Last month I responded to Sarah Scoles' Twitter request for people who knew or were interested about the Electric Universe theory. She sent me a few questions which I responded via e-mail, thanked me for my contribution and told me she would send me a link to the article once it was posted; which she didn't.
Fast forward to last night --after I had completely forgotten about the matter-- when Kat was kind enough to send me a bunch of article links for usage on the news briefs, and among those was Sarah's article, which turned out to be way too skeptic-sided and negative for my taste. In it, she writes:
“I believe history has showed us again and again that many novel ideas which were initially met with skepticism or angry rejection eventually gain more adherents and momentum until they end up as part of the orthodox corpus of scientific knowledge,” said Miguel, who encountered EU in his work as a contributor to the website The Daily Grail, which explores “the fringes of science and history.”
And, to some extent, he’s right. The idea that Earth goes around the Sun, and not the other way around, was once considered heretical. Before revolutionary ideas become revolutionary, they simply sound fringe.
But the problem is that most fringe ideas don’t turn out to be revolutionary. They just turn out to be wrong. And equating pseudoscience, or even just bad science, with solid science isn’t just unorthodox. It can be dangerous.
Climate change denial slows the cleanup of the planet. Anti-vaccination movements give kids measles. GMO hysteria makes it harder for starving kids to get nutrient-rich rice. The Electric Universe theory doesn’t seem to be hurting anyone at the moment, but wouldn’t it be better for the Thunderbolts to expend their energy understanding good science? Or at least be as suspicious of EU as they are of “the astronomy establishment.”
Whoa. So from having an interest in something like the EU, you're a defacto Antivaxxer and Climate Change denialist? How did that happen??
Thing is, on my answers I made sure to indicate to Sarah that I do not 'believe' in the EU theory, the same way I don't 'believe' in UFOs, PSI abilities, paranormal phenomena or all the other things we discuss at the Grail. Why? Simply because I don't *like* to use the word belief when discussing such things. I'm trying as best I can to subscribe to RAW's Maybe logic.
So, since I can't comment on the Motherboard's article because they don't happen to have a comment section --guys, do you even Internet??-- here it is the original transcript of the questions Sarah asked me, and the answers I provided:
1. When did you first encounter Electric Universe Theory?
A: I'm a regular contributor on the news website The Daily Grail (http://www.dailygrail.com/) , which --as our motto says-- deals with "exploring the fringes of science and history," adding a very apropos "Caveat Lector" as a warning to our readers.
I joined TDG in 2007, so I guess I first encountered the EU theory not long after that. One of our former news administrators, Kat, used to link posts from the thunderbolts.info website quite regularly. This is how I got introduced to this idea.
Mind you, I've never read the book Thunderbolts of the Gods, nor have I watched the 2005 documentary of the same name
2. What did you initially find interesting about it that made you want to check it out?
A: As a 'Grailer' (member of The Daily Grail) I'm personally interested in all sorts of alternative theories and topics that tend to be shunned by 'mainstream Science', like for example the UFO phenomenon and the non-locality of consciousness. I realize that in some respects that would equate me in the eyes of many people as being no different from Creationists, Flat-Earth supporters or even Holocaust deniers --all of which I'm adamantly against, may I add-- but I believe History has showed us again and again that many novel ideas which were initially met with skepticism or angry rejection, eventually gain more adherents and 'momentum' until they end up as part of the orthodox corpus of scientific knowledge.
Currently I feel there aspects of our theories re. the origin of the Universe which seem to be conflictive; take for example the concepts of dark matter and dark energy, which were proposed to solve the problem of the lack of visible matter in the observable Universe, as well as its accelerated rate of inflation. These solutions look rather like 'patches' meant to keep together the prevalent cosmological theories in concordance with scientific observation.
It seems that people are attracted to the EU theory because it offers a more 'elegant' solution to what astronomers are detecting with their instruments.
3. Are you active in any of the online communities (like the Thunderbolts)? If so, have you formed friendships or benefited from forum discussions (or anything else kind of social)?
A: No, I'm not an active member in that particular community.
4. As you learned more about the Electric Universe, what aspects of it appealed to you most?
A: Like I stated earlier, I'm not particularly knowledgeable in the EU theory, and I personally don't think they will end up being right in EVERYTHING they posit. However, there are a few things which I find rather interesting, like the idea that the current orography on the surface of Mars may be the result of formidable electric 'arcs' instead of less dramatic geological processes. I'm also interested in how they interpret ancient legends as the result of previous civilizations observing astronomical displays caused by these ginormous electric discharges.
5. Why do you prefer EU to traditional modern physics?
A: Again, I'm not rejecting traditional modern physics in favor of the EU. One thing I've learned in my years on The Daily Grail is to avoid the polar opposites of an argument, and embrace the 'excluded middle' ;)
I find some elements of the EU interesting, believe they have a point in affirming astronomers and cosmologists should consider the effects of electric forces when creating their computer models, instead of just nuclear reactions and gravity, and I want to see what happens with the EU theory as the years go by. Will it forever remain labeled as a 'pseudoscience' or will it gain more support from the mainstream? We shall see :)
I feel Sarah was too focused on painting the 'EU believers' with too-broad of a brush, to bother with my nuanced adherence to the 'excluded middle'. Those general characterizations is why younger generations are shunning away from mainstream media, but sadly even the more popular websites seem not to be immune to such vices. Oh well...