Archive for December, 2010
When I first heard about Dr. Tom Bridgman’s 48-page onslaught against me and the material I present in my book, The Electric Sky (TES), I thought I would simply ignore him. But friends I admire and trust have repeatedly implored me to take up my pen so that the casual reader of his criticisms will not assume I accept them. These following paragraphs are not a comprehensive dissection of each and every allegation he made. They are simply my reaction to what stood out as being most outrageously inaccurate, and uninformed.
Bridgman’s ‘critique’ can be found here:
The following is my response to Bridgman (TB) roughly in the order in which he states his objections.
[On the top of his page 2] TB implies that I have proposed a “radically different model of pulsars”. The notion that pulsar repetition rates are most probably due to an electrical oscillation rather than light-house-like massive stars rotating at 60,000 rpm or more is due, not to me, but to other investigators such as Healy & Peratt (see:
Those authors begin their (peer reviewed) paper with a review of the history of the discovery of pulsars and the classical theoretical descriptions of their behavior. They (H&P) performed a plasma supported transmission line experiment that duplicated some 17 detailed properties of those observed emissions. I have read their paper, discussed this with Peratt personally, and find much merit in what they say. Postulating this electrical mechanism as an explanation for observed pulsar emissions is far less of a stretch of one’s sense of reality than proposing that an incredibly massive star rotates with the speed of a dentist’s drill. But H&P’s proposed model is, regrettably, not mine to take credit for.
MISREPRESENTATIONS OF WHAT I SAY
On his page 4 Bridgman states: “Dr. Scott states that astronomers assume that the physical laws in the distant cosmos are different from those known on Earth (page 7).” What I did say in part was this:
The hypotheses of these plasma scientists on the subjects of solar, stellar, and galactic behavior are careful extrapolations of their demonstrated experimental results and physical principles. They do not involve invisible matter or unseen forces or “new science” – claims that the laws of physics must be different out there in deep space (where we cannot falsify them) from what they are here on Earth.
I have indeed heard arguments that: “Just because something is falsified here on Earth doesn’t mean it can’t happen out in space.” For example see the section of this rebuttal on the impossibility of neutron stars (below). His (TB’s) claim that matter made up solely of neutrons can and does exist out in space despite the fact it cannot here on Earth is a case in point. He also mentions “There are some searches for Dark Matter and Dark energy candidates that are being conducted in Earth laboratories.” I hope I live long enough to see positive results of these searches announced. I doubt I will.
IT LOOKS LIKE ‘X’ SO IT MUST BE ‘X’
TB condemns my pointing out that a similarity in appearance of certain objects might indicate they have a common cause, e.g., the Grand Canyon and Lichtenberg patterns formed in grass by lightning strokes. He then goes on to say that Mark Twain “noted how the [Mississippi] river course would change, with no reports of giant electric arcs.”
There are many morphological characteristics of the Grand Canyon that are enigmatic for ‘standard’ geologists. Different from the Mississippi (and similar to Lichtenberg patterns), it has no delta, it is narrow at both ends, and its tributaries are as deep at their beginning points as they are when they join the main stream; many such tributaries join at right angles to the central valley. And, of course, it is a mile deep. Also, there is the old saying: “If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…….”
MORE LIKE CREATIONISM THAN I EXPECTED
[p. 44] TB seems to take offense at the degree to which I talk about plasma when it is in the dark current mode of operation (Earth’s ionosphere for example, or the outer interplanetary plasma, etc.). He states, “…much of Scott’s model hides connections behind ‘invisible’ dark currents. These ‘Dark Currents’ seem to fulfill in Scott’s ‘theology’ the role of God in creationist claims as a form of invisible agent.”
I submit this comment, coming from a staunch supporter of Fairie Dust [Fabricated Ad hoc Inventions Repeatedly Invoked in Efforts to Defend Untenable Scientific Theories] entities such as Black Holes, Dark Energy, Dark Matter, and Neutron Stars, is the epitome of hypocrisy. In his zeal to play Citizen Robespierre to anything that challenges his belief structure, he seems to see the Ghost of Creationism lurking everywhere – even when it is clearly not.
Does he feel no unease that it was Georges Lemaître, a Roman Catholic priest, who was one of the inventors of his beloved Big Bang Myth? It is well known that one of the early general appeals of the BB was that it bridged the gap between ‘science’ and ‘faith’. When the big bang theory was first heralded, Pope Pius XII wrote, “Scientists are beginning to find the finger of God in the creation of the universe.”
