Disputing Anomalies

		      <p>Thinking more about Wikipedia, and the kind of content disputes that 
    seem to demarcate in terms of specialist/expert vs non-specialist/layman, 
    led me to wonder whether there was more to it than that.</p>
  <p>To me, one of the most fascinating things about the evolution of Wikipedia 
    has been the emergence of an interface that reflects disputes and ruptures 
    within existing knowledge. It would be all too easy to dismiss these effects 
    as the ineviatable migration of usenet trolls and mailing list malcontents. 
    But maybe there's another phenomenon in effect?</p>
  <p><img src="img/disputing-anomalies.gif" width="396" height="160" alt="Wikipedia content dispute"></p>
  <p>Wikipedia editing is based on a notion of the 'ideal point of view', 
    where the construction of an article should bring no information with 
    it from which to reconstruct the writer's point of view. This view runs 
    screaming into oblivion when faced with an entry like <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loop_quantum_gravity">Loop Quantum Gravity</a>.</p>
  <p>This isn't a problem with experts vs generalists, it's a problem with 
    points of view clashing with facts. Or what fact is and isn't allowed 
    to be. The essence of the problem is whether or not Loop Quantum Gravity 
    can be declared a competitor to String Theory in terms of a unification 
    of relativity and quantum gravity. String Theorists believe that there 
    are no competing theories to String Theory. Therefore, mu. In this situation, 
    it's impossible for objections and explanations to aspire to standards 
    of neutrality - what is being disputed is the way basic language itself 
    can and should be used. The most important thing that's missing in all this is a <a href="http://insti.physics.sunysb.edu/~siegel/quack.html">sense of humour</a>. But it goes much further than that...</p>
  <p>If you consider the halmark of a reliable scientific claim to be based 
    on falsifiability, it seems the present obsession of particle 
    physics is oddly inverted: The mass of fundamental particles can only 
    be explained with recourse to a virtual object known as the <a href="http://www.exploratorium.edu/origins/cern/ideas/higgs.html">Higgs 
    Boson</a>. It was invented to explain the masses of the fundamental particles. 
    Critics of modern physics will point to the fact that the Higgs Boson 
    has not been observably verified. In answer to this, the basic position 
    of experimental particle physics is "not yet". Science proceeds, ad infinitum.</p>
  <p>So while billions of dollars continue to be pumped into the hunt for 
    the eponymous Higgs, there are still <a href="http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/astro-ph/pdf/0203/0203466.pdf">significant</a> 
    <a href="http://physicsweb.org/articles/world/17/9/3/1#pwpia1_09-04">outstanding 
    anomalies</a> relating to gravity that have originated from physical observations, 
    yet are incompatible with the predictive structure of currently accepted 
    theories. But the scientists engaged in the completion of the grandiose 
    architectural symphony can simply refuse to listen...</p>			

This Note

By Mark Rickerby on .



Notebook / Archive

Archived journal entries from 2004-2007 when I was living in Wellington. May contain out of date information, opinions that I no longer agree with, and badly edited nonsense.