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Einstein Was Wrong: A Consensus of Crankery

Updated on April 10, 2012
Gravitational lens G2237 + 0305, also known as the Einstein Cross. General relativity at work.
Gravitational lens G2237 + 0305, also known as the Einstein Cross. General relativity at work. | Source

Poll Time!

Which is Your Favorite Relativity Theory?

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Browsing the more than 300,000 results of a Google search on the term "Einstein was wrong," it would appear that there are lots of crackpot amateur physicists out there, formulating bizarre cosmological hypotheses all alone in basements and trailers, resentful of a world that refuses to acknowledge their genius.

In fact, this turns out not to be the case. These lone wolves of physics are now getting organized.

This is one of the more frightening messages of a recent Slate article by Margaret Wertheim, author of a new book on crankery and crackpottery titled Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of Everything.

Of course, in this context, the word "theory" is being used in the lay public sense: a general speculation with little or no experimental confirmation. Most of these alternative physics "theories" involve unproven and untested concepts such as "apocalyptic photons" and donut-shaped "circlons" and the pre-relativity concept of the Aether.

Generally, proponents of these "theories" have eschewed mainstream physics conventions, dropping out of university-level courses - if they've taken them at all - and bypassing the peer-review system by self-publishing books and pushing their alternate "theories" on the Internet.

They have even formed a support group. The Natural Philosophy Alliance boasts nearly 2,200 members, 1,300 books, and 5,800 abstracts, and hold annual conferences where they can exhibit their speculative visions of reality. From the anti-Einstein tone of the NPA web site, this alternate reality appears to be one in which general and special relativity do not exist.

This is not to say that scientists shouldn't challenge assumptions and re-confirm established theories. Indeed, much of modern cosmology can sound rather crankish to an outsider -- what with all the dark matter, dark energy, quantum foam, superstrings, faster-than-light neutrinos, and God particles. The learning curve is steep and the math is difficult.

But it's not a conspiracy, either. Mainstream science is a process, not a system of oppression. Established theories such as General and Special Relativity become established because they work, both in experiment and in practical applications.

Just ask all those Natural Philosophy Alliance members who used GPS navigators to get to their last conference.

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    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 5 years ago from Southern California

      They don't work together as there is no GUT.

    • scottcgruber profile image
      Author

      scottcgruber 5 years ago from USA

      If you mean quantum physics and relativity, true. M-theory might be the answer but it's untestable.

      Or it may be that there is no unified theory. Maybe we just live in a universe with two sets of rules.

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 5 years ago from Southern California

      Scott

      That is what I mean.

      My thought is that the reason that they don't work together is we have not found the least common denominator, so to speak.

      In OO programming when you define attributes for a class, you are doing the same thing as finding the least common denominators. The class can then be used with expanded attributes consistent with the class.

      My point is that if we choose our class wrong, then we can't expand it to fit other attributes. Or in this case, the attributes don't work the same in different cases.

      So maybe someone should go back to GR and QM and rebuild it. The problem I suspect is that we don't have a necessary but not yet found attribute to build it on.

      I don't really believe in String Theory, it is setup more like finding Waldo. Or like finding X in an equation by using constants to make the answer come out. In any case, we don't even have that constant.

      my opinion....

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.

      Albert Einstein

      A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.

      Albert Einstein

      As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.

      Albert Einstein

      Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.

      Albert Einstein

      Albert seems to disagree with you, of course I could be wrong.

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.

      Albert Einstein

      Even he was asking the public to accept nothing and learn to listen to the heart.

      If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.

      Albert Einstein

    • scottcgruber profile image
      Author

      scottcgruber 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you very much for that appeal to authority - though several of those appear to be misattributions.

      It's too bad Einstein didn't follow his own advice in the first quote regarding quantum physics and the expanding universe.

      I also don't see anything in any of those quotes where Einstein advocates pseudoscience over critical thinking.

    • scottcgruber profile image
      Author

      scottcgruber 5 years ago from USA

      And another thing!

      Einstein certainly didn't advocate "truth-by-assertion" or "heart-following as proof" when it came to his theories. He made predictions based on the theories and other scientists tested them. The tests demonstrated the theories to be correct.

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      Or they simple agreed with his version of reality, it reminds me a lot of Darwinism a theory introduced to the public for public consumption.

      If we give you a 'theory' that can be proven using the science we have conditioned you to believe then you can prove it and so it must be true.

      So off you go to prove something, or in the case of Darwinism off you go to find the missing link. However what most sheeple don't consider is the missing link doesn't exist, so you simple keep searching without looking for another explanation.

      Einstein's theories are very similar you can prove they are true using the science given to you, this keeps you from looking at alternative science or explanations.

      If you learn to accept that everything is a lie, misdirection, smoke and mirrors, then you will begin to see the veil before your eyes.

      The quotes were to show you that Einstein just like Darwin didn't believe in many of his own theories, so why would they introduce them to the public?

      How is anyone persuaded to do anything in our society?

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      Do you believe Tesla really died in 1943?

    • scottcgruber profile image
      Author

      scottcgruber 5 years ago from USA

      There is no theory of Darwinism. I think you mean to say the theory of evolution by means of natural selection, which - like Relativity - has been confirmed hundreds of times over by anatomical analysis and developmental observation and paleontological finds and genomic analysis. The "missing link" is irrelevant. It is a lay term used by creationists, not a scientific one.

      As for alternative science, I can only paraphrase Tim Minchin. Alternative theories are either hypotheses that have either not been proved to work, or that have been proved not to work.

      They are not theories. They have not passed the tests or undergone the peer review required to be considered theories. They do not deserve to be called theories. They do not get a free pass to the front of the line - they have to go through rigorous examination, and be given the chance to fail.

      This is, in brief, the entire point of this hub.

    • scottcgruber profile image
      Author

      scottcgruber 5 years ago from USA

      As for Nikola Tesla, Wikipedia puts his death on January 7, 1943 from heart thrombus, citing a New York Times article the next day. I have no way to confirm or disconfirm this, so I'm inclined to believe it is true, as dying is quite common among 86-year-old men with multiple medical ailments.

      But I'm sure you have some alternate hypothesis wherein he was sent back to his home planet or became unstuck in time or used one of his inventions to reverse the aging process and is still youthening to this day. So let's hear it. You have the conch.

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      ooops my bad 'evolution' sorry I sit corrected, don't want the conch not interested, thanx for your time adios . . .

    • profile image

      Mircea 5 years ago

      They failed to propose a new theory, you get a point! Hurraaaah!

      The one we have is circular! You lose that point! Hurraaaaah!

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