As I stood on the my porch this morning gazing at my remarkably uneven crops, I had the sudden epiphany that the horizon extended in equal directions from all around me. In other words, I was the center of the visible world!
You know what this proves:
I don’t generally go to talks by creationists, as it would be a rare event indeed for them to say something original, or accurate. But Rebecca noted this:This error is part of a larger psychological prejudice, as we are trapped by our perceptions of how the world seems to be. We believe our eyes and ears, which is why myths persist and sleight of hand card tricks still separate the gullible from their money.
Because his work at Harvard focused on biology, that was the bulk of his talk, but before reaching that discipline he first dismissed both astronomical and geological evidence for evolution and a multi-billion-year-old universe. Of the former, he declared that when we observe galaxies around ours, they are spread out equally to the “north, south, east and west” of Earth, and therefore we are literally at the center of the Universe (and therefore blessed by God?). This is silly. Mountains of research suggest that the Earth occupies a wholly unremarkable corner of a Universe that is vaster and more ancient than Jeanson’s comparatively puny philosophy can imagine.I listened to a recording of the talk for this part, and Rebecca reports his argument faithfully. His argument is totally wrong. I know, shocker. His basic assumption is that the Universe has a physical edge, which is incorrect. There is a visible limit for the Universe, a farthest distance we can see. That distance is about 13 billion light years. We can’t see any farther away because there hasn’t been time since the birth of the Universe for a photon to get any farther. You can consider objects that have moved more than 13 billion light years away from us, but we simply cannot see them due to the expansion of the Universe.
You might therefore naively make a map showing all the objects in the Universe, and lo, we are at the center. But that would be true for any and every single point in the Universe. If you are on Alpha Centauri, or in the Andromeda Galaxy, or sitting near a young quasar 10 billion light years away, you would look out and still see yourself apparently centered in the Universe. The whole point here is that there is no special location in the Universe, no preferred point. [More]
But for us in agriculture, it also encourages anthropomorphism in food animals because they appear to express emotions in various ways. More and more the appearance of how we feed and house animals will be hard to explain away to a public that believes only its own eyes, and anti-scientific bias is treated as a matter of personal choice guaranteed by the Constitution. While such false "knowledge" is not proscribed, it cannot be elevated to an accepted alternative in policy discussions because it does not correspond to observable facts.
"Common sense" can carry us only so far. And we reached that point for the most part long before I was born. Agriculture should appeal more to common science, I think.