Examination of Sheldrakes claim the speed of light is not constant

#1
Some of you may be familiar with his claim, it's based upon seemingly odd measured values of it taken between 1930-45. Well, there's a reason for those discrepancies, which he seems to have been unaware of when he made those claims in one of his books. Read on:
The curious case of the fluctuating speed of light
by Brian Koberlein

Suppose you were an electrician. You've trained, apprenticed, passed all your certifications, and you've worked with electric wiring for years. You've wired houses and commercial buildings for years, and you feel pretty confident in your trade. One day you finish wiring a light switch, dust off your hands, and flip the switch to test it. But instead of seeing the light turn right on, you find that it flickers dimly. You're pretty sure you wired things correctly, so what do you do?
You'd probably go through the common causes first. Replace the bulb. Test the switch to see if it's faulty. Double check the wiring, etc. What you probably wouldn't do is presume the entire national electric grid is fundamentally flawed. One flickering bulb is not enough to justify rebuilding everything from scratch. This isn't being closed minded, but rather based upon a solid understanding of electrical circuitry. The electric grid system has been tested at multiple levels, and our understanding of how electricity works within that system is supported by a confluence of observational evidence. An experienced electrician knows this quite well. Perhaps the electrical grid is faulty and needs to be rebuilt, but an experienced electrician will explore easy solutions before moving to more difficult ones.

A similar thing occurs in science. Occasionally a "flickering light" of data shows up that seems strange. It doesn't fit the expectations of our theories. When this happens, the first thing scientists do is check the wiring. How was the data collected? Is the interpretation of the data appropriate? Has the result been tested in other ways? They do this because the alternative is to rebuild fundamental scientific theories from
scratch. Of course there are those that say scientists are being closed minded. That they are ignoring clear evidence in order to hold on to their flawed theories.

As an example, consider the curious case of the fluctuating speed of light. It is an example made famous (or infamous) in a TEDx talk by Rupert Sheldrake, of Morphic Resonance fame. If you look at the recommended values of speed of light during the 20th century, you'll notice a sharp drop in its value from 1930 to 1945. A drop that is much larger than the stated uncertainties. This, Sheldrake claims, is evidence that the speed of light is not constant.

While it looks like a pretty clear case of fluctuating speeds, it is much like the flickering light example. Something is clearly odd, but what is the cause? Sheldrake's solution is to attack the entire scientific infrastructure. Physics assumes light speed is a constant, when the official values clearly show that they are not. Physics is clearly ignoring the evidence while clinging to their dogma.
Maybe Sheldrake is right, and a fundamental tenet of physics is wrong, but before we jump to that conclusion let's look at some less radical solutions. The first thing to note that these are recommended values rather than actual measurements. The recommended values are taken from various experimental results rather than being actual observations. What we really need to do is look at actual measurements. When we do this what we find is that measurements of light are all over the map until about 1960. By that point we had developed laser interferometry, which is much, much more accurate than previous observations. You can see this in the graph by the lack of obvious error bars at that point on. The measurements stop at 1983, because by then the speed of light measurements were so precise and so constant that we defined the meter in terms of lightspeed and time instead of the other way around.

Before 1960 the values are all over the map. You can see the small dip from in the 1930 to 1945 range, but you can also see larger variations as you go further back in time. It's only natural to see larger uncertainties with older, less precise instruments, but why the big fluctuations in values? It turns out that these measurements all depend upon other physical measurements as well. As measurements of various physical constants lead to new accepted values, the measurements of light shift accordingly.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-curious-case-fluctuating.html#jCp
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#2
Hmmm, looking into this brought this post up from Thought Criminal:
The Speed of Light May Not Be Constant

The series of posts indexed below was, in part, motivated by Jerry Coyne's TED-scare over Rupert Sheldrake's heresy against the materialist orthodox view of science. Proving that he didn't listen to Sheldrake's TEDtalk or that he didn't listen to it carefully enough to know what Sheldrake said, what Coyne told his mob of fans:

Rupert Sheldrake speaks, argues that speed of light is dropping!

Actually, he didn't say that, he said there were fluctuations in the reported speed of light in the period before metrologists decided to make the "speed of light" a mere conventional definition instead of an actual phenomenon. Sheldrake noted that the reported speed of light, in the period when it was a report on an observed, natural phenomenon had dipped significantly during a couple of decades. So, it's pretty apparent that, in the way of enforcers of orthodoxy, Coyne misrepresented what Sheldrake said. He continued....
I will point out the last sentence, "Experimental results support this hypothesis". That would be some of that empirical evidence that the "Skeptic"/atheist ortodoxy is always demanding, ignoring it with all their might when it doesn't support their preferred model of reality. That would be as opposed to the mere definition setting that Carroll's uninformed snark against Rupert Sheldrake would be based in. If Coyne, Myers and Carroll had read what Sheldrake said in his book, Science Set Free, and his TEDtalk they'd have seen that what he called for was RESEARCH into the question to clear it up.

