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Jimmy Pelletier

Can't Live With Them, Can Quite Possibly Live Without Them: Crackpot Scientists!

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by , 10-27-2010 at 11:52 PM (5213 Views)
Crackpot scientists: any wannabe scientist has probably stumbled upon one of their blogs or websites. They come in a variety of flavors, from those who actually want to make a difference in science and do real scientific experiments (ex: www.unquantum.net), to people whose aim is just to get as many pageviews as possible (ex: www.spaceandmotion.com), to people who aren't scientists at all and have no idea what they are talking about (ex: www.thebigwobble.com). But they all have something in common: nobody takes them seriously.

For all you anti-mainstream physicists who want to show the world a different way of thinking, let me tell you, there are ways to do it, and there are (many) ways NOT to. But the worst of them all is the kind that doesn't understand what science is about. If you go on a website such as www.spaceandmotion.com, you start to feel a negative "jibe" about science, as if the author has no clue what science is. Allow me to break down all of the negative aspects that you can immediately spot on this website:
-Religion/metaphysics. If there is a God, that would be mind-blowing. I don't have any feelings about whether or not one exists. But remember: to err is human. Not everything the Bible (or the Torah, or the Qu'ran, or whatever) says is the absolute truth. Take the Bible: most of it was written by four men, almost 80 years after Jesus died. The stories aren't very factually correct, and they differ from person to person!
-Aversion to math. Some websites avoid math like paraffins avoid water, or treat equations like fetish objects, interjected here and there to make it look smart. If you don't give any math, no theoretical physicist will care. They want to know: why is your theory correct? What can you do to back it up?
-Need for popularity. The goal of science is to help improve the human race's knowledge of the Universe, not to get as many page-views as possible. Quality, not quantity.
-No knowledge whatsoever of how science works, and no clue of what is happening in the science media. Science is fluid and ever-changing, with new theories and discoveries being made every day. The general idea of a stuck-in-the-past, top-down, juggernaut-esque science is just plain stupid. Anyone can contribute to science, as long as you have something worthwhile to present. (Oh, and by the way, drop the whole "hanging on to a failing Standard Model" thing. Sure, the Standard Model sucks, but most scientists know that already. So while you're babbling on about how wrong they are, these guys are actually doing something and trying to fix it.)
-Albert Einstein, Albert Einstein, Albert Einstein! Dude. Get over yourself: I know you're trying to prove him and everything he did wrong and whatever, but seriously, if it weren't for GR and SR, we wouldn't even know that black holes existed, or what quanta are, or relativity, or spacetime. And aren't those what your entire theory is based upon? Hmm?

Of course, young padawan, you won't become a famous scientist just by listening to some geeky teenager rant and rip on crackpot scientists. Get a degree (which in turn will get you respect), make a real, valid theory with solid mathematical (or even better, experimental) evidence behind it and not just some meta-psycho-babble, and try to get yourself published. Who knows? Maybe someday you'll have crackpot scientists of your own trying to prove your theory wrong!

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Updated 10-28-2010 at 04:14 PM by Jimmy Pelletier

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  1. roncj5's Avatar
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    i think you make very valid pionts.although i dont think you need a degree to have a brilliant idea,i do think it helps in backing it up.or more so that educating yourself helps show how they might be wrong.i think the one good thing about these "crackpots" is that they can get peopl thinking which can lead to them educating themselves,which is whats happening in my case.i am waiting[2 kids,looking for a house,etc.] to start my scolastic journy at the age of 37.as i read all these ideas,it fuels my desire to learn more.in finding out if they are right or wrong[or did to much acid] i learn alot along the way.i def agree that scientific progress isnt just trying to point out what is wrong,but instead trying to prove what is right.and just like science as a whole,my ideas are in a consant state of evolution,as i feel all should be.i welcome those that can show my or anybodies ideas are wrong because i believe we learn more from our mistakes[at least i do].
    Mike Tabib likes this.
  2. Robert Nicholson's Avatar
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    "If it cannot be expressed in numbers, it is not science, merely educated opinion."~ Robert Heinlein. You are very right, any aversion to mathematical proofs is a giant red flag indicating pseudoscience. Good post.
  3. deusinvir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roncj5
    i think you make very valid pionts.although i dont think you need a degree to have a brilliant idea,i do think it helps in backing it up.or more so that educating yourself helps show how they might be wrong.i think the one good thing about these "crackpots" is that they can get peopl thinking which can lead to them educating themselves,which is whats happening in my case.i am waiting[2 kids,looking for a house,etc.] to start my scolastic journy at the age of 37.as i read all these ideas,it fuels my desire to learn more.in finding out if they are right or wrong[or did to much acid] i learn alot along the way.i def agree that scientific progress isnt just trying to point out what is wrong,but instead trying to prove what is right.and just like science as a whole,my ideas are in a consant state of evolution,as i feel all should be.i welcome those that can show my or anybodies ideas are wrong because i believe we learn more from our mistakes[at least i do].
    I'm with you on this one. Scientist or aspiring scientist, it all comes down to wanting to understand and know the universe and our place in it. You don't need a degree to have an imagination. I'm not a scientist, but a philosopher. I enjoy playing with complicated abstractions and theories, and speculating about them in philosophical terms. I must rely on the real physicists who do grasp the more complicated details, and turn to them for a better understanding of what the theories imply.
    Mike Tabib likes this.
    Updated 11-12-2010 at 05:22 PM by deusinvir
  4. Jimmy Pelletier's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comments, guys. I agree, you don't need a degree to make important discoveries; for example, Clyde Tombaugh didn't have a degree when he discovered Pluto. But my reasoning is this: most important positions in physics need a PhD, or at least a master's degree. A degree isn't essential to being able to create a theory; it helps when you're trying to convince others! Additionally, you learn a lot of mathematics getting a degree. That would help when you're trying to make a formula (where a lot of crackpot scientists don't fall through, as stated earlier).
    Updated 11-13-2010 at 09:01 PM by Jimmy Pelletier
  5. Mike Tabib's Avatar
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    enough formulas strung together give you a story. I like the story...my physicist/engineer friend likes the formulas and between the two of us we can put a way many a pots of coffee when we chat. I see no difference between science and religion. If a religion is true, it's underlying assumptions will be empirically (albeit not necessarily reductionistically) evident.
  6. john_gabriel's Avatar
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    Just because you think certain math and science is pseudo-science, does that actually mean it is? Who the hell are you moron?

    I am an atheist and don't agree with almost all your views. Do I care to debate you? No. You are an imbecile. There are thousands like you on the web!

    The New Calculus