On p 28 of TES I said:
Alfvén commented on Lemaître’s proposal: “The appeal of the Big Bang has been more ideological than scientific. When men think about the universe, there is always a conflict between the mythical approach and the empirical scientific approach. In myth, one tries to deduce how the gods must have created the world – what perfect principles must have been used.”
It is not the purpose of this book to denigrate the Almighty. We simply contend that we do not need a spiritual argument to explain the sky. It’s not that supernatural. The real cosmos is not invisible, immeasurable, or unknowable. We simply must use our eyes, our brains, and the work product of the last hundred years of serious electrical science. If we do so, we shall see through the mystifying fog.
After reading those paragraphs, TB’s describing my work, as being a ‘theology’, is a low-blow. Gratuitous comments such as this are an indication that his urge to attack me has overcome his reason. It is modern astrophysics that demands its followers ‘believe’ in unseen, immeasurable entities such as WIMPS, MACHOs, Dark Matter, and Inflatons as a matter of ‘faith’ without proof. The reification of abstractions such as point-masses, magnetic field lines, and mathematical singularities into real entities that can have an effect on matter in real space are classic theological transmogrifications – miracles. If TB wants to see a supporter of this species of Creationism, he can simply look in a mirror.
Astrophysics pseudo-skeptics like Bridgman have certain recognizable characteristics in common.
- They speak down to their audience using ‘arguments from authority’.
- They refuse to consider any electrical causation for anything in space.
- When confronted with =in your face evidence’ such as the image of a high redshifted QSO in front of a more distant, low redshifted galaxy, they resort to arguments (usually involving math or statistics) to disprove – or at least make you doubt – what your eyes are telling you. The old Groucho Marx line comes to mind: “Who you gonna believe? Me? Or your lying eyes?”
- They put forward their assumptions as if they were universal truths. The fact that they have been voted upon and accepted by a self-involved, insular group of ‘experts’ does not make them true. Winning a hand vote is not the same thing as scientific validation.
- It is clear that they have never been exposed to the basic properties of plasma nor the fundamental inter-relationships between magnetic fields and electric currents. But they feel free to lecture those who have.
- If the pseudo-skeptic has a monetary interest (such as maintaining a funding stream or a salary) his criticisms often become vituperative.
- They conveniently ignore all the confirmed predictions. (ndM)
Because I see no willingness on Bridgman’s part to discuss things calmly, with mutual respect, he remains, in my view, simply one more pseudo-skeptic who claims to know-it-all – not an open minded scientist.
As noted above, these are just a few excerpts from the rebuttal which covers the following topics:
MISREPRESENTATIONS OF WHAT I SAY
THE (NON)USEFUL PRODUCTS OF ASTROPHYSICS
THE IMPORTANCE OF IN SITU MEASUREMENTS
TRUSTING MATHEMATICAL MODELS
IT LOOKS LIKE ‘X’ SO IT MUST BE ‘X’
AD HOMINEM ATTACKS
GENERAL RELATIVITY DOES INCLUDE ELECTROMAGNETISM
NAKED SINGULARITIES ARE NOT BLACK HOLES
OUTFLOWS FROM ACCRETING BLACK HOLES ARE NOT HAWKING RADIATION
GRAVITY VS ELECTRICITY
SOLAR AND NUCLEAR ENERGY ERRORS
NUCLEAR REACTIONS IN SOLAR FLARES
POWERING THE SUN FROM THE OUTSIDE
SUN’S MAGNETIC FIELD
CURRENTS IN SPACE
SOLAR ELECTRON VELOCITIES
MISCELLANEOUS SOLAR SILLINESS
THE WMAP MAP
MAGNETIC FIELDS EASIER TO MEASURE
OPEN MAGNETIC FIELD LINES
LACK OF MATHEMATICS
LUMPED CIRCUIT ELEMENTS
WHERE DOES THE ENERGY COME FROM?
MORE LIKE CREATIONISM THAN I EXPECTED
BINARY POWERED PULSARS
A full copy of Dr. Scott’s rebuttal in pdf format can be obtained here
(after increasing almost eight times in price since we first screamed to buy it in 2003) Still fine, thank you!
Pace those who have made such a big deal out of Chairman Bernanke’s November 19th speech, but it is hard to find anything therein other than the usual rehearsal of super-aggregative error and unabashed American blame-shifting.