Why doesn't something like what Coyne and Carroll did ever come back onto them? That would be as opposed to the real damage that someone can have done to them when the "Skeptics" misrepresent what they've said. I'm not expecting a retraction from them.

Declaring yourself a "Skeptic" means never having to correct yourself, even when you've made an ass of yourself.

UPDATE: Here is an example of the great champions of empirical evidence and scientific methods that the "Skeptics" claim to be, but so seldom are, in action:

Dr. Daryl Bem: Well, I think the flurry of activity in the popular media will just sort of die down. When I look at Google News on it there are still four or five articles that pop up in which it just shows how successful Wiseman is at getting his point of view out. I have been replying to people who’ve asked me to reply to blogs and things of that sort.

Without accusing him of actually being dishonest, he has now published the three studies that he and French and Ritchie tried to get published in several journals that rejected it. I replied with a comment on that. If there’s anything dishonest there, it’s when you publish an article, even if it’s of your own three experiments—they did three experiments that failed trying to replicate one of my experiments—you always have a literature review section where you talk about all the previous research and known research on the topic before you present your own data.
What Wiseman never tells people is in Ritchie, Wiseman and French, the thing they published, their three failures, is that his online registry where he asked everyone to register, first of all he provided a deadline date. To be included in that you had to have completed it by December 1st. Well, that’s six months after my article appeared. I don’t know of any serious researcher working on their own stuff who is going to drop everything and immediately do a replication.
Alex Tsakiris: And why would there need to be that kind of deadline to begin with? I mean, it’s completely contrived to work only in support of his effort.
Dr. Daryl Bem: Unless he just underestimated or overestimated how many people were going to drop everything and try to replicate it. Anyway, he and Ritchie and French published these three studies. Well, they knew that there were three other studies that had been submitted and completed and two of the three showed statistically significant results replicating my results. But you don’t know that from reading his article. That borders on dishonesty.


If there is one habit of the scientists who do actual research into these questions that really annoys me, it is how generous they are to people who don't merely border on dishonesty but who are actively dishonest. Daryl Bem gets closer to the point when he says...
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#3
More:
Rupert Sheldrake’s Response to Banned TED Video: The Science Delusion

Accusation 2:
“He also argues that scientists have ignored variations in the measurements of natural constants, using as his primary example the dogmatic assumption that a constant must be constant and uses the speed of light as example.… Physicist Sean Carroll wrote a careful rebuttal of this point.”

TED’s Scientific Board refers to a Scientific American article that makes my point very clearly: “Physicists routinely assume that quantities such as the speed of light are constant.”

In my talk I said that the published values of the speed of light dropped by about 20 km/sec between 1928 and 1945. Carroll’s “careful rebuttal” consisted of a table copied from Wikipedia showing the speed of light at different dates, with a gap between 1926 and 1950, omitting the very period I referred to. His other reference (http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/lightandcolor/speedoflight.html) does indeed give two values for the speed of light in this period, in 1928 and 1932-35, and sure enough, they were 20 and 24km/sec lower than the previous value, and 14 and 18 km/sec lower than the value from 1947 onwards.

1926: 299,798
1928: 299,778
1932-5: 299,774
1947: 299,792

In my talk I suggest how a re-examination of existing data could resolve whether large continuing variations in the Universal Gravitational Constant, G, are merely errors, as usually assumed, or whether they show correlations between different labs that might have important scientific implications hitherto ignored. Jerry Coyne and TED’s Scientific Board regard this as an exercise in pseudoscience. I think their attitude reveals a remarkable lack of curiosity.
=-=-=

More on Sheldrake's works in this thread.
 
#4
I seem to remember that in that talk, his "attacking the scientific infrastructure" consists of asking people why it appears there are fluctuations in the records and physicists reportedly taking the accusation very hostile.
 
#6
I seem to remember that in that talk, his "attacking the scientific infrastructure" consists of asking people why it appears there are fluctuations in the records and physicists reportedly taking the accusation very hostile.
The hostility if there was any wasn't for the challenge Sheldrake raised. If they were hostile they would have been so for the similar reasons a geologist might be hostile to a creationist declaring the Earth is a few thousand years old.

