantum environment, and all interactions are non-local…


Those Who Don’t Want To Build, Don’t Want to Know:

We build theories, first. Then we test them, always. First build.

Those who don’t want to build, don’t want to falsify.



To assuage and pacify the Neoplatonist leadership of the Roman empire, the evangel of John proclaims in its first few sentences that the “logos” was God, and God was the “logos”. In other words, logic, the discourse, ruled the universe.

Now the “logos” itself is its own truth: any logic defines a propositional truth from its axioms: well-formed propositions are “true” in a sense. HOWEVER, propositional truth is not ALL the truth in a logical system. That observation is the key to the problem of truth.   

Moreover, there is the problem of meta-truth. Meta-truth evolves out of truth (Godel famously proved that meta-truth existed). Logicians have been struggling with both non-propositional truth and metatruth (Godel’s proofs were proofs of existence, and did not provide with an explicit mechanism to build metatruths; later Godel and Cohen rolled out axioms which were independent of others, and thus could be considered true or not).

The preceding shows that building a scientific theory is a built-up of truth: Popper’s work was naive, removed from reality.

A scientific theory’s formation is an evolution of truth: it defines truth as it goes. Science is the best state of formal knowledge we have: thus truth is an evolution

Still, although truth evolves, that does not mean there is no absolute formal truth. There is: planes fly, don’t they? For a plane to fly one million formal truths need indeed to be true, at the same time, or the plane would crash.

Thus one can see that truth does not evolve like a species: metatruth evolves like an ecology does, generating on its way perfect species, local truths. An ecology evolves perfect species, such as sharks and oysters, which barreled, same as they always were, through massive extinction waves in the last few hundreds of millions of years. Evolution also produced species whose main business is to evolve, such as hominins (ourselves and all those cousins of us we used for dinner, in the past).

So, in the evolution of logic and metalogic, perfect truths are produced, so perfect they become part of the logos themselves (truths such as realizing that love is the engine of all things human!).

God is truth, and we make it up, as we debate reality with our imagination.

Patrice Ayme’

P/S: The essay is better appreciated if one is familiar with 20th century philosophy of science (and it penetrated the exercise of science itself, especially physics). Karl Popper claimed that, if a theory is falsifiable, then it is scientific. However, if I say, tomorrow the sky is blue, that’s falsifiable, but not necessarily scientific. The Popperian criterion excludes from the domain of science not unfalsifiable statements but only whole theories that contain no falsifiable statements. That’s silly, because Popper wanted to ‘prove’ that Marxism was not scientific… Yet clearly the work of Marx contains falsifiable statements. Moreover, Pauperism leaves one with the Duhemian problem of what constitutes a ‘whole theory’ as well as the problem of what makes a proposition ‘meaningful’.

My approach above pretty much throws the whole thing through the window. Science has to do with truth, and metatruth, which have architectures of truth, just as a building or a plane have them.


Science: Magical Common Sense

November 7, 2014

Science Goes Beyond Common Sense Systematized

Some say that science destroyed our old illusions with relentless explanations:

“Geocentrism”, the illusion that the Sun turns around the Earth, is often quoted as an example:

However, geocentrism appeared only after it became clear that the Earth was a rounded sphere. That revelation came from observing the Earth’s shadow (prehistoric man has got to have thought that the Earth was flat). It confirmed what looking at ships already indicated.

Soon after, by studying the shadows more carefully, the distance of the Sun was found to be at least three million kilometers. Hence, shortly after the Earth was found to be round, it was found that the sun was bigger than Earth, thus it was more natural to suppose that Earth was rotating around it.

Aristarchus of Samos actually proposed exactly this theory, within at most three centuries from the earliest suggestion of the geocentric theory.

So geocentrism was not common sense, far from it. Common sense displaced it nearly immediately after its creation.

So why did geocentrism triumph so long?

It is actually the establishment of political dictatorship, indeed outright plutocracy, and the intellectual eclipse it entailed, that brought the neglect of heliocentrism. That was accentuated by the forceful imposition of the divine character of Aristotle’s physics… Aristotle, whose plutocratic political philosophy fit dictators like a glove (hence dictators loved everything Aristotle, and felt we should share the love too).

Dictators wanted We The People to believe everything about Aristotle, as if he were wisdom incarnated including his completely silly, easy to disprove, physics.

That was no unfortunate accident. It is precisely the very fact that Aristotle’s physics was stupid which made it an instructive example: believe what your master tells you to believe, even, and, especially, if it looks idiotic; thus your mind shall be like that of a dog! Masters need dogs. (The Trinity played a somewhat similar role, of training to violate credulity.)

