The Instigator
daniel_t
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
omelet
Pro (for)
Winning
50 Points

The Heliocentric model of the solar system is more correct than the Geocentric model.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/17/2009 Category: Science
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,492 times Debate No: 10152
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (27)
Votes (10)

 

daniel_t

Con

My opponent will argue that the heliocentric model of the solar system(1) is more correct than the geocentric model(2). I will show that his/her assertion is wrong.

1) My opponent might try to present testimony of various authorities in the field. However, if you examine their claims, you will find that they all source one specific authority, Copernicus(3). This would be OK except that Copernicus' model was laid to waist by Einstein's theory of general relativity(4) which allows for no privileged frame of reference(5). What this means is that according to general relativity, there can be no point that is considered the center of the solar system.

2) My opponent might try to convince you by showing how the orbits of the planets are ellipses(6) all around the Sun. However, please note that an ellipse has *two* foci, neither of which is in the center of the ellipse (a point on the line between the two foci and equidistant from both of them.) Even if one of the foci was a valid center, according to the Heliocentric model, the center of the Sun doesn't sit on the foci, rather it orbits rather erratically about the foci. The final nail on this argument's coffin is that it begs the question. *If* the heliocentric model was more correct than the geocentric model, *then* the orbit of the planets would be best described as ellipses.

3) Since neither of the above work, my opponent try to use Occam's famous razor(7). For those that don't know, Occam suggests that given two theories which accurately describe reality, the one that has the fewest assumptions should be the one adopted. Here too, Einstein steps in and causes problems, neither the Heliocentric nor the Geocentric models accurately describe reality, so Occam's razor doesn't apply. Even if we accept that both theories are equally erroneous at describing reality, my opponent fails in the contention that the Heliocentric model is in any way more correct than the geocentric model. "The math is easier" does not translate to "it's more correct."

4) The only possible argument left to my opponent is that somehow heliocentrism produces more correct results when used to model the solar system, but this cannot be asserted unless we deny the geocentric model one or more of its required assumptions. *Any* model will fail if we deny its assumptions including the heliocentric model, so this argument is destined to fail as well.

I await my opponents arguments. Why should I accept the heliocentric model of the solar system over the geocentric model?

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(3) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(4) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(5) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(6) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(7) http://en.wikipedia.org...
omelet

Pro

I affirm the resolution. The heliocentric model of the Solar System is superior to the geocentric model.

My opponent points out, correctly, that no frame of reference is inherently better than any other. I am not going to challenge this notion - I accept it outright. My opponent is confusing the issue here. Frames of reference being arbitrary does not mean that centers of objects are also arbitrary. From any frame of reference inside or outside of a donut, we can safely say that the center of that donut is at the middle of the hole (assuming a normally-shaped donut). It doesn't matter which frame of reference we use, that center is still the center.

The same is true of the Solar System. It has the same center no matter what frame of reference we choose to take.

While it's true that the center of the Solar System is not always the Sun, the Sun is much more often the center of the Solar System than the Earth is.

Allow me to present my first and only piece of evidence, a mapping of the center of mass, the barycenter, of the Solar System. This is the relevant "center" in astronomy.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

Note that this is not complete - it is only from 1945 to 1995. If continued indefinitely, we would see a polar graph centered around the Sun's nucleus. That is not the significant part. The significant part is that for a good chunk of time, the barycenter of the Solar System is actually inside the Sun - meaning it is quite correct to call the Sun the center of the Solar System. In contrast, this does not happen at all for the Earth, so it is never correct to say that the Earth is at the center of the Solar System. It is at least true to say that it is more correct to call the Sun the center of the Solar System than it is to call the Earth the same.

Allow me to just recap my argument in the form of a syllogism.

1. The Solar System refers to the Sun and the planetary bodies surrounding it.
2. This system has a center, irrespective of which frame of reference we look at it from.
3. That center is often located at the Sun, and is never located at the Earth.
4. The difference between the heliocentric and geocentric models of the solar system is that the former says the center of the Solar System is the Sun, and the latter says it is the Earth.
5. A more correct model is closer to reality than a less correct model.
6. From 3, 4, and 5, the heliocentric model of the Solar System is a more correct model than the geocentric model.
Debate Round No. 1
daniel_t

Con

Thank you omelet for accepting this debate.

I find it interesting that he has tried to change the terms of the debate by claiming the heliocentric model is *superior* rather than *more correct*. I do not doubt that the heliocentric model is superior in at least some (but not all) circumstances than the geocentric model, however that is not what is being argued about in this debate.

