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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Homosexuality Hard to Explain Using Darwinian Orthodoxy

Under the thinking encouraged by many a modern materialist, almost everything about us can be explained by evolution and our genes. But there are difficulties in such thinking, one of which is properly accounting for the widespread existence of homosexuality.

Darwinism is centered around the idea that evolution slowly increases the prevalence of traits which tend to increase an organism's likelihood to survive until reproduction (and also the likelihood of the organism's reproduction). So suppose there were two genes in different organisms of a species, one which caused very strong sexual interest, and another which caused complete lack of sexual interest. According to conventional evolutionary theory, the first gene would cause more reproduction, which would cause the gene to become more and more common (all other things being equal), as the gene was inherited more and more often; but the second gene would cause less reproduction, which would cause the gene to become less and less common, because the gene would be inherited much less frequently.

How, then, can we account for homosexuality using such principles? Surveys indicate that between about 2% and 6% of the population are gay or bisexual. Given that very many gay people would never answer “Yes” when asked if they are gay, the actual percentage may be even higher.

Today homosexuality is generally believed to be an inherent tendency, not a choice; so under Darwinian conventions we have little choice but to assume that homosexuality has a strong genetic component. It has been estimated that homosexuals reproduce at only 20 percent of the rate that heterosexuals reproduce. It would seem that a straightforward calculation using Darwinian conventions lead us to the conclusion that homosexuality should have died out long ago. Whatever genetic basis might be behind homosexuality should have become less and less common, because of the vastly lower reproduction rate of homosexuals. It would seem, therefore, that homosexuality shouldn't exist, at least not in its current prevalence of perhaps 5% of the population.

Biologist J.B.S. Haldane imagined a case in which 99.9 percent of the population had one gene, and only .1 percent of the population had a second gene. If there was some reason why the second gene was 1% more likely to be inherited, then within 4000 generations, things would completely switch around so that 99.9 percent of the people would end up with the second gene, and only .1 percent would end up with the first gene. The example illustrates how strongly evolution tends to get rid of genes that are less likely to be passed on to descendants.

So how can we account for homosexuality under conventional Darwinian assumptions? Some theories have been suggested, but they haven't been very convincing. In this article evolutionary biologist David P. Barash discusses some possibilities for explaining this paradox, but he just doesn't seem to be able to get to first base.

Barash first mentions “kin selection” as a possibility, saying of homosexuals “perhaps they are able to help their relatives rear offspring, to the ultimate evolutionary benefit of any homosexuality-promoting genes present in those children.” That's very speculative, and Barash gives no evidence to support it, except mentioning some tiny Samoan gay group which he claims “lavish attention upon their nieces and nephews.”

Then Barash mentions a “social prestige” theory, claiming that gay men became priests or shamans, and that “perhaps the additional social prestige conveyed to their heterosexual relatives might give a reproductive boost to those relatives, and thereby to any shared genes carrying a predisposition toward homosexuality.” But Barash admits that this idea is “lacking in empirical support,” which means there is no evidence for it.

Another theory for the survival of homosexuality is that it had something to do with what is called group selection. As Barash puts it, “Although the great majority of biologists maintain that natural selection occurs at the level of individuals and their genes rather than groups, it is at least possible that human beings are an exception; that groups containing homosexuals might have done better than groups composed entirely of straights.” Judging from that wording, it doesn't sound like that theory is on solid ground, since it contradicts an assumption made by the “great majority” of biologists.

Barash also mentions a “balanced polymorphism” explanation, saying “the possibility cannot be excluded.” Again, not a solid speculation, since no evidence is provided. He also mentions the possibility of “sexually antagonistic selection,” but says there is “no evidence for this idea.”

So while Barash mentions quite a few possibilities, he gives the reader no confidence at all that evolutionary biologists have any good explanation for why homosexuality has not died out because of evolutionary factors. Barash has nothing but strained speculations, and the only evidence he claims to have is a thin and dubious claim involving some tiny group in the distant islands of Samoa – a country with a total population of only about 200,000.

It would therefore seem that the large-scale existence of homosexuality is a significant problem for Darwinian orthodoxy. In fact, as I explained in this essay, Darwinian orthodoxy has quite a few difficulties accounting for numerous aspects of humanity, such as our abilities for math, language, philosophy, introspection, and tendencies such as spirituality, aesthetic appreciation, and altruism, most of which don't do much good from a “survival of genes” evolutionary standpoint. It would seem that while Darwinian concepts are a valuable contribution that explain a great deal, Darwinism may be seriously oversold as some kind of “this explains everything” theory to account for human nature.

