Maybe I Don’t Know More than the Experts

When studying dark-matter and MOND, I obviously favored the underdog.

“Of course Dark Matter is false! MOND is so much more elegant! Of course the universe favors elegant solutions.”

But this comment made me feel like an idiot:

These articles always miss the mark because they get the history backwards. Modified gravity theories were taken much more seriously in the 1970s and earlier, where the evidence for dark matter was shakier. Cosmological and astrophysical observations from the 1980s to 2000s have vastly strengthened the case for dark matter, which is why it’s the leading hypothesis now. Popular articles won’t tell you this, because without exception they laser focus on galaxy rotation curves, a piece of evidence that’s nearly a century old and by far the weakest one. But by neglecting to mention the actual evidence we base our conclusions on, they (purposely or not) make us look like fools. Furthermore, dark matter hasn’t been ruled out. One particular candidate of what it could be (a WIMP) has been studied and mostly ruled out over the past 20 years, but by the nature of the business there are many possible candidates. And of course we’ve shifted attention towards those other options, which is exactly how science is supposed to work!

Of course the experts know more than I do! They seriously tried MOND and failed! Why was I so inclined to discount the expert opinions based on my intuition? My intuition is, by definition, not on par with experts’ opinions.

In that moment, I felt like I understood anti-vaxxers and other fringe groups.

There’s something very alluring about (1) believing that you found a secret truth and (2) fear that the universe doesn’t work the way you think it should.

Some researchers spend their entire lives studying the variance in wart colors of a specific toad in a specific pond in a specific region of Borneo. I don’t know anything about the world. Maybe everybody should listen to each other or something.