University of Virginia physics professor Paul Fishbane writes in yesterday’s Tablet of Conservapedia.com‘s re-labeling of the theory of relativity a “liberal conspiracy,” and geez, it is a mindbender. Not just because it’s challenging to absorb an AP Physics review before I’ve had a second cup of tea in spite of Dr. Fishbane’s generous simplifications, but that people actually believe the example of Jesus walking on water is a valid refutation of space-time curvature.
Conservapedia is a crowd-source “encyclopedia” founded by Andrew Schlafly (son of pursey-faced anti-feminist Phyllis) and patterned after Wikipedia, though it appears that most of its contributors were homeschooled in Waco, Texas.
Its entry on the “counterexamples to relativity” describes the Einstein’s findings on the nature of mass and speed and light are “heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world” and cites the following as Reason #20 why the theory of relativity is bunk:
“The lack of useful devices developed based on any insights provided by the theory; no lives have been saved or helped, and the theory has not led to other useful theories and may have interfered with scientific progress.”
Huh. While the atom-smashing that led to the nuclear bomb doesn’t count as fun times for humanity, surely the implication that relativity is “just a theory” that’s had no impact on the world is asinine. Nuclear power might not be perfect, but it is a viable power source. And how many lives have been saved—and helped— by PET scans that detect cancer and who would have found themselves wandering around in circles if not for their GPS device?
Though there is no overt anti-Semitism, Dr. Fishbane susses that the rejection of Einstein’s work smacks of the Nazi political tactic of rejecting science that doesn’t jive with the agenda. He writes that the Conservapedians believe that “Einstein is at the root of a Great Liberal Conspiracy. His work is not science but a foundation for radicalism; relativity is not a scientific theory but the advance guard for an all-out assault on the edifice of fundamental conservatism and, by extension, on absolute authority.”
We’re up against people who are using Genesis and the New Testament as their physics textbooks, folks. How do you argue with that kind of crazy? Read Dr. Fishbane’s entire article here.