These are hard to explain using only Darwinism

Could any unorthodox thinking lead us to other possibilities that might account for homosexuality?

I know of one unorthodox hypothesis about the cause of homosexuality. The hypothesis goes like this: (1) some people alive on Earth have had previous earthly lives; (2) a male homosexual is typically someone who was previously reincarnated as a female; (3) that person is attracted to males because of a residual attraction to males carried over from a previous life as a female. The only evidence for this hypothesis is the evidence for reincarnation, which may be much stronger than many people think, due to the research of Ian Stevenson at the University of Virginia.

Another unorthodox hypothesis is the hypothesis that a large part of the blueprint or schema for a human being is stored outside of a person's DNA. I explained this idea in my previous post entitled “Half of the Blueprint for You May Be Stored Outside Your Cells,” in which I pointed out the curious fact that the species of plant known as rice is believed to have 38,000 genes, but humans (almost infinitely more complicated) are believed to have only 23,000 genes. In that post I summarized this idea as follows:

Genes are a very important determinant of human nature. But as they are merely recipes for making proteins, we cannot at all explain all the exquisite features of human nature by assuming that the secrets of human nature are all stored in merely 23,000 genes. There may well be some completely undiscovered information storehouse that also is crucial in determining human nature – an unknown noncellular “dark genome.” When a human body and a full human mind comes into existence, it may require information from cellular genes and this mysterious noncellular“dark genome.”

If there is some kind of “dark genome” that might help to explain human nature, homosexuality could be an aspect of that, perhaps some permutation of human nature stored among various other permutations in that “dark genome” (here “dark” simply means currently undiscovered). This “dark genome” or “second genome” might be unrelated to reproduction rates, so within such an information storehouse the continued existence of traits related to homosexuality might be plausible enough.

Another unorthodox idea, which no doubt will infuriate some fundamentalists, is that homosexuality has been deliberately included as part of the human mixture by a higher power, who wants homosexuality to exist so that it can one day be a significant brake on out-of-control overpopulation.

These ideas are admittedly speculative – but no more speculative than the totally speculative musings of Professor Barash, who seemed “lost at sea” when trying to give an orthodox Darwinian explanation for why homosexuality still is widespread.

Postscript: According to the book Dataclysm: Who We Are by Christian Rudder, a Google researcher has reported that 5 percent of porn searches are for gay porn, and that such a percentage is consistent from state to state in the US. This data tends to back up both the idea that homosexuality is inherent, rather than something largely chosen (given the local drawbacks of "choosing to be gay" in some US states such as North Dakota and Mississippi); and it also suggests a relatively high gay population (5% rather than just 2%). Such data tends to accentuate the explanatory problem mentioned in this post. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Scientist's Faulty Theory of Truth

In the last chapter of his book The Truth of Science: Physical Theories and Reality, emeritus professor of physics Roger G. Newton advances a theory of truth. (I will call Mr. Newton by his first name to avoid confusion with the famous physicist named Newton.) Roger advances a coherence theory of truth. In general, such a theory maintains that truth is whatever fits in or meshes with other things that are regarded as true. Roger puts it this way on page 207 of his book: “The most important criterion for ascertaining the truth of a statement is its coherence with a network of assertions that are also regarded as true.”

But there is a potent criticism that can be made against such a theory. Many claimed truths can be fit in with some system of assumptions about what is true, but do not fit in with some other system of assumptions about what is true. So a coherence theory of truth would seem to imply that such claimed truths are both true and false, which doesn't make sense. For example, reincarnation fits in well with a network of assertions made by the average Hindu, but does not fit in with a network of assertions made by Western materialists. So according to a coherence theory of truth, it would seem that assertions of reincarnation or past lives are both true and false.

What Roger clearly wants you to believe is that the real acid test for truth is that it fit in not just with a network of assertions made by some group, but by Western physicists such as himself. He basically seems to be saying that truth is whatever fits in with what him and physicists like him tend to believe to be true.

One problem with such an approach is that modern physical science and scientific opinion is not a monolithic coherent “network of assertions,” all nice and harmonious and factual. Quantum mechanics does not agree with general relativity. Some physicists believe passionately that string theory is the reality behind everything, while many other physicists reject the theory as baseless. Some physicists support the idea of a multiverse or ideas of parallel universes. Other physicists reject such ideas with scorn. There is a great deal of disagreement about different matters. So how can “fitting in with what physicists think” be the acid test for truth, when there is so much disagreement among the physicists themselves?

Roger takes his coherence theory to some imprudent extremes. On the same page in which he makes the key assertion that “the most important criterion for ascertaining the truth of a statement is its coherence with a network of assertions that are also regarded as true,” Roger uses this theory as a justification for rejecting evidence of the paranormal without even examining it: “Researchers justifiably refuse to listen to these claims, to examine them or refute them in detail, because they are incoherent with the rest of our scientific knowledge.” The problems with this attitude are many. First, there is no way in which one could intelligently judge that a particular claim was “incoherent with the rest of our scientific knowledge” without examining the claim in detail, which Roger encourages researchers not to do.

Secondly, it is not obvious that most paranormal claims are “incoherent with the rest of our scientific knowledge.” What is or is not “incoherent with scientific knowledge” is a very debatable, subjective matter. It is, in fact, not at all obvious that most of the more common paranormal claims are actually incompatible with any known laws of nature, as I argue here. What Roger encourages people to do is to ignore classes of observations, not on any objective basis, put purely on the very subjective judgment of whether or not such observations are “incoherent with scientific knowledge,” a type of judgment that might be highly influenced by sociological and psychological factors, and our prejudices and biases.

Roger also almost seems to imply that when you have a choice between believing the testimony of your own senses and fitting in with a “network of assertions” advanced by authorities, you should ignore the testimony of your senses. I say this because he cites the case of a psychologist who claims to have seen a celebrity in his office long after the celebrity's death. “This is not how a scientist arrives at truth,” intones Roger with disapproval. So if you see something with your own two eyes, and you've never had a hallucination before, you should ignore that, because it conflicts with your expectations, and doesn't “fit in with the system” that has been dogmatically taught by authorities? Wrong. Observations should be king, regardless of whether they clash with your expectations.

Roger's “coherence test” for truth seems to be a type of reality filter, with the unfortunate outcome illustrated in the diagram below:

Roger considers for an instant the possibility that “a startling, discordant fact, long ignored by 'the establishment,' may someday be discovered, producing a new paradigm with its own coherence.” But he immediately rejects such a possibility, by arguing that “the body of scientific knowledge, however, is by now so large that this scenario is extremely unlikely.” This is smug intellectual complacency that is very unwarranted. From a cosmic standpoint, what we know is very, very small compared to what we don't know. We know of only a few planets in a vast universe which may have trillions of inhabited planets, and we still don't understand some of the most basic questions involving the origin of the universe, the origin of cosmic structure, the origin of life, and the origin of consciousness. We are puzzled by a thousand mysteries of time, space, and Mind that we haven't figured out. An extraterrestrial species might look at us as we might look at little children playing at the sea shore, trying to figure out the ocean from the waves and the shells. Looked at from such a perspective, our knowledge of things is very fragmentary and very small, not “so large” as Roger argues. So the “new paradigm” scenario Roger mentions is very plausible, not “extremely unlikely” as Roger argues.

One problem with Roger's approach is that only part of the “network of assertions” made by modern physicists is actually fact. There is also a great deal of theory being asserted, much of it wild and speculative (physicists these days love to advance all kinds of extremely weird theories). Then there are also quite a few assertions that come under the category of “widely held assumptions” that have no direct scientific support, such as claims that the universe is entirely random, or claims that all consciousness can be explained by brain activity (no one has ever published a scientific paper proving either assumption). It is a nightmare to sort out which parts of the modern scientist's “network of assertions” is fact, which is theory, and which is personal opinion advanced more out of a sociological kind of peer group conformity than scientific necessity. So how could “coherence” with such a network of assertions be a reliable basis for judging truth – particularly since “coherence” is a vague, wooly, subjective term, incapable of being objectively measured, without any of the precision that scientists like to have?

It's easy to imagine examples that show that a coherence theory of truth doesn't work. Let us imagine that some astronomical analysis software has a bug, and because of the bug a scientist who is analyzing a distant solar system concludes mistakenly that such a solar system has an Earth-sized planet. Then let us imagine that a second scientist in another country uses the same buggy software to analyze that distant solar system, and therefore draws the same incorrect conclusion that such a solar system has an Earth-sized planet. According to a coherence theory of truth, the second scientist must have stated a true assertion – because his assertion not only has excellent coherence with other scientists finding Earth-sized planets, but also good coherence with the previous scientist concluding that there was an Earth-sized planet at the particular distant solar system the second scientist analyzed. But, in fact, the second scientist has not made a true conclusion, because there is no Earth-sized planet in that particular solar system.

There is a much better and simpler theory of truth than Roger's. It is called the correspondence theory of truth. According to that theory, an assertion is true simply if it corresponds to a factual reality. So even if the entire world thinks that a particular celebrity is dead, if I assert that this celebrity is alive and well and in Chicago, and that celebrity is alive and well in Chicago, then my statement is true; otherwise it's false. The truth or falsity of my statement in no way depends on whether it agrees or disagrees with a “network of assertions” being made across the world and the Internet.

Roger takes a weak poke at this correspondence theory of truth, claiming that it does not work well with universal statements of truth such as “matter is made up of atoms and molecules.” This is not at all correct. In this particular case, the correspondence theory of truth says that such an assertion is true if matter is actually made of atoms and molecules, and false if matter is not made up of atoms and molecules. That works just fine.

The correspondence theory of truth is a far more sensible theory of truth than the coherence theory of truth advanced by Roger. When it comes to the truth of a matter, what matters is facts, reality, and observations, not fitting in with the assumptions and taboos of revered authorities, whether academic or ecclesiastical.

Postscript: I criticize here merely one part of Mr. Newton's book, a work which makes many sound and valid points. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Moving Orb Seen on Mars in These 6 NASA Photos

The YouTube source Paranormal Crucible has discovered an astonishing anomaly on Mars that was shown on a video made by that source. Rather than linking to that video (and leaving you with that same old “did someone fake a video on youtube.com ” question), in this post I will look directly at the source NASA photos that were used to make that video. Looking at the original NASA source photos, it does indeed seem that some anomalous moving orb has been detected on Mars.

The video put up by Paranormal Crucible failed to give the vital information about which Martian day the anomaly was detected. But they did have a link to one of the original NASA photos, and in the URL of that link I was able to find the Martian day number. The day number is Sol 527, which corresponds to January 29, 2014.

The set of photos showing the moving orb was taken by one of the Front Hazard Avoidance Cameras (“front hazcams”) on the Curiosity rover. Images from that camera can be found at this url.

To find the images for a particular Martian day, you merely need to scroll down to a particular day number, using the listbox shown at the top left of the page. When we click on the row for Sol 527, we come to this NASA page showing images taken by the Front Hazard Avoidance Cameras on Sol 527. The photos I will reproduce from that page were taken over a span of about 15 minutes.

The third image in the list is here. Below is a crop of this image starting at horizontal pixel 474 and vertical pixel 133, with a width of 142 and a height of 102:

Mars moving orb
Notice the little white ball in the bottom right quarter of the photo.

The fourth image in the list is here. Below is a crop of this image starting at horizontal pixel 474 and vertical pixel 133, with a width of 142 and a height of 102 (the same numbers used for the previous crop):

Mars moving orb
Notice that the little white ball has moved a little to the left.

The fifth image of the list is here. Below is a crop of this image starting at horizontal pixel 474 and vertical pixel 133, with a width of 142 and a height of 102 (the same numbers used for the previous crop):

Mars moving orb

The sixth image of the list is here. Below is a crop of this image starting at horizontal pixel 474 and vertical pixel 133, with a width of 142 and a height of 102 (the same numbers used for the previous crop):

Mars moving orb

The camera moved a little bit, so it's not exactly the same area as before, but it's close enough that you can detect that the little white ball has moved from the previous photo.

The seventh image of the list is here. Below is a crop of this image starting at horizontal pixel 474 and vertical pixel 133, with a width of 142 and a height of 102 (the same numbers used for the previous crop):

Mars moving orb

The orb is now in the bottom right quarter of the image above. The eighth image of the list is here. Below is a crop of this image starting at horizontal pixel 474 and vertical pixel 133, with a width of 142 and a height of 103 (the same numbers used for the previous crop, except 1 pixel greater on the height):

Mars moving orb

Again we see the orb in the bottom right part of the image above. By the time we get to image 11 in the series of photos taken at this location, there is no more sign of the orb.

