Posted by: Barry Bickmore | April 21, 2017

That Time I Met Dean Sessions

This is part of a series of articles responding to the claims made in Dean Sessions’ Universal Model.  Click the link to see the introduction to the series.

To hear Dean Sessions tell it, his Universal Model (UM) is such a massive “paradigm shift” that mainstream scientists generally can’t be persuaded to take it seriously.

As the director of scientific research and discovery for the UM, Dean continued investigations in the 1990s with the aid of several research assistants. Thousands of scientific journal articles were gathered from all the general fields of science, as  well as in-depth experimentation was conducted both in the field and in the laboratory, howbeit, on a modest scale so that duplication would be comparatively simple. Various scientists from a number of different fields were contacted in order to ascertain whether or not particular discoveries were important or previously known. As a result of these discussions, we generally found the scientific community to be unaware and unconcerned with the evidences presented. This is because the paradigm shift suggested was too large to contemplate. The new discoveries would create an entirely new science.

As a matter of fact, I was one of the scientists he contacted, but I have a somewhat different perspective on the encounter.  Here’s how I remember it.

It must have been about 15 years ago, when I was a fairly new assistant professor at BYU, when Dean Sessions and a friend of his knocked on my office door.  They politely asked if they could talk to me about their scientific discoveries, so I invited them in.

At first, they talked about the history and philosophy of science.  I minored in philosophy, so I’m familiar with the subject, and we had an interesting conversation about Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  Kuhn maintained that scientists normally work within “paradigms,” or accepted theoretical frameworks that serve as the lenses through which they interpret empirical results.  So what scientists mainly do is flesh out the details of these accepted theories.  Given that theories are never perfect, some of the empirical results are bound to conflict with them.  However, scientists also know that there are a lot of ways to botch or misinterpret an experiment, and sometimes theories can be fixed with only slight adjustments.  So rather than immediately throwing out a theory, they will simply take note of these “anomalies” and keep working within the current paradigm.  Eventually, the anomalies might pile up too much for some scientists, who might then be motivated to create a new theoretical framework.  This is how scientific revolutions begin.  Of course, there will always be resistance in the scientific community to new paradigms, so it is not a given that they will prevail.

Apparently, they thought I was primed to consider the paradigm shift they wanted to lay on me, so they started talking about things modern science couldn’t explain.  (You know–“anomalies”.)  They began with… dark matter, or some such.  After a while I told them, “Look, I don’t know what to tell you, because I don’t know anything about dark matter.”

THEN, however, they started talking geology, which is my field.  Consider the mineral quartz, they said.  Geologists think it is formed from magma (pockets of melted rock underground), but we can’t go underground and observe this process directly.  Sessions and his buddy, however, had done some experimenting in the garage.  They obtained a quartz crystal and melted it under a blowtorch.  When it cooled off and solidified… drumroll… it wasn’t quartz, anymore! It was GLASS!!!  Therefore, quartz can’t grow from magma.

I said, “Oh, hey–I don’t know anything about dark matter, but I CAN tell you what’s going on here.  You see, when a melt solidifies, it takes time to form crystals, so if it cools off and solidifies too quickly, you just form glasses, which don’t have as orderly molecular structures as crystals.”

[NOTE:  I’ve edited what follows after the initial posting, because I remembered some additional details.]

He kept trying to say quartz can’t form from a melt, but I happened to know different, so I wouldn’t budge on that.  I could have dug out some experimental petrology papers in which scientists reported creating synthetic granite (which contains quartz crystals).  I could have pulled some mineralogy and crystal growth textbooks off the shelf that would have explained the whole thing.  However, Sessions brushed off everything I had to say.

Sessions then tried to get me to take some manuscript he had written (an early version of the UM?), but I told him I wasn’t interested.  Why should I waste my time on it, when it was clear he wasn’t interested in making his theories conform to all the facts?  He stalked out of my office in a huff, angry that I was such a closed-minded paradigm-hugger.

This encounter always stuck in my mind, but I never thought their project would move outside their garages.  Here it is 2017, and Sessions has just published an 800-page book with a section called “Quartz Is Not Glass” (p. 101).  I’ll write more later about why geologists’ response to Sessions’ statement is still a big, “No, duh,” but for now please consider the following question.

Is Dean Sessions really a genius leading a comprehensive scientific revolution, persecuted by closed-minded scientist-sheeple?  Or is he projecting his own failings on others?

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Responses

  1. “Is Dean Sessions really a genius leading a comprehensive scientific revolution, persecuted by closed-minded scientist-sheeple? Or is he projecting his own failings on others?”

    Yes to both and more. I respect people that perform experiments and draw conclusions of their own. That takes some work. However, correctly drawing conclusions is something of an art and it may be that the observations don’t actually reveal much.

    When I was a teenager I made a very poor form of glass by an electric arc through ordinary southern Utah sand. It told me nothing about the center of the Earth but I greatly increased my appreciation for the fine art of making *useful* glass.

  2. They have an idea, they found a reason for it and now everything, EVERY THING, has to comport to making that conclusion real or you’re a shill or part of the conspiracy.

    It’s how nutters become nutters in conspiracy theories.

    There’s some tiny miniscule fraction of reality that supports possibly their idea, or at least doesn’t fit as well with the standard explanation, and therefore their idea must be right.

    M2, of course, being a prime example. He’s convinced that he’s smart therefore everyone else who says otherwise must be wrong.

    • Wow writes “He’s convinced that he’s smart therefore everyone else who says otherwise must be wrong.”

      An impressive display of good logic.

      Your observations on Linux compare favorably to mine.

  3. “Kuhn maintained that scientists normally work within “paradigms,” or accepted theoretical frameworks that serve as the lenses through which they interpret empirical results”

    Which Dean, and every other “revolutionary scientist” does too. They have their paradigm which doesn’t match the accepted theoretical framework, and they look at everything through that lens, interpreting everything through it.

    Where kooks come in is they ALSO view the paradigm “the rebel is always right (at least for those who were right and therefore me too)”. That’s where the scientific method and automatic skepticism comes in for actual scientists, ones who haven’t gone emeritus or kook-land. They look at their own discovery and think “How could I be wrong? Can I prove to everyone that I’m almost certainly not wrong?”.

    Dean doesn’t.

    He looks through the lens of his new paradigm, and nothing is allowed through the tint that disproves his “new theory”.

    Much like those trying to XML-ize the config files in Linux,they see “XML==New==GOOD” and “Text=Old=BAD”, or Wayland et al (Where X11 does network transparency, but X11 is old, therefore their stuff won’t do network transparency, because to do so would be to accept that X11 did something right, making their reason for changing to their new paradigm null. That there could still be a good reason to have a new and different system is not thought of, it MUST be better, X11 MUST be worse).


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