Building Working Models

I’m not a believer. I don’t readily believe stuff I’m told. I was raised as a Roman Catholic, but I didn’t really believe what I was taught. It didn’t make sense. It didn’t add up. And because it didn’t make sense, I gradually ceased to believe it. Or most of it.

I have the same disbelief about lots of other things too. I seldom believe anything simply because someone authoritatively tells me so. So when NASA said that that the Chelyabinsk fireball was completely unrelated to asteroid DA14 passing close to the Earth on the same day, I didn’t believe them. I didn’t see how they could be so quick – same day – to say this. And so I spent the next two years looking for ways that they could have been companions, using a computer simulation model. And in the end I found that if there had been a rock trailing 25 million km behind DA14, it could have arrived over Chelyabinsk at 03:20 UTC on 15 February 2013, coming from the right direction. So NASA were wrong: the Chelyabinsk rock could have been a companion of DA14. I’m not saying that it was. Just that it could have been.

I have the same disbelief when I see a whole bunch of doctors authoritatively declaring that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, or whole bunch of climate scientists authoritatively declaring that Carbon Dioxide Causes Global Warming, or a whole bunch of authorities authoritatively declaring anything – particularly if their authoritative announcements also mean that I’m supposed to radically change the way I live, and stop smoking and drinking and eating sugar and salt and meat.

I tend to believe things when they accord with common sense, with everyday experience. And I tend to disbelieve things when they don’t.

I’d believe in ghosts if I saw them every day. But I’ve never seen one single ghost in my entire life. I’d believe in life after death if people routinely came back to life a few days or weeks after dropping dead. But I’ve never seen anybody do that either. So I don’t believe that happens either.

The world of everyday experience is one in which it’s hard to move heavy things, easy to move light things. It’s a world in which pencils will roll off tables and fall to the floor. And where water poured into a cup stays at the bottom of it. It’s a world that I experience every single day.

And when I was taught physics at school, I was introduced to a new range of experiences. Of how light behaves in prisms and lens. How magnetism produces lines of force around a magnet. How electricity flows in resistors. And how all these things can be measured with scales and rulers and thermometers and clocks. And how these behaviours could be explained using theories about electricity and magnetism and light. Physics is rooted in everyday experience. The ordinary world – in which balls bounce, and water flows downhill, and heavy things are harder to pick up than light things – is one big physics laboratory.

I like watching snooker and pool. I like playing them too. And I think that one of the reasons I like them is because a snooker table is simply a table on which balls bounce off each other, and off the sides of the table, in fairly predictable ways. A snooker table is a little physics laboratory for studying balls bouncing off each other. In fact, I’d guess that the first snooker table was created in someone’s physics laboratory, so that they could study how balls bounced. Why else would someone go to the trouble of making perfect spheres out of ivory, and placing them on a perfectly flat surface, and striking them with wooden hammers or sticks?

My orbital simulation model is a little physics laboratory. Or rather a theoretical physics laboratory, since I’m using Newtonian theory rather than actual planets – my room isn’t quite big enough to fit a real solar system inside.

I’m always building little working theoretical physical models. Idle Theory is a piece of simple theoretical physics, that uses my own very simple physical model of life. I’ve built models of things walking and water droplets and dividing cells. I’ve grown theoretical plants.  And I’ve even thought about snooker kicks. And so when the climate scientists started on about global warming, I wanted to build my own climate model too, naturally.

Because the way I see it, if people don’t have their own working models of living things and dividing cells and planets and atmospheres, then all they’ve got is what authorities like NASA and the WHO and the IPCC tell them, and they’ve got no way of checking whether what they’re being told is true or not. And then what you have is a belief system – a religion – with its priests and doctors and experts telling everybody what they should think, what they should believe. If you can’t add, then who are you to argue with mathematicians who tell you that 12 + 7 = 19 or 127 or whatever else they claim it is, using their funny symbols? You can only either believe or disbelieve.

And the more weird and wonderful things that I find people believe, the more I find myself wanting to go back to the world of repeatable everyday experience, and to build models of that world from the simplest building blocks. For I think that if we are ever going to understand this extraordinary universe in which we find ourselves, it’s going to be through building little simple models of bits of it – little pool table test beds -, and gradually combine simple understandings gained of simple things into complex understandings of complex things – like climate and cancer and life and money and morality.

And we’ve barely started.


About Frank Davis

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12 Responses to Building Working Models

  1. harleyrider1978 says:

    Real Science will be back one day Frank,question is when. After all the political backed propaganda science and grant mooching junk scientists are done and tossed off we might get back to real acedemics where they don’t worry if lil Johnnys feelings get hurt for giving the wrong answer or handing out awards for doing nothing for it or being praised for doing what you were suppose to do anyway. Yes its a world gone totally morally and mentally insane. But sanity always has a way of coming back.

  2. Rickie says:

    I can see your problem Frank, if smoking is all lies and conspiracy and junk science throughout the world then you can’t believe anything cos scientists/experts/doctors all sing the same tune over smoking.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Lets just say they’ve been coerced and threatened to all tow the same line by government blackmale and professional blackmale unless their willing conspirators.

      They have created a fear that is based on nothing’’
      World-renowned pulmonologist, president of the prestigious Research Institute Necker for the last decade, Professor Philippe Even, now retired, tells us that he’s convinced of the absence of harm from passive smoking. A shocking interview.

      What do the studies on passive smoking tell us?

      PHILIPPE EVEN. There are about a hundred studies on the issue. First surprise: 40% of them claim a total absence of harmful effects of passive smoking on health. The remaining 60% estimate that the cancer risk is multiplied by 0.02 for the most optimistic and by 0.15 for the more pessimistic … compared to a risk multiplied by 10 or 20 for active smoking! It is therefore negligible. Clearly, the harm is either nonexistent, or it is extremely low.