To our mind, it was hardly news that Blackhawk Ben felt that the world monetary system contained a ‘structural flaw’ – nor, indeed, that he completely misidentified its essence. It may be too uncomfortable a truth for him to face, but this is a problem which does not consist solely of the malign outcomes of surplus countries trying to peg their exchange rates, per se, so much as of the fact that there is no effective constraint on the OTHER side of the transaction – at least, not for large economies in general and for the provider of the world’s reserve medium, the United States, in particular.
The existence of such a wilfully ‘loosened joint’ between the supply of and demand for goods and services should be contrasted with the system which prevailed before the Great War (one is tempted to say, for the greater part of human history) under which an equilibrating pressure was at least theoretically delivered by the need to settle net trade imbalances between two regions with a genuinely scarce, OUTSIDE money such as gold or silver (whether in the form of specie or bullion) and not by means of the near-costlessly replicated IOUs of its biggest spendthrift.
As the redoubtable Jacques Rueff was always at pains to point out, the present regime, whereby the world’s largest excess consumer can painlessly force an increased issue of its liabilities onto its hapless counterparties, is a ‘childish game of marbles’ (i.e., one in which the ‘winners’ must always surrender their gains to the ‘loser’ at the end of each round); one in which the most persistent and largest DEFICIT offender faces few immediate consequences of an habitual irresponsibility which can, on occasion, degenerate into outright rogue behaviour (‘It’s our currency, but your problem!’).
Indeed, the unbridled enjoyment of just this facility – of this self-assumed prodigal’s charter – is something which has indisputably tended to discourage non-inflationary investment in the very industrial capacity needed to provide that extra quantum of valuable goods and services which would either have competed more efficiently with that same nation’s imports or paid for more of its exports – a point all too conveniently overlooked by the Fed and its serried ranks of apologists.
While we should be careful lest we impose our preferences on those of others, trade – whether within or across borders – tends to deliver greater and more lasting mutual gains when each party freely exchanges elements of its produced wealth. When one of those involved is habitually persuaded – or coerced – into conducting such dealings on tick with a truculent profligate who is bound ultimately to renege on what he owes – who, indeed, feels he is doing his supplier a favour by relieving him of his goods in the first instance – it is more than a little hypocritical to berate the seller-creditor, not the buyer-debtor, when things do eventually go wrong.
For Bernanke to criticize the surplus nations is thus nothing new at all – it is, au contraire, perfectly consistent with the long-held US policy of whining at its trading partners whenever they fail to mimic, in sufficient degree, its own chronic inflationism. It is an act of special pleading on a par with the Chairman’s ludicrous notion of a ‘global saving glut’ and, moreover, it represents a full and sycophantic toeing of the Administration’s line that those who are most successful at meeting global customer demand (not infrequently under the ownership of American shareholders and subject to the guidance of American management expertise, it should further be noted) should, on that account, be penalised for those same customers’ inability or unwillingness to offer anything other than irredeemable promises of future compensation in exchange for the wares they so eagerly snap up..
Notable, too, in the arguments of a man who shares the implicit, Keynesian/Monetarist delusion that consumption is a source of wealth – rather than comprising the act of its final extermination – is the notion that adjustments must always incorporate increased spending on such an eradication of worth, even if this comes at the added cost of providing governmental subsidies to encourage it (in the form of ensuring greater availability of just that same ‘retail credit’ whose lavish extension helped trigger the global crisis, in combination with the strangling coils of a strengthened ‘social safety net’ – i.e., with the imposition of the same kind of Ponzi scheme welfare state whose spiralling costs and perverse incentives are presently throttling the West’s recovery and the threat of whose most minuscule reduction has already provoked open violence on its streets).
Mr. Bernanke should also ask himself what would happen to American standards of living were the Chinese, the Arabs, the Germans and the rest to take him at his word. If this meant they were henceforth to use their surplus dollars directly for consumption, rather than channelling them toward the kind of unthinking vendor finance which has helped suppress world prices for so long, with money already so easy, his country would face an inflationary wave which its hollowed out industries could not easily expand to counter. If America is being ‘impoverished’ under present policies it is because their settings encourage it to consume too much of its precious capital. Given this premise, we cannot expect that same capital to materialize instantly and to begin pouring out a plethora of cheap goods the moment the external tap is turned off. Nor is it certain – as the argument implicitly assumes – that (outside the farm belt, at least) the extra spending would find its way into US cash registers instead of being shared out between the great producing nations themselves in a kind of BMW-for-oil-for-plasma-TV triangular trade.
