Discussion thread for Bob and Johnny's One on One

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Nathon Detroit

And that's all she wrote!

It's over

Thanks to both Johnny and Bob for participating in this discussion. And thanks to professor Styer for adding his thoughts as well. :up:


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Reverend Bob Tyson

Reverend Bob Tyson

Fluxing the Fluctuations​
I presume that Dr Styer has moved on, and so will I will address a couple of the last-minute misunderstandings Bob has of what Dan said. Bob justifies his mention of using the phrase “fluctuation of entropy” by showing where Dan had spoken of the “Entropy Flux Through The Earth.” Sorry, Bob, in physics “flux” is a commonly used and explicitly defined term (it is most effectively expressed in terms of a calculus equation). But though the term “fluctuation” is a common term throughout English, in physics it is far more ambiguous and not at all a meaningful equivalent for “flux”.

Whispering to Bob​
Bob contests Dan’s claim that we are immersed in the CMB right here on earth, and uses two wiki articles to make his point. He seems to be relying on the fact that the temperature of the earth is vastly higher than the CMB temperature. So? The CMB is a whisper (an electromagnet whisper). If you are in a noisy room, does a whisper no longer exist? If you suddenly silence everything else in the room, and now you start to hear the whisper, does that mean it was not there a moment earlier?

In fact, if the CMB were not permeating the very space in which we live, then cosmologists would be confronted with an anomaly of immense import. It would mean that our own world was an exception to the process that created the universe.

Bob refers to the wiki to say that “The CMB is viewed as ‘the space between stars and galaxies’”. Not so. It is viewed (best) in the space between the stars and galaxies, for the same reason a microphone trying to record a whisper that permeates all of space will record it best in a direction with no strong noises. Bob’s bolded text “ that is not associated with any star, galaxy, or other object. is correct, just as a whisper that permeates everything is not associated with any object.

The nearest thing Bob gives to show that the CMB is not among us is quoting Dan in saying, “…The Earth radiates electromagnetic radiation… where it eventually joins the cosmic microwave background.”. In fact the earth’s radiation joins the CMB, in the same way a shout joins a whisper.

Good Deeds Locally​
Bob says he has given answer to Dan saying “The phrase ‘to violate the 2nd Law [of thermodynamics] locally’ has no meaning….”. I missed that response from Bob, but I will respond anyway by referring to what I understand Bob’s own theology to be. Bob understands what he thinks one must do for salvation. If someone says to Bob that he must also do something else, Bob would be justified in pointing out that this new requirement, even though it has nothing innately evil about it, is not a requirement for salvation. For example, “good deeds”, and the actions required for salvation might be good companions, but in Bob’s theology, salvation is not contingent on the “good deeds”. And in physics, “local”, comforting as it might be when thinking about heat transfer, is not an innate requirement for the Second Law.

Flashback to June 28, 1997, Las Vegas​
Bob’s semi-final post was the one to watch out for. In his last “Real Science Friday” show Bob said how desperately he wanted to get that eyeball issue into the debate. And he did. Up to that post, there was at least a modicum of allegiance to the debate subject. But, in the closing moments, as his coach and trainer each had one of his arms draped over their shoulders as they were helping the staggering Bob back to his corner, he came into true form. He rallied, spun around, and yanked out a switchblade and threw it at Johnny, then a brick from within the other glove, and even a horseshoe went flying at Dan Styer in the first row. In a debate with judges who consider debate rules and protocol as part of their scoring criteria, the last-minute introduction of such a flurry of off-subject material would have warranted an immediate forfeit on Bob’s part.

But when defeat is imminent, for Bob nothing is lost (except integrity) in trying to make it look like a convincing win by injecting a bunch of childish graphics and then segueing that into the presentation of a bunch of off-subject biology. Perhaps Bob feels he can now say that he put forth some arguments that Johnny never even touched. Is that a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear that just fell out of Bob’s lips?

