When you ask ridiculous questions of a scientist, how do they know what’s worth looking into and what is safe to dismiss? The answer turns out to be simple, if the query is absurd there’s no real point in analyzing the problem. This is how scientists, and most thinking humans, have known for centuries that the moon is not made of cheese.
Theoretical physicist Sean Carrol spoke at the ScienceWriters2011 conference on the subject, and shed a little light on how scientists tackle such a problem. Most of what Carroll says is common sense, but it does give a small insight into how scientists differentiate between valid theories and nonsense. What it comes down to is that it is silly to think the moon is made of cheese. Or that dinosaurs and man walked the earth together; you know, all of the crazy shit people actually think might be true.
OK, so for real now…is the moon made of green cheese? If not, then maybe some other cheese.
The answer is that it’s absurd to think the moon is made of green cheese.
And the formalization of that absurdity is that we are allowed to use other things we know about the universe when judging the plausibility of a hypothesis…we have a theoretical understanding of how the solar system works and how planets are formed that precludes the possibility that the moon is made of green cheese….
The trouble is that some people are incapable of making sane judgments on the world based on everyday observations. More specifically, there are some individuals who speak with authority on an issue when they have no expertise. Just because you state a falsehood with conviction does not make it true. Rather than take anyone’s word as absolute truth, maybe take a look around and ask yourself if perhaps it is in fact a bad idea to pay a man to talk to your dead relatives.
If it does turn out the moon is made of green cheese, I’ll be the first in line with some crackers and slices of capicola.