Conversely – though far less conceivable in practice – each of these great world suppliers could start to eat a much greater share of their own cooking. To see what this implies, let us push it to an extreme and envisage it taking the form of a total export ban. Given the recent brouhaha over a handful of Rare Earths, and the more significant dislocations caused when certain governments impose their rice or sugar embargos, can you imagine the howls of pain which would emerge if this denial of custom extended to some goodly part of the $1.8 trillion the US buys abroad each year?
A further implication is that, given the near universal prejudice the mainstream holds against ‘deflation’ – i.e., falling prices – even when this reflects genuine market signals regarding the beneficial attainment of increased prosperity through higher material productivity – the idea of ‘burden sharing’ is rendered even more suspect since it beggars belief to suppose that deficit countries would ever allow reserve-driven credit contraction to take place. Indeed, with the exception of his rehearsal of the empty formula that US fiscal (but never its monetary) policy may need to be trimmed back (though not just yet, of course), Bernanke devotes most of his time arguing that, as has been the case at least since WWII, surplus countries can do nothing other than to swallow whatever reserve-driven degree of credit inflation the US forces down their gullets, regardless of the havoc this unleashes upon the general populace (of whom only some fuzzy minority will be counted among the evil exporters being targeted, in any case).
Quite how this asymmetrical transmission of a faulty macro-policy of free-riding is supposed to speed the proportionate adjustment of relative prices – and hence the optimal allocation of capital – around the world is not at all clear.
Even more tellingly, the introduction of a truly improved system would imply the acceptance of a semi-automatic mechanism wherein the central bank (to the extent one is actually still needed) would exist simply to facilitate cross-border settlements and – in the case that the local currency is not fully convertible (and coinable!) on demand by its users into some scarce, external monetary asset – to help regulate the value of the former so as to maintain its relevant, contractual parity. This clearly requires that all ideas of ‘dual mandates’ regarding the level of employment – as well as all the other hubristic, Gosplan-style programmes and corporatist feather-bedding presently countenanced – would have to be abandoned. Such a drastic diminution of function and importance is not something the self-perpetuating bureaucracy of the Fed – not to mention the equally otiose apparatchiks at the US Treasury, the IMF, the WTO, and all the other supranational, alphabet soup of busybodies – would at all relish, one presumes.
It must also be emphasised that the necessary corollary to this overthrow of the present pernicious monetary apparatus is that if we are then to avoid the triggering of a self-aggravating collapse whenever any resulting restriction does begin to bite, the maximum degree of domestic price flexibility must be induced in the system – i.e., wages and prices must all adjust without interference from either central banks or governments as rapidly and as uninterruptedly as possible.
Without such a resolve – though its adoption may well run counter to the sophistry of the predominant Progressive creed espoused by our rulers – we are only half way to our goal. Just as in bridge construction, half-solutions in these matters are not only no solutions at all, but entail even greater hazards to those undertaking them. Were we to attempt the one without the other, the inevitable failure would surely risk a further eighty years of the counter-productive denial of the workings of economic law by two further generations of Nobel laureate, idiot savants!
Though he later recanted his belief in its message, Lionel Robbins’ near-contemporaneous treatment of events in his ‘Great Depression’, remains one of the most cogent and lucid expositions of what went wrong in that dark decade and also of what kept it in a state of ‘wrongness’ for such an unconscionable length of time after the initial crisis.
