A Bad Day for "Science" Worshipers

I’d like to have a talk about not just the article, but also the consequences for the structure of the universe if Dark Energy doesn’t really make up most of the universe, and ideas about Dark Matter. I was told that the physicists here would engage.


I’m not a physicist. But I’ll comment anyway.

I don’t consider myself a science worshiper, but I do count myself as being on the science side of “The Two Cultures”.

As far as I know, the evidence is still too weak to reject the current cosmology models. That there is evidence contrary to those models is not “a bad day”. Rather, it is exciting because it could perhaps lead to new insights.

This has always been true and should be expected. As I sometimes put it: It is good to think outside the box, but if your thinking is too far outside the editor’s box then you won’t get published.

Peer review has always been imperfect. And we should expect it to be imperfect. It could never be more than a crude filter. We should expect some bad science to make it through peer review and we should expect that some potentially good science is blocked by peer review. After all, peer review depends on fallible humans.

A problem that I see, is that major universities have built a requirement for outside research grants into their tenure processes. This gives the granting agencies too much influence over the kind of research that is done in the university science departments.

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What you like to explain what you think the thesis of the article (blog post) is?

(At the time I was surprised at how rapidly dark energy was accepted - astronomers had had a long struggle with establishing standard candles and distance scales, with problems like Cepheid periods depending on metallicity as well as luminosity. Note that the rapid acceptance of dark energy is not in accordance with the claim of peer review enforcing a status quo. For that matter nor is the publication of this study.)

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If major theories in cosmology turned out to be wrong then it would be one of the most exciting days for those who are interested in Science. I think you are projecting your own penchant for dogmas onto those who follow science.


@PdotdQ, what is your opinion on this paper? I’ve heard a lot of buzz recently about conflicting results measuring dark energy, now that we have much more SN data compared to the 90s.


That people should not use a warped idea called (though it is a mis-representation of it) “science” to shield themselves from the knowledge of God, or considering that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. That while it is a useful method of truth discovery, it is not to be endowed with some aura of infallibility. We are all still figuring this out.

But I think that the rapid acceptance of Dark Energy was pretty much in line with the status quo, because it was dusting off what Einstein called his biggest mistake and saying that icon was right after all. Besides the fact that at first it could be hoped that it would eliminate some fine-tuning arguments that were anathema to Philosophical naturalism. I think they peer-review process has gotten worse recently and so rapid original adoption does not affect that point. That this paper got published at all is a fair point, but not a decisive one. The system is not as hung up on Dark Energy as say, man-made climate change.



This looks like a preliminary study: the paper has a very small, biased sample population.Their finding is not statistically significant yet.

Regardless, even if it turns out that supernovae do not provide evidence for the acceleration of the Universe, little will change in modern cosmology. The best evidence for the acceleration of the Universe and the measured amount of dark energy is no longer supernovae, but the BAO and the CMB. This has been the case for ~decades.

Edit: for those interested, here is the contour plot (y-axis is ~the amount of dark energy, x-axis is ~the amount of matter). Notice how the CMB and BAO themselves constraint the amount of dark energy much better than the supernovae (SNe on the plot). If the supernovae data are completely removed, ~nothing changes.


Why then does the news article say that CMB and BAO are more “indirect” and “circumstantial” evidence for dark energy compared to supernovae? Are there more assumptions in deducing the constrains from these? Or is that just a biased press release meant to boost the significance of this paper?

This one.


I also noticed that the phys.org report gave a confidence level of 99.5%.

You say that CMB radiation is not as indirect a way to measure acceleration of the galaxies, but this seems at odds with what it is. It is radiation released at the Big Bang or shortly thereafter and before stars and galaxies formed. Therefore while it might indicate something about the force of the “bang” it is hard to see how it is a better measurement of how fast galaxies are being flung away from each other than SNe, which is at least measured after those galaxies form. Isn’t that based on the assumption that Dark Energy is what powers the bang, that it keeps growing with space, and that the formation of matter, stars, galaxies doesn’t change it?

Yes, this is a time to sit back and wait for the field to establish what’s going on and how things work. It is not the time to employ uncertainty in astrophysics and cosmology as apologetics arguments.


Tell it to the atheists online who with a straight virtual-face tell me that some arcane math proves there are a vast number of undetected universes out there so all fine-tuning arguments are invalidated!

You seem to have some misconceptions in your understanding of standard cosmology, because as of now, your concerns are “not even wrong” (Not even wrong - Wikipedia). Please reread the fundamentals of standard cosmology so you can mount a more coherent argument against it.

Regardless, if you don’t like the CMB, the BAO literally measures the changes of separations between galaxies over cosmic time.


Where do I go to find these people? I’ve been frequenting multiple atheist and skepticism forums now for over 12 years and I’ve never come across even a single one who claims this.


Pfft. Thanks for reminding me why I left here the first time. I’m not arguing against the fundamentals of standard cosmology. Maybe you should try to understand what I am arguing before you drip condescension. Goodbye.

This report came out that shows the main evidence supporting the idea that our universe is mostly a mysterious thing called “dark energy” is in error. This overturns decades of scientific belief about the ultimate nature, structure, and perhaps even fate, of our universe. It turns out the galaxies may not be flying away from each other at increasingly fantastic speeds after all. Therefore there is no need to postulate that most of the universe is composed of an energy which is propelling them against the pull of gravity at those fantastical speeds.

Mark: I think that you are overreacting. I read your blog post and the entire thread, and based upon @PdotdQ 's response, it seems as though you may have over-reached. It seems like what he said was that the results of the study are not reason enough to conclude what you have written above.

Rum, you have not heard of people suggesting that the multi-verse is an adequate response to the fine-tuning argument? I’ve heard this often. I have also heard (here) that the fine-tuning argument is not as strong as it sounds or seems, or maybe as it has been presented in the past by some.(EDIT: It is possible that I misunderstood what was said, too.)

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I expect he has. I have too. But that’s not what was claimed - MMM referred to “atheists online who with a straight virtual-face tell me that some arcane math proves there are a vast number of undetected universes out there

There’s a large gap between the multiverse being an adequate response vs the multiverse being proven.


I see… I think that we all need to read what one another writes with a bit of context built in. I know it gets difficult when we are talking about very technical issues, but I thought it was pretty clear that Mark was simply referring to the multi-verse as a response to fine-tuning. As I said, I could be wrong (and often am anyhow!) :slight_smile: