International Earthlight Alliance



IEA is a multipurpose organization that seeks to efficiently combine research and education using state of the art technology to investigate a genuine scientific mystery. IEA endeavors to demonstrate ways that science and research can become more creative and attractive to students by inviting public participation.

Purpose 1: Scientific Investigation

The International Earthlight Alliance (IEA) does scientific research on Earthlights worldwide. IEA has outlined a detailed methodology (under construction) to investigate Earthlights, using high-tech equipment, and to organize results so that the existence of Earthlights can be evaluated and, if positive, their mechanism determined. IEA solicits reports of Earthlight sightings and encourages you, the public, to become “Earthlight scouts” to help solve this fascinating mystery. IEA, through this web site, acts as a clearinghouse to engage other scientists’ expertise, and the observational skills of the public and students to help solve the mystery of the lights.

The Need: A problem with science

IEA hopes to make science more creative and “user friendly.” Historically, science has been a difficult profession. Creative individuals who have made the greatest discoveries have often been ostracized, persecuted, and even imprisoned by their peers. For instance, Galileo was imprisoned. His peers refused to look through his telescope, calling it an “instrument of the devil”. Figuratively, the same practice continues today and even extends to investigation of certain natural topics that have been designated “taboo” by the scientific community.

The scientific community needs improvement. “Publish or perish” shifts researchers’ focus towards activities that are most likely to insure future funding, often at the expense of creative research work. Because of focus on funding rather than ideas, a negative “science culture” has evolved that can make science an unpleasant discipline in which to work. Science has become overly competitive, prone to politics, and funding favoritism. Established scientists invested in their own ideas are often hostile to new ideas and creative solutions that challenge the status quo.

Although Taxpayers fund a great deal of scientific research, most taxpayers are unaware of what goes on in scientific practice and culture. They do not know what research their dollars fund and how research projects are selected for funding. It is time the public realized that the negativity and suppression of creativity in current science culture could affect their personal future economic status. The economy could be affected because we are losing scientists. Students who are exposed to the science culture first hand, are finding science unattractive, and choosing other careers.

This negative science culture combined with boring didactic teaching methods is discouraging students from entering scientific careers. Loss of student enrollment will begin threaten US-Euro technology leadership in a few years. There has been a 25% decrease in science enrollment in US Colleges and decreases abroad Lack of student enrollment in science will result in a future shortage of scientists as older scientists retire, and fewer new graduates take their place. The problem is so severe it has been deemed a “national crises” by University of Washington president George Cohen.

IEA hopes to help reverse this trend by encouraging creativity in science, showing students that science has the potential to be creative and fun, and by creating public awareness of the lack of funding for highly creative research.

Purpose 2. Student and Public education/inspiration/collaboration

Another purpose of IEA and this web site, in addition to conducting scientific research, is to educate you about science and to develop an innovative model for a more user-friendly and productive way to do science through open web based collaboration between IEA scientists and the public. IEA hopes that by engaging scientists, you the public, and students in Earthlights research, all will benefit. IEA wants to put the “gee whiz” back in science. Students and the public may learn science, and become more familiar and comfortable with scientific principles by following the interesting information and activities of IEA. It is hoped that by doing so IEA can demonstrate that science applies to everyday living and is both practical and fun! IEA also hopes to show that science can be an adventure in which everyone can participate, and even non-scientists can make meaningful contributions to a common goal: solving the Earthlight mystery. IEA invites you to participate in this web experiment to produce a model for a new, creative way to do research. Everyone can be a contributor according to his or her own talents and abilities. Come join us. Scientific contributions will be acknowledged on this site.

Purpose 3: Scientific Information dissemination, a different way

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” Frank Zappa

IEA has many channels to coordinate the research effort with you and scientists. IEA will keep members informed by publishing E-newsletters and E-reports of current activities and expeditions on this web site. IEA wishes to apply modern day technology to traditional scientific protocol. For instance, IEA will publish high quality scientific papers directly to the web bypassing the lengthy peer review process of most journals.