Among its many, telling comments, the following stands out by way of its relevance to the turmoil taking place in Europe today and so is worthy of an extended reproduction here:-
“……The boom was remarkable, not only for the proliferation of fashionable fraud; it was remarkable, too, for a change in the methods of straightforward financing… by a conspicuous increase in the proportion of public investment which takes the form of fixed debt rather than participating ownership. This tendency was bound to accentuate the difficulties of any period of depression. In part, the change was due to… increased participation by banks in the financing of all kinds of enterprise created a market for bonds where equities would have been unacceptable…The big insurance companies, moreover, through whose agency so large a proportion of the savings of the poorer and middle classes are invested, had a preference for this kind of investment…”
“But in part it was due to the increased economic activity of States and governmental bodies. The most intractable and disastrous masses of fixed debt which have obstructed recovery in the slump have been debts of this sort… Of the total amount invested in Germany in the years 1924-1928, it has been estimated that at least 40 per cent was on account of governmental bodies. Much of this was spent on the carrying out of works such as the construction of swimming-baths, the financing of housing schemes and so on, which had little prospect of being financially remunerative… Much of this money is irretrievably lost. But, because it was borrowed by government bodies, recognition of this fact is slow to come and liquidation has thus been delayed. Paradoxically enough, economists who have urged that this sort of thing has not proved its worth in practice, are often called by their opponents, ‘deflationists’…”
Is it so hard to see that, when the crisis broke, the Irish authorities should have restricted themselves to guaranteeing banking deposits up to some fairly modest ceiling amount and then left bank shareholders, bondholders, and wholesale depositors to negotiate over the division of whatever small residuum their ill-advised investments had left them?
By extension, if and when those creditors themselves were sufficiently embarrassed as a result of their folly, the authorities in their own jurisdictions – whether German, Dutch, French, British, or whatever – should have applied exactly the same salutary treatment to them in their turn. Losses would undoubtedly have been substantial, but the foredoomed attempt to disguise them has not only not made these any lesser, but has prevented anyone from embarking upon the process of working to put right the shocking loss of wealth they have entailed in the interim.
Yes, there would have been considerable disruption and a highly regrettable hardship would have been imposed not just on the few, highly-visible ‘Rich’ but also on the many, nameless, less well-off – but can anyone say that today’s consequently pressing need to throw the engine of government debt accumulation violently into reverse will not occasion at least equal amounts of suffering in a far more protracted manner and without even the merit of fairness and equity in making the malefactors’ willing business partners bear the first (and probably the largest) portion of the losses?
As it is, the Irish ‘rescue’ looks like it has only served to underline how perilously entwined the fortunes of sovereigns and their banks have become. As we have noted before, under the rules of this multi-trillion shell game, the sovereigns guarantee the ECB which funds the banks which buy the government debt which provides for everyone else’s guarantees. No wonder scrutiny is switching back to Spain and Eurobank stocks are sagging, once more.
And to think that the former UK Prime Minister used to boast that he had ‘saved the world’ when he set the standard by being the first to rush to conclude a similar pact of mutually-assured destruction into which the hosts of cherubim and seraphim, surely, would have feared to tread.
As if this were not enough for markets to try to rationalise, there is just the risk that it travels back to the US – whether via the ‘putback’ of dodgy mortgage loans to FNM/FRE and/or the banks, or via a possible Muni implosion when the Build America Bond programme expires at year end.
Bigger yet is the threat posed by China’s inflationary outbreak. Although we derided its crude attempts to suppress prices and boost welfare payments – and while the market was briefly relieved that the PBoC did no more than hike reserve ratios for the umpteenth time – it does appear as if something a little more draconian may be coming down the track, possibly after the Central Economic Work Conference has discussed any such measures in three weeks’ time.
Certainly, if we are to take the China Daily at its word, we should be reducing risk exposures where we can: –
“…The latest move to contain excess liquidity and the forceful measures that the central government has taken to stabilize prices show the determination of Chinese policymakers to fight inflation. Though these moves may not be enough to tame inflation once and for all, they are a good start before more aggressive actions become necessary to battle inflation that is unlikely to end anytime soon, as debt-laden rich countries keep flooding the world economy with their newly printed money.”
Well, if Ben can blame it all on Zhou, he is surely entitled to give a little of it back, but the main point is that the former’s indulgence in QE might just be about to run into the latter’s switch to QT. We know which we think will carry more weight in setting commodity prices.
Sean Corrigan (one of the best economic minds in the world today, see also “The ABC(T) of the Crisis” by him – ndM)
Ron Paul will be the Chairman of the Monetary Policy Subcommitte.
Maybe he might be able to stop this lunacy.
To completely support a Hillary Clinton’s statement, to agree that Sara Palin is a joke, to think that the University of Calgary allows dangerous psychopatics to teach there.
So far, 938 Recipients have had $607,822,512,238 dollars committed to them, with $553,918,968,267 disbursed. Of that $554b disbursed, less than half — $220,782,546,084 — has been returned.
Whenever you hear pronunciations of how much money the TARP is making, check back and look at this list. It shows the TARP is deeply underwater.”
You can click here for the most comprehensive definition of PARASITE today.