The following color-coded visual illustrates how the position of the orb changed between the third photo in the series and the eighth photo of the series. The third and fourth photos were taken at the same time (with a Left camera and a Right camera being a little bit apart from each other). The fifth and sixth photos were also taken at the same time, as were the seventh and eighth photos.

The images on this NASA page for Sol 527 are listed in reverse chronological order. The orb apparently moved from the area shown by the blue circle and the red circle, then moved to the area shown by the green circle and purple circle, then moved to the area shown by the pink circle and the orange circle.

How can we explain this series of photographs? A few months ago when people pointed out a pair of photos that seemed to show a mysterious light on the Mars horizon on two consecutive days, NASA tried to explain the anomaly by saying it was a cosmic ray, or light reflecting from a rock. Does either explanation work here?

The cosmic ray explanation is perhaps a good explanation for a strange little blip shown on one particular photograph on one particular day. A cosmic ray is a little particle coming from deep in space, that arrives in a random location at a particular time, with the location and time being completely unpredictable. But we cannot account for a light seeming to move around at a particular location on the same day, in at least six consecutive photographs of Mars, by imagining that is caused by cosmic rays. Cosmic rays absolutely do not cluster or clump together at some particular location and time; they appear spread out at random places and times. In order for you to have all of these little orb photos being due to cosmic rays, you would have to have at least three cosmic ray hits during different moments of the same fifteen minutes in the same little spot of six consecutive photographs, with it all being a gigantic coincidence. That would require a coincidence comparable to you coincidentally guessing correctly the telephone numbers of three different people you met at the same time.

We also cannot account for the apparently moving orb by imagining that it was caused by a rock reflection. A rock with a reflecting surface might cause a little blip of light at one spot in the photograph, but that rock would not move around within a particular area of the photo. Could it be that rapid winds blew around a rock to different positions? No, winds that high would have created a dust storm that would have left many signs in this photo that are not observed; there were no such heavy winds when these photos were taken. 

Could the orb be the result of a camera glitch? No, because two different cameras (the Left and Right cameras) have both shown the orb and that it is moving. So, for example,  we cannot plausibly say that "dead pixels" are causing the orb's appearance. You might see a few empty pixels in the photos taken by one of the two cameras, but you would not coincidentally see a "dead pixel area" that matched in two different cameras, particularly given that most of the other images on this page for Sol 527 do not show any such orb or "dead pixel" area.  

I don't have any explanation for this mysterious Martian orb. I can merely point out that it looks very similar to what has been observed on our planet countless times. Since the introduction of the digital flash camera about twenty years ago, people all across the world have been seeing unexplained circular
anomalies in their photographs. Such anomalies are normally called orbs.

But isn't dust the explanation for such orbs, as skeptics have claimed? No, dust can't explain the more unusual orbs that have appeared in photographs (as I argue here). The reason why a dust explanation doesn't work is that many photographs have shown orbs that are either too big to be dust, too bright to be dust, too colorful to be dust, too fast-moving to be too dust, too frequently observed to be dust, or too surrounded by clean air to be dust (with many photographs having two or three of these conditions at the same time).

If you try to create dust orbs in your photos, it normally takes quite a while and involves raising heavy dust; and then you'll end up with little, pale brown or gray circles that aren't very colorful or bright, and not more than about 5% of the photo width. That does nothing to explain what many photographers have repeatedly photographed: big bright orbs that sometimes appear as wide as 18% of the photo width, which are often in a single bright color such as orange, yellow, or pink, and which often show strong signs of moving quickly – which dust never does unless there are fast winds. Since dust settles quickly, it only works as a possible explanation for orb photos taken in dusty conditions, but 95% of the more interesting orbs that have appeared in earthly photos have not been taken in such conditions (and many have been taken in very clean air).