IEA believes the peer review process was once necessary for quality control when the means of publication was limited to expensive hard copy journals. Unfortunately, peer review, intended as quality control, can also result in censorship and plagiarism. Peer review can add months between the time a paper is submitted and published. Peer review also has the potential to limit publication of the best discoveries and negatively impact scientific progress. Truly creative works often do not survive the peer review process because by definition, they lie too far outside of accepted conventional theory. Joliet-Curie makes the point: “The farther the experiment is from theory the closer it is to the Nobel Prize.” Continental drift theory, the relationship between homocysteine and heart disease, and the discovery that ulcers are caused by a bacterium H. Pylori and not stress and bad food are examples of ideas that were not initially accepted. To promote creativity IEA will adopt the approaches below.

Scientific Publications as two-way dialogues:

The Internet provides an inexpensive means of information distribution so such pre-publication scrutiny becomes less necessary. IEA believes Scientists and the public are entitled to rapid information distribution as originally written by the authors, not as tempered by consensus about prevailing theory. Scientists and the public can make up their own minds about the validity of the published content by an information exchange following web publication. IEA publishes papers and allows the opportunity for categories of public and scientific dialogue, and opportunities for responses from the author. In this way, scientific papers may become living dialogues. We believe publishing uncensored documents written by quality scientists sparks scientific dialogue and brainstorming which spawns or furthers great ideas . . . as long as that dialogue, including criticism, is constructive. (Because this is an experiment in promoting collaboration, flaming and destructive criticism will not be posted). IEA may not agree with all aspects of the papers it publishes, but agrees with the right of the scientist to express his or her viewpoint. Rather than censor, IEA will comment from its own perspective.

Empirical research encouraged, mechanisms not necessary for publication

Round about the accredited and orderly facts of every science there ever floats a sort of dust cloud of exceptional observations, of occurrences minute and irregular and seldom met with, which it always proves more easy to ignore than to attend to...Anyone will renovate his science who will steadily look after the irregular phenomena, and when science is renewed, its new formulas often have more of the voice of the exceptions in them than of what were supposed to be the rules.” -William James

IEA believes the scientific tradition of the requirement for theoretical support of an empirical observation before it can be considered valid or put to use is not necessary in light of today’s statistical tools. Until about twenty years ago, manually performing the statistics necessary to demonstrate probabilities to validate a concept was impractical because it was laborious and expensive. Until then it was most cost effective to follow theoretical lines of research and not perform laborious statistical tests on tantalizing empirical observations. With the advent of desktop computers, sophisticated statistical analysis is readily available, but the tradition of denying the validity of empirical results remains in the scientific world.

On the other hand, businesses have applied empirical data exploration techniques called “data mining” to determine valid and commercially lucrative relationships between data sets. They use empirical relationships to make profits even if they do not understand why, (the mechanism) the relationship exists. An example is a positive correlation between beer and baby diaper sales. The knowledge allows supermarkets to profit by placing beer near the baby diapers. While the exact cause for the relationship remains unknown (though we can speculate), the knowledge is reproducible, profitable and useful.

Empirical relationships were once the cornerstone of the scientific method. Empirical observations were used to first formulate an hypothesis, then the hypothesis was tested with further observations to confirm a theory. Somehow, use of the scientific method has shifted the purpose of observations away from idea or hypothesis spawning, to mostly theory confirmation. Now, empirical observations without a proposed theory or mechanism are rarely acceptable publication material, regardless of the strength of results of statistical analysis. Further, valid observations that do not support theories are often discarded or overlooked by researchers with theoretical mindsets. IEA believes that in the light of today’s access to statistical analysis software, empirical and theoretical approaches are both equally valid roads to knowledge but that both must be rigorously tested before acceptance as truth.

Purpose 4: Encourage leading edge research, new topics:

All great truths begin as blasphemies” -- George Bernard Shaw
The whole of science consists of data that, at one time or another, was inexplicable.” --B. O'Regan

Earthlights research is at a very young stage. Earthlights are in a class of “leading edge topics” which, at present, has no explanation in known physics. This does not imply that the Earthlight mechanism lies outside of physics, but rather more data are needed to know what theories are relevant. There are many hypotheses about Earthlights but no proof. Conclusive data have yet to be gathered. IEA believes that it is necessary to keep an open mind for all possibilities, to let the data speak for themselves by observing and evaluating the empirical data without trying to fit the data in to any particular hypothesis or theory prematurely. IEA scientists have open minds to all possibilities regarding the mechanism and nature of the lights. While there are many speculations about the nature of Earthlights, the true answer at this time is “we don’t know what they are.”

Come join us to help solve the mystery!

By Marsha Adams Feb 12, 2004





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