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Modern Cosmology: Science or Folktale?

Current cosmological theory rests on a disturbingly small number of independent observations

Michael J. Disney

The Significance of Cosmology

The currently fashionable concordance model of cosmology (also known to the cognoscenti as "Lambda-Cold Dark Matter," or lambda-CDM) has 18 parameters, 17 of which are independent. Thirteen of these parameters are well fitted to the observational data; the other four remain floating. This situation is very far from healthy. Any theory with more free parameters than relevant observations has little to recommend it. Cosmology has always had such a negative significance, in the sense that it has always had fewer observations than free parameters (as is illustrated at left), though cosmologists are strangely reluctant to admit it. While it is true that we presently have no alternative to the Big Bang in sight, that is no reason to accept it. Thus it was that witchcraft took hold.

Timeline%20of%20cosmological%20theoriesClick to Enlarge ImageThe three successful predictions of the concordance model (the apparent flatness of space, the abundances of the light elements and the maximum ages of the oldest star clusters) are overwhelmed by at least half a dozen unpredicted surprises, including dark matter and dark energy. Worse still, there is no sign of a systematic improvement in the net significance of cosmological theories over time.

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