We have no idea what the explanation for orbs is, and orbs may or may not have any relation to extraterrestrials or anything spiritual such as life after death. But given the very large number of unexplained appearances of orbs in earthly photographs, I am not surprised to learn than an orb was apparently moving around on the planet Mars.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

“Interstellar” Mis-sold as Scientifically Realistic

Part of the selling of the new film Interstellar is the pitch that it is a scientifically realistic science fiction movie, including a book called The Science of Interstellar. The Smithsonian web site bought this pitch hook, line, and sinker, and had an article entitled, Why Interstellar Belongs in the Pantheon of the Best “Realistic” Science Fiction Films. Interstellar is a reasonably entertaining movie, if you can get past the difficulty of following the plot when the main actor keeps talking in a twangy mumble. But Interstellar is not realistic science fiction.

Realistic science fiction is based on scientific facts and projected technological developments that can be reasonably inferred from known technological trends. An example of realistic scientific fiction is the movie Deep Impact, which dealt with a comet colliding with planet Earth. Since comets are a scientifically established reality which we know periodically travel around in the solar system, it was not too far-fetched for the film to depict a comet colliding with our planet. There is a small chance that something like that may happen in the next million years.

But what is Interstellar based on? The plot all revolves around the idea of a spacetime wormhole. Science fiction writers like wormholes because with a wormhole you can have a plot line in which astronauts are instantaneously transported from one solar system to another. A wormhole is a hypothetical tunnel between two different points in space, which might allow instantaneous transportation between the two points. If that sounds far out, it is. There is no evidence at all that wormholes exist or can be created in a way that would make interstellar travel easier. Scientists have not even done any “proof of concept” experiment in which some tiny particle was transported from one place to another by traveling through a wormhole.

What does science actually tell us about interstellar travel? Its real message is that interstellar travel is in all likelihood something that can only be very slow, requiring a long time. We know that the distance between stars is so great that it takes light almost five years to travel from one sun to the nearest star. We also know that no spaceship can be accelerated to a speed greater than the speed of light, because that would violate Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity. That means the minimum time to travel from one star to the nearest star is going to be about five years. But that's only if you can travel at the speed of light. There are engineering reasons why it's more likely that no spaceship could travel more than half as fast as that, which leaves you a travel time of over a decade to go one from star to the nearest star.

Wormholes are a conceptual way of completely turning this reality on it head. Instead of having a universe in which interstellar travel is very slow, the idea of wormholes gives the science fiction writer a universe in which heroes can zip around the universe as effortlessly as a New York City commuter would zip around to different parts of Manhattan by using the subway. But for the moment, transporting astronauts through wormholes is science-related fantasy, not realistic science fiction.

Besides the complete lack of observational evidence for their existence, there is reason to believe that wormholes which allow rapid instantaneous travel do not exist and cannot be created. One reason is that if such things did exist or could be created, then interstellar travel would presumably be very easy, and Earth would probably be receiving visitors from all over the galaxy. If wormholes could be created, we would expect that we might have received many interstellar visitors. Almost the only way we can overcome the “where's everybody” issue known as Fermi's Paradox is to reject the speculative idea of wormholes, and assume that interstellar travel is very slow, taking many years for even trips between one star and nearby stars.

From what little we can infer about what wormholes might be like if they existed, we can assume that if a wormhole existed, some incredible technology would be needed to travel through one without getting killed. Traveling through a wormhole would presumably be like nuzzling right up to a black hole – you would be right on the edge of fantastically vast forces that could instantly twist a sun or a planet into a pretzel.

One can perhaps imagine some incredibly advanced extraterrestrial spaceship that travels through wormholes, some spaceship using a technology millions of years more advanced than ours. But in Interstellar, human astronauts travel through a wormhole using an ordinary spaceship built by a version of NASA that is operating in secret (on a “last legs” type of Earth at a time in which humans are living in houses and driving cars that look like today's houses and cars). That stretches credulity, but it gets even worse later in the movie, when a character travels through a wormhole all by himself, without even having a spaceship. That's scientifically realistic science fiction? The same character also ends up bouncing around through time like a ping pong ball on a ping pong table, which isn't terribly realistic.

Let's compare Interstellar to another movie in regard to scientific realism. The other movie is The Wizard of Oz. Both involve characters being transported to distant places by means of exotic things that can be described in scientific language. In Interstellar the transportation occurs by means of a wormhole, something that has never been observed. In The Wizard of Oz the transportation occurs by means of a tornado, a known natural phenomenon that has been observed many times by scientists. So which movie is more scientifically realistic in its central premise? The Wizard of Oz, not Interstellar.

Dorothy's tornado: more scientifically realistic than "Interstellar"