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causes:propaganda:inflation

Inflation

The idea is so compelling that cosmologists, including me, routinely describe it to students, journalists and the public as an established fact. […] As the case for inflation has grown stronger, so has the case against. The two cases are not equally well known: the evidence favoring inflation is familiar to a broad range of physicists, astrophysicists and science aficionados. Surprisingly few seem to follow the case against inflation except for a small group of us who have been quietly striving to address the challenges. Most astrophysicists have gone about their business testing the predictions of textbook inflationary theory without worrying about these deeper issues, hoping they would eventually be resolved. Unfortunately, the problems have resisted our best efforts to date

The Inflation Debate by Paul J. Steinhardt

I’ve had many interesting reactions to my recent post about inflation, this idea that the early universe expanded exponentially and thereby flattened and smoothed itself. The maybe most interesting response to my pointing out that inflation doesn’t solve the problems it was invented to solve is a flabbergasted: “But everyone else says it does.” Not like I don’t know that. But, yes, most people who work on inflation don’t even get the basics right. I'm not sure why that is so. Those who I personally speak with pretty quickly agree that what I say is correct. The math isn’t all that difficult and the situation pretty clear. The puzzle is, why then do so many of them tell a story that is nonsense? And why do they keep teaching it to students, print it in textbooks, and repeat it in popular science books? I am fascinated by this for the same reason I’m fascinated by the widely-spread and yet utterly wrong idea that the Bullet-cluster rules out modified gravity. As I explained in an earlier blogpost, it doesn’t. Never did. The Bullet-cluster can be explained just fine with modified gravity. It’s difficult to explain with particle dark matter. But, eh, just the other day I met a postdoc who told me the Bullet-cluster rules out modified gravity. Did he ever look at the literature? No. One reason these stories survive – despite my best efforts to the contrary – is certainly that they are simple and sound superficially plausible. But it doesn’t take much to tear them down. And that it’s so simple to pull away the carpet under what motivates research of thousands of people makes me very distrustful of my colleagues.

I totally mean it: Inflation never solved the flatness problem by S. Hossenfelder

The problem with inflation isn’t the idea per se, but the overproduction of useless inflationary models. There are literally hundreds of these models, and they are – as the philosophers say – severely underdetermined. This means if one extrapolates any models that fits current data to a regime which is still untested, the result is ambiguous. Different models lead to very different predictions for not-yet made observations. Presently, is therefore utterly pointless to twiddle with the details of inflation because there are literally infinitely many models one can think up.

Is the inflationary universe a scientific theory? Not anymore. by S. Hossenfelder

Further Reading

causes/propaganda/inflation.txt · Last modified: 2017/11/02 10:08 (external edit)