For a quick example of when the geocentric model is superior, note that the math used for celestial navigation is considerably easier if a geocentric model of the solar system is assumed. So even omelet's modified assertion cannot be demonstrated true.

I thank my opponent for using the doughnut example. It is true that the center of a doughnut is the middle of the hole, but the important point to remember is that this is true *even if led is embedded into one side of the doughnut,* thus making one side of the doughnut heaver than the other, if we are talking about the geometric center of the doughnut.

Then my opponent brings up the barycenter, or center of mass, of the solar system. The fact that my opponent needs to specify a particular sort of center highlights the basic problem with his argument. It is only true that the sun is near the center of the universe under certain definitions of the word "center". In other words, the center is relative to what the measurer chooses to measure. Like in the doughnut example, things change if we choose to measure positions of the planets rather than positions and masses, things also change if we include the velocities of the planets. So the "center" moves if we choose to admit either fewer or more properties. Of course the center also changes if we choose to measure *different* properties than what my opponent chose. For example, if we choose to measure biomass.

Lastly, my opponent's syllogism isn't valid. He takes as his first premise that the planetary bodies are surrounding the sun, this shows his bias. He then chooses a particular definition of center (the barycenter,) which is specifically defined to give more "centrality" to the most massive object of a group. By making this initial assumption and cherry picking a particular sort of center, his syllogism begs the question.

In conclusion, my opponent specifically accepted my first point, and made no attempt to refute my other three points. Meanwhile, nowhere in any of his argument did he make any attempt whatsoever to show the heliocentric model as being *more correct* in any sense of the word. Instead he tried to show that the heliocentric model is "superior", but even here, he failed to specify under what circumstances this superiority manifests. As we all know, "superiority" is strictly relative to a particular task, and not a universal.
omelet

Pro

I apologize for saying "superior" instead of "more correct" in my opening statement. You'll notice that later on, I argued in favor of "more correct" as the actual resolution says.

It's true that I specified barycenter when I could just as easily have used a geometric center. This is because a barycenter is actually used in astronomy, where a geometric center simply isn't. You'll find that the geometric center of the Solar System can also more closely be called the Sun than it can the Earth. The geometric center of the Solar System is on average closer to the Sun than it is to the Earth. Even if not, even if neither could more correctly be called the geometric center, this does not tip the scales any further from the heliocentric model being more correct.

My opponent also brought up "center of biomass," but that's clearly not what the heliocentric and geocentric models talk about - they are astronomical models of the solar system that have never depended on where there is more biomass.

Barycenter is the most astronomically relevant center, and that center is often the sun, and is rather close to the sun when it is not. It strongly favors the heliocentric model. Geometric center is less relevant, and it also favors the heliocentric model but less strongly. Center of biomass is completely arbitrary, and has no implications astronomically, but it favors the geocentric model.

My opponent tries to attack my syllogism. He says that I show my bias when I say that the Solar System is the sun and the planets that surround it. This is not biased. They are also the planets that surround the Earth. Regardless of our starting point, we are talking about the same planets. That is all that matters. I simply did not want to list out each plantetary body by name, but I certainly could have and the syllogism would still say the same thing. I was simply defining what bodies are part of the Solar System - feel free to pretend I said it some other way that doesn't sound as biased, the implications would be the same.

He also restates that my choice of center was "cherrypicking," but I assure you it was not. Barycenter is the only relevant measure of center. Center of volume, geometric center, is not used in astronomy, but it would still favor heliocentrism.

My opponent points out that I did not attack his points. There was no need. His points were not points at all, they were "well, my opponent might try to do this!" I didn't do any of those things, so rebutting them was unnecessary.

My opponent concludes by claiming that I never argued that heliocentrism was more correct, only that it was "superior," but that's completely false. I only used the word "superior" in my opening statement - every other time after that I said "more correct," even at the conclusion of the syllogism. I even included a definition for "more correct" in the syllogism.

