Exposing PseudoAstronomy

March 22, 2010

Conservapedia Calls Black Holes and Dark Matter “Liberal Pseudoscience”


Introduction

I’ve yet to really do any post that has anything to do with politics, as that’s usually not relevant to astronomy (one would hope …). Alas, I have found a case where it is: The bastion of knowledge, Conservapedia.

What’s Conservapedia?

For those few of you who may not know, Conservapedia is a reaction to what was and is perceived by some to be a “liberal bias” in the omnipresent Wikipedia. For more information on that, you can view Conservapedia’s entry on “Bias in Wikipedia”. Among issues it cites are: “Wikipedia’s article on engineering features a photo of … an offshore wind turbine, which is an inefficient liberal boondoggle and certainly not a representative example of engineering. None even exist off the shores of the United States because they are not competitive.”

That may give you an idea of what Conservapedia is about. Additionally, almost all of their “science” articles contain large amounts of space devoted to the Creationist perspective, and they recently began a project to re-write the Bible in order to remove what they see as liberal biases in it. If you really need more examples, take a look at their entries on evolution, abortion, homosexuality, and Barack Obama. I choose not to hot-link these on purpose.

“Liberal Pseudoscience”

It may not be surprising to readers of this blog, but some fundamentalist, literal-Bible believers have some issues with the conclusions of modern science. That’s not the point of this post — I’ve been told I ramble somewhat, so let’s get straight to the point: Conservapedia lists Dark Matter and Black Holes as “Liberal Pseudoscience.” For some reason, it lists these along side “Moral Relativism” and “Wormholes” in its “Liberal Pseudoscience” category under the Theory of Relativity. How Moral Relativism fits in there is beyond me … same with wormholes, for that matter.

Final Thoughts

That’s really the point of this non-rambling post – point this out, and just kinda shake my head. First, I have no idea what black holes or dark matter ever did to conservatives. Or young-Earth creationists, for that matter. The existence of black holes and dark matter are completely compatible with what creationists have come up with in their “models” of a <10,000-year-old universe, unless they're just offended by the joke that, "Black holes are where God divided by zero."

I've been considering doing a post on the evidence for dark matter, so I guess I'll ask here — is anyone interested in a post on the evidence for the existence of black holes? Let me know in the Comments.

15 Comments »

  1. No. Evidence for black holes is just the absence of any emissions including light. Go for dark matter.

    Comment by Mart — March 22, 2010 @ 5:22 am | Reply

  2. Yes please, I for one would love to see a survey of the evidence for black holes as well as for dark matter. I often find myself in the position of needing to defend their existence to EU advocates, and so I’m always looking for more evidence to strengthen the position.

    Comment by Bryn Rhodes — March 22, 2010 @ 7:37 am | Reply

  3. However, neither Schwarzschild himself nor Albert Einstein, who developed the theory of relativity, believed that black holes actually existed[3]. Einstein even tried to re-work general relativity to render these singularities impossible.

    Really? Well, thank goodness they foot noted that claim.

    The footnote leads us to:

    http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/resources/explorations/blackholes/lesson/whatisit/history.html

    Which just states:

    Albert Einstein: Published the Theory of General Relativity, which predicted spacetime curvature.

    Karl Schwarzchild: Used Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity to define a black hole. Defined gravitational radius of black holes, later called the Schwarzchild radius.

    And I like this lead:

    As with the related theoretical concept of a “wormhole”,[1] it is impossible to prove that no black hole exists anywhere, and thus they fail the falsifiability requirement of science.

    Stuart, what would falsify your belief in black holes?

    Comment by karl — March 22, 2010 @ 11:11 am | Reply

    • If another theory came along that explained the observations just as well I would consider it, and then move to it if it explains them better. But so far black holes are the only objects that account for some observations, and they’re predicted by theory. Guess I’ll go into this in a subsequent post, though I may have a friend do a “guest post” since he actually studied black holes.

      Comment by astrostu206265 — March 22, 2010 @ 11:26 am | Reply

    • Question. why are Galaxys flat .Like a coin .

      Comment by Joel Price — April 13, 2010 @ 6:56 pm | Reply

  4. Interesting observation. I wish you had a Facebook or a Digg widget so I could share it…

    Comment by NMIlluminati — March 22, 2010 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

    • Thanks. Unfortunately, WordPress does not offer any automatic way to add a Digg, StumbleUpon, del.ic.io.us, Facebook, etc. tag to every entry. I’d have to manually go through, register with all, add each post manually, and then insert the links. And then, at least in my experience, anyone who wants to click on them has to be registered with that service to actually do so. I’m not super-lazy, but that seems like a lot of work for something that I don’t think a lot of people would use.

      Comment by astrostu206265 — March 22, 2010 @ 2:52 pm | Reply

  5. Are black holes spherical or round (disc). If they are spherical then why are they black? If they are round (and therefore black in the center) why are they round?

    Comment by Mart — March 23, 2010 @ 6:46 am | Reply

    • Round. Or at least round-ish. I *think* that if they’re rotating they’re stretched a bit at the equator.

      Oh, and they’re black because they aren’t green.

      Comment by Woof — March 29, 2010 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

      • Uh… round in this case meaning spherical.

        D’OH!

        Comment by Woof — March 29, 2010 @ 10:59 pm

  6. Bryn Rhodes,

    Take a look at the observations done on the orbits of stars at the center of the universe.

    http://www.mpe.mpg.de/ir/GC/index.php
    http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~ghezgroup/gc/?

    Comment by ND — March 23, 2010 @ 1:57 pm | Reply

  7. No, I don’t think black holes need any more proof. (They have freakin’ gamma rays spewing from them)

    I’d be more interested in a review the thrashing of the book mentioned in the Dark Matter article – “Starlight, Time and the New Physics” by John Hartnett.

    Comment by Chris — March 23, 2010 @ 2:18 pm | Reply

  8. […] week, I wrote an article about how Conservapedia calls “black holes” and “dark matter” “liberal pseudosci… in a very “huh?” moment. It still is confusing to me why they would waste mental energy […]

    Pingback by When Encyclopedias Are Bad: A Closer Look at Conservapedia – “Mars” « Exposing PseudoAstronomy — March 28, 2010 @ 9:07 pm | Reply

  9. “Take a look at the observations done on the orbits of stars at the center of the universe.”

    Good lord, did I say “center of the universe”?!?!?!?!
    /me dons paper bag over head.
    I meant “center of our galaxy”. *sigh*.

    Comment by ND — March 29, 2010 @ 10:44 am | Reply

  10. Lately i’ve been wondering why the religionists keep trying to come up with “science” to refute real science. Isn’t this a blasphemy? Aren’t they supposed to accept their scriptures on faith and not ask questions? Let’s put the ball in their court and demand to know why they aren’t happy to just say “God waved his magic wand and there it was.”

    Comment by S.P. Callahan — April 25, 2010 @ 12:58 pm | Reply


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