The question you should be asking is this one. If Sheldrake is on to something why haven't the worlds physicists seized upon this "discrepancy" decades ago?

As I recall now, this idea of his is from the self authored book "The Science Delusion" My take on that book is similar to the authors *(Brian Koberlein) impression. That book is an attack on science, something I suspect arises from main stream science not seriously considering Sheldrakes personal reality narrative.


* He has the credentials https://briankoberlein.com/
 
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#7
lol. Sheldrake is far from the only one who has pointed this out. Quite a few heretics have. Of course the orthodoxy maintains that it's - well, heresy. lol. As for who those heretics are . .do your own seeking. Thankfully I'm well past the point where I feel the need to make a case. I feel certain those who are ready to know certain things will and those who aren't . . .you get the point. ;)
 
#9
My understanding is that the 'seemingly odd discrepancies' didn't end in the 40s. The definition of the speed of light was changed to accommodate or those very discrepancies that still occur.
 
#10
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#11
Sheldrake's credentials:

"At Clare College, Cambridge, Sheldrake studied biology and biochemistry, and after a year at Harvard studying philosophy and history of science, he returned to Cambridge where he gained a PhD in biochemistry for his work in plant development and plant hormones."

Interestingly enough it was his time at Harvard that led him to morphic resonance, as noted in Skeptical Investigations:

A half century after Russell’s investigation, the task of synthesizing Semon and Bergson fell to a young biologist-in-training at Cambridge University, a theoretical nonconformist who took a year off from his laboratory work to study philosophy at Harvard. Unlike Russell, whose reading of Bergson was colored by professional rivalry, Rupert Sheldrake was captivated by Bergson’s radical take on time and its implications for memory. By coupling Bergson’s time-as-duration with Semon’s mnemic homophony, Sheldrake obtained the basis for a scientific theory of mind, the very thing Russell had sought with his Analysis of Mind.
Over the course of the experiment, successive batches of control chicks became increasingly reluctant to peck at the yellow diodes, indicating that they were influenced by the cumulative experience of chicks that had pecked at the yellow diodes and then been injected with lithium chloride. After stalling for months, Rose reneged on his agreement to write up the results with Sheldrake for publication.35

Needless to say, a handful of anecdotes and mostly unrepeated experiments falls far short of proof. While interesting, Sheldrake’s theory remains largely untested. The important thing, however, is not that it hasn’t been properly and repeatedly put to the test but that the theory is indeed testable and falsifiable. The same cannot be said of the quaint notion that DNA is a kind of blueprint or program of the developing organism.
=-=-=

Lee Smolin on the changing Laws of Nature:


Lee Smolin musing about the Principle of Precedence, which is rather akin to Morphic Resonance:

One of Smolin’s most astonishing ideas is something he calls the “principle of precedence,” that repeated measurements of a particular phenomenon yield the same outcomes not because the phenomenon is subject to a law of nature but simply because the phenomenon has occurred in the past. “Such a principle,” Smolin writes, “would explain all the instances in which determinism by laws work but without forbidding new measurements to yield new outcomes, not predictable from knowledge of the past.” In Smolin’s view such unconstrained outcomes are necessary for “real” time.
Smolin's credentials:

'Born in New York City, Smolin attended Hampshire College and Harvard University. After postdocs at IAS Princeton, ITP Santa Barbara, and the University of Chicago he held faculty positions at Yale, Syracuse and Penn State University. A Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the Royal Society of Canada, Smolin was awarded the 2009 Klopsteg Memorial Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers and in 2008 was voted 21st on a list of the 100 most influential public intellectuals by Prospect and Foreign Policy Magazines. He is also adjunct professor of physics at the University of Waterloo and a member of the graduate faculty of the philosophy department at the University of Toronto.'
 
#12
I love it whenever skeptics defend the constants. Of course, as non-idiots know, the whole idea of there being constants in nature is a cultural assumption that comes out of religion. So the irony is, when Sheldrake is attacked for his proposal of constants perhaps being more like habits, the skeptic is actually being an adherent to monotheism.

Well now, in the course of time, in the evolution of Western thought. The ceramic image of the world ran into trouble. And changed into what I call the fully automatic image of the world. In other words, Western science was based on the idea that there are laws of nature, and it got that idea from Judaism and Christianity and Islam. That in other words, the potter, the maker of the world in the beginning of things laid down the laws, and the law of God, which is also the law of nature, is called the 'logos.' And in Christianity, the logos is the second person of the Trinity, incarnate as Jesus Christ, who thereby is the perfect exemplar of the divine law. So we have tended to think of all natural phenomena as responding to laws, as if, in other words, the laws of the world were like the rails on which a streetcar or a tram or a train runs, and these things exist in a certain way, and all events respond to these laws.