I have affirmed the resolution. I thank my opponent and the readers/voters as well. Hope you all enjoyed
Debate Round No. 2
27 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Mangani 7 years ago
Mangani
Before/After: Pro
Conduct: Pro. Con attempts to accuse Pro of bias, among other things, that are not valid. For example he claims Pro's bias towards the sun being the center of the solar system for his statement "the sun and everything that surrounds it (sic)". Con ignores that he has made a synonymous claim in referring to the system as the "solar system". The name itself implies "the sun and the celestial bodies which orbit it". Furthermore, why would Pro not be biased towards a position to which he is the affirmative???
Spelling/Grammar: This came down to my freezing on a sentence from Con in which he states "embedded led into it". I am assuming he meant lead, and lacking any mistakes from Pro I gave the point to Pro.
Arguments: Pro
Sources: Pro

Con argues that Pro's use of "barycenter" is somehow "wrong", but because this is an astrological debate, that is the proper center to reference. There is no doubt that the Sun's gravitational force is more responsible for the orbits of the planets than the Earth.
Posted by omelet 7 years ago
omelet
I'll ask the voters to ignore the below comment and those from my opponent. They are not part of the debate and any arguments here should not be factored into a vote.
Posted by omelet 7 years ago
omelet
Don't worry about it, Daniel.

I do want to address the geometric center issue for you because you seem to be mistaken. Even though geometric center is not anything major in astronomy, here goes.

I'll be referencing this picture. http://imgur.com...

First I'd like to point out that, as it's not one of the outer planets, the earth does not have a significant impact on the geometric center of the solar system.

Now, let's first split the location of the geometric center, relative to the earth and sun, into three possiblities.
1. First, it could be on the side of the sun further from earth. This is lime green in the picture.
2. Second, it could be on the side of the sun earth is on. This is represented by the cyan and hot pink regions.
3. Third, it could be between the two regions above. This is the black line separating hot pink and lime green.

Since the Earth's position is for all intents and purposes independent from the location of the geometric center, the first two possibilities have ~50% probability each. The third is infinitesimal.

For #1 (green), the geometric center is always closer to the sun. That's 50% there.
For #2, the geometric center is sometimes closer to the Earth than the Sun (cyan region), sometimes closer to the Sun than the Earth (hot pink region), and sometimes equidistant from both (line between them). Since the hot pink region is not negligible, the geometric center is now more than 50% of the time closer to the sun (pink + green).
For #3, the geometric center is always closer to the sun, but it's infinitesimal so that adds 0%.

Thus, the geometric center is more often closer to the Sun.

But even if it wasn't, one tie and one win for heliocentrism still means heliocentrism is more correct. Note that I'm not factoring in center of biomass here, since that was just too astronomically irrelevant.

Hope that clarified your concerns.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
Con clarified in his opening statement that the solar system was being considered, not the universe.

Pro argued correctly. that while any frame of reference is equally valid in terms of the laws of physics (that's Special Relativity, not General Relativity) that nonetheless "center" has a valid meaning independent of the frame of reference, and the sun is it.
Posted by daniel_t 7 years ago
daniel_t
@Alexby1: Sorry about that, and thanks for the heads up.

Sorry to you too omelet. I shouldn't have done that.
Posted by Alexby1 7 years ago
Alexby1
Just to let you know -- that last comment is a good way to lose the conduct points in my view.
Posted by daniel_t 7 years ago
daniel_t
I can't stop myself... omelet said, "The geometric center of the Solar System is on average closer to the Sun than it is to the Earth."

This is not the case, the only time the sun is anywhere near the center geometrically is on those rare occasions when the planets are evenly distributed around it.

omelet continued, "Even if not, even if neither could more correctly be called the geometric center, this does not tip the scales any further from the heliocentric model being more correct."

The above is an argument *for* my position. I never argued that the geocentric model was more correct, rather I was arguing that the heliocentric model *wasn't* more correct. :-)

I think I should have stressed more in the second round about the relativity of the situation. Oh well...
Posted by daniel_t 7 years ago
daniel_t
Thanks, I did enjoy this debate. I have to say that it is hard not to have the last word!
Posted by omelet 7 years ago
omelet
No problem. Thanks for the debate.
It cut off my last few words, it was supposed to read "Hope you all enjoyed it."
Posted by daniel_t 7 years ago
daniel_t
Thank you omelet for giving me a chance to figure out how to use DDO before I got involved in a more serious debate!
10 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by GarretKadeDupre 2 years ago
GarretKadeDupre
daniel_tomeletTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con lost because Pro showed that the barycenter of the solar system is correlated most strongly to the sun than any other body of the solar system, thus making the point about the relative geometrical center irrelevant. Con could have won had he been arguing about the entire UNIVERSE instead of confining the debate to the solar system.
Vote Placed by atheistman 7 years ago
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