      It is an indisputable scientific fact. Anti-tobacco associations report 3 000-6 000 deaths per year in France …

      I am curious to know their sources. No study has ever produced such a result.

      Many experts argue that passive smoking is also responsible for cardiovascular disease and other asthma attacks. Not you?

      They don’t base it on any solid scientific evidence. Take the case of cardiovascular diseases: the four main causes are obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. To determine whether passive smoking is an aggravating factor, there should be a study on people who have none of these four symptoms. But this was never done. Regarding chronic bronchitis, although the role of active smoking is undeniable, that of passive smoking is yet to be proven. For asthma, it is indeed a contributing factor … but not greater than pollen!

      The purpose of the ban on smoking in public places, however, was to protect non-smokers. It was thus based on nothing?

      Absolutely nothing! The psychosis began with the publication of a report by the IARC, International Agency for Research on Cancer, which depends on the WHO (Editor’s note: World Health Organization). The report released in 2002 says it is now proven that passive smoking carries serious health risks, but without showing the evidence. Where are the data? What was the methodology? It’s everything but a scientific approach. It was creating fear that is not based on anything.

      Why would anti-tobacco organizations wave a threat that does not exist?

      The anti-smoking campaigns and higher cigarette prices having failed, they had to find a new way to lower the number of smokers. By waving the threat of passive smoking, they found a tool that really works: social pressure. In good faith, non-smokers felt in danger and started to stand up against smokers. As a result, passive smoking has become a public health problem, paving the way for the Evin Law and the decree banning smoking in public places. The cause may be good, but I do not think it is good to legislate on a lie. And the worst part is that it does not work: since the entry into force of the decree, cigarette sales are rising again.

      Why not speak up earlier?

      As a civil servant, dean of the largest medical faculty in France, I was held to confidentiality. If I had deviated from official positions, I would have had to pay the consequences. Today, I am a free man.

      Le Parisien

      • Rickie says:

        “Lets just say they’ve been coerced and threatened to all tow the same line by government blackmale and professional blackmale unless their willing conspirators”

        What all of them, everywhere, every country in the world!!.


  3. waltc says:

    Your tangentially mentioning global warming reminded me that on the news tonight I saw where the US Justice [sic] Dept is “looking into” whether it can prosecute corporate deniers –oil companies–under the RICO racketeering act which, as the newscast reminded those who forgot,, was the same act used to prosecute the tobacco companies for denying that tobacco is 100% deadly. IOW, skepticism of dogma or the expression thereof is either about to be criminalized or the threat of that”looking into” used to silence future opposition, First Amandment be damned.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      Walt that’s a pretty good summation of whats been going on…….Like any good conspirators the Nazis will dip the til one to many times and get caught in their own trap. Its these leftist pigs that are guilty of RICO.

  4. Lepercolonist says:

    Marriot Hotel smoking policy :

    The Marriott Smoke-free Hotel Policy

    Marriott is committed to providing its guests and associates with a smoke-free environment, and is proud to boast one of the most comprehensive smoke-free hotel policies in the industry. Since its introduction in 2006, the policy has been implemented in more than 2,300 properties throughout the United States and Canada under the Marriott, JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Courtyard, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites and ExecuStay brands.

    I snickered when T.V. sportscaster Erin Andrews was awarded $ 55.000.000 from Marriot Hotel in her lawsuit .

  5. harleyrider1978 says:

    Medical Association Looks for More Tobacco Bans

    Written by Gord Wiebe Published: 10 March 2016

    The Saskatchewan Medical Association is urging political groups to push for tobacco bans and regulations, to further discourage the social smoking environment.

    President Dr. Mark Brown says they want to see a ban of smoking in all outdoor public places, which he believes will further drop the provincial smoking rate.

    Brown says in the 12 years since an indoor public smoking ban took effect, the provincial rate dropped from 22 to 18 per cent.

    The SMA also wants to ban all flavoured tobacco to discourage smoking among youth and regulations on e-cigarettes, or vaping.

    Brown says there are so few regulations on e-cigarettes that a 5 year old could possibly buy one without consequence. He says it still contains nicotine and is potentially harmful, so there should be some kind of restrictions for young children or teenagers.

    Brown says very few teenagers who do smoke would do so with their parents, and instead would do so in a social environment with other people, so by making these changes, it would further discourage young adults to try smoking, keeping Saskatchewan healthier in the long run.

  6. Frank Davis says:


    STANTON ( — Stanton is trying to shut down a Vietnamese coffee shop, where officials claim bikini-clad waitresses serve more than java and juices.

    The city filed a lawsuit against GZ Cafe last month in Orange County Superior Court. The business advertises online as a place that serves coffee and smoothies by women in bikinis.

    One customer, who did not want to reveal his name, said he witnessed nudity when he was there. “The first time I went there, I seen their tops drop – the bikini tops. They dropped.”

    Ricardo Hernandez, who co-owns Pure Barbershop two doors down, said he is happy about the customers that GZ Cafe brings to the shopping center. “I guess like the Hooters in a sense, like a Starbucks with Hooters combined. It’s good for all of us as a business owner. I wouldn’t want him to leave just for the business he brings us and vice-versa.”

    But Hernandez claims patrons are allowed to smoke indoors, something he does not welcome because the smoke comes through his shop.

    • Joe L. says:

      Interesting. A little further into the article:

      When the shop was operated in Garden Grove, police wrote seven tickets for nudity and many more to the patrons for smoking indoors, something the owner denies.

      Also, there’s that supernatural secondhand smoke again, travelling through a wall, into the neighboring business, through yet another wall and into the barbershop “two doors down.”

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