So here's this idea that there's kind of a plan, and everything responds and obeys that plan...

And so what they did was got rid of the lawmaker and kept the law.
 
#14
One of Smolin’s most astonishing ideas is something he calls the “principle of precedence,” that repeated measurements of a particular phenomenon yield the same outcomes not because the phenomenon is subject to a law of nature but simply because the phenomenon has occurred in the past. “Such a principle,” Smolin writes, “would explain all the instances in which determinism by laws work but without forbidding new measurements to yield new outcomes, not predictable from knowledge of the past.” In Smolin’s view such unconstrained outcomes are necessary for “real” time.
I don't see why some of you are using the argument from authority? Actually I do, but you can't win an argument through speculation even if it's an expert speculating, ( even the idea of relativity had to be experimentally tested). Speculation, which is what Smolin is doing, isn't how an idea is proven, proving an idea has to be done experimentally, there are no short cuts. As far as I know Smolin hasn't tested his speculation experimentally.

Bucky I don't see any sort of gotcha at 8 min. What do you think you see? Bucky you should have watched the second video.
Demise of the Kilogram (extra footage)
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#15
You misapplied the argument from authority. The point is that people are asking about whether the laws and constants can change as well as what preserves their consistency from moment to moment. (More on this here.)

And no one has said Sheldrake is 100% right about his conjecture - and that includes Sheldrake! The point is that asking whether the supposed constants change is a legitimate scientific question.
 
#16
You misapplied the argument from authority. The point is that people are asking about whether the laws and constants can change as well as what preserves their consistency from moment to moment. (More on this here.)

And no one has said Sheldrake is 100% right about his conjecture - and that includes Sheldrake! The point is that asking whether the supposed constants change is a legitimate scientific question.
You are going to make Steve001's head explode. Keep it simple.
 
#17
It is helpful to distinguish between the usefulness of expertise, arguments from authority and speculation from authority, as Steve pointed out.

It takes substantial background knowledge and experience to be familiar with the research which has been performed and what conclusions can reasonably be drawn from that research. An expert source is useful only to the extent to which they represent that information, that they are conveying ideas for which evidence has been established.

Individual speculation in the absence of evidence isn't useful in any case, regardless of the cleverness of the speculator or even their expertise. There isn't much point in providing links to non-experts trying to interpret experimental physics results (The Thought Criminal) or speculation by experts in the absence of evidence (Smolin). It's fine for people who are looking to bolster their beliefs. But not for discussion which is focused on what ideas may or may not be true.

Linda
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#18
Except Thought Criminal's point was how Coyne misrepresented what Sheldrake said. I don't think he was trying to present himself as an authority on physics?

The reason to bring up Smolin is to show that asking about variability in laws and constants is a legitimate question.

That said, I'd agree with you that even the presence of variability in supposed constants wouldn't show morphic resonance or any other belief is definitively true. (That that stay constant is itself an interesting metaphysical question though.)

So it's not clear what beliefs would be bolstered here?
 
#19
You misapplied the argument from authority. The point is that people are asking about whether the laws and constants can change as well as what preserves their consistency from moment to moment. (More on this here.)

And no one has said Sheldrake is 100% right about his conjecture - and that includes Sheldrake! The point is that asking whether the supposed constants change is a legitimate scientific question.
I think the problem is that this is a gross misrepresentation on Sheldrake's part, and is why he has received negative pushback. Yes, these are legitimate questions, which is why the process has been and continues to be about asking those questions. It isn't the case that the actual scientists made declarations of dogma a priori and are now working desperately to make the observations fit their dogma. Instead, they are conveying the results of their careful observations with respect to those questions. Sheldrake's pretense that he is offering some sort of novel approach to these ideas is probably irritating to those people actually working within the field.

Linda
 
#20
Except Thought Criminal's point was how Coyne misrepresented what Sheldrake said. I don't think he was trying to present himself as an authority on physics?
I agree, he was not presenting himself as an expert on physics. But in his attack on Coyne, he thought he was presenting legitimate a legitimate counter claim to what Coyne had said.

The reason to bring up Smolin is to show that asking about variability in laws and constants is a legitimate question.
Okay, but then that just demonstrates that Sheldrake is wrong about scientists treating this as "dogma", when you have mainstream physicists treating this as a question.

Linda
 
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