WND’s Commenters’ Take on Recent Astronomy News

Posted: November 25, 2014 in science
Tags: , , , , , ,

Sometimes, I’m a glutton for punishment. In two days, I’ll be a glutton, for it will be Turkey Day in the US, or, as I call it in my holidays-can-be-identified-by-their-colors terminology, the “Red, Yellow, and Brown” holiday. (Contrast that with red & green holiday, or blue & white, or pastels for Easter.)

Anyway, being gluttonous. Sometimes I open WND’s few-paragraph snippets of news stories that are about the latest science. Just to see what kind of hell the commenters will twist them into. Recently, we had “Supermassive Black Holes Aligned Across Universe,” and “Saturn’s Calming Nature Keeps Earth Friendly to Life.” (I admit I thought the latter was an astrology article.)

The first article can be explained by standard gravitational collapse and conservation of angular momentum: As massive structures formed early in the universe, gravity pulled them into a foam-like structure, with concentrations of mass and material in filaments and planes with relative voids between them. As you continue to collapse down, conservation of angular momentum is going to orient spinning structures in a similar way, and so galaxies having massive active black holes that spew radiation in sets (quasars) being oriented in similar directions isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

The second article is about the large gas giant planet, Saturn, acting early in the solar system’s history to help circularize Earth’s orbit. It’s based on a lot of different initial conditions and seeing what happens when the orbits are allowed to evolve through time. Basic, simple stuff; not sure if it was worth the press release, but this is just basic science that we do all the time to better understand how things may have been in the early solar system. Notice I used the word “may” there, for later.

As of the time I’m writing this, three days after they each came out, WND commenters have made 56 and 9 comments on each, respectively. Most are about the Judeo-Christian god. The top-rated comment on the first article is by “pebbie” who starts out quoting the article, and then responds:

“may be a hint that there is a missing ingredient in our current models of the cosmos”

God?

“kingdad” chimed in with some off-topic information:

Black Hole was Obama’s nickname at those Chytown Bath Houses.
Dark Matter is what fell out of Obama after those Bath House visits.
Black Hole is where Marion Barry should be buried.
Dark Matter is what should be shovelled in on top of him.
Black Holes spewing stuff have nothing on the Congressional Black Caucus and all they spew. Nor on Pres. Obola, Eric Holder, Val Jarrett and the Rest of the Dum-as-crap Party members. Black Holes are where they stuff their heads most of the Time.
Dark Matter is what is in-between their Ears and all around them in their head stuffed positions.

But, 56 posts is few enough that some reasonable comments can get through, like 4th-highest-rated comment, by “Pete Dreeber:” “None of this should surprise anyone. The universe is ruled by gravity, the weakest force but the one that works over the longest distances. If supermassive objects were not aligned with one another on a cosmic scale, I would take that as evidence of God’s hand at work.”

On the second article, it’s much the same. Top-rated comment is by “Sam Huston:” “So many things had to come together perfectly for humanity to evolve on our planet that it is impossible to consider that God’s guiding hand was not involved. “As I have said so many times, God doesn’t play dice with the world.” – Albert Einstein”

But, “luke” has the second-highest with something reasonable: “We actually owe Jupiter and Saturn a big debt, inasmuch as they have protected Earth and the inner planets from constant bombardment from asteroids, comets and dust, to a degree…”

But then, there’s “Bonnie,” who wrote:

Oh wow….

I really enjoy reading fiction from time to time. Although I prefer non-fiction.

Reading an article that is riddled with “coulds”, “maybes”,
etc just tells me they know no more than myself about the subject, but they DO
know how to write and make money.

For instance: “…earth’s orbit COULD have been widely elongated”…(they don’t know) Another one: Jupiter and Saturn “…COULD have shaped other planets orbits” (they don’t know)

She used a computer model to study these two planets to see how they ”MIGHT affect earth” (she doesn’t know). But she went into great detail on how a
scenario may play out, such as tilting Saturn’s orbit would affect earth’s orbit which would do all sorts of things to earth, but this model did not take into consider the other, lessor inner planets and their potential pull on the subject. Well then, that kinda negates the whole study, doesn’t it?

But, Roy Barns at the University of Washington came to save the day when he suggested that implications for life in the universe are UNCLEAR. Wow. A profound statement! Also, he suggested that what an elongation of an orbit means for life is UNCERTAIN.

So, in conclusion, I think I just wasted my time because there’s nothing to learn here and the entertainment is minimal.

Remember that I told you to pay attention to that word “may?” The issue is the different use of language between scientists and many other people, but especially between scientists and Biblical literalists. Scientists are never certain of their conclusions, pretty much by definition. Every conclusion is contingent upon further data. That’s why scientists who are intellectually honest and careful about their language will not use definitive language, like “is, are, certain,” etc.

Biblical literalists, however, will. That’s because the Bible must be literal and true, and it is unchanging. Therefore, things “are,” not “could be.”

This is a super-long way of saying that Bonnie doesn’t understand science, and is using the actual strength and entire method of science against it because she simply doesn’t understand it.

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