Saturday, September 11, 2010

Relativity Denial Returns

When I was much younger, I recall that refuting the Theory of Relativity was a favorite pastime of various crackpots and clowns. The Nazis even derided it by referred to it as foolish “jewish science” and obviously inferior to proper “aryan science”. (Einstein was a Jewish German if you didn’t know). In reality, most aspects of Relativity have been experimentally confirmed, some in extreme detail. The current GPS system even has to take into account the effect of relativity in order to achieve the accuracy it does.

In more recent years, the attention of the crackpots seems to have become focused on refuting evolution and more recently global climate change. Have people given up battling against the Theory of Relativity?

Thanks to a recent article on Talking Points Memo, I found out that the answer is a definite “no”. Conservapedia (the alternative to the reality based and thus liberally biased Wikipedia) has a detailed article on Relativity. It’s initial criticism states that “…unlike most of physics, the theories of relativity consist of complex mathematical equations relying on several hypotheses.”

It gets worse. It’s accompanying article Counterexamples to Relativity describes Relativity as “heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world”. It states that Relativity denies action at a distance, which clearly contradict the miracles that Jesus performed according to the Bible, so Relativity must be wrong.

The closing arguments in the original Conservapedia article include the following whopper of a paragraph:

Some liberal politicians have extrapolated the theory of relativity to metaphorically justify their own political agendas. For example, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama helped publish an article by liberal law professor Laurence Tribe to apply the relativistic concept of "curvature of space" to promote a broad legal right to abortion. As of June 2008, over 170 law review articles have cited this liberal application of the theory of relativity to legal arguments. Applications of the theory of relativity to change morality have also been common. Moreover, there is an unmistakable effort to censor or ostracize criticism of relativity.
Relativity denialism appears to be more alive and well than I thought, and the battle against science continues. By the way, the main contributor to the Conservapedia articles on Relativity was Andy Schlafly, son of the right wing activist Phylis Schlafly.