Modern Astrophysics/Cosmology is afflicted with a terrible malady, an illness so horrible it threatens to subsume and corrupt all the accomplishments of the last few centuries. This sickness is called Confirmationism, and its symptoms include summary dismissal of unfavorable experiments, the ‘blackballing’ of dissenting scientists, and the propensity to attack ad hominem any person who proposes a rival idea. This is that state of Cosmology under the tyranny of the Big Bang Theory.
Confirmationism is a serious sickness for any science. It happens when practitioners of the afflicted discipline forget that science, in principle, is never about being “right”, it is about being “more correct” than those who came before. It is based on the idea that no matter how much humanity knows, there is always something more, something beyond, which we do not know. It happens when scientists assume that they know all there is to know, and there can be no more. It happens when scientists forget the lessons of the past, and ignore valuable information of the present, in order to steer the future into saying ‘this guy was right’.
Alan Guth, creator of Inflationary Theory, the greatest ad-hoc ‘fix’ the Big Bang has ever known (Inflation is an untestable postulate with unsound premises that exists solely to remedy a mathematical impossibility in the Big Bang, yet requires the suspension and/or violation of nearly every law of physics to work – it is the poster-child for Confirmationism. It says ‘I am right, no matter how wrong I am’.), said it best in the History Channel’s The Universe television series:
“Anybody who doesn’t accept it [the Big Bang Theory] is regarded by most of the people in the community [of cosmologists] as, essentially, a crackpot.”
He could have just as easily been talking about Ptolemy’s Geocentric model of the Solar System, had he lived a few hundred years before. His contribution, after all, added a whole new set of epicycles to the Big Bang. Of course, Guth has a vested interest in seeing the Big Bang remain the dominant cosmological model – his entire career is staked to its viability. Still, bias aside (and the irony of Guth calling anyone a ‘crackpot’), it seems that Guth, like most of the today’s cosmologists, has forgotten that science isn’t about winning battles of ideas, it is about finding facts. How can knowledge be expanded when our advancement is held stagnant, lest some new discovery unseat our cherished (if incorrect) relic of a cosmological model?
How can we advance, how can we learn, when dissent and alternative ideas are ignored, regardless of merit, as ‘crackpot theories’? How can we grow when ideas are not discussed, but dictated? How can science do its job when questioning is forbidden, ‘predictions’ are made from data already known, and no test is carried out without a conclusion already predetermined?
Cosmology has fallen from the ranks of the sciences, and is now, really, nothing more than a religion. It is driven by faith, not fact. Faith in the inherent correctness of the Big Bang, irregardless of all evidence to the contrary. Such dissent only comes from the ‘crackpots’, after all – which is to say, in religion-speak, heretics. Like Galileo. Like Copernicus. Like Einstein. History has clearly shown that the prevailing idea is always correct in the face of credible opposition, has it not?
Scripture has replaced science, and deacons now preach where professors, champions of learning, once taught. Cosmology now is in the same sorry state it was when Ptolemy’s system held sway. Cosmology was one of the last disciplines to come out of the dark ages, and, it seems, one of the first to try to return.
Unless this ailment of Confirmationism, ‘proving’ an idea correct, no matter how flawed it may be, is cured, the prognosis for Cosmology is a grim one indeed. Left to run its course, Confirmationism can cause severe mental retardation of a species, infect other fields, and, ultimately, result in death for the discipline so afflicted.
There is only one cure: science. Real science, where a question is asked, a hypothesis is formulated and tested, and a conclusion is drawn from the results. NOT the reverse, as seen in the dogmatic garbage that passes for science today.