Flashback to April 10, 2002, Las Vegas​
In April of 2002, Bob attended a broadcaster’s convention in Las Vegas. While there, he debated a number of people, and (according to him) never lost even once. Of course, he was the sole judge of who won the debate, as well. Sound just a bit suspicious? Not much has changed. Once again Bob assumes to himself the role of debate judge. Be that as it may, Bob’s win is not even close to being recognized by those who are most scientifically qualified to judge this debate. Even Dan Styer’s own comments are dismissively handled by Bob. Bob won – in Bob’s mind. (Hardly surprising.) But thankfully, science pays little attention to obscure talk show hosts and pastors.

Evolution happened. Deal with it.


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Yeah, for some reason I don't think we'll be seeing the printed and bound copy of this debate for sale on the KGOV web site.

It's odd that Bob asserted that we're not affected by the CMBR on earth. It seems like anyone with a basic knowledge of the CMBR and modern cosmology should have heard of Penzias and Wilson who were created with the accidental discovery of the CMBR. In fact, it's in the Wiki article on the CMBR that Bob cited.

Their instrument had an excess 3.5 K antenna temperature which they could not account for. After receiving a telephone call from Crawford Hill, Dicke famously quipped: "Boys, we've been scooped."[1][30][31] A meeting between the Princeton and Crawford Hill groups determined that the antenna temperature was indeed due to the microwave background.

Also, if I recall correctly, a certain proportion of the EM static that is visible on an old analog antenna TV (not tuned to a particular broadcast frequency) is attributable to the CMBR.

I would suggest that if the CMBR is detectable wherever we point an antenna, then clearly we are immersed in it. Also, if it comes from everywhere in the sky around us, why would we assume that our neck of the galaxy would somehow be different assuming a putative observer detecting CMBR elsewhere? The CMB is one of the best predictions/arguments for the big bang, and it would make little sense if the milky way was somehow exempt. Nor is that what has been observed by experiments such as WMAP.

I know there's a couple of other hypotheses doing the rounds like Alton Harp's Tired Light, but as I am not really in a position to evaluate their relative worth. When mainstream science shifts its position, I'll move accordingly. There are plenty of questions left open in standard cosmology.

I am not wedded to the Big Bang; it's just the best supported partial explanation that we have at the moment. I'm not even wedded to the theory of evolution, but I really can't imagine a more effective explanation that can effectively reconcile observations from so many different disciplines.

Bob Enyart

Staff member
Hi guys. Hey, it's almost a year later. This was a fun debate, and I just LOVED Styer's closing comment about the majesty of the Creator of course.

I just ran across this from Stripe so I thought I'd post it: "Styer did not address ANY means of turning energy into information. Stripe was attempting clarifying the difference between the two issues, Phy wrongly conflated them."

-Bob Enyart


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please don't stone me for resurrecting zombie thread!

please don't stone me for resurrecting zombie thread!

who won it? I've got to say I think the most profound argument for creation of confusion was very simple and unarguable, and by Styer's own confession: he said there are all these types of entropy - topological entropy, Kolmogorov entropy, Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy, metric entropy, Gibbs entropy, Boltzmann entropy, Tsallis entropy, von Neumann entropy, Shannon entropy, Rényi entropy, volume entropy... and he's only writing about one!

So why on earth did he title his article "Entropy & Evo" if he didn't want to confuse. If what he said is the case, he needs to go back and re-title his article, as it will clearly be the springboard for years of future confusion.

Like writing an article on the social sciences and evolution and calling it "Science and evolution". This would lead to confusion 100% guaranteed. I want to limit my article about one aspect of a subject, and I knowingly, deliberately name my article in such a way as to indicate it covers the whole realm? Talk about poor writing, it's fundamentally poor titling! We've all done it, but title clearly clearly is in error and highly misleading (esp if it's ever just used in footnotes/references as the folk won't read the first line which then says: this is just about social science and evolution etc).

Good stuff to read though, I'd defo been confused about information/heat entropy hitherto. U've saved me some pain/embarrassment! ;)

Forgive me once again for resurrecting thread. My laziness prevented me read 11 pages of discussion thread to see if anyone had hammered that 'title' drum further. I think that was the victory point.
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