Heliocentrism was reborn after Buridan, around 1320 CE, introduced inertia (Anglo-Saxons call this “Newton’s First Law”). Buridan was immensely famous, so the Church suppressed him, actively, five generations after his death. As part of the Church’s general crackdown on intellectuals (started with treacherously burning Hus alive.)

Buridan’s work is now attributed to Copernicus. (So the Church is still winning that one! Just as it does every day it forces to celebrate the monster Saint Louis as a “saint”.)

In truth, much common science is just common sense, systematized. A lot of modern mechanics and aerodynamics was perfectly mastered, intuitively, by Genghis Khan’s archers (say). A Mongol prince hit a dummy with an arrow, in a competition, at a distance of half a mile. The archers did not know the equations, but they knew what they say.

The rise of modern mechanics came from Middle Ages gunnery, especially after the French invention of field guns around 1430. Gunners quickly found that Aristotle’s physics was wrong, and established their own empirical science.

Commodity traders anxious to know first what the ships carried, developed telescopes. Galileo perfected them later (and had a scientific fight with his friend the Pope… about tides, and Galileo was wrong…)

Did the discovery of genes change everything?

That’s what snake oil salesmen want us to believe. Read Dawkins:

“… when you are actually challenged to think of pre-Darwinian answers to the question ‘What is Man?’ ‘Is there a meaning to life?’ ‘What are we for?’, can you, as a matter of fact, think of any that are not now worthless except for their (considerable) historic interest? There is such a thing as being just plain wrong and that is what before 1859, all answers to those questions were.” (Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, p. 267)

What is he saying?

That Englishman Darwin found all wisdom prior was worthless. Darwin, who thought of himself as a Lamarckian (and so did Wallace about Darwin!), would have been shocked.

The Anglo-Saxon debate about Darwin is a funny thing: in this vision, religiously propagated by Dawkins, evolution was discovered in 1859, by the British empire. (Dawkins may despise the Christian god, but he reveres the English empire.)

Why was Lamarck  so hated after 1815? For the same reason that anti-Judaism was made into the law over most of German speaking Europe, at the same time (thanks to Metternich and company).

It was the same mood: the Lord of Heavens, Jesus Christ, was back, complete with anti-Judaism, and research professor Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s evolution theory (which Lamarck demonstrated by studying fossilized mollusks, around 1800), which had attacked so fiercely the Christian god, was out. Teaching evolution was strictly forbidden in British universities. (Darwin turned around that, two generations later, by not being a vulgar professor.)

Britain had been allied, used and encouraged as a weapon, the anti-Judaic, anti-Slav, rapacious kingdom of Prussia, since 1756. The dirty evolutionary, over-intellectual, anti-lord, and anti-plutocratic French theories were anathema. Especially in the Anglo-Saxon world (nevertheless, they percolated, from Darwin, to geologist Lyell…)

But did not science’s evolution theory, Lamarckian or not, debase man, by showing man was just an animal?

No. British universities forbid the teaching of Lamarck for two generations because evolution theory debased Christianity, which says god looks like man. Thus, god was a monkey, or dog. But that would not have shocked Indians, just stiff upper lip Brit, whose empire depended upon smooth sailing between lord in heavens, sovereign and force.

Most of the 10,000 religions or so that we know, did not make a sharp distinction between the human and animal realms. Many saw a continuity, a complicity, a coming and going between beasts, men, and gods, with various transmutations.

Evolution was known, de facto, for millennia:

Even large prehistoric dogs, 35,000 years ago, were obtained with heavy breeding from wolves (they did not look like wolves at all). Xenophon and Macedonians, obsessed by the breeding of horses, knew perfectly well that artificial selection worked. Natural selection was an obvious extension: the Spartans themselves used it sociologically in their eugenics program.

So science is very far from having “de-legitimized” all of the theories that came before. And some of these theories seemed most likely even tens of thousands of years ago: a discipline such as ethology had to be well mastered, for prehistoric man to survive, let alone thrive. Practice often primes theory (even the thinking cow, Martin Heidegger, guessed that one).

Practice precedes theory: it is particularly true in mathematics, where detailed examples suggest general theories.

Physics and biology confirm, systematize much of what men have observed, ever since there are men, and they think. Many phenomena are simply better observed, and understood.

So nothing is new under the sun?

Not quite. What science brought that’s really new, like neurons, or Quantum Physics, if anything, has made the world into an ever more complex, mysterious, magical place.

The more  we see, thanks to science, the more beautiful, and complex, it gets. Who needs gods, when we have what we found? And is now part of us